the virtual text book ||
there is no place like us ||
A classy destination
CASA ARAUJO ALVARES
Situated at one of the most vantage spots, ensuring itself of the views of the church, market "Tintto" and the social events in and around the area, this 250 year-old mansion is a mélange of majesty, simplicity and history.
From its curving stairway, the wide and elevated entrance, to its imposing doorway topped by the family emblem, this house stands testimony to an ocean of change, over the years. Built around an inner courtyard, typical of many of the colonial homes, this house must have initially attempted at the protection of its primary Hindu origin and later attempted to adapt the architecture to the colonial needs after conversion.
Huge windows, paned with crystalline glass front the house leading to the imposing rooms that include the grand hall, the official area and the master-bedroom and adjoining nursery.
Prayer Housed in regalia
Seen from the outside when it is lit, the little household chapel is an intricate collection of carved panels, ivory statuettes and a beautiful marble faced Madonna that glows with a seemingly inner fire of determination that has withstood the test of time, thievery and even abandonment. Sporting two windows on either side that look out over the innermost courtyard "Angonn" this prayer room has a beautiful carved chest holding the handmade linen for the altar. Open ended domes enclose the votive candles that glow almost all day long here. An image of St. Anthony, brought from Africa, is supposed to have miraculous powers, as does the cross, where a litany is prayed every year.
Carved antiques, low love seats and graceful lines bedeck a planked, smooth floor. The wooden floors were typical of most palatial houses. The hall has two doorways leading in from the short and wide entrance and another leading to the dining area. This wide open space, paned windows and wide doorways ensured complete ventilation and provided the impression of a magnanimous sense of Welcome. A crystalline chandelier glows upon the exotic baroque style mirror flanking one end wall. Amongst the exotic and carved furniture, is a very unusual writing desk. The front end opens into a table top and bit by bit like an unusual puzzle, the other secret areas open up to form an intricate web of spaces and nooks in an otherwise simple piece of furniture, in appearance.
The Dining Hall
A huge adjustable table dominates this room. Ensconced in the false ceiling is an intricate chandelier. One of the windows sports a wash basin cleverly hidden in the seat. Principally, a Hindu custom, this was the ritual of washing hands before leaving the place of a meal. Artfully adapted and maintained. Walled in cupboards, wooden chest - o - drawers for the table linens, and little half moon tables complete the dining hall which comfortably seats around 24 people. The high backed chairs are curious as they sport the family emblem and are quite mystical in their majesty. Strategically placed mirrors seem to enhance the light from the electrical fixtures, or borrow the natural gloom from the lushly encircled garden outside the windows. A huge baby grand dominates one end of the length of the dining hall and has inscriptions in the inlay which are indicative of it having been a dedication.
Wide and long corridors lead from one doorway into the next creating an intricate impression of networking that seems to be the case with all majestic homes of the colonial period.
The Adv. Salvador Eufemiano Araujo Alvares was a lawyer of great repute. Having recently completed his birth centenary, the gentleman is remembered by most of the villagers for his keen sense of justice and prowess in meting it out. The "Escritório" or office was his domain where he discussed and some times, even tried, cases that could not wait to reach the town courtroom on account of a lack of regular transportation. Specializing in litigations, this gentleman is supposed to have pulled out of sure penury many a family, in the village. A large green baize table and an extensively placed library housing law tomes, in Portuguese, grace this large room. A beautiful but extremely big writing desk flanks one corner of the room. This desk is filled with secret drawers and corners for the purpose of storing important papers and material pertaining to the cases, the advocate must have dealt with.
A huge four poster dominates a room with a false ceiling and a repetition of wide windows. A clothes hanger "Roupeiro" [antique - open ward-robe] encloses a changing area, of sorts. This is flanked by a curious commode with an enamel basin. The purpose of these commodes was a provision for night-time, emergency rituals as the lack of electricity and the distance of the toilet facilities was a very big detriment. Enamel hand-painted wash basins, water jugs, soap cases and beautiful marble-topped tables are amongst some of the intricate antiquities placed around this room. A lovely twin winged, antique dressing table and a huge wardrobe complete the picture of well preserved voluminous furniture.
Attached to the master bedroom is a nursery. Replete with a crib, hand-painted wooden, rocking horse, wooden walker, twin beds and a cozy atmosphere of old-world charm permeate this room.
Attic / Loft
As you move along a wide corridor, you come across a heavy metal door that leads up into an attic of sorts. This was primarily used by the householders to hide out from invaders; the foremost amongst these being the infamous clan of the "Ranés" A wide window leading out onto the well, behind the house, this room had an annexe that had gun holes and lookout spaces that had a view, extending up to the church! Therefore, people in hiding had an inkling of who was approaching even from a big distance.
The Kitchen is the most spacious room, with well ventilated areas leading out into the, earlier mentioned, courtyard, a vegetable and fruit patch. Fruit trees like mangoes, jackfruits, cashew, jamuns, breadfruit, love apples and bananas were a common sight in most households. The kitchen here is the possessor of two wings attached to it. One leads into a store for coconuts and probably fire-wood and also held a huge straw bin for rice. The other wing housed huge copper and earthenware pots and pans for the purpose of cooking during festivals, weddings and other grand functions. The curiosities here are a spaghetti maker, ice-cream spinner and also a rice-cake "Sannas" steam cooker. Little round bamboo baskets strung together are explained as cases where the rice cakes are ladled into for the purpose of steaming. Water exits from the wash basins here lead out into the garden yard so as to irrigate the plants.
The Bath and Toilet
A little niche in the wall is indicative of a sign of early man's attempt to rationalize his shortcomings, in a primitive world. This niche was so that water could be passed on to a bather inside the bath area. The huge copper bathing urn was heated with an assortment of mango or jackfruit leaves and firewood. Aligning this area, is the toilet with four seats! If legend is to be believed, then the gentlemen of this household, all of them lawyers or judges, sat here reading the newspapers and discussing cases. This huge room also housed another low walled bath.