Heritage houses of Goa are typically known for a unique mix of native and Portuguese architecture. There is a museum dedicated to them called the Houses of Goa. After visiting that museum, I happened to visit two different Portuguese houses. Both old and both belonging to erstwhile elite families of the region and both now converted into a museum. Both of them acquaint the visitors with how life in the state used to be in these massive mansions.
Heritage Houses of Goa – A visit to a bygone era
Menezes Braganza House
Menezes Braganza house in Chandor is the first of the Heritage houses of Goa that I visited. This is a massive mansion from the 17th CE. An old matron who will not let you touch anything in the house now overlooks it. She along with her army of maidservants would ensure that you do not take any pictures, do not touch any displays and contribute a donation at the end of the tour. Incidentally, they have not ticketed the place. She takes you around the house herself and does not permit any external guides. There are old paintings, vintage furniture spread across the rooms. The house is like a mini museum and you wonder at the collection of one family. Antiquity oozed out of every nook and corner of this house.
The lady recalled the famous parties and the noted owners. The dining room is still open for the tourists who may want to dine like yesteryears. That, of course, comes for a fee, as the house needs a lot even for its mere maintenance.
Casa Araujo Alvares House
Second heritage house, that I visited was in Loutolim called Casa Araujo Alvares. The Alvares family that also runs the Bigfoot museum and Bigfoot Cross museum owns it. It is not the biggest house in the state, though it is not small by any measure too. About 250 years old and tends to tell the life of Goans before the liberation of the state. It is a house with a beautiful chapel in the center, old European furniture, and toilets but a very Indian kitchen. The house also has a huge collection of Ganesha idols in all possible shapes and sizes in a corner that belonged to one of their Hindu employees. I also think that the family probably wanted to keep a fragile touch with their past as they would have been Hindus originally.
The corridors outside and the Portico with sitting space in red is something that I would have loved to use had I ever owned such a place. The windows with seashells to keep the heat out are an indigenous approach to managing the heat. The narrow long dining hall in this house as well tells us the importance of food or maybe socializing over food played an important role in those times.
Houses built with love
Look at these Heritage houses that are still very livable centuries after they were built. Note they are in some way still managing to bring in revenue for their current generations. You realize that these houses were built with love and with an intent that many generations of the family would live in the house. Compare this to houses that we buy these days and as soon as we step into them, we are already looking forward to buying the next one.
Some of the Heritage houses of rich families have been converted into a museum for posterity. There are others that have been restored or even newly constructed for the tourists to explore the typical Goan living. If you are tempted to experience the luxury of Goan Villas, I would suggest using Goa Villa portal.
They provide you access to a range of luxury villages across Goa, and lots of them right next to the beach. These luxury villas come with all the modern amenities for a comfortable stay at Goa including fully equipped kitchens and private pools.
The portal interestingly lists the property based on its distance from the beach and you can choose Villas in Colva or Villas in Candolim or other popular beaches of Goa as close to the beach as 200 meters.
So next time you are visiting the state, go explore its heritage houses and the opportunity to experience living in them.