Monday, 11 July 2016

Braganza heritage house, Chandor, Goa

Menezes Braganza Pereira House, living space.Goa
Braganza House,Goa. bed room
Braganza House, ball room.

 Braganza House, front part. 

Above image:  Braganza  House. Chandor, in Soutraganza  House. Chandor,Goa. a nice place to sip coffee and get lost in a fine book.  .............

Goa, once  the site of ancient Chandrapura, capital of the Kadamba dynasty is  now a sleepy village.  The Kadamba dynasty, ruled Goa in the 1300s long before the arrival of the Portuguese with the landing of  Vasco da  Gama (1460s - December 1524) on the Kappad beach  on 20 May 1498, near Kozhocode, coastal Kerala. The Portuguese conquest of Goa took place in 1510 on behalf of the Portuguese admiral D. Afonso de Albuquerque. In fact Goa (also Old Goa or Velha Goa) was not among the cities Albuquerque had been ordered by the Portuguese king to capture; it included only Hormuz, Aden and Malacca.
Braganza House. Chandor,Goa.

Goa is an interesting tourist destination as it  has beautiful historical churches, forts and other interesting places, besides a nice sea front that offers you a typical topical ambience with exotic colors, food and relaxation and fun in the shadows of coconut groves. Besides it is home to a number of heritage houses built by the once rich Portuguese  families after the  Portuguese gained a strong foot hold in the 1500s. It is quite amazing some of these heritage home have survived the vicissitude of time and vagaries of weather for centuries and still they appear to be in fair shape. The Portuguese, who landed in India before the British in 1498, left the Indian shores in 1961, 14 years after the exit of the British.  Over the years many of these houses have fallen into ruins or just  been demolished, leaving behind some that 've  survived the onslaught of time and throw light on the legacy of Portuguese culture and traditions that still persist there. They have survived to tell us and the world the tale of their towns and villas.  

The Braganza  House located in the Chandor area of South Goa is an interesting one, taking us right back to the colonial days in this part of the Indian sub continent.  The house is now divided into two parts, both occupied separately by members of the Braganza family who have inherited it. The Braganza family  has been living here for a pretty long time and looking after the house. It is one of many colonial mansions in the village where  once rich Goans of Portuguese decent lived. The  unique building design, size, landscaped garden, elegant living and ball rooms, the quality furniture, beautiful Belgian mirrors and impressive chandeliers  suggest the kind of opulence and rich life  enjoyed by the old Goan families who established the great plantations. 

Braganza House, Chandor, Goa, living

Inside the old house, the living room draws the attention of the visitors. So are the dinning and bed rooms. In the living room, Belgian mirrors, eye catching floor and wall tiles and the intricately carved furniture made of rose wood are impressive. Some of the chairs, it is believed, are about 450 years old and are being used even now. One can notice the Italian influence on the wooden furniture. In the house, ball room with pretty old chandeliers is a nice place. According to the family who represents the 14th generation the two chairs in the ball room were gifts from the king of Portugal himself. The chandeliers had to be lit up with candle in the by-gone era.Of course, now they have electricity. The ball room would have seen lots of fun parties and would- be couples, dancing to the tune of tangos and waltzes. But unfortunately, now this once vibrant place looks void  with out glamour and din.

The house owner Mrs. Braganza, who belonged to a rich family, contended that during the Portuguese occupation life was different, but things have changed since 1961 when the Portuguese left this place. She had to get used to the new life style to keep going. She gets voluntary donations mostly from foreign visitors and also from Indians to maintain the house. Lately the cost of maintenance of the old house has gone up considerably and the owners of such old heritage houses have to set aside enough money just to keep the house in good shape without losing its old and heritage values. 
The owners of such old houses in some parts of Goa face similar situation. They are either poorly maintained or pulled down to give way to modern buildings. These heritage houses are the relics of past era that connect us to our past history. Already many houses are lost with the passage of time and  lack of interest in the local community to preserve such vintage living space for us our progeny to get to know the the richness of by-gone era. It will be nice if the Goan government takes steps to preserve and
restore old heritage houses back to glory and grandeur. 

The Goan government should take steps promptly as the Kerala government does. There is a separate department in Kerala to preserve and restore  old, heritage houses and sites. For example, they are successfully preserving the Agraharam houses (where the Brahmins live) near Palakkad and other places. The Kerala government passed a bill with respect to heritage places in the state and  allocated  enough funds to get the project going without hitches.
Incidentally, the  Braganza family members are descendants of the freedom fighter and journalist, Luis de Menezes-Braganza who played an active role  in the freedom moment to  end the Portuguese colonial occupation of Goa. The families give guided tour for a voluntary donation to keep the house in shape.



Do visit again for more :)