You’ll be able to recognized this defining monument in Panaji city from scenes from various Bollywood films like Josh and countless others. The towering white edifice of the Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church has watched over the city since it’s inception as a chapel in 1541. Built on what was called Conceicao Hill, it was upgraded to a church in 1600. Subsequent renovations led to the current in 1619 by the Archbishop of Goa, Frei Cristóvão de Sá e Lisboa.
The main Church is located above a long flight of 78 double staircase. This addition was made in 1871. The architecture is a beautiful blend of the Portuguese-Baroque and Goan styles. The imposing façade is distinctive with its two towers and even taller belfry.The interior of this church is comparatively simple, however, the decoration has been skillfully and gracefully executed on both the main altar and on the two sub-altars which flank its sides.
The main altar is dedicated to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, known as Nossa Senhora da Immaculada Conceicao in Portuguese. The altar on the right is dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary while the left is dedicated to the Crucifixion of Christ.Notably the church also houses the bell salvaged from the Augustinian ruins of the Church of Our Lady of Grace. This bell is considered to be the second largest of its kind in Goa, surpassed only by the Golden Bell which resides in the Se Cathedral.
Panajiites celebrate the fest of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception on 8 December. The celebrations are preceded by a nine-day novena to Our Lady. The church is decorated with a profusion of lights. The additional attraction is the fireworks display which lights up the night sky.
After the feast mass the people go in procession with a brass band. People enjoy with their friends and families who visit for the special day. A local fair attracts crowds towards the long line of stalls. This fair has now been moved to the riverfront.