- Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan
'Central courtyard' -Courtesy Dempo family, Panaji. Pic by Mohan Pai
Tom Pires, a Portugese apothecary, who came to India in 1514 after Albuquerque conquered Ilhas mentions in his writings that there was a very large Hindu population and he gives the following description which obviously is that of the Hindu brahmin elite of the time:
Location map of the Indus-Sarasvati civilization
Human settlement patterns have always been closely intertwined with the fundamental economic activities that they support. Thus in the prehistoric period the pattern was migratory, moving with the growth seasons and the animal herds, and the house form corresponded to those needs. It was mobile, light, simple, and protective. A fundamental change in the economic system--the advent of the agricultural revolution, wherein early humans discovered that they could intervene in the reproductive cycle of edible plants and thus control and manage their food supply--brought a corresponding change to the human settlement pattern. No longer was a migratory pattern desirable. Instead, a more sedentary, more permanent form emerged. As agriculture developed further, human groupings were able to produce a surplus of food, and from this single fact grew division of labour and ultimately towns and cities.
“To the right of the porter’s lodge a short passage led to the central courtyard of the house, which was open to the sky and provided light and air to the rooms grouped about it on both the ground and upper floors. And here, let me say parenthetically, that the principle of the open court encompassed by chambers was just as fundamental to -planning at Mohenjo-Daro as it was throughout the rest of prehistoric and historic Asia, and as it has continued to be in India until the present day.”
Haveli of the northern India
Chettinad central courtyard house
The height of Goa's glory was mutually linked with the Portuguese, but the Goan grandeur predated the Portuguese. Chieftains, kings and a host of Indian dynasties had made this little jewel glitter with royal pomp. The inscription of around A.D.1000 (when Shashtadeva of the Goa Kadamba dynasty sat on the throne), describes the early splendor of the capital: 'Gardens on every side. White plastered houses, alleys, horse stables, flower gardens, markets, harlots' quarters, and tanks.' In his son's reign, Goa is reputed to have commanded a powerful fleet and traded with fourteen foreign lands. In essence, it was a coveted land with the most sought after port in India before the arrival of Muslims and Portugese.
The grand Hindu mansions like that of Kundaikar, Gaunekar and the Dempo house in Santa Cruz were built much later during late 18th and 19th century retained the introspective character but added a couple of chandeliered salas and western furniture in keeping with their status as leaders of the Hindu community within the Portugese colony.
Among the few pre-Portugese surviving houses, the oldest is perhaps the Pundu Camotim’s house located about 3 km from Old Goa. It’s a vast house and according to its present owners it is at least 580 years old. The family appears to have lived in the house even before the Portugese arrived at the beginning of the 16th century. Filipe Nery Xavier , administrator and historian has recorded the grandeur of the house of Rucuminim Camotim as the first of three most important business houses of Goa in the first quarter of the 18th century.
The next house is that of Mhamai Camotim at Panaji next to Idalcao Palace which is a late17th century house built after they returned to Goa. The earliest detail relating to Mhamai Camotim family is a loose document found by Teotonio de Souza who was perhaps the first to trace their history. When the Mhamai family moved to Panaji it was partly inhabited by Portugese fidalgos and Goan merchants as a suburb of Old Goa.
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