Nas vésperas da invasão Indiana do Estado da Índia portuguesa, ou Índia Portuguesa, foi idealizado um plano para a reintegração de Velha Goa, a antiga capital do Império Português do Oriente, por uma comissão liderada por Ismael Gracias. Para o regime ditatorial português, o ambiente de crise, originado por ameaças de uma eminente invasão indiana, gerou a necessidade de justificar a permanência portuguesa na Índia. Tal desiderato seria alcançado mostrando ao mundo a secular história da presença portuguesa na Índia, simbolicamente visível na grandiosa arquitectura dos monumentos de Velha Goa. Os monumentos goeses com influência portuguesa tornaram-se assim poderosos instrumentos ideológicos de propaganda, validando as acções patrimoniais realizadas sobre eles. Este artigo pretende analisar o plano concebido pela comissão de Ismael Gracias, bem como as suas repercussões nos corpos técnicos e nas lideranças políticas de Portugal e do Estado da Índia. Baseando-se numa pesquisa em fontes primárias portuguesas, o artigo contribui para o conhecimento num campo ainda pouco estudado e relativamente desconhecido, o da preservação do património arquitectónico no Estado da Índia portuguesa, comparando este caso com outros similares do período colonial.

Portuguese Politics: Monuments as Propaganda

The Exposição do Mundo Português (Exhibition of the Portuguese World) that took place between July and December 1940, part of the celebration context on the Duplo Centenário da Fundação e Restauração da Independência de Portugal (Double Centenary of the Foundation and Restoration of the Independence of Portugal), was the propagandistic apogee of the Portuguese dictatorship’s colonial policy, under the sign of the Portuguese imperialist mystique. While the rest of the world was sinking into the bloodiest conflict in history, a magnificent celebration on the greatness of the Portuguese people was taking place in Portugal, narrating glorious events of its history.

At that time, Portugal was governed by António de Oliveira Salazar (1889–1970), in a dictatorial regime called the Estado Novo (New State). This regime, instituted by a new Portuguese Constitution in 1933, developed an ideological programme that characterized the Portuguese dictatorship, until its end in 1974, with a Catholic traditionalist, nationalist and colonialist conservatism, presenting romantic feelings of nostalgia for the presumably ‘perfect past’ when Portugal had formed itself and then created a vast overseas empire, becoming a world-class nation.1

The imperialist agenda of the dictatorial regime was clearly assumed with the approval of the Acto Colonial (Colonial Act) in 1930, included in the Constitution of 1933. By this Act, the overseas territories under Portuguese rule were designated the Império Colonial Português (Portuguese Colonial Empire), and the already limited autonomy of the colonies was further restricted, reflecting the centralizing imperialist character of the Estado Novo. The right to conquer, explore, missionize and civilize the colonies was in fact implicit in the Act. The enormous importance of the colonial empire to the regime could be seen through the Exposição Colonial (Colonial Exhibition) held in Oporto in 1934, a majestic event intended to recall the fabulous period of the ‘Portuguese Discoveries’ and to legitimize the Portuguese rule in its colonies.

Under the sacrosanct trinity of ‘Deus, Pátria e Família’ (God, Nation and Family), the propaganda based on the great national Past became a powerful ideological instrument, mythologizing the Portuguese people and the Portuguese soul: its culture, traditions, ethnicity and history.2 The architectural monuments were personified as ‘sublime books of stone full of memories’3 about historical facts, national heroes and ancestral values that Portuguese people should be proud of. These monuments were seen by the regime as privileged testimonies of national origins and national expansion, and by linking buildings to ‘glorious’ Portuguese events of ‘the Past’, the regime conveyed its ideological messages in a way that was easy to understand. With the goal of embodying a messianic aura of a national saviour that would ennoble Portugal once again, recovering the lost splendour of the past, the regime promoted a vast campaign of heritage work on the most symbolic Portuguese monuments.4 ‘Restauração material, restauração moral, restauração nacional’ (Material restoration, moral restoration, national restoration) became a strong motto, frequently repeated by the regime.

