Goa has many faces, from the bustling beaches to crowded bazaars, opulent churches to ultra plush resorts, the state culminates a wide array of experiences, quite not enough for a lifetime. However, if one looks closely and turns a few pages of its history, it has a history, older than the Mughals themselves. A short drive from Panjim through the lush green paddy fields take you to Loutolim, sleepy old village reminiscent of its Portuguese past. Look for the Figueiredo Mansion. Within minutes you shall find a classic 16th century Portuguese mansion, with a beautiful Bougainvillea laden porch and sprawling greens all around.
This historic mansion was built in 1590 (the Taj was completed in 1648) for the Podiars, a Goan family who converted to Christianity and took the name Figueiredo. Besides the Portuguese influence and the Indian elements, Figueiredo House reflects the glorious history of the Figueiredo family and their rise to power. One of Goa’s most influential families, the Figueiredos served as diplomats and ambassadors in the Portuguese Parliament. In the 18th century, as they rose to power, new sections were added to their beautiful mansion, to give it its current proportions. The heiress and current owner of the Figueiredo House, Maria de Lourdes Figueiredo de Albuquerque, was the first and youngest woman in the Portuguese Parliament. After spending 60 years abroad, she returned to Goa, and has since devoted her time to maintain and restore the house to its original grandeur. Since 2010, a part of the house has been opened to the public as a museum. This miraculously preserved section is a stunning picture of Portuguese culture and Indian art during the colonial years.
The opulent interiors with period furniture have been hand picked from different parts of the world, some made as an exclusive piece for the family. As you enter the dining hall you feel like entering into a period movie set, designed with exquisite elegance, with heavy teak wood furniture and floor, reminiscent of grand dinners and balls. The Belgian crystal chandeliers, antique Chinese Ming porcelain, crystal cutlery, leather-upholstered chairs from Portugal, floor mosaics made up of tiles from Italy, and wooden furniture with intricate carvings of Krishna and other Indian gods, lions and coconut trees, are all preserved with their centuries-old magnificence still intact. The hostess takes you through all of these elaborating on the intricate details of each piece. Each piece has a story to tell with a history as old as time itself. The former bedrooms of the family members are strikingly painted with thematic handmade wallpapers, each different from the other. Ming jugs and huge saucers have been placed as washbasins in all the rooms.
Towards the end of the house (the oldest part) is the Heritage Inn. A collection of rooms which have been converted into a heritage home stay. Keeping all the antique furniture and decor intact, all the rooms have been equipped with Wi-Fi and air conditioning. It also houses a swimming pool to chill in the Goan sun. Sit back and relax with a book from the library, enjoy a dip in the pool, enjoy the garden courtyard and lovely Portuguese cuisine cooked by the hostess. Savour the interesting stories and experience a different Goa, the “Real Goa” as Maria Albuquerque says.
Address: Loutolim, Goa 403718
Phone: 0832 277 7028
Hours: 9 am to 5 pm
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