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What’s in a name?

The revolution initiated by Dr Ram Manohar Lohia and Dr Julião Menezes at Lohia in Margao on June 18, 1946 is remembered every year as Goa Revolution Day. On this day NT BUZZ highlights one of the busiest streets in Panaji, named after this day – which had nothing to do with the revolution

Danuska Da Gama | NT BUZZ

After Goa attained liberation in 1961, the government named the road in Panaji the 18th June Road in honour of the freedom fighters who initiated the revolution movement against the Portuguese.

The road stretches from the circle near Goa College of Pharmacy right up to the circle before Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church, Panaji. Though there was nothing significant that happened on the road for it to be named so, it happens to be the busiest commercial street of Panaji.

Road wrongly named?

“The road is wrongly named as 18th June Road as nothing on June 18, 1946 happened on that road, or in Panaji, for that matter. However, the road next to Lohia Maidan in Margao should have been named 18th June Road. And this is a big historical fallacy on the part of the then government,” says historian Prajal Sakhardande. He however adds that on a road near the 18th June Road there was a morcha on June 19, 1946 against the Portuguese.

Sakhardande doesn’t deny the fact that with the road being named so, people are reminded of a slice of history of the state which had great significance and led to Goa’s liberation. “Being a highly commercial street with several tourists shopping around that area, the name of the road arouses curiosity in the minds of people who want to know why it is named so and the story behind it,” he says.

However, he appeals to the government “to take off the name of the road from Panaji, and rename the road in Margao near Lohia Maidan as 18th June Road.”

The road
back then

Like every other nook and corner of the city, alike most parts of Goa, there have been changes witnessed over time – structures springing up, trees being cut, ‘outsiders’ occupying the place and more.

Former librarian, Central Library, Maria Lourdes Bravo De Costa Rodrigues expresses deep anguish over how not just 18th June Road where she lived, but the city too has witnessed changes over time. “Can you ride and drive in peace through that road or for that matter in Panaji at any time of the day?” she asks, stressing that the scene gets worse in the evening.

She recalls that back in the day there was ample parking space and plenty of room to walk about on that street which is now overcrowded. She also adds that the road back then had prominence for holding the first building, Junta House which still stands tall as it once was, and a few single storeyed houses like Ding Dong (currently a bar), Dessai’s house and the house where currently a wellknown salon operates. “There were beautiful houses in that area with gardens, etc, just like you see opposite the Samrat theatre. Soon Hotel Fidalgo was built which commenced operation in 1974,” she adds before saying that today one finds more non-Goans than Goans on that road. “It might be the most expensive road but there is nothing else left to admire on that road,” she adds.

For those who have been witness to life pre-liberation and now, will recall nostalgic memories of walking past these empty roads. Sakhardande tells us that there were hardly a few building and old Portuguese styled homes at that time. “Shere-e-Punjab, Gujarat Loge, Saraswati Mandir and few houses were on that street. But today, it’s a crowded commercial street that has changed the dynamics of the city and has virtually lost its old charm,” he says.

What you can’t miss

Change is the only constant and 18th June Road has witnessed the same. However, there are still several favourite spots on this road that find favour not just among tourists but Goans too.

Gujarat Lodge is one such place that is frequented by people for chai, namkeen, and sweets. Also, on the same street is Saraswati Mandir a public library which was founded in the year 1913 and is still prominent today. In 1969 Sher-E-Punjab was started by Kuldeep Singh which has stood the test of time and has continued to serve Goans and tourists alike. 

Also Café Aram, a popular tea and snack spot retains an old charm even today. Earlier known as Café Remanso during the Portuguese days, it still has people thronging for their bhaji pao and mirchi. On the same stretch is a sought after cloth shop Rudali which has several options for every discerning consumer. Baron and Bombay Bazaar were the few branded or ‘upmarket’ stores back then; they still remain popular today despite several other branded stores that have set shop in Goa. Besides these, there are several other quaint stores that continue to stand as a paradise for shoppers.

While the road doesn’t have direct significance to history or the revolution, it still brings back memories and stories of Goa’s fight for liberation against the Portuguese.

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