Braganza House in Chandor, Goa, is a Portuguese heritage home that is still inhabited by the 14th generation of the Braganza family. The house is approximately 500 years old and the fortunes in this mansion are all but relics of the past, but the family unwilling to convert their home into a museum.
For just Rs 200 (US$ 2.50), the son, Claudio, takes you around their home and acquaints you with their possessions like the now-defunct kerosene fridge, pottery from Macau, Italian mosaic flooring, love seat and an old fashioned easy chair, palanquins, rosewood furniture, writing desk with sunburst design, silverware from Britain, a Wedgwood dining set and an old piano with ebony and ivory keys now incapable of reproduction or repair.
The opulence of the house will tell you of the great power that was once vested in the owner and the European lifestyle they could afford. Though after Goa was returned to India after being freed from 450 years of Portuguese rule, the Braganzas have only their possessions to remind of their glory days.
The Portuguese came to India in search of spice. Vasco da Gama set foot on its shores 1498, in the southern state of Kerala. He also visited Goa. By late 18th century, most of Western India was under Portuguese rule, Goa and Bombay being the jewels in the crown. Bombay in fact comes from Portuguese word: Bom Bahai meaning Good Port and was ceded to the British as a part of Catherine of Braganza’s dowry when she married King Charles II in 1662. Goa on the other hand gained freedom from Portuguese rule as recent as 1961.
There are many heritage homes in Goa in various stages of disrepair. The Braganza House is among the better kept residences which reminds you of the once forgotten days of European grandeur.