Friday, 13 February 2015

The Palace In The Jungle - Adventures in Goa & Beyond

Benaulim Beach, January 2015

Namaste, one and all! After getting home late last night I'm currently dividing my time between loading the washing machine, lavishing a month's worth of fuss on the felines and ploughing through the hundreds of photos we took on our travels.

Our cosy guest house
As always India wove her magic and we fell in love with her all over again. The Air India flight was smooth with unlimited gin, a sari-clad & dazzlingly beautiful cabin crew, deliciously spicy vegetarian food and a plethora of great Indian movies along with some old favourites (watching The Darjeeling Limited for the umpteenth time). On arrival we hailed a taxi to the South Goan village of Benaulim, bagging ourselves a £4.50 a night guest house with no hitches.


As our pasty European skin hadn't seen sun for months we went easy on the sun-bathing for the first few days, opting instead for long walks & exploring, only venturing to the beach in the late afternoon when the intensity of the glorious Goan sunshine had abated. 


Our first adventure took us inland, taking an auto-rickshaw ride along pot-holed roads & rickety bridges past lush paddy fields, palm groves and dense jungle to the sleepy village of Chandor where the magnificent 16th Century Braganza House dominates the dusty market square. Regarded as one of the grandest of Goa's colonial mansions, the facade is over 400 feet in length with an impressive twenty-eight windows.


Built in 1560 for the sons of the wealthy Braganza family, the house is divided into identical halves. Braganza de Perreira was the last knight of the King of Portugal. Menezes Braganza (1879 - 1938) a journalist and freedom fighter, was one of the few Goan aristocrats to openly oppose Portuguese rule. Forced to flee Goa in 1950 the family returned after independence in 1961 to miraculously find the house completely untouched.



On entering, a polished Italian marble staircase led us up to a shady, window-lined veranda, crammed with leafy plants in crumbling terracotta pots. At the top were two imposing wooden doors each with hefty iron bell pulls swinging from the ceiling, we pulled the one on the right and a maid ushered us in. For a donation of 100 rupees each (around £1) we were escorted around by Judith, the current occupant of the West wing. 


  Crammed with the most incredible collection of antiquities, 350 year old Ming vases, ancestral palanquins, 16th century Murano glass chandeliers, Georgian silver platters and cutlery from England, imposing Belgian mirrors, silk covered love seats and Indian rosewood furniture, carved by local craftsmen employed by the family over 400 years ago. There's even an exact replica of the dining table and chairs used at Buckingham Palace commissioned by the family and shipped from Britain over a century ago. In the West wing you'll find India's largest private library, over 5,000 ancient leather bound books encased in glass and rosewood cases.


 The ballroom or Great Salon, the length of the average school hall, has a wonderfully decaying zinc-embossed ceiling and a polished marble floor. The royal thrones at the far end were a gift to the Braganzas from Dom Luis, the 19th Century king of Portugal.


The family receive no help from the government relying entirely on donations from visitors to help maintain the property. Judith explained that possessions spoil easily in the tropical climate of Goa and a team of nine staff have to work seven days a week to keep mould, decay and pests from ruining the house and its contents. 


 There are no alarms, no guards on the door and apparently no insurance either.  Unlike stately homes at home, visitors are welcome to touch, pick up the antiques and to explore cupboards and peep behind closed doors. These Portuguese seafaring chests particularly took my fancy, imaging the treasures they'd have carried across the oceans in their day .




These reception rooms were added in the latter part of the 19th Century. We instantly recognised the Victorian Minton floor tiles, the hallway in our last house had an identical floor.



A smiley maid showed us around the East Wing. 


The perfect spot for breakfast!


 In the East wing you'll find the family chapel. An ornate oratory (the small box you can see in the centre of the altar) enshrines St Francis Xavier's diamond-encrusted toenail. 



We were shown old family photographs of some of the glamorous balls and parties held in this magnificent room over the centuries. 


Even in its current state I'm still more than a little in love with this room!


A palanquin suitable for noblemen.


These stunning mosaic tiled seats were imported from Spain. 


Many old Goan homes have these oyster shell shutters. The pearlised lining casts a pretty glow into the interior while the hard outers filter out some of the intensity of the sunshine, keeping the rooms cooler.


