Enter Goa Like A Royal Viceroy
Most People Have Never Heard of This Celebrated Arch
When in Goa, take a detour. There are a handful of things that a city girl like me finds impressive in this state. One of those is the ferry that takes not only people on board but also real life cars. In a time when we are so used to flyovers and bridges, a boat to cross over holds a wonder like a newborn looking at a balloon. So there I sat overlooking the Mandovi river crossing. The entire river crossing took over 2 minutes. They were working in a very efficient manner.
Calling it a day, we decided to go back the way we came unfortunately it was not via the ferry. Heading towards Old Goa, we were about to pass an old yet neglected looking archway. Since the road was pretty much quaint, we decided to halt and look around. After peeping here and there, we realised what we were looking at was the Viceroy’s Arch. I took a few snaps.
The arch was made using red bricks or so I thought. One the top of the archway was a statue and inside the archway was a plaque. A sentence inscribed on this plaque read in Portuguese, a language I don’t know. The government had put up a board educating passers-by of this arch. What they had written was not very clear. I think they had missed a sentence somewhere. My curiosity got the better of me. I went back and decided to research about this arch. When did the Viceroy’s come to Goa via the Mandovi river, I wondered. I thought the Viceroy’s were in Delhi!
So firstly, we must remember that Goa was not under the British rule. It was under the Portuguese and this mark can still be seen and felt as you travel the length and breadth of Goa. The Portuguese had their own set of Viceroys.
During the times of old, people coming in Goa would leave the Arabian Sea and travel up the Mandovi River. This archway would stand as a symbol for anyone wanting to dock at Vellah, the capital of the Portuguese Empire.
The new Viceroy would dock at the Viceroy’s Arch. Here the old Viceroy would present his new substitute with a symbolic key. Then with great pomp, the new Viceroy would be lead towards the city of Vellah.
When the capital of the Portuguese Empire shifted to Panjim, this archway fell into abandon. It was neglected, so much so that the river facing part of the arch collapsed. In 1954, this arch was restored.
Originally, the arch is made of laterite. The river facing part of the arch also comprises of green granite. The statue of Vasco Da Game stands on the river front. This arch was built in his memory by his grandson, Francis da Gama who was the Viceroy of Goa from 1597 to 1600, in 1599. Vasco Da Game was the man who discovered the trading route to India. The Da Gama Family Crest of a deer is also represented on the arch.
One the other side facing the city of Vellah, is a statue of a decorated European woman standing over an Indian wielding a sword. This represents the successful Inquisition and conquest of Goa. Inside the archway is a plaque which commemorates the emancipation of Portugal from Spain in 1656 and is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary.
There was also a statue of St. Catherine on this arch. After the restoration in 1954, it has been removed to a museum nearby.
If you ever visit the two White and Red Churches in Old Goa, make it a point to take a turn onto the quaint lane leading up to the Mandovi River. It is not just an arch which you shall be privy to, but another gem entirely- the St. Cajetan Church. What is this church? I’ll be acquainting you with it this Friday, till then bye bye!
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