Heritage homestays of Goa
Indian history is replete with grand houses and palaces and even glorious tombs for their dear ones to rest comfortably after death! And when the Portuguese came to Goa, they picked the local elements and ideas in their craft to build their dream homes on Indian soil. The sunshine yellow Portuguese houses still stand strong to foretell the golden history of Goa, a beautiful confluence of culture, art and religion.
The roof of these houses were made of locally available tiles called Mangalorean tiles and red laterite was used for the construction of walls which were made massively thick to protect from the heat of sun. Layers of mud, jaggery and lime were used as plaster, which were later replaced by cement and different layers of colors ranging from indigo and red to yellow changed with time and taste.
On my last trip to Goa, I consciously decided not to chase the sand and sun of its beaches. I wanted to live the traditional Goan way of life, walk in the neighborhood, taste local flavors, visit local markets, churches, chapels and art galleries. My Goan experience was truly enhanced by the heritage houses of Goa, it gave me a chance to relive its history. Here are some of my recommendations and insights about the heritage houses of Goa-
The only Olive
‘The only Olive’ is a symbol of peace, solitude and reflection of childhood memories. It is an independent villa with three rooms, a living room, a dining hall and a lush green garden. A few movies have been shot here “Finding Fanny” being one of them.
A Goan caretaker, who knows his art of cooking, manages the place. You can take a walk in the neighborhood of this picture perfect village, or ride to Charao Island, this place will definitely introduce you to a different side of Goa. St Thomas Church is a must see which is around the corner. Another wonderful sight to visit is Corjeum fort, which has a beautiful story of the Portuguese traveler Urusila who travelled the world dressed like a men.
Price per night 2,500-3,500
A home could be a person or a place, which makes you feel at absolute comfort and lets you, be your authentic self. Such was my stay in Casa Serendip. Casa Serendip is a beautiful confluence of modern and ancient times. Nisha is an artist whose creative instincts have changed the facet of this old house. The house was built in 1452, even before the Portuguese came to India and later, the house adapted a Portuguese style. She has injected the life in this old house, decorating it with recycled furniture which was otherwise lying around the house over the years. She picked up the old doors, windows, and even old beams and made some of the coolest piece of furniture I have seen lately.
The rooms, which were once used for storing coconuts, are now renovated and painted in uber cool indigo and soothing green colors. They are decorated with white butterflies; symbol of peace and the fairy lights inside the room to fulfill your childhood whims. The open area was my favorite place to hangout and work, a good internet connection and a good cup of coffee is all I needed to remain connected to the world while I enjoyed my time in Goa. The beaches Calunguate, Vagator and Bagga are with in 12 kms to allow you explore the night life of Goa.
Price per night 1,500-2,500
Situated in the sleepy village of Batim, Casa Menzes is the best choice if you would like to mix your goan experience with some luxury. Located in a charming neighborhood, the church of My Lady Guadalupe is within a stone’s throw distance. Some part of house would give you the impression of walking in a museum with an antique collection of ivory sculptures, chandeliers, cameras, literature and paintings. However it is the gigantic dinning hall, which was a show stealer for me, it will not only satisfy your palette with the best of Goan preparations but also give you a chance to converse with guests from different parts of the world.
Pilar Monastery and Museum is very close and highly recommended if you are interested in learning about pre-Portuguese history of Goa and the ancient city of ‘Govapuri’. Old Goa and Panjim are within 13 kms if you wish to see the charm of Old Goa.
Price per night 4,000-5,000
Alfonso guest house is right in the heart of Fontainhas like a beautiful post-card covered with flowering hibiscus. Fontainhas is filled with romance and remains cocooned in an old world charm. It’s suspended in a state of colonial limbo – reflecting shades of Portugal and yet retaining a flavorful character that’s quite its own. The St. Chapel square is next to it, and the art gallery ‘Gitanjali’ is just 2 minutes walk away.
A family –run guesthouse, it has all the basic facilities to make you comfortable as you explore this Latin quarter of Panjim. The decor is beautiful and vintage, and the rooftop patio is great for reading or to strike a conversation with other travelers.
Price per night 2,500-35000
Did you experience heritage stay elsewhere in India? I would love to know..