cabo-palace

Raj Bhavan (Hindi for Government House) is the official residence of the Governor of Goa. It is located in the capital city of Panaji, Goa. The present governor of Goa is Mridula Sinha. The governor is the first citizen of the state and the head of State. He is appointed by the President of the Republic of India.

The official residence of the governor of Goa, known as “Raj Bhavan”, is located at the extreme end of a narrow cape jutting into the Arabian Sea. Situated on the rim of the water-space formed by the merging of the perennial rivers of Mandovi, on one side, and Zuari, on the other, into the Arabian Sea, it is one of the Palaces of historical and architectural significance and antiquity in Goa. Earlier, during the Portuguese regime, it was the Official Residence of the Governors-General, which was then known as “Palacio do Cabo”. Later, it was the Official Residence of the Lt. Governors of the Union Territory of Goa, Daman and Diu, under the name of “Cabo Raj Niwas”, which name it retained till Goa was given the status of a State in 1987.

The Raj Bhavan is a double-storeyed structure of great dimensions and architectural significance. While the ground floor consists of the Office Chamber and The Residence of His Excellency the Governor, and a few Guest Suites, the first floor occupies the Durbar Hall, Conference Hall, Banquet Hall, the main Kitchen and some additional Guest Suites and Rooms.

There are, in the Palace, old antique items of decorative beauty and intrinsic quality, like Chinese porcelain objects of art and Bohemian glass chandeliers in the Durbar Hall and Banquet Hall. Five tall Cantonese vases, which are believed to be over 300 years old, as well as two large-sized Cantonese bowls – all with Coat of Arms – are among the antique items in the Palace. So also, two wooden ormolu mounted chests with veneer wood inlay and Carara marble tops. On the walls, in the Durbar Hall, are large mirrors and a painting of a Fisherman by Francisco Jose Rezende (1866). Exquisitely carved furniture of ingenious and rare workmanship form part of the beautiful collections of the Palace, whose quality has not diminished even after use for centuries, thanks to the proper maintenance. A row of verandahs elevated on pillars on the rear side, overlook the Mandovi River to the right, the Zuari River to the left, and the Arabian sea.

The Raj Bhavan also employs many people to carry out the day to day functions of the Bhavan. Smt Shilpa Shinde, IAS is the Secretary to Governor. Sqn Ldr Himanshu Tiwari of the Indian Air Force is Aide de Camp to the Governor. Shri. Allen De Sa of Goa Police is also Aide de Camp to the Governor.

During the years 1999 and 2000, the Palace underwent a major renovation. In order to strengthen the structure, as per expert advice, those old wooden beams above the ground floor, which had decayed over the years, particularly due to termite attack, were removed and, in their place, steel beams were installed for the entire building. This was done in a phased manner. In the area behind the Palace, facing the sea, which has experienced distress over the last few years, major remedial steps have been taken to protect and preserve this historical building.

At one corner of the Raj Bhavan, there is a beautiful Chapel which is about 500 years old. The Chapel, which has always formed part of the Raj Bhavan, is open for the Morning Mass on all Sundays, as also on Christmas and Easter. A large number of devotees, mostly from the nearby villages, attend the Mass. The Feast of the Chapel is celebrated on 15 August, (morning), which coincides with the Independence Day of India. Thousands of devotees, cutting across various religious groups, attend the special prayers held on this occasion, and a big ‘mela’ is held on the day at the Raj Bhavan.

Another ideal spot in the Raj Bhavan Estate is a narrow strip of beach, reachable through steps. There is a natural spring with sweet water, only at about 20 meters’ distance from the sea water-line. From here, one can get a view of the Mormugao Harbour. The place is, however, not safe for diving.