Madgaon Heritage Walk – Walk Through The Lovely Goan Houses

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Colorful Houses - Madgaon Heritage Walk
Colorful Houses of Madgaon

Madgaon – you probably hear this name when you have to come to Goa via train. It is Goa’s main railway station. It is also the commercial hub of Goa and one of the 4 cities of Goa along with Panaji, Vasco, and Mapusa. Madgaon is hardly thought of as a tourist destination for it is little inside from the tourist belt of South Goa Beaches. Having said that, any old city has its heritage & charm that can lure tourists. So, we decided to explore Madgaon Heritage and share the heritage walk with you.

One fine December afternoon, I landed in Madgaon. We intended to start the walk from the municipal garden, but our bus dropped us next to a park, so we made it our first stop for the walk.

We discovered a lot of big and beautiful houses in Madgaon – each with a unique personality, its own color scheme and its own charm. There are lots of places in Goa where you can see beautiful houses, but in Madgaon you see them on a single road right next to each other.

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Madgaon Heritage Walk

Wear your walking shoes and let us start walking Madgaon:

Lohiya Garden

Ram Manohar Lohiya Statue at Madgaon - Goa
Ram Manohar Lohiya Statue at Madgaon – Goa

This is a small garden with the statue of Ram Manohar Lohiya standing on a platform with his hand pointing in the manner of ‘Moving Ahead’. There was a function going on, so we took a quick round of this small garden and moved towards our intended start point for Madgaon Heritage Walk.

Municipal Building – Madgaon Heritage

Municipal Building - Madgaon - Goa
Municipal Building – Madgaon – Goa

The Municipal Building in Madgaon is a more than 100 years old colonial-era building in pale yellow. Walk through its arched corridors to appreciate its neo-classical architecture. Go around and you would see a library behind it.

Municipal Gardens – Madgaon

Municipal Gardens - Madgaon
Municipal Gardens – Madgaon

Bang Opposite the Municipal building is the Municipal Gardens where you would see tons of people walking around or sitting around. If it is siesta time, you would find people sleeping too in the garden. It is a small garden with busts of many prominent Goans standing here. Unfortunately, most of the plaques are illegible. There are benches around trees to sit. We walked leisurely admiring the people more than the garden, exchanged some smiles with the street vendors and crossed a closed garden that has the name Aga Khan mentioned on a board.

Goan Woman in Stainless Steel by Subodh Kerkar
Goan Woman in Stainless Steel by Subodh Kerkar

Across the road, we met this lovely stainless steel sculpture by Goan Artist Subodh Kerkar celebrating the women workers of Goa.

Madgaon Post Office
Madgaon Post Office

The Madgaon post office in its red and white color housed in what looks like an old house looks charming.

Houses of Abade Faria Road – Madgaon Heritage

We took the road on the left of the Madgaon Post Office – the Abade Faria road. Our Madgaon heritage walk was essentially a walk on this road. We were surprised to find so many heritage houses and commercial buildings here that we took 3 hours to cover 600 meters of this road. Here are some of the things that we discovered:

Carotronics Building

As soon as we started walking we found an old printing press that no longer functions but the board still stands.

Arches of Carotronics Building - Madgaon Heritage
Arches of Carotronics Building – Madgaon Heritage

Bang opposite the Press was Caotronics building – an erstwhile office of the company that then dealt in all kinds of electronic equipment like cameras, projectors, electronic typewriters etc. You just can not miss the sharply arched doors on the first floor against a turquoise wall. The paint has fallen off in so many places that it gives the impression of a print on the wall. We spoke to a gentleman at the only open door on the ground floor before braving to go up.

Yes, it needed some courage to take the wooden steps and then walk on the wooden corridor that we had no idea if it can take our weight. We tip-toed to reach the main door when someone stepped out and we could breathe easily. The gentleman showed us the house – its kitchen, rooms and the backyard. It belongs to a business family and the first room still has its grandeur intact. There is stucco work around the room in green color. Even in its dilapidated state, it looked nice. Not fine work, but work that stands out.

