Walkthrough the streets of ‘yet to be dominated by modern construction’ parts of Goa and one wonders if people tell their address as that bright pink house next to the bright green one on a road. The houses are as colorful as they can get and churches are pristine white -standing gracefully in the town squares, on the crossroads leading to various parts of the town. I saw this but did not realize there is a connection between these two color schemes until I visited the Houses of Goa Museum. And discovered that people were not allowed to have an all White House as that was a privilege reserved for the churches in the city.
Designed like a ship, that to me looked like a bird with two round windows serving as bird-eyes, this is a museum that values design as much as it values the history of Goan architecture. A kind of a paradox, though – a very contemporary/modern building trying to preserve the heritage of yesteryear. Maybe that is how it plans to document itself in the pages of history.
Houses of Goa Museum – Places to visit in Goa
The architecture of Houses
A brainchild of famous Goan Architect Gerard da Cunha, the museum documents different aspects of the architecture of the region in a 4-floor structure. It is built around a huge central pillar that houses the narrow steep circular staircase connecting the floors. There are maps, sketches, pictures, stories & descriptions as if making you time travel through the various houses of Goa. There are vertical flaps like a book standing against the wall. That talks about the various components of a house like a balcony, doors, windows, pillars, flooring, panels and sitting spaces in detail. It is a treasure house for architecture students. An old Machila – a hand ported carriage that can seat two people face to face, sits next to a sketch of it.
Tiles & Wood Panels
Another floor has the actual tiles, wood panels, door frames, and wooden pillars displayed. I found a pair of hands that were used to hold the picture or paintings on the walls, particularly intriguing. The collection of tiles with their patterns and creative design tells us how much we used to invest in our houses. We used to be creative in minute details. What did the era of industrialization and mass production has done to us?. Come to think of it, our ancestors used to construct houses for many generations to come. But now we start thinking of the next big house as soon as we have settled in the first one. No wonder there is no emotion and hence no creative investments in the houses these days.
Mario Miranda is one of the key persons associated with the museum and the city, can be seen all over. Especially at the small souvenir shop at the entrance that also doubles up as the ticketing window. There is a small shop where you can buy beverages and packaged snacks.
On the top is a small auditorium that feels like an open-air auditorium with a well-like opening in the middle. There is a curious display of 30 odd Tulsi plant bases from various homes in Goa. From here you can see the school next door that has an open theater with walls and backdrop of the stage made from empty glass bottles arranged in pleasing patterns. What makes Goan architecture unique is the amalgamation of native architecture with the Portuguese architecture that can not be found elsewhere. If you can not visit it, they have a comprehensive website and another one that lets you look at the architecture in detail.
Information for the visitors:
- Open 10:00 – 7:30 PM.
- Mondays closed.
- Entree Fee: Rs 100/- on weekdays and Rs 25/- on Sundays.
I have written about other Goa Museums and Places to visit in Goa. You may like to read.