Heritage Architecture, Uncategorized

A colonial hangover


View of Old Goa


A style incorporated from a mother country into the buildings of settlements or colonies in distant locations that have been synthesized with design characteristics of their new lands,  creating hybrid styles is the definition of Colonial architecture. In India, the influence of the Portuguese, French, Dutch and English are seen in many parts of the country. Always a pleasure to visit areas that still have an ample number of these buildings, traveling back in time through centuries connecting with the past and its influence on our history.

Goa, a favourite holiday destination, has lovely beaches, great food and many crowded tourist spots but the real jewel is  the presence of the Portuguese influenced quarters that still retains its Latin charm. The combined landscape of the sea and the white spires  of churches popping up among the lush green  vegetation is so alluring about Goa.


ornate window shutters created using shells


decorative tiles around the doorway, ornate wooden awnings and big verandas on the first floor


porch with columns and a covered terracotta tiled roof

The Portuguese arrived as merchants in the 1498, gained a foothold and ruled Goa for 400 years. They bought with them a strong influx of Christianity as is evident in the number of churches built by them.  Old Goa, the original capital during Portuguese rule was abandoned in the 18th century due to plague and shifted to Panjim. Now a UNESCO world heritage site Old Goa, has numerous Churches built between the 16th and early 18th century, notably the Basilica of Bom Jesus which contains the relics of Saint Francis Xavier.


A doorway near Pota bridge



The classic Goa window shutter


31st January road, Panjim


Rooster on the rooftop


Commercial building in the Latin quater

The Portuguese – Catholic houses faced the street with unique large ornamental windows opening onto verendahs. Bold colours were painted on houses constructing distinct identity, allowing the sailors to recognize their houses from sea. The covered porches and verandas were designed for socializing contrary to the Hindu styled housing. Front doors were lined with columns, and railings were popular in embellishment. The walls were made out of mud or laterite stone and coloured with vegetable and natural dyes. Gateposts and compound walls were craved with great detail.

Bordered by the Mandovi river to the north, Ourem creek on the east and the Altinho hill to its south-west, Panjim’s old Latin Quarters of Sao Tome and Fontainhas that are reminiscent of what Goa looked like 350 years ago during the rule of the Portuguese. The Fontainhas area gets its name from the Phoenix fountain which originally supplied water to the area.


cobblers outside a government building in Panjim


Boulevard in Camphal , Panjim lined with trees and well maintained colonial homes

Now the INTACT chapter of Goa and a few enterprising locals , have started offering heritage walking tours explaining the history, mixed with a bit of gossip and traditional Goan breakfast. I hope in this gentle manner they are able to raise an appreciation for the upkeep of these buildings that are a part of the Indian history.

TUI: Motor traffic through old arch.

Arch at the entry into Old Goa from the Diwar ferry crossing

Images and content credit – author’s own & http://www.google.in






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