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