Goa’s colonial history rediscovered

Like with most colonial – native relationships, Goa has always seemed to have had a love – hate relationship with Portugal. Goa, once a Portuguese colony, was ruled over by Portugal for over 400 years. And in a sense, Goa’s Portuguese colonial history has made Goa what it is today. 

But as a new generation grows up in Goa today, more familiar with Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Figo as Portuguese heros rather than the old Portuguese rulers of Goa, Goa’s relationship with Portugal and everything Portuguese seems to be changing. Suddenly, everything described in Goa as “colonial,” “Portuguese” and “Latin” and suddently, Goa’s colonial history seems to have become an integral and intrinsic part of Goa’s “identity”. 

When compared to other colonial relationships in the region, especially “India’s” relationship with Great Britain, this is only common. The old guard – the freedom fighters who fought against the Portuguese or those Goan citizens who suffered under the 400 years of Portuguese colonial rule – are either dead or too old to retain their prominence and importance. Today, it is the youth of Goa that has grown up watching Cristiano Ronaldo or Luis Figo on television that determine what is cool and what’s not. In “colonial theory”, the longer the time gap since the end of colonial rule, the more positive the recollections of the colonial era are. There was a recent uproar in India when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, speaking at his alma mater Oxford University, said in a speech that Britain’s rule over India was not all that bad. And although this raised quite a few heckles among some parts of the population in India, most youngsters (eager to gain a British degree or fans of Manchester United for example) tended to agree. And Goa’s youth seems to be going the same way. 

One important area where the rise of Portugal’s popularity can be seen is in its language – Portuguese. Till 1995 or so, only a few students learnt Portuguese in Goan schools. Despite the efforts of the Indo-Portuguese Friendship Society and the Fundação Oriente promoting Portuguese in schools and colleges, most young Goans saw Portuguese as a language of the past and one that was more associated with one’s grandparents rather than one’s peers. This attitude towards Portuguese has changed dramatically over the last few years with University and private Portuguese language courses springing up like mushrooms all over Goa. Despite Portugal’s poor economic state, the youth of Goa today hope that learning Portuguese will increase their career prospects, especially with the emerging Portuguese-speaking economies of Brazil, Angola and Mozambique. Brazil, one of the BRIC countries and one of the fastest growing economies in the world, is suddenly now on the lookout for talented, Portuguese and English speaking employees – a gap that Goa is happy to fill. 

Tourism seems to be another area in which Goa’s colonial history is seeing a renaissance. 

Tourist brochures are full of “old colonial houses” providing an old world experience to tourists, who are looking for more than the usual sun and sand of Goa’s world renowned beaches. 

The “Latin Quarter” of Fontainhas – home to my Mitaroy Heritage Homestay – is also experiencing a revival of sorts. As more tourists learn about Goa’s rich cultural and colonial heritage, they seem eager to experience it first hand. Unlike the regular half-day bus tours to Old Goa and the Church of Francis Xavier that resemble cattle transport rather than tourist providers, many tourists now want to spend a few days simply walking around the quaint bye lanes of Fontainhas and soaking up the Latin atmosphere, rather than competing with the throngs of tourists in Old Goa or the beaches of Anjuna – Baga. 

While there remains lots to be done in the area of Heritage Tourism Communication – the topic of my PhD thesis in Salzburg, Austria – recognising the importance of Goa’s colonial history and heritage is the first and most important step in this direction.

Top 10 things to do on your Honeymoon in Goa

Goa has always been one of the most beautiful honeymoon destinations in the whole of India, being blessed with miles scenic beaches with swaying coconut palms, old colonial Heritage Portuguese buildings, delicious cuisine and a easy going, laid back populace.

And most Honeymoon Couples that stay in one of the Honeymoon Suites at The Mitaroy, Goa – often ask for a list of things to do while they are on their honeymoon in Goa.

That is why I decided to blog about my Top 10 list of things to do as a honeymoon couple on your honeymoon to Goa:

1. A romantic walk on the beach

After checking in to their Honeymoon Suite, the first thing that honeymoon couples usually do is head to the beach. There is nothing more romantic than walking hand-in-hand across miles and miles of scenic beach. And Goa does have a wide variety of beaches to offer. From the busy beaches in the north to the untouched beaches in the south, honeymoon couples are spoilt for choice. While the waves crash in the background, the honeymoon couple seems completely oblivious to the beauty outside, so taken in are they by the beauty of their partner walking hand-in-hand beside them. And after a while of walking on the beach, the honeymoon couple sit down, close to each other, and admire the expanse of seemingly endless blue ocean.

2. Champagne Breakfast

One of the most popular things to do on a Honeymoon is to wake up leisurely to a Champagne Breakfast. While we serve a complimentary Champagne Breakfast at the Mitaroy Goa Hotel at a time of your choice, most hotels in Goa usually offer Champagne on the menu. Combined with freshly pressed orange juice, waking up to a glass of Champagne is one of the most romantic things honeymoon couples can do on their honeymoon in Goa.

3. Listen to the music of legendary mandolin player Emiliano

The O Coqueiro restaurant and bar is one of the most romantic restaurants in the whole of Goa. O’ Coqueiro (pronounced as o-co-ke-roo) means Coconut tree in Portuguese. The O’ Coqueiro restaurant is housed in a sprawling, old Portuguese-style ancestral bungalow right on the Mapusa – Panaji highway in the small village of Porvorim. Rather plain by day, in the evening the lighting and greenery give it a romantic atmosphere that is hard to describe.

Every Friday, Emiliano and his band play a medley of Portuguese, Goan and Hindi music that keeps your feet tapping through your meal. The O Coqueiro restaurant and bar is also home to the Chicken Cafreal, a delicious Goan chicken dish with a delicious dark green gravy, eaten either with Basmati rice or Goan paav bread.

4. View the impressive colonial architecture in the capital city of Panjim (Panaji)

Goa is not just about the beaches. 400 years of Portuguese rule has left an indelible mark on the architecture of Goa and nowhere is this more evident than in the capital city of Panjim or Panaji. After building up a glorious capital city in Old Goa, the Portuguese were forced to flee to Panaji or Panjim to escape the water contamination in Old Goa. The upper class Portuguese set up residence in and around the Neighbourhood of Fontainhas and then set about building up Panjim as a worthy successor to Old Goa. While certain buildings and statues had pure prestige value, other buildings like the high court and the administrative offices also served a bureaucratic purpose. Today, honeymoon couples can marvel at the Portuguese architectural heritage as they walk past magnificent buildings built in the Portuguese era such as the first Medicine University or the old City Library. Many honeymoon couples also like to walk hand-in-hand along the Mandovi pier as they watch the twinkling lights of the luxury yachts and casino ships moored in the river.

5. Discover the Latin Quarter of Fontainhas

Quietly tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Panjim or Panaji, the capital city of Goa, is the neighbourhood of Fontainhas, home to The Mitaroy, Goa. The neighbourhood of Fontainhas (which means “little fountain” in Portuguese) is home to the last surviving Portuguese families of Goa. In 1984, Fontainhas was declared a UNESCO Heritage Zone & most of the buildings and churches here date back to the mid 19th century.Fontainhas has a number of designer boutiques where you can shop for Portuguese crockery, glassware, art and clothing. With its narrow winding streets, quaint bye lanes, old heritage houses and distinct Portuguese flair, Fontainhas evokes a nostalgia and longing for the romance of an era gone by.

6. Visit the location of the tragic love story of Dona Paula de Menezes

The Dona Paula beach and promontory is named after the Portuguese Viceroy’s daughter Dona Paula de Menezes.

This young, innocent girl fell in love with a local Goan fisherman. This match was however, quite unacceptable to the Viceroy who forbade his daughter Dona Paula to ever see her young lover again. Distraught with love and sorrow, Dona Paula could not bear a life without her young Goan lover and threw herself off a cliff into the unforgiving Arabian Sea.

Left with nothing but his daughter’s memory, the Portuguese Viceroy named the area Dona Paula, as an eternal tribute to his stubbornness and forbidden romance & love.

Today, there is a black stone statue of the young Dona Paula and her Goan lover on a rocky promontory jutting into the sea with a sweeping view of the Marmagoa Port in the background.

The Dona Paula beach and pier is a popular spot for honeymoon couples to visit. Most honeymoon couples walk up to the top of the cliff to pay tribute to the stone statue of the young Dona Paula and her undying love.

7. Visit Goa’s only bird sanctuary

The Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is Goa’s only bird sanctuary and one of the most romantic spots in Goa for honeymoon couples to spend an afternoon.

Named after the famous ornithologist Dr Salim Ali, the scenic and serene atmosphere of the Sanctuary make it a perfect spot for honeymoon couples to while away their time, whispering sweet nothings in each others ears or just gazing fondly at each other while listening to the natural bird calls in the background.

8. Discover the remnants of Goa’s Portuguese Heritage Homes

The Braganca House in Chandor is one of the last remaining Grand Portuguese Heritage Homes.

In the centre of the small, sleepy village of Chandor in south Goa lies a 450 year old sprawling Portuguese mansion named Braganca House. For honeymoon couples looking for a peek into the lives of the landed gentry of the Portuguese era, the Braganca House is probably your best bet. From the ceiling tiles hand-painted by Chinese artists, to the oyster shell windows and the exquisite porcelain plates from Macau adorning the walls.

In the magnificent ballroom, with its Italian alabaster marble flooring and crystal chandeliers from Venice, honeymoon couples can let their imagination take them back to the days when the aristocratic couples of old Portuguese Goa glided elegantly across the marble floor.

9. Trace the history of Goan Houses at the Houses of Goa Museum

Designed by the famous Goan architect Gerard da Cunha, the Houses of Goa Museum is a strange ship like structure situated in the middle of the road in Bardez, Goa.

The Houses of Goa Museum is a collection of household articles and trinkets that depict the history and heritage that is unique to Goa. Honeymoon couples can take a look at unique items like a rare hat stand, old French windows and rare postcards of Goa dating back to 1900s.

According to Gerard da Cunha, “Goans, who were people who were converted, were looking for a new identity, and thus embarked on the experiment in architecture, to produce something unique and unseen anywhere in the world”.

Da Cunha’s landmark museum provides a ringside view!

10. Make love in your own Honeymoon Suite

No honeymoon is complete without the consummation of the marriage itself. While it is nice to discover the local sights and sounds of Goa, most honeymoon couples at The Mitaroy, Goa come back to their Honeymoon Suite in the evening to freshen up for dinner.

After a romantic dinner under a starlit sky, it is time for honeymoon couples to return to their Honeymoon Suite, light up a few scented candles, turn off the lights and discover the pleasure of making love to each other till the early hours of the morning…after all, that’s what a honeymoon is really all about, isn’t it?

Honeymoons are special, once in a lifetime experiences and rest assured, we will take special care of you and make your honeymoon something you will remember for the rest of your lives!

Please make your reservations well in advance since we are often booked out quite early.

Click Here to Book your Tailor Made Goa Honeymoon Package Now!

Viva Panjim Restaurant Goa

Just a 5 minute stroll away from my Mitaroy Goa Hotel in the neighbourhood of Fontainhas is a small restaurant that serves the best prawn curry rice I have ever eaten.

Panjim, the capital of Goa, is known for its amazing restaurants. I know people who stay in North Goa but still come to Panjim every day to try out the restaurants here.

Viva Panjim, located in a Heritage Home in the UNESCO Heritage Zone of Fontainhas in Panjim, is a real treat for sea food lovers. Popularized by the Lonely Planet Guide and the Rough Guide, you can see foreign tourists making a beeline towards the restaurant which is tucked away in a quiet, side street.

Whenever we eat at Viva Panjim, we prefer to sit outside on the portico rather than inside this heritage house. A Goan feni with lime is a great way to start off the meal, with a side order of fried mussels. I then move on to my favourite prawn curry rice accompanied by another round of Goan feni with lime.

The consistency of the prawn curry is just right – not too thick and not too watery. The ingredients in the prawn curry rice are secret but the result is a unique, orangish hue. The portion is really large with a good serving of rice and atleast 6 huge prawns.

The Owner of Viva Panjim and a family friend of ours, Linda sits at her desk every day and keeps a sharp eye on the waiters to see if they are doing their job. Linda’s stern face breaks into a smile when a new guest walks in. She knows most customers who are either old friends or loyal guests and she greets them by name. 

Most first time guests swear by Viva Panjim and quite often, you see familiar faces of guests who religiously visit Viva Panjim for at least one meal every day.

Once we polish off the last of the rice and prawn curry and wash it down with a last Goan feni with lime, it is time to slowly make our way back to our private Suite at my Mitaroy Goa Hotel and partake of a very welcome afternoon Siesta!

Stay Romantic!

Mihir

About Us

My name is Mihir Ignatius Nayak and this is the story of how I started the Mitaroy Goa. 

From a very young age (I think I must have been 2 or 3 years old), my parents used to take me on a number of holidays across India. My father was one of India’s first travel journalists and he got to stay at many hotels as part of his work. My mother, who had a really stressful job as a Doctor, loved to travel.

My earliest recollections as a small boy, were packing our stuff, getting into our small car and driving away to some new, exciting place. And when my little sister was born, we used to bundle her into the car too, nappies and all!

When I started school, we used to go every summer for a week’s holiday to Goa. Delicious Goan food, miles of untouched beaches and the knowledge that school was a full 2 months away meant that I looked forward to the summer holidays the whole year round. For me, the summer holidays were undoubtedly the best time of my childhood.

It was then at the tender age of 10 that I had a dream. One day I would open my own hotel in Goa and it would be called “Mitaroy”.  

When I told my mother about my dream to open my own hotel someday, she must have smiled to herself, wondering how I could ever dream of owning my own hotel.

When I finished high school, my parents wanted me to study law like my grandfather. But I was determined to study hotel management and pursue my childhood dream. After looking at a number of hotel schools in the UK, Switzerland, Australia and Austria, I finally decided on the Salzburg Tourism School in Austria, where many famous hoteliers from across the globe had studied.

5 years later, I graduated with excellent grades, topping my class, even though all the subjects were in German! From making beds and polishing cutlery to checking in dignitaries and cooking with a Michelin chef, I worked my way from small bed & breakfasts to Grand Hotels. But I never forgot my boyhood dream of opening my own hotel some day.

When I returned to India, I was looking to start out on my own. My parents owned an old house in our ancestral neighbourhood of Fontainhas. They didn’t know what to do with it and it was lying in a dilapidated condition. I decided that I would take up the job of restoring the old house and convert it into a hotel.

And 15 years later, I actually did open my first hotel, thus making boyhood dream a reality.

In the future, I plan to open hotels in Salzburg, London, Berlin and Cape Town.

But whatever the future might hold for me, I have learnt that if you dare to dream and believe in yourself, all your dreams will come true…

Goa Monsoon – Romance in the Rains

Finally, its that time of the year.

Whether you prefer to take long walks in the pouring rain or cuddle up cozily in your spacious Suite and watch the rain beat incessantly against your windows, Goa in the monsoons is the perfect place for romance.

Goa is a great place to visit in all seasons but my favourite time of the year has to be Goa in the monsoons. 

After a long and hot summer, the monsoon showers in Goa bring much needed respite to the soil. Nature in Goa takes on a newly washed look, looking fresher and greener than ever.

Goa in the monsoons is perfect for romance because, for some odd reason, most tourists choose to visit Goa either during Summer or Christmas / New Years, leaving Goa quiet and peaceful for couples that visit during this time of the year.

As you walk along the Panjim pier (a short distance from my Mitaroy Goa Hotel), you can see a few couples holding hands as they marvel at the spate of the Mandovi river, in all its glory!

Stay Romantic!

Mihir