Walking around the house, which is only half of the original house, I wondered how it would be to live in these wooden houses.

Confidant Library

You would see a lovely pale pink building with shell windows on the first floor in the corner, take a right and you few meters ahead you would Confidant library in green color. This is a small but very old style library in the lane next to Carotronics building. It is a bookshop, a text bookshop, a lending library and, hold your breath – a funeral service.

Confidant Library is a glimpse into how the old Goan libraries used to be.

We came back on AF Road and walked past some bright yellow houses on our left and a small blue one on our right. We stopped by a temporary shop selling Christmas items.

Colorful Goan Houses – Madgaon Heritage

Here onwards it was our time to be mesmerized by the grand houses of Goa.

The first house we spotted was a closed yellow house with Red Balcao and Red Sopa on the left. How we wished we could take it over and convert it into a cultural open space.

 

Red House - Madgaon
Red House – Madgaon

Red House – Next was a big red house on the left. This is a corporate office now, which means it was well maintained and used. We stepped inside its door that was open. We were greeted by the wide staircase that divided itself into two halfway through. Steps were made of solid stone and the railing in delicately carved wood. It seems like it would have been a public building of some kind but I could not gather any information.

Interestingly this house has two smaller gates on both sides that now lead to the parking lot but may have been the gardens once upon a time. There are glass paneled windows in dark wood. The upper floor ones have hanging balconies resting on small white brackets.

Green House with Filigree Pillars and Brackets - Madgaon
Green House with Filigree Pillars and Brackets – Madgaon

Green & Blue House – This is a unique single story with a huge garden in front. The corridor running in front of the house and the porch has a filigree-like delicate design on both the pillars and the brackets. The walls have Azulejos tiles. The Aquamarine tiles look lovely with the green wooden frames around them.

Instituto De Artes Femininas - Madgaon
Instituto De Artes Femininas – Madgaon

Instituto De Artes Femininas – Housed in a room of another beautiful house, this is an old tailoring school. We were gracefully invited inside. Mira Coutinho, the instructor told us that she runs five batches of tailoring every day. They also teach paper flower making and machine embroidery. What was fascinating here was the old sewing machines that still in use. Mira could tell us where each machine came from and how it is used. Do step in and see this lovely government approved school if you go on this Madgaon Heritage Walk.

Majestic Blue & White House - Madgaon
Majestic Blue & White House – Madgaon

Blue & White House – Bang opposite the institute is this majestic house in White and Blue. I wonder if it was originally white as during the Portuguese era in Goa houses were not allowed to use the white color that was reserved for the churches. Or, did the bit of Blue outline allowed this house to circumvent that rule. The special architectural feature of this house is its long-running hanging balcony that runs across the length of the house. Two small sit outs on either side of the main gate are interesting.

Red & Green House - Madgaon
Red & Green House – Madgaon

Red & Green House – This is a small house with red walls and green parapet railings. The windows have a white dot on the cross-section of panels and that simple design element lends a certain elegance to the house.

Here and there we saw houses with shell windows, sometimes part of them is replaced with glad. There are big and small houses in all possible colors and color combinations.

Heritage Houses of Madgaon Goa
Heritage Houses of Madgaon Goa

Pink House – Pass by the red building of Franciscan Hospitaller Sisters that now houses a nursery to reach this pink house with an intricate railing outside it. I wonder what purpose it served as the space behind it is very narrow. I cannot think of anything but ornamentation. It does lend an elegance to the otherwise plain house with tall windows. There is a moat-like opening outside the house and then another small wall with floral Azulejos on top as if compensating for the absent garden.

Heritage House Turned Boutique - Madgaon
Heritage House Turned Boutique – Madgaon

Heritage House Turned Boutique Store – There is a large house that is now a fashion boutique. We walked around the boutique and I wondered how they managed to renovate the house so well.