Hope you enjoyed the first instalment of our trip (and Jon's photos). Brace yourselves 'cos there's loads more, we ventured far and wide.



I'll be catching up with the wonderful world of Blogland over the next few days, it'll be a welcome distraction from the 4am jet-lagged wake ups.

See you soon!

If you want to see all our photos of Braganza House click HERE.

88 comments:

  1. Namaste! I have missed you!!

    The photographs are incredible, I am in love! I'll be coming back over and over again to see this beauty...

    I'm so happy to "see" you again and happy for you!

    Love xxxxx

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  2. How utterly gorgeous! One of the things that struck me the most were those intricate ceilings! And I can't believe those imported Spanish mosaic chairs, wow. Sounds like a delight of a trip, can't wait to see more. :)

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  3. Yay you're back! And with a banger of a post too... absolutely loved your tour of Braganza House. Certainly loads to admire and looks like you had the place to yourselves!
    Looking forward to more travel tales...

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  4. Welcome home! What an incredible place. It must have really been amazing when it was brand spanking new. I kind of like the shabby chic look though so I love it now. Don't like the sound of the mould and the pests though. Thanks for sharing that and I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of the pictures.
    Happy washing! xxx

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  5. YAY! Been looking forward to your return. :)
    It looks amazing as always Vix, and I can't wait to hear more. Beautiful pics as always. xx

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  6. Wow ! What a great place ! Thanks for sharing .
    You have been missed !
    Xxx

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  7. Welcome home, dear Vix!
    Gah!!! The photos are amazing and I cannot wait for future installments!

    x

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  8. You're back! Welcome home, darling, I've missed you.
    What an amazing place to visit, Braganza House is stunning. Yes, I can see why the ballroom has cast its spell on you, it's so beautiful. I love seeing you drifting through all the magnificent rooms, and of course you write with great knowledge and evident passion about your beloved India and its history.
    Hope the jet lag is manageable, and the dreary grey weather isn't too depressing...
    Love you! xxxx

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  9. Happy to have you back!

    What a house! Fantastic photos and beautiful colours.

    bisous
    Suzanne

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  10. Amazing....looking forward to seeing the rest of your photo's. Love those shell lined shutters. Welcome home.

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  11. welcome, dear lady, I've missed you!!
    And such a wonderful house, even in its decadence it's still amazing and captivating!, those portuguese old colonial mansions have a particular charm, atmosphere, whatever, and you've described it so well!!
    You can overwhelm us with loads of pictures, they will be welcome!!
    besos

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  12. How happy am I too see your name pop up again at the top of my blog list! Welcome home!
    Wow, such a stunning first post-holiday post, full of beautiful images. Truly beautiful.
    Zxx

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  13. namaste darling!!!
    missed you! and now i´m diving in this beautiful pictures and your descriptions of that awesome house!
    can´t wait for more! welcome back!!
    xxxxxxx

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  14. Yer back! Missed you. Glad you had a lovely time and those photos are wonderful. I adore the chapel, toenail n'all!
    Can't wait to see more.
    Loves ya.
    xxxxxx

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  15. So pleased you had a good time it is lovely to have you back. You can chase away our grey skies with your gorgeous sunny photos
    Twiggy

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  16. Hello love welcome home, I missed you too. The Braganza House is amazing isn't it? Imagine leaving it for eleven years and then returning to find it untouched, even the toenail! Those chandeliers and antiquities are stunning. How lovely to have a guided tour by someone who lives there. A fascinating place to visit, loved reading this Vix. Looking forward to Part 2 xxxx

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  17. Wow! Stunning to say the least. Welcome back Vix and I cannot wait for your future installments of your beautiful journey in India!

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  18. Welcome back - you were missed!! Thank you for sharing these glorious photos. I think I'd be happy to live in a corner of that ballroom, just a corner :-) xx

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  19. So glad you're back, I love it when you blog Goa - this post is full of fabulous décor, architecture, surroundings - I would so love to be wandering around those rooms, you looked lovely in the snap of the orange maxi. Can't wait for the next instalment!

