Goa's Portuguese heritage mansion - Solar dos Colaços Mansion, India

The small state of Goa in Western India is endowed with nature's beauty -  serene lush coconut groves, large water bodies, beautiful  sandy beaches and the tropical climate make it suitable for holidaymakers, particularly Europeans. Also quite interesting are the centuries old churches, heritage houses, buildings, etc dotted here and there across the coastal Goa. These heritage structures have  terracotta figurines,  classic brass items, beautifully carved rosewood furniture, etc and the Hindu temples here have  lovely paintings that depict various episodes from the Hindu epics. These artistic work brings out  the superior workmanship and skills the artisans possessed in the past and how the then colonial rulers - Portuguese used their talents to their advantage and built impressive  ornamental monuments. The residential builders  who were interested in aesthetics also  used the talented local skilled workers and craftsmen and built amazing European style houses that can be marked out easily from others and to day, they form part of the legacy of Portuguese colonists.  The Colonists earned the ire of Indian natives  practicing  religious suppression, etc and ultimately got lost midway in the colonial expansionism in the backdrop of rapid growth of British imperialism in other pars of India. But, there no parts in Goa where one can not see the imprints of Portuguese Colonists  and they are quite inspiring. So are the several European style heritage houses built centuries ago combining Indian as well as European architecture. The Portuguese arrived in 1510 stayed in India longer than the British and left Goa in 196 . Solar dos Colaços Mansion, Goa is just a chip of Colonial Goa.
Solar dos Colaços Mansion Goa.  planetgoaonline.com
Solar dos Colaços Mansion Goa. www.facebook.com/

“Solar dos Colaços”, a  fine baroque-style (17th and 18th European style of architecture) riverside heritage house on the bank of the river Mandovi  is in the village of Ribandar between Old Goa and Pangim. Actual locaton is in Loutolim where one can get a  stunning, panoramic view  of the islands of Chorão and Divar, and the historical churches of Old Goa. The natural scenery is just mesmerizing and the ambiance offers plenty of peace and quiet around here. No din and no madding urban crowd.

The big house  owned by the  the Colaço family, originally from the island of Divar,  has two segments, covering  810 sq. meters. It has private jetty and  an array of antiques - wooden furniture, china, glass works, etc. The brief history of this house is an interesting one. West side segment  was built in 1745  by  João  Nazário Colaço.  His father began the work earnestly in 1730 and could not complete it before his time for various reasons. The Colaços have been living here since  1759  with a brief break during an epidemic in old Goa that forced the locals to move out to some other place.  The family dining hall and the private chapel the “Oratório”( usually narrative musical work for orchestra and voices, typically on a sacred theme, performed without costume, scenery, or action) are part of this portion.  It was in 1824 the eastern segment was built as an addition by José Bernardo Colaço that included   a ballroom and a minstrel gallery (the “coreto”).

It is interesting to note that José Bernardo’s grandson, Nazário Colaço II  had the distinction of having been honored  with the title of  “Fidalgo Cavalheiro” ( meaning a nobleman) by the king of Portugal on 4th January 1890. The peculiar name of the house Solar draws our attention and it has nothing to do with sun's energy, rather Solar is a Portuguese  name meaning  the residence of a nobleman. The house has excellent wood carving work, that was done by Nazário  himself who was a was good at wood working.

Presently the dinning hall is being used as a living area  as in the past and there is a dinning table that can accommodate 30 people at a time. Indeed a huge one for an ordinary family. Perhaps the owners in the past had lots of friends and used to throw parties on holidays and week ends.

Heritage houses such as Colaços in Goa in the past  provided  a distinctive and exotic background for  joyous wedding receptions, fashion shows, clandestine parties with a Goan theme.
An amazing feature that is worthy of mention is the depiction of scenes from the Hindu epic the Ramayana found on the panels of some furniture.  Hindu god in a Goan catholic Christian home? Is it not a thing of oddity? It suggests the owners - native Goans, in spite of Goan inquisition, centuries ago that resulted in the death of thousands of Hindus and Christians who refused to give up their Hindu tradition, still retained their  link with their old Hindu faith.

The family's private chapel has the statue of the Madonna and the Child . It is said to have been brought to the house by José Bernardo Colaço who was saved from near death in the waters off the coast of Aguada, when his ship was capsized after his return from Diu. Fortunately he saw a statue, floating near by and immediately he had  clung to it to stay afloat  and later was rescued. The family still follows the tradition of  having  annual prayers (the Rosary and a “ladaínha”) from the 1st to the 15th of August as a token of gratitude toward the Almighty who gave back Bernado's life.