In 1929 the Direcção-Geral dos Edifícios e Monumentos Nacional (DGEMN; General Bureau for the Buildings and National Monuments) was created as the Portuguese state entity responsible for the public works, including the interventions in architectural heritage. Despite the influences from some European countries, the activity of DGEMN on the architectural heritage in Portugal had, in many aspects, a singular route. But some study missions to Spain, Italy and France by DGEMN’s technicians to learn about the heritage panorama abroad were indeed conducted during the Estado Novo period.5 Although France traditionally had a vast cultural influence on Portugal, Italian ideas about heritage conservation were perhaps considered the most mature at that time, making them generally well received. In addition, for a long time both Italy and neighbouring Spain had nationalist dictatorships that strongly influenced the Estado Novo regime, including its use of architectural monuments as ideological instruments for the government’s own nationalist propaganda.

Under the DGEMN, numerous interventions were carried out on national monuments, especially the medieval and early-modern fortifications and churches associated with the formation of Portugal and its overseas expansion. The regime thought that the architectural monuments, to be easily perceived and identified with historical events or persons by the Portuguese people, should be returned to their original pure shape by releasing them from the ‘spurious additions’ attached in the following ‘decadent’ periods that obstructed or distorted their image.

The patrimonial and public works and the ideological propaganda could converge perfectly in the celebrations of the Double Centenary in 1940, which commemorated two historical facts with a tremendous symbolism in the Portuguese memory. The association with evocative celebrations of triumphal historical events and heroes was usually exaggerated by the regime. However, five years after this magnificent celebration of the Portuguese world, the end of World War II brought a huge change in global political poker related with colonial policies. Because of its colonies in Africa and Asia, the Portuguese regime immediately felt threatened by those winds of change that were sweeping through the European colonial territories. Concerning the Portuguese Estado da Índia (State of India), the imminent independence of India caused great concern among the Portuguese leaders. Administrated by Portugal since the first half of the 16th century, the Estado da Índia was at that time a set of territories situated in the Indian subcontinent, comprising Goa (the territory of Goa with Anjadip Island), Daman (the territory around Daman with the enclaves of Dadra and Nagar Haveli) and Diu (the territory encompassing the island of Diu with the peninsula of Gogolá and the exclave of Simbor).

The Ideological Legitimation of the Portuguese in India

In August 1946, on the eve of the Indian independence, the Congress Working Committee — the political organization representing the Indian part during the independence process — declared that Goa was a part of India under foreign rule. Some days later Jawaharlal Nehru (1889–1964), the future president of India, revealed a similar position. At the same time began the political protests of satyagraha against the Portuguese presence in India, starting with peaceful invasions of the Portuguese territories of the Estado da Índia (Avelar 2012: 226–227). On September 1946 Oliveira Salazar said it was ‘convenient to start thinking about this problem, in order to prepare elements of all kinds — historical, legal, statistical — to defend ourselves in any international forum or even to the World’ (Léonard 1999: 33–34).

Oliveira Salazar was clearly opting for a diplomatic defence, recognizing the military weakness of Portugal in the face of superior Indian military power. For the Portuguese regime, losing even the tiniest parcel of its overseas territories was unacceptable; it would jeopardize all the colonial empire and, ultimately, the Estado Novo regime itself. For Oliveira Salazar, an eventual war would be lost by Portugal, but the Portuguese national honour would be saved. And perhaps the most important factor: a policy of victimization could be used by the Portuguese regime to guarantee the support of other nations in order to maintain its other territories, especially Angola and Mozambique, the richest ones. Theoretically, in any case the Estado da Índia could not be lost, or it would mean the beginning of the end of the Portuguese Empire.

The independence of the Dominion of India from the British rule was formalized on 17 August 1947, being part of the successive independence process of the former European colonies. Article 2 of the Indian Independence Act proclaimed that territories in the Indian subcontinent which were not part of Pakistan would be integrated into the Dominion of India — an explicit reference to Indian territories remaining under Portuguese and French rule. By January 1950 the Dominion of India changed its national constitution and became the Republic of India, and the sovereignty over all Hindustani territories under foreign rule was once again reclaimed.

In July 1950 Oliveira Salazar suffered his first major setback, being forced to sign with the Holy See an agreement in which the Portuguese government renounced its privilege of Padroado Português do Oriente (Portuguese Patronage of the East).6 This fact was not just a severe blow for the deeply Catholic leader of the Portuguese regime: even though it had no political or administrative power outside the borders of the Estado da Índia, the Portuguese Patronage of the East had been a major symbol, albeit a remnant, of the former power the Portuguese Eastern Empire once had.

Nevertheless, Oliveira Salazar continued to be intransigent, and in December 1950 he presented a project for the revision of the Portuguese Constitution, focusing also on the Portuguese Colonial Act. As a result, the overseas territories under Portuguese administration began to be regarded as overseas provinces rather than colonies and the Portuguese Colonial Empire changed its name to Portuguese Overseas Provinces. This substantial inversion in the Portuguese colonial policy, in which Portugal and its colonies (supposedly) became a single pluricontinental nation, emerged to justify politically, historically, culturally and sociologically the continuation of the union between Portugal and its overseas territories.

Various activities to strengthen the ideological pretentions of the Portuguese for maintaining the Estado da Índia included promoting socio-cultural and historical studies about the territory, increasing a policy of public works, developing an effective ideological propaganda, and changing some of the colonial policies. The former propagandistic ideals of imperialism and racial superiority were abandoned in favour of developing another ideology substantiated on a presumable unity of the Portuguese world with regional diversities. For the Portuguese regime, this was possible mainly because of the presupposed ease toward miscegenation that Portuguese people have with other people (a behaviour based on the supposed non-existence of racism in Portuguese overseas provinces), the fluid adaptation of Portuguese people to local customs and conditions, and the creation of multicultural experiences. According to the new propagandistic precepts of the Estado Novo, these specificities, resulting from the so-called ‘Lusitanian colonial originality’, allowed the Portuguese overseas territories to be distinct from other European colonies.

The Study Missions and the Substantiation of Portuguese Claims

The urgency to justify historically and culturally the affinities between Portugal and its Indian territories induced Manuel Sarmento Rodrigues (1899–1979), the Portuguese Ministro do Ultramar (Minister for Portugal Overseas), to invite the famous Brazilian sociologist Gilberto Freyre (1900–87), to undertake an official study voyage to Portugal and to its overseas territories. During his stay in the Estado da Índia, Gilberto Freyre held a conference in November 1951 in the Vasco da Gama Institute, entitled ‘Uma cultural moderna: A luso-tropical’ (One modern culture: The luso-tropical), where for the first time the concept of ‘lusotropicalism’ was articulated and developed.7 This concept, according to Gilberto Freyre, is characterized by an easy miscegenation, adaptation to tropical customs and climate, cultural fusion and absence of racial discrimination in the Portuguese colonial model, allied with a strong Catholic component resulting from an assumed evangelizing mission. This vision idealized by Gilberto Freyre was perceived as useful to the ideological pretensions of the Portuguese regime, conceding an academic substantiation developed by a reputable non-Portuguese researcher.

The pursuit for academic substantiation of the maintenance of the Estado da Índia under Portuguese administration proceeded in the same year with the expedition of the Missão de Estudo aos Monumentos de Goa, Damão e Diu (Study Mission on Monuments of Goa, Daman and Diu). This mission comprised the art historians Mário Tavares Chicó (1905–66) and Carlos de Azevedo (1918–74), along with Martinho Humberto dos Reis (b. 1904), an architect from the DGEMN with a vast experience of the Portuguese architectural heritage, and the photographer José Carvalho Henriques.

Supported by the Junta das Missões Geográficas e de Investigações Coloniais (Committee for Geographical Missions and Colonial Investigations), the study mission’s main objective was to survey with photographs and rigorous drawings the major Portuguese architectural monuments in the Estado da Índia — whether they were in good condition or in ruins — and the urban features of the main cities. This mission was not innocent: more than a mere historical and artistic significance, it also had a political agenda. By showing the world the existence of a vast set of Portuguese and Indo-Portuguese buildings and urban structures, the Estado Novo was assuming that its possessions in India were indeed different from the British and French ones.

This distinction was not based on the perception of a higher concentration of Portuguese edifications, compared with British and French territories in India (whose structures were also plentiful); rather, for the Portuguese regime, the main difference in the architectural heritage was the age of the buildings — the Portuguese ones were mostly older.8 Therefore, as happened with the architectural heritage in Portugal, this heritage of Portuguese influence in India became a privileged instrument of ideological propaganda, used by the dictatorial regime as a physical and visual remarkable evidence of the ancestral Portuguese presence in India. Architecture was perhaps the most impressive symbol of the Portuguese rule in the Estado da Índia not only because of its visual impact, as a reminder of who built it, but also because it still could be used, felt, admired and touched.