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  20. Welcome back and a great first instalment.
    xx

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  21. Vix is back! Whoop Whoop!! when I was a little girl my Dad used to travel a lot for his work and he always brought us back a little something. I could hardly stand the anticipation while I waited for him to open up his suitcase and that is EXACTLY how I felt scrolling through your beautiful photos. You know, that like you, I have an obsession with India. That decayed ballroom ceiling makes me slightly insane I just love it so much. Welcome back!!!

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  22. Welcome home Vix and Jon:-)

    I'm with you with Air India(great airline:-) and the home-from-home vibe of the whole of India too!

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  23. Welcome back!
    Jon's photos are stunning. I have to say, you look at home in the palace. I would love to time travel and see this home hosting a grand ball in its heyday.

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  24. Great photos the place looks amazing. I am however a little concerned about the fella in the second from last photo balancing, on what looks to be, on some very dodgy scaffolding!! :D

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  25. Welcome home, and what great photos of a stunning property!

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  26. Welcome back! The palace looks amazing - thank you for sharing your day there with us!

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  27. Welcome back! Love looking the pictures of the palace. So pretty. Hope you get plenty of rest.

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  28. Welcome back! So many gorgeous images, what a beautiful palace! I don't need to ask, I know you've both had an amazing time. xx

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  29. I admire your ability to jump right into sorting photos and write such an informative blog post a day after returning home.
    I also admire the current owner of the palace for sticking with it and doing the best to preserve the family home. Your photos and descriptions will hopefully lead to more visitors and more donations!
    That sun and greenery looks glorious to me right now (snow-bound). Can't wait to see more. xx

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  30. It looks delightful there in Goa - even more so to me since it's well below freezing where I am. The spicy vegetarian food sounds delicious too. The subjects of your photos are beautiful and fascinating. I love that mansion - spectacular! Wow! Thanks for sharing your vacay with us!

    http://www.full-brief-panties.blogspot.com/

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  31. What an incredible house! I just can't imagine the upkeep, tho!!! Staff of nine working all week---too much for me.

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  32. Welcome home, and thanks for sharing these absolutely stunning photos, and the history behind them. I am curious: in the room you love, is the ceiling covered in fabric? Looking forward to more. Xo

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  33. Beautiful photos ... sigh ... you should write an Indian travelogue ... M xx

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  34. Huzzah you're back! What a stunning place. I have work colleagues in India at the moment and they haven't left their hotel at all and have no intention of doing so!?! I just don't understand.

    I'm looking forward to your next post. x x

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  35. Just beautiful - welcome back and thanks for sharing xx

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  36. Thank you, I shall be looking for your updates. Love reading about your travels.

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  37. Welcome home. I'm looking forward to further blog posts - I love reading about your trips to India1 xx

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  38. Oh Vix!!! You just made my day! What glorious pictures and stories!!! I'm not much of a beach babe, so I especially loved this tour. The history is fascinating, and I love homes and interesting decor, especially when it's not "perfect".

    Thank you so much!! Welcome home. XXXOOO!!!

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  39. Wow.....welcome back.....am loving the story so far.....I did almost go buy a ticket to visit myfriend down in Patnam but instead am going to NY ....first time in 15 years so it's going to be a big walk down memory lane .... one week will cost the same as 3 on the beach but am insanely excited!!x

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  40. So jealous! I'm rummaging for clothes warm enough for Poland.

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  41. Welcome home Vix! Gosh, your holiday went by quickly for me, LOL...I hope it seemed blissfully forever when you were there. The first installment of photos and storytelling is captivating. I always look forward to my Goan armchair traveling!

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  42. Welcome back! I missed your posts but hope you had a fabulous time in Goa. I love those old chests too - but in that same picture those lights above your head are incredibly beautiful! Can't wait for more tales from Goa.

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  43. So good to see your latest post . I really don't enjoy the unpacking after a holiday . I much prefer the packing and excitement of anticipation of the holiday . Sigh......

