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Reviews for Cholta Cholta

Outlook Traveller – April 2012
Siteseeing – The Guides – Cholta Cholta

2012-4 Outlook Traveller - The Guides

lt is, really, what a four-year-old would call an activity book – and we mean it in the best possible way. For Cholta Cholta is no ordinary guide. But one that coaxes and cajoles you – with line sketches by architect Pritha Sardessai – to walk the lanes of Panjim and its surrounding areas.

Broken up into ten tours – each an hour-long stroll – the pages are inked with aerial maps, short histories and blank spaces for your own notes. Published by Bookworm, which started out as a children’s library, Cholta Cholta was inspired by the walks conducted for children by Sujata Noronha of Bookworm and Pritha. The simplicity of the idea and execution gives Cholta Cholta that uncommon quality of being both kid-friendly as it is grown-up-friendly. Neat, well-produced and reasonably priced, the book also has a mini glossary of Portuguese words still in use in this urban village by the sea.

[Cholta Cholta is now available to buy online from Dial a Book. ]

Planet-Goa [Online]
Cholta Cholta: Sketches of Panjim – illustrated by Pritha Sardessai; reviewed by Frederick Noronha

Planet-Goa Reading: Cholta CholtaSometime back, architect-urban planner and educator Ashish K Sinai Rege came out with an interesting “heritage walk” map of Margao. The Goa Heritage Action Group has been doing some useful work of its own, including mapping heritage sites. Scholar Dr Jose Pereira has a map of religious shrines in Goa in his recently-republished ‘Church of Goa’ (OUP, Rs 350). Sinai Rege’s creatively crafted, but often difficult to buy, map offers suggestions for three ‘heritage walks’ around Margao. Each is of 20, to 35 and 45 minutes.

Now, a new book of walking tours does Panjim proud. It comes from the team behind the children’s library Bookworm, and is priced at a reasonable Rs 250 for its 104 pages. It is tastefully illustrated by Pritha Sardessai. This book is a light read, not too packed with text, and instead has a number of neat illustrations and useful tips.

Its title, if you were wondering, is ‘Cholta Cholta: Sketches of Panjim’ and the Konkani words in its title loosely mean “while walking”.

“This book,” it describes itself, “is a walking guide of Panjim, designed with blank space for your notes and sketches. Over the past couple of years, groups from Bookworm have explored the fascinatingly rich neighbourhoods of Panjim which has helped evolve this book.”

It’s packed with illustrations and maps (nine for Panjim, and another for the historic Holy Hill of Old Goa). Included are details of architectural, historical and local lore of structures in each area. Maps carry details of shop and stop points for refreshments and shopping for local produce, adding value to the product. The book recommends “leisurely” walks, taking 45 minutes to an hour.

Just by way of background: In the 1820s, Panjim became the administrative capital of “Portuguese India”. This came well past the heyday of the once-important maritime empire, and probably this gets reflected in the town.

But its small size and still fairly manageable proportions lend to its charm; one hopes it stays that way! It has old quarters, overhanging verandas, courtyards, balconies and more. It was designed on a grid pattern, sandwiched between the Mandovi river to its north, and the Altinho hill to its south. Panjim still retains some of its earlier character and charm. But things are fast changing.

This book takes us to Panjim and its various localities — Fontainhas, San Tome, the Old Secretariat, the Panjim Waterfront, the Church Square, Altinho, the Mahalaxmi Temple Area, Azad Maidan, Campal, even Dona Paula and Old Goa’s Holy Hill. One hopes it gets noticed enough to make it visible and viable; Goa can do with such titles.

You get hints of how different areas of Panjim got their names, and there are links to popular restaurants – some with quaint names like Hospedaria Venite, Cafe Tato and Mr. Baker — and bookshops. Quite a few interesting tid-bits come up. Did you know that Panjim has one of South Asia’s longest bridges, the 3.2 km long Ponte de Linhares? This 3.2 km causeway has Roman style arches built with laterite stone.

Covered pedestrian pathways, a common European urban feature, are seen in parts of Panjim. The town had a tobacco square, and a pillory for executions. You can find the restored, 16th century summer palace of the region’s last Muslim ruler, the Adil Shah. The garden is named after a naturalist who did some of the earliest colonial work on the Euro understanding of Indian plant-based medicines, Garcia da Orta.

[Cholta Cholta is now available to buy online from Dial a Book. ]


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