The fact that we live in a heritage house (formerly the Mint of Goa, Casa da Moeda), the contribution of my family to Goa’s medical history, and my own natural curiosity and affinity for the subject awakened at a very young age a keen interest in local history, and how it is juxtaposed with the wider history of our subcontinent and the world.
Join me on a journey through time, often going back several centuries, and for local trivia, anecdotes, and historical detail that only someone who has grown up on Panjim’s streets can offer you. Walk along with me into delightful nooks and crannies you would never suspect existed, and discover a hidden Goa that still coexists with the stereotype.
Here are the details of the walks I currently offer. I have more planned as well:
1. Panjim Walk I:Old-World Panjim
Starting point: Post Office Square Panjim (Panaji)
We wind our way through the old streets and bylanes of the wards of Sao Tome and Fontainhas, culminating in the area of Panjim Inn hotel, Fontainhas.
Duration: Around 1 – 1/2 hours.
I have lived and grown up in this area (Sao Tome & Fontainhas), so I know the area very well. I’ll give you the broad historical perspective as well as the little minutiae about the area.
2. Panjim Walk II: The Conquest of Goa, Conquistadors, Shahs, Viceroys, the Plague, a Hypnotist and much more
Starting point: Post Office Square Panjim.
Duration: Around 2 hours.
This walk takes us along the central spine of Panjim past the old Adil Shah Palace, to the steps of the Panjim Church, and ends at the old Central Library, where I talk you through the exquisite azulejo tile mosaics on the walls in the vestibule, which illustrate selected verses from the epic Os Lusiadas the magnum opus of the celebrated Portuguese bard Luis de Camoes.
I know each nook and cranny of this area of Panjim like the back of my hand.
3. Old Goa: The city that rivalled London, Paris, Antwerp and Lisbon in its heyday
This will involve a visit to several churches with explanations of architectural details, insights into the retables, paintings, a discussion on life in the “Old City” as we walk along streets where ancient markets bustled, and speculation on a whole host of reasons for its rapid rise and eventual decay.
For Old Goa, we should start early; the earlier the better to avoid the midday sun.
The walk(s) can be designed just for you, taking into consideration your areas and subjects of interest, your time constraints and your fitness level.
Please email diasfluis at gmail dot com for more information and to book in advance.
We read about your tour in the December 2012 issue of Vogue India. Both mum and I were very happy with the tour you gave us. Actually, it was a shame not to have had more time to cover Panjim and Old Goa a little more thoroughly. It’s very rare that you meet a tour guide who’s not only so knowledgeable but also very passionate about his heritage.
We will definitely be recommending you to our friends and family.
Mona Nalovalia, UK (January 2013)
Dear Luis, when Chris and I had to part from you the other day, I was shocked at how much of your time we had taken up. 6 hours had gone by like 2, as everything you showed and explained to us was beautiful and fascinating. The range of your knowledge and commitment is exhilarating. I would gladly have come back for more the next day, if it had been possible. Next visit to Goa (God willing) I shall certainly contact you again.
Thank you very very much for everything, not least your hospitality at home and the pleasure of meeting your admirable mother.
God bless your family.
Your friend, Mira
For visitors who are aware that there is more to Goa than beaches but uncertain how to find the cultural riches, Dr Luis Dias is your guide. Drawing on his roots in an old Goan family and the experience of higher studies and employment in European countries, Dr Dias adds a deep understanding to the love of his land and culture.
The hours spent touring with Dr Dias were packed with interest and insight. I would gladly have continued the exploration with him for several hours on the following day, had circumstances allowed. Whatever your particular interests may be, I am confident that Dr Dias will be able to guide you to a richer appreciation of Goa.
Marietta (Mira) Maddrell, Jabalpur, M.P. (February 2013)
I am so glad that we contacted you and got an opportunity to be shown around Goa by a great historian and a true Goan like yourself. The walks were very informative and interesting. Your passion for history and the in-depth knowledge was evident in your colourful narratives and funny anecdotes.
I will definitely recommend these heritage walks to all my friends and family, whenever they are visiting Goa.
Thank you again for a truly enriching experience.
Ayushi Chadha, Delhi (February 2013)
You had the walk down perfectly. A lovely balance of personal, global and local. I’ll be back with more people, for sure.
Naresh Fernandes, Mumbai (December 2015)
Author, journalist and editor of Scroll.in
Dr Luis Dias is one of the most remarkable guides I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. He has a natural lively warmth and a sense of humour which makes him fun to be with. His passion for his subject and his almost encylopaedic knowledge of the history not only of Goa, but general world history as it affected India, is very impressive. My time with him flew by. He made old Goa come alive for me, and if I ever have the good fortune to return, he will be the first guide I will contact. I would love to do one of his other tours. I can’t recommend him highly enough.