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  44. Missed you! And welcome home. What a fabulous historical house, and I love the freedom to touch the artifacts. I feel like the kitties do - now we want all your attention : >

    xox, Patti

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  45. Welcome back Vix and please say thanks to your Jon for all those glorious photos. Such a beautiful House, even after all this time. I quite look the slightly disheveled look of it all, probably due to my not liking brand new. Cannot wait for the continuation of your holiday via your blog. You never fail to deliver.

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  46. Hi Vix! as you can see you have been missed! I couldn't wait for you to return to see all your fabulous photos! Thank you and Jon, so much fun. :-)

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  47. wow, that place is so cool. What a treat. Good to have you back and I can't wait to see the rest of the photos

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  48. You're home! Welcome back. You were missed and often thought of. I bet the cats were happy to have you back.

    What beautiful photos of a wonderful ancient place. I thoroughly enjoyed the little tour and look forward to seeing all the photos you post, and hearing all the stories to go with them. xo

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  49. I love reading your blogs on India, it's as if you bring alittle of it back for us to share, thank you

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  50. We just watched 'Our Guy In India', you might enjoy it if you can find it as it's only just been on and I think the second part is repeated tonight. He went to Mumbai and then on to Goa and the difference astonished me.

    That house is incredible, the shutters are lovely.

    Lovely to see you back xxx

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  51. Welcome back, it's so lovely to see you! Through the cold January days I often thought, I wonder what Vix and Jon are doing today, so it's lovely to see what you were up to. I would just love to visit that wonderful house with its punched metal ceilings chandeliers, shutters and beautiful artefacts. I love visiting proper homes. I'm glad you have hundreds of photos, they are exactly what we all need right now. My cousin has just arrived in Kerala. I wonder if you made it over there? She started in Fort Cochin, then is going to Cherai beach today, then next week to Amma's Ashram. Xxxxxxx

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  52. Hurrah! and a big welcome back! I always, always look forward to hearing and seeing your holiday photo's and stories. Braganza House is breathtaking, and I love visitors are welcome to have a good look around and touch the artifacts and pieces. The closed doors are always the ones I want to go through! I look forward to hearing and seeing more!! hope the jet lag is easing a little too x x x

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  53. Well, hello there serious case of wanderlust! x

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  54. Missed you!
    Loved the East Wing...wooden ceilings, mosaic outdoor seats.
    Photos with you in them looked so natural! You belong in those rooms.

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  55. Namaste, dear friends. Welcome back!
    thank you so much for sharing these wonderful pictures ... I can't believe how glamorous this place still looks even with the wall paper (?) falling from the ceiling.

    I can't wait to see more photos from your trip.

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  56. Hello Vix,

    Welcome back. Blogland is so much more fun when you are here and here you are with tales of India. Wonderful!

    One of our parents was born in India, at the time of the English Raj, so the country has always held an exotic fascination for us, as indeed so it seems for you. Alas, unlike you, we have never visited ourselves and do so want to see and explore this most magical country.

    Braganza House would have been on our list of places to visit too. We can well understand your interest in the history of the place as well as the many details which make it so memorable. The oyster shell shutters, the faded textiles, the architectural detailing, the tiled floors and so much more. How wonderful it all looks to have been and in the company of such a charming guide. Perfect!

    We cannot wait for more.....

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  57. What a fabulous place ... we just don't understand old over here ... it sort of boggles the brain when I think of anything being built in 1560!!
    xx

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  58. I have been looking forward to your return:) Awesome post.

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  59. Thanks for such a detailed tour, it's brightened up a gloomy grey day. I loved the little detail about the pearl shutters, because it sounds like something from a fairytale palace, but is actually completely mundane and practical, which is such a great contrast.

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  61. Welcome back, I've been looking forward to your return. Wow what an amazing place that is, even it's faded splendour is lovely - as are Jon's photos. I really like the sound of a Breakfast Garden! x

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  62. Namaste Vix & Jon!

    Lovely to have you back in blogland, I've missed reading your blog and am looking forward to reading installments about your holiday.

    I'm flabbergasted reading about Braganza House - what an utterly amazing place. Talk about a hidden treasure, I bet you both couldn't believe your eyes!

    xxx

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  63. What a place! Magic! I'd much rather find an eclectic place like this to stay in than some soulless chain hotel. Looks like you had a grand old time!

