Goa is a substantial distance from my last port of call and I had planned to get there via two long train journeys up the west coast, immediately after I’d travelled on the Nilgiri mountain railway. I had even managed to get confirmned seats on both trains. Then, a couple of days beforehand, I happened to be checking the details when an awful truth dawned on me.
I had managed to book for the day before I wanted to travel, as my first train left just after midnight and I had been searching by date, hoping for a mid-evening departure. It was now far too late to get a ticket for the correct date, so I snagged what appeared to be the last seat on a flight instead. At least you can cancel train tickets for a very minimal cost and thank goodness I discovered it in advance, rather than in the middle of the night on a train platform.
Goa is a tiny but affluent Indian state and famous of course for its beaches. But I was there to see sixteenth and seventeenth century religious Portuguese architecture, which for me is a lot more appealing.
The world heritage site is a collection of churches, convents and ruins at a place called Old Goa, a short bus ride from the capital Panjim, where I was staying in a lovely hotel in a beautiful old house.
The site is now a small village but was the capital of Portuguese India and indeed their empire in the east, until epidemics in the eighteenth century forced the site’s virtual abandonment. It was also contained the headquarters of all the evangelising Catholic orders which spread the architectural styles of the churches their throughout Asia.
Having visited many Baroque churches in the world heritage sites of both Portugal itself and its former colonies in South America (see blog posts passim), I reccognised the same style of churches here (which the UNESCO listing notes are also Mannerist and Manueline).
The most important monument is the Basilica of Bom Jesus, which houses the large and ornate tomb of St Francis Xavier, co-founder of the Jesuits and patron saint of Goa. It also contains the most gruesome crucifix I have yet seen.
For the Lego model, I got my bricks out with a strong sense of deja vu (deja built?) and decided to model this:
leading to this: