Prologue : We were hunting for the Goa state Museum, we were mislead to Science Museum situated besides Miramar beach, than we were directed towards Pattao, ultimately we gave up and proceeded to discover the ASI museum at Old Goa. Vehicle can be parked just by the side road and one can enter the complex of Churches starting with ASI museum.
An Archaeological Museum was established in 1964, which was later re-organised in 1981-82. This was undertaken for the CHOGM Retreat in Goa in 1982. Currently it is renovated into a world class museum with air conditioned inside, and pleasing lighting effects. A slew of surveillance cameras are fitted so that no damage is caused by vandalism covering all angles of the museum.
The highlight of this museum is the huge life size portraits of the governors and viceroys during the reign of Portuguese in a huge hall situated on the first floor. The widened staircase was newly laid for visitors to avoid a melee.
A new annexe building was constructed to provide additional space to house all the artefacts and collections. The flooring was relaid with teakwood to match with the original building and bring in uniformity. ASI has done tremendous amount of work, which is on going to maintain all the monuments in Old Goa.
Afonso de Albuquerque’s 3.6 meter bronze statue greets the visitors at the museum entrance, unfortunately photography is not allowed inside the museum. The entrance fee for Indian visitors is Rs 10/ per head and foreigners is $ 5. The Museum is open on all days except Friday it is closed and timings are 10 am to 5 pm. It takes at least 2 hours to properly have a look at various exhibits in an AC environs. The attendant told us to keep in mind 4.30, 5.00, 5.30 & 6.00 pm in mind in order of closure of monuments for visitors.
There maps of sea routes used by Portuguese merchants, St Xaviers travel path and drawings of Old Goa in 1509. Another statue of Afonso De Albuquerque adorns the museum. The plan of the museum is also displayed.
The first gallery consists of Palaeolithic stones tools and Neolithic celts and short history on pre historic sites are displayed in the map of goa. The second showcase contains artefacts from Chandor with copper nails, rings etc from 3 BC onwards. The Hindu sculptures were collected from surroundings of Old Goa Church area which suggests the presence of temples prior to Portuguese occupation, whether they were razed to ground by Adil Shah dynasty or Portuguese is a matter of conjecture.
The most important statue discovered is the statue of Vishnu, with an arched hallow containing 10 avataars of Vishnu. He is accompanied by consorts in the form Garuda and Lakshmi. Other objects on display are the Hero stones, Sati stones and a slab containing inscriptions of Devaraya’s grant to Jain Basadis. Arabic and Portuguese Inscriptions too are displayed. The tombstone of Diogo De Noronha who was captain of Daman is displayed. The hero stone exhibits reveals a Kadamba king seated on his throne surrounded by queen and attendants. The bottom panel displays his skills on naval battle with ships.
Themain attraction is the basement hall is the towering statue Luiz De Camoes ( 1524-1580) who was the national poet of Portugal. He is shown majestically holding scrolls of his poem. The one eyed poet is literally dressed in battle armour minus the sword. This statue was originally installed in the centre of garden in 1960, which was vandalised in 1980 or during emergency times i presume looking for hidden gems and jewellery. In 1982 it was re located into the museum premises, now it is the star attraction.
In the third gallery Mahishasuramardini of the seventh century AD dating back to Chalukyan reign. There are other statues of seated Ganesha, Uma Maheswari, Vetala images, Kala Bhairava, Torso of a warrior and Shiv Lingas. The show case also displays head of Bramha, Nandi and Kula Devata.
A Model of 16th century Portuguese Ship and Iron anchors are on display in the adjoining room. In 4th Gallery mideval hero stones and sati stones are displayed. The 5th gallery traces inscriptions of Adil Shah, Marathas and records of grants to Hindu temples. A masjid was probably located next to the Adil Shah Palace.
A life sized statue of St Catherina is displayed under a goan pillared shed. The courtyard has been landscaped with lawns and pathways with grills.
Once we reach the first floor the portraits of most governors and viceroys of Goa are on display. A comprehensive list is displayed on a board on hung on the western hall. 1505 TO 1961. We find familiar names such as Menzes, Naronha, De Silva, Almieda, etc which are currently adopted as family surnames by Goans. Viceroy Dom Joao De Castro ( 1545 – 1548 ) initiated the legacy of painting his own portrait along with twelve of his predecessors. This practise became a precedent for all others to follow till liberation of Goa in 1961. These paintings were originally decorating the walls of mansions in which viceroys resided, which were later shifted to Secretariat in Panjim and ultimately in 1962 it was thrown open for public viewing. These portraits reveal the evolution of style, costumes, hairstyle prevailing in Europe.
One can find display of Postal stamps, Court fee stamps, Maps of Goa, along with imported tiles used to decorate the facade of churches and floors of the alter. There is one showcase displaying various currencies coins in silver, copper, lead and brass. Afonso Albuquerque ordered the minting of coins in 1510. The major denominations were Portuguese Manoel, Leal and Pardav, Tanga, Xerafins and lastly Rupia. Most of the coins contained cross and figure of queen and year of minting on the reverse. The currencies valued at 10, 20, 30, 50, 60, 100, 300, 500, 600 & 1000 in Escudos and Rupias are displayed. There is a portrait of Dr Salazar, PM of Portugal during liberation of Goa on 19th Dec 1961, are also on display. A model of fort Diu with six cannons are displayed outside the museum.
The museum has a stall selling publications by ASI which are reasonably priced and sold on discounts too for want of takers. A video show is also organised on world heritage sites and some space is provided for children to play around. Overall the visit to this museum one discovers the rich collection of artefacts, statues, paintings and inscriptions taking us down the memory lane of Goan Heritage.