Yellow House Celebrating Glass – A pale yellow house has a window full of small glasses again decorated by a finely carved railing. Looks like this house reminds us of the times when glass started replacing shells in Goan windows.

Temples of Margao

After relishing the houses of Margao, we met two temples on the same road.

Ram Temple – This is a small temple dedicated to Ram, Laxman, and Sita. It has Ram Stutis written on the walls.

Damodar Sal – Madgaon

Damodar Idol at Damodar Sal - Madgaon
Damodar Idol at Damodar Sal – Madgaon

The Damodar Sal is a small private temple that is open to the public. This is where Swami Vivekananda stayed when he visited Goa in October 1892. It is dedicated to the Damodar Avatar of Shiva. One room temple has large Tanjore paintings of various Hindu Deities like Ram, Laxman, Sita, Hanuman and Tirupati Balaji.

Commemorating the visit of Swami Vivekananda at Goa
Commemorating the visit of Swami Vivekananda at Goa

It is believed that the deity mounts his horse and takes the round of the town every Monday – the day of the Shiva. Shivaratri attracts a lot of crowds to Damodar Sal. It was at a temple before the deity was moved to this privately-owned hall of a wealthy Hindu family. It has been here for 250 years or so.

What is interesting is that it is the cultural heritage of Madgaon. Sal comes from Shala that means a hall. This was the town hall where community disputes were settled in the presence of presiding deity of the community.

Remember Madgaon was called Mathagram in ancient times for the nine Matha’s or the spiritual schools that used to be here long time back in history.

At the end of Abade Faria road is the old market. Take a right turn from here to reach the Margao Church which it is said is built on the temple tank of an ancient temple.

It took us nearly 3 hours to cover just one road. We had to let go of visiting the Madgaon market.

Heritage Walk

Madgaon heritage walk left us overwhelmed with the grandeur and scale of houses here. They tell you about the affluent people of Goa. In another place, some of these houses would be called palaces or mansions. I wonder how many people lived there. And how many were employed there. I wonder how it would be to live in them.

I know I need to go back to explore the famous Madgaon Market but for now, I am enjoying the gorgeous houses of Madgaon.

47 COMMENTS

  1. O wow…such lovely architectural buildings…I particularly loved the Green and Red house!! The filigree work is indeed stunning. Glad to get a glimpse of my favourite aspect of any place which is Architecture.
    A week long trip to Goa may just be sufficient to explore all this along with a couple of beaches, isn’t it, Ma’am? Of course, I do know that this may not do justice to a place, still, as a tourist I would like to know 🙂

  2. I have been to Goa twice but reading your Goa posts always makes me feel as if I have hardly seen anything except the beaches. There is so much to explore. Next time I head to Goa, I am going to take this heritage walk for sure… and will meet you too 🙂

  3. Though we drove around Goa we mainly hung out in Panaji. So we really seemed to miss out on Madgaon. I guess it gives me a major reason to return to this beautiful south west section of India and explore more than just the beach areas.

  4. Margao has always been an interesting city. It has a lot of the Portuguese flair which I so love about Goa. In a way it’s like traveling to Brazil, just that you are still in Goa. The Portuguese houses are in great shape too and well taken care of, not like in Mapusa for example. I had no idea about the Instituto De Artes Femininas, that is quite an exciting find and I am happy to know that these institutions still exist. I had heard that such a place existed in Nerul (north Goa) a few years ago. They made beautiful banana fiber baskets. When we went there people were reluctant to speak to us and made us understand that we should leave and according to them they had closed and shifted but they wouldn’t say where. I think preserving the art of making crochet for example (as is a local art here) should be paramount to keep the cultural identity.

    • Helene – I refrain from calling them Portuguese houses – to me they are Goan houses that do have some Portuguese influence. Crochet too is a pretty much a pan Indian thing – I do not think it is specific to Goa or if it has Goan roots. People at the institute were really welcoming and it was such a pleasant experience to meet them.

  5. Madgaon reminds me of Georgetown in Penang, with all its artwork and beautiful, unique houses. I’m wondering if the architecture was inspired by the same…traders? I have yet to explore India myself, but when I do, Goa is certainly on my itinerary. I’ll be sure to keep this place in mind when I visit.

    • Skye – Madgaon, and Goa were under Portuguese rule for more than 400 years, so you do see their imprint on everything here.The core style is local but the influence is colonial. Goa is India’s hottest tourist destination.

  6. Having ancestors from Goa meant visiting once a year especially when I was in school. I never really realised how pretty and distinctive the architecture is till I grew up. Your post really brought back so many memories. I usually don’t stay in Madgaon, but next time I go I will follow your heritage walk and explore the architecture in Madgaon. Love the red & green and the white & blue houses the most.

  7. Goa is love and we can go there N number of times. In particular, Goa always reminds me of beaches. But now after reading your post, I have a feeling I haven’t seen anything in Gia. The colorful houses are so beautiful and your pictures have given them life. Great post and pictures.

  8. There really are some beautiful houses here! And buildings too – the Municipal Building is quite beautiful, and I love the post office – so charming! You really can tell that there’s a lot of history here, every building / house seems like it has a colorful past, and a story to tell. Very cool that the heritage walk not only includes the grand architecture of the homes, but also has temples dotted on the same road 🙂

    • Megan – Most places in India have such layered history that you are hardly disappointed when you walk through an old lane. Madgaon has some of the most beautiful houses in Goa and yes each of them tells the tales of the global it was once with all the influences that we can see in its architecture.

  9. So love the architecture, especially that near bright yellow municipal building. And that greenhouse with filigree decor. All so lovely!

  10. This has nothing to do with the post but I want to say I love the logo for the blog…
    Ok heard of Goa but everything else…total mystery.
    The architecture here in Madgaon is very interesting…I really like the Green House with Filigree Pillars and Brackets. That shade of green is beautiful. Actually so is Majestic Blue & White House. I really enjoy these heritage walks as they always provide a fantastic story backdrop to the area.

    • Thank you so much, Christopher. We wanted a logo that reflects the folk art tradition of India. We love walking around the old inhabited areas wherever we go. Goa is home but we have done walking trails in many places in India and around. They always lead to many surprising discoveries.

  11. This is too good! I am a big fan of walking tours and always say that you discover the best of a city by walking its streets. I have been to Madgaon before but only as a springboard to other places. Looks I must make an exclusive visit just to explore this “Non-touristy” city. 🙂
    Being in Mumbai it is just a overnight train away!

  12. Dear Anuradha,
    I’m a Goan who spent my formative years in Margao. The town is a bit dreary these days, but a few decades ago it was a rather lively place to be. Those sprawling houses – I lived in one – are indeed Goan houses as you say, but their particular style of architecture is referred to as “Indo-Portuguese.” I know the names and history of every house you photographed on Rua Abade Faria. By the way, no Goan would spell it as “Madgaon”, although that is the spelling you see at the railway station and some government offices. For us, it’s just “Margao”, with a nasal inflection over the last two letters. If you say it in our local language Konkani, it sounds more like “Modgao.” Cheers, Sam

    • Sam – a lot of Indian city names got frozen when a railway station came up there. I chose to write Madgaon instead of Margao because one it is the official name and second it is what people come searching for. I wish I could go with you and listen to the stories of each of those houses. In fact, I postponed this walk for a long time in search of someone who can take me along, but when I could not find anyone – I just decided to go on my own.

      • Not sure if that’s right. It makes more sense to use the name that’s actually used by the people. I’ve never heard anyone using the name “Madgaon.” Just like nobody says “Panaji” although that is the official name. It’s “Panjim” in English and “Ponnje” in Konkani.

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