The Grand Old Houses of Goa

What this tour is about: Along with endless beaches, Goa is also dotted with beautiful old buildings reminding us of the Portuguese who ruled Goa for 450 years.

The Portuguese arrived in Goa in 1510. Over the centuries, under Portuguese rule, a local nobility evolved, consisting mostly of Hindu Brahmins who had converted to Christianity. These converted Brahmins built grand Goan mansions having wide verandas, panelled ceilings, ornate private chapels with sculpted saints and cherubs, and window shutters decorated with oyster shells. Though the Portuguese influence is obvious, many of these mansions also reflect a unique fusion of local and Western ideas.

Places we will visit: The Braganza house at Chandor village in south Goa is perhaps the grandest of the state's colonial mansions. This mansion, with precious artefacts from all over the world, is over 450 years old. It was built in three stages. The sheer size of the house is to be seen to be believed. Having 28 balconies, it is 110 metres in length and flanks the full length of one side of the village square. Braganza house also has the biggest private library in Goa. A variety of material has been used from room to room: the visitors' salon has Portuguese tiles; Flemish wood has been used in the library, while the ballroom is made of Italian marble. There are crystal chandeliers from Venice and Belgium. Some windows are made of coloured glass from Venice, while others are decorated with scraped and laminated oyster shells found on Goan beaches.

After this, we will visit the more intimate Palacio de Deao. This 213 years old mansion was built by a Portuguese noble man, who was the Dean of the Church, and founder of Quepem town. The house faces the Church he built and is on the banks of the Kushavati River. It is built in an unusual style blending elements of Hindu and Portuguese architecture. The house has lush gardens which have managed to preserve their historical features. The Palacio de Deao has a nice eating area on the belvedere, where Indo-Portuguese cuisine, vegetarian and non-vegetarian food is served.

After a tour and lunch at this house, we will return to the hotel. On the way we will stop at the main Margao bazaar for a look at the bustling fish market.

How it works: Full day car tour, starting and ending from your hotel