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  64. Fabulous photos Vix, welcome back . Looking forward to hearing more about your trip xx

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  65. So glad to see you made it home safely - I've been looking forward to your Goa photos. I could have spent hours in Braganza house - so much beautiful stuff. I'm glad to see that some places like that are still being kept up, even if it is only by donations. It must be a full-time job for the staff to keep it from falling to ruins.

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  66. So glad to see you made it home safely - I've been looking forward to your Goa photos. I could have spent hours in Braganza house - so much beautiful stuff. I'm glad to see that some places like that are still being kept up, even if it is only by donations. It must be a full-time job for the staff to keep it from falling to ruins.

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  67. welcome back to the world of blog! great photos and stories~looking forward to more~i've missed seeing your energy here!
    namaste,
    s

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  68. YAY! Namaste! I feel like you were gone for years! I'm SO ready to see more!

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  69. Ohhhhh Vix! Gorgeous photos of India as you take us along on your adventures. Blogland is not the same without you. So happy to see you back home!

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  70. You're back!! I missed your wonderful posts with your beautiful, colourful outfits!!! Looking forward to seeing more wonderful pictures. Stay warm!

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  71. So beautiful! Glad you were careful in the sun, getting a sunburn would be such a damper to a fun vacation! :)

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  72. Welcome back!
    Such a lovely lot of photos. Bring it on!
    I can't get over the scaffolding...OH&S? I think not.
    So romantic, and gorgeous is a crumbling manor. Those shutters called me. What a fabulous idea? Practical and beautiful.
    I also love the sedan chair or whatever it's called. Although you wouldn't want to be too tall. But I suppose cars are the same.
    Hope you can adjust to your cold surroundings once again...and start planning your next trip! xo Jazzy Jack

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  73. Nice to have you back! I have enjoyed your "Indian adventure" posts for several years now. Always interesting.

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  74. I tipped one of my friends who never "have figured out the blogs" on your blog and now six months later, she thanked me. She will never write a comment here though.

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  75. Hi Vix! Welcome home! Your pictures look amzing can't wait to see more. There's a new tv drama starting Sunday night channel 4 called Indian Summer might be up your street xx

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  76. Welcome home!! I hope it's not too much of a shock to the system. I had no idea that Goa had this kind of history, that palace is really something - and I think I love a little bit more for being faded and slightly decaying, there's a bit more romance in imagining how things were than having it all pristine.

    The ballroom is spectacular!

    I'll be watching Indian Summer tonight, I'd never really fancied going to India but after all your lovely photos I think I'm adding Goa to the list!
    x

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  77. Welcome back Vix! I look forward to seeing all your holiday snaps, it sounds like you've had an amazing trip xx

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  78. Well back! Wow, wow and WOW is all I can say. What a magical place, thank you for sharing the history and the photos!!!!

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  79. Here she is! How marvellarse to see you home safe and sound!
    Feck ME, but Braganza House is somewhere I could live most happily. It's BEAUTIFUL!
    Such gloriarse pcitures; I'm GAGGING for loads more!
    Love Helga XXX

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  80. Welcome back! India looks amazing, glad you had a lovely time.

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  81. I've just starting reading your blog, and boy what a time to start! What a beautiful trip to India you and Jon had. Can't wait to see all the pictures.

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  82. Wow, what an incredible place!!!! It is amazing sight and to think it stayed intact when they were away.xx

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  83. Such colour, such vibrancy! Just what I needed on a grey Winter's day

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  84. I'm reading your posts out of order, but just wanted to say how much I'm enjoying them. They make me wish I were there too - which makes them the best sort of travel writing and photos! It looks so gorgeous there.

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  85. How amazing! And all untouched after independence! I couldn't help but imagine all the magnificent people dancing around that room!

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  86. I'm so happy you are going to share your travels with us, I always enjoy them! This house (should really be mansion, stately home?) is magnificent! I love seeing all the treasures and there is something about decaying grandeur that I find fascinating.

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  87. Looks divine! It's always the closed doors in houses and museums I want to get a peek behind hehe

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Don't be shy, if you enjoyed your visit leave a comment, I can come and visit your blog if you do.
Love from Vix
xxx