Shelley Dark, Australia (February 2016)
Travel blogger (www.shelleydark.com)
Ever since I first visited Goa in 1984, I have been charmed and enchanted by the state. In previous visits, I have focused on the churches and the countryside, and, very occasionally, the coast. Somehow, apart from driving past the grand colonial buildings on the riverfront, the architectural beauties of Panjim itself have escaped me. However, on my most recent trip, in December 2015, I made amends. The doctor-turned-conservationist Luis Dias took me on a wonderful guided tour of Fontainhas, the city’s old quarter. Dr Dias seemed to know every stone, every door, every balcony, each of which spoke to us through his eyes and his understanding. I have lived in and walked through many Indian cities, but the two hours in Fontainhas in Dr Dias’s company count as the most enthralling and educative walk I have taken in an urban context.
Dr. Ramchandra Guha (February 2016)
Historian, researcher, writer and author
Tim and I really enjoyed our time with you…you’re obviously an incredibly intelligent, well-spoken and knowledgeable guide who really made the history and architecture come alive for us. We felt we spent just the right amount of time in each spot, neither rushing nor overly luxuriating in any given place. The tour you give is truly unique because it shows people yet another facet of India that you don’t see in the big-city and Rajasthan portion of the general tourism trail. You were fun, inquisitive, informative, were a great listener, and customized our day to our interests and in-the-moment curiosities.We enjoyed getting to know you a bit, and your insight on India in general as a “country of paradoxes” really helped clarify a lot of the feelings we had been wrestling with during our visit. We are truly grateful for your kindness and generosity as an excellent ambassador for your beautiful country. You were absolutely wonderful and we are really grateful to you for a wonderful day in Goa.
Eric Blume, New York City USA (February 2016)
We have, today, had the utmost pleasure of a heritage tour of Old Goa with Luis. We have never before encountered such a wonderful storyteller as a guide. He tells delightful stories which blend his unsurpassed historical perspective with incredible technical knowledge, with marvellous insights of human nature, music, music history, medicine, religion, religious history, economics, military history, world history……the list could go on & on! His passion to share his understanding, his theories & his gifted insights made this a unique & amazing learning experience. We talked about such a variety of subjects & we loved it all.
It’s the highlight of our holiday & worth (more than) every penny of it. We are already planning our next heritage tour.
An impromptu guided tour with Luis in Fontainhas, the Latin quarter in Panjim, led to an absolutely fascinating experience of being transported back in time. As we walked through colorful streets with an old-world charm, Luis shared many interesting facts and tales about Goa’s unique history and culture. With his wealth of knowledge and passion for storytelling, Luis is by far the most interesting and inspiring tour guide I’ve had the pleasure of accompanying. Thank you again Luis, for what was a truly wonderful experience!
Many thanks again!
Luis, thank you for the wonderful Goa history walk. We enjoyed every minute of it. And so much interesting info to discover.
Keep the walks going.
We took the “Old-World Panjim” walk last month , exploring the hidden stories of Fontainhas . I would recommend this walk to anybody, who is interested in the stories that surround the magical charms of Goa. It is refreshing , different from the usual Goa-esque touristy stuff of idling away at some shack on a crowded beach. Luis is well informed and a fantastic story teller, he was able to guide us through the by lanes of history , sprinkled with interesting anecdotes from the past and present. A must do in Goa for sure. Next time I hope to experience the other heritage walks listed here.
Thank you so, so much for a fantastic time. We had an amount of fun that ought to be illegal, and our time with you was easily one of the highlights of our trip! Seriously, thanks for a whale of a time.
Amulya Shruthi, Bengaluru (April 2017)
A very very big Thank You for this unique and inspiring special tour!!! I almost had a hard time to accept this extended time you invested in introducing me to you homeland, it will certainly take a while to go through it all again in order to keep the information paired with so much enthusiasm within my historic quests! Outstanding by all means.
Of course we could have conversed for ages over all the question arising from searching minds and hearts.
You are more than welcome to contact me in case you and your family are visiting Europe again, no matter how long it will take.
Certainly I will recommend your Tour to whoever shows interest in knowing Old Goa and surroundings.
With my utmost regards, all the Best for the upcoming Holiday Season and a prosperous Happy New Year.
What a lovely memorable walk it was!
Neel and I are so absolutely glad that we picked your curated walk to get to know Goa better.
You are a veritable walking talking cyclopedia of Goan history and its cultural and architectural nuances, and of life in times of the Portuguese and the resultant influences they have left behind. And you are a doctor, history enthusiast, writer, musician – all rolled in to one!
Your passion shined through in every fascinating detail and story you shared with us last evening – and has certainly inspired my little boy to begin to look at history in new light!
And if that weren’t enough, your great-grandfather’s statue stands testimony right across the middle of the square from your century old house in Panjim,
as a glorious display of how intrinsic your family’s personal history has been to the evolution of beautiful Goa.
Thank you Luis for making our evening so splendid – Neel was also delighted that you had whisked out a globe and a map from your bag during the walk,
and more importantly spoke to him eye-to-eye all the time encouraging a conversation (which most adults forget to do for a child) and nudging him along to think with you.
I loved the little stories woven around the lanes, the past-present connect you brought in to all the fascinating nuggets you so willingly shared, the colorful old houses, and the story of the cockerel of course 🙂
You certainly made history come alive for us, and so beautifully.
Thank you so much for a fascinating walking tour yesterday. I especially appreciated how you gave us the historical context then took us around streets that we would never have found by ourselves.