Most of the architectural monuments studied during the survey were old Catholic churches and chapels, along with some Portuguese fortifications (only a few examples of civil buildings were mentioned). The visited cities of the Estado da Índia were the ones with a strong Portuguese influence. As for the non-Catholic temples (Hindu mandirs and Muslim mosques), the mission report conveniently referred to only a small number, having a particular agenda: a glimpse of influences from the Portuguese/European architecture. Based on this, the Estado Novo could argue that just by observing the landscape of the Estado da Índia, constituted by cities and fields punctuated by Catholic churches and Portuguese fortresses, it can be verified that this ‘lusitanized’ territory was indeed closer to Portugal and to its overseas provinces, and different from the other Hindustani territories.9

These study missions influenced decisively the propagandistic orientation of the Portuguese regime concerning the overseas territories. It showed the existence of an ‘Indo-Portuguese’ culture as paradigm of lusotropicalism, by displaying a coherent fusion between Portuguese and Indian cultures. Similar to what was happening in Portugal, the commemorative celebrations also provided pretexts for exalting national virtues and for the national ideological propaganda on ‘lusitanism’.

Beginning of the End: The Invasion of Dadra and Nagar Haveli

The arguments wielded by the Portuguese regime went against the Indian agenda. In the face of Portugal’s inflexibility, India broke off diplomatic relations with Portugal in July 1953, and by the end of the year decreed a land blockade of the Estado da Índia, resulting in the isolation of the enclaves of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, near Daman. At the same time, India increased the satyagraha with peaceful invasions of the Estado da Índia by Indian citizens, along with violent guerrilla armed actions by Indian fighters. The consequence was the definitive occupation of the enclaves of Dadra and Nagar Haveli in July 1954 by Indian citizens armed and supported by military forces.10

With the loss of those enclaves to India, and increasingly internationally harassed by the growing number of African and Asian countries recently independent that were accepted in the United Nations, Oliveira Salazar continued to defend the Portuguese legitimacy of its overseas territories: Portugal appealed to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, demanding the immediate restitution of the enclaves of Dadra and Nagar Haveli. The inflexible Portuguese actions generated a radicalization in India, and in September 1956 a much pressured Jawaharlal Nehru declared that ‘the Portuguese will have to leave from Goa, even if Goans want them there’ (Avelar 2012: 265).

Both sides became more and more radicalized, and in the midst of this battle of rhetoric, people from the Estado da Índia were not asked about what they wanted for their future: their own nation, continuing inside the Portuguese world with some kind of autonomy, or integration with the ‘great mother India’. The invasion of the Portuguese enclaves of Dadra and Nagar Haveli reinforced the sense of precariousness and military weakness of the Estado da Índia. It made clear that the only feasible way the Portuguese regime could hope to maintain the Portuguese presence in India was by exploring the historical, cultural, religious and other differences between India and the Estado da Índia, at the same time providing evidence of the affinities between the latter and the Portuguese world.

Ideological Preservation of Architectural Heritage in European Colonies

The intended reverence for the Portuguese ancestral memory in its Indian territories — to which the modern Estado da Índia was considered a legitimate successor — was supposed to follow a set of heritage practices, reflecting the regime’s procedures in Portugal: the architectural heritage was used as a powerful ideological instrument of propaganda. Among the elements with the potential to symbolize a past marked by ‘portugality/lusitanity’, architectural heritage was one of the most palpable and undoubtedly the one with bigger visual impact. Such monuments began being considered priority objects to be valorised, especially those in Old Goa, the former magnificent Portuguese capital once called ‘Golden Goa’ and ‘Rome of the East’.

However, the use of architectural heritage as an ideological and political instrument in Hindustani territories was not a practise used exclusively by Portugal; the same was valid for other colonial rules, including the British and French ones. The British rule attributed major importance to the architectural heritage in their Indian dominions, using it as a symbolical means to consolidate their power.11 Since the time of the East India Company some attempts at preservation of a few Mughal architectural structures were made, especially in Agra and Delhi. These efforts had a symbolic and political purpose. The British considered the Mughal dynasty as the last great Hindustan political power before the establishment of their own dominance, and the work on Mughal architectural heritage was seen as one way to legitimize British rule as a natural successor of the Mughal empire. The new British rulers had assumed that Hindustan people had lost their capacity to rule themselves, due to their progressive decay. Therefore, the British considered themselves as natural successors to the previous Hindustani political powers (Cohn 1983: 166).

