Architecture of Goa


The architecture of Goa is a delightful combination of India, Mughal and Portugal styles. Since the Portuguese ruled this place for two centuries, many churches and houses bear a striking element of the Portugal style of architecture. Goa was also under the Mughal rule and thus one finds monuments built in the typical Mughal style complete with the domes. The typical Goan architecture is very simple and easy going and is visible in buildings like modern churches, houses, etc.

By the end of the 18th century, there was a sea change in style of buildings in Goa. Though the Portugal essence remained, there was an overdose of colors and usage of tiles increased. Blue and red turned out to be favorite colors with many houses being painted in bright blues and the roofs being covered by red tiles. The houses are usually large and have spacious rooms with windows for ventilation. Each house also has a separate room or secluded space for keeping the idol or photographs of their Gods thus indicating how religious the Goans are.

Ibrahim Adil Shah, the ruler of Bijapur built 27 mosques in the Ponda taluka around the year 1560. The Safa Shahouri Masjid situated at Ponda is the biggest and most well known of them. A masonry colonnade once adorned the outer periphery of the mosque's platform, surmounted by finials. Of those tall sentinels, today only stubs of varying height remain.Adjacent to the mosque is an elaborately built masonry tank. Small dressing rooms encircle the tank with the ubiquitous pointed arches. The mosque and tank were originally surrounded by a large garden with fountains.

The same elements - mosque, colonnade and tank - stand at the Adil Shah Mosque at Surla Tar in Bicholim. The laterite columns stand like iron pillars, resisting the ravages of time. Not surprising, as Goa's substrata is rich in iron ore. The laterite stone pillar is almost as good as an iron forged column.A brief description of the Islamic faith (that I found on the net) describes prayer thus : "...Muslims gather at their mosque on Fridays at noon for communal prayer. The Imam leads the prayer and addresses the congregation from a stepped platform called minbar. He never preaches from the top step, which is symbolically reserved for the prophet Muhammad.

Mosques are built with a special tower called a minaret, where a person known as the muezzin calls the people to prayer five times a day. When Muslims pray they face toward Mecca, the birthplace of Muhammad. The direction is marked by an alcove known as the mihrab, which serves as a focal point for the prayer hall.So I presume the stepped platform in the photo above would be used by the muezzin to call to prayer. The Imam would use the minbar inside the mosque.

A modern mosque designed by Architect Ashok Akerkar stands in the heart of Margao in the Malbhat area, built in reinforced concrete and stone. Four minarets at each corner thrust at the sky. The cornice projected on the outward curve of the walls gives the structure a striking appearance and allows the traditional pointed arch to escape into a three dimensional fluidity. Man, that sounded quite impressive!

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