The British interest in Hindustani architectural heritage coincided with both the Romantic movement and the debate about cultural patrimony in Europe, which soon extended to India. In 1784 William Jones (1746–94) founded the Asiatic Society of Bengal in Kolkata, capital of the British Raj, which influenced the beginning of a conservation movement in India and most probably the first regulation for the protection of monuments in India, in 1810. As the new ruler, the British administration assumed the custodianship of the Indian architectural heritage as a responsible obligation, thus protecting the memory of the Indian past that was threatened by decadence. The creation of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in 1861 by Alexander Cunningham (1814–93) attempted to prevent the destruction of Indian architectural heritage, especially during and after the government of George Nathaniel Curzon (1859–1925), Viceroy of India from 1899 to 1905.

Alexander Curzon had a genuine interest in preserving the Indian architectural heritage, seeing it as a duty of the British colonial administration. In 1902 he reorganized the ASI, nominating John Hubert Marshall (1876–1958) as Director General, and in 1904 the Ancient Monument Preservation Act was proclaimed. In 1923 the Conservation Manual was published by John Marshall, a code with rigorous rules for the practice of interventions in the Indian architectural heritage that allowed the development of a uniform basis for the heritage panorama. During this time, numerous archaeological excavations and heritage work was conducted at Indian sites, among them such Mughal monuments as the Taj Mahal, the Red Fort complex in Delhi, Sikandra and Fatehpur Sikri.

If British Raj was the ‘jewel in the crown’ of the British empire, for the French the most important colonial territories were Maghreb (especially Algeria) and Indochina.12 The Établissements Français dans l’Inde (French Establishments in India, commonly known as Comptoirs de l’Inde) were seen as a residual part of the French colonial empire, from when France was the most influent European nation in the Hindustan (before the British defeated them). In addition, the Comptoirs de l’Inde were tattered territories, and this discontinuity was propitious for neither the development of vast plans asserting the French rule nor the increase of a strong Indo-French culture. Therefore, the preferential areas for major heritage projects were Maghreb and Indochina (with some repercussions in Syria and Mali).13

Heritage Activity in Portuguese Colonial Territories in Africa

For the Portuguese regime, the Estado da Índia presented substantial differences from the British Raj and the Comptoirs de l’Inde, differences that were visible in the Indo-Portuguese society existing there. The architectural monuments of Old Goa of Portuguese influence gradually became considered fundamental elements in the construction of Indo-Portuguese identity, and therefore were progressively converted into venerable patriotic symbols in those distant Lusitanian eastern lands. The rescue of these revered symbols represented an ideological way to legitimize the Portuguese regime and its administration in India, not only for the Indo-Portuguese society but also the world, raising the memory of the present to the same level as the prestigious past.

Besides being fundamental symbolic elements for the construction of the Indo-Portuguese identity, the architectural monuments of Old Goa marked territorial control because of their visibility, acting as identification landmarks. They thus became objects of interest for the Portuguese regime, not only because of their artistic and historical value, but also because they could act as bearers of the ideological messages generated by the regime concerning the Portuguese claims on the Estado da Índia. The same role of architectural monuments as ideological instrument used by the regime in Portugal began to be used in the Estado da Índia and in the other overseas territories, establishing the value of the Portuguese legacy and legitimizing Portuguese rule.14

The concerns with colonial architecture and urbanism in the Portuguese overseas territories motivated the creation in 1944 of the Gabinete de Urbanização Colonial (Office for Colonial Urbanization), functioning inside the Ministério do Ultramar. This entity intended to centralize in Lisbon all the architectural and urban plans for the Portuguese colonies. The purpose of preserving the architectural heritage of Portuguese influence in the colonies finally gained consistency with the promulgation in 1958 of a decree that instructed the Direcção-Geral de Obras Públicas e Comunicações (General Bureau of Public Works and Communications) of the Ministério do Ultramar to survey and classify national monuments in the Portuguese colonies and to preserve them, guiding restoration and conservation activity. This entity also supervised the heritage commissions in the colonies, as well as the activities in the colonies without commissions, standardizing procedures between them.

Since 1922 the Comissão Provincial dos Monumentos Nacionais de Angola (Provincial Commission of the National Monuments of Angola) had existed to survey, classify, conserve and restore the monuments in Angola. But it was the architect Fernando Batalha (1908–2012) who initiated a more systematic preservation of the architectural heritage of Portuguese influence, through inventories, classification and promotion of that heritage; in addition, he did some restoration that followed the idea of ‘creative recomposition’. Mozambique was the other Portuguese colony in Africa with a heritage entity: the Comissão dos Monumentos e Relíquias Históricas de Moçambique (Commission for the Monuments and Historic Relics of Mozambique) was created in 1943, having as objectives the increase of the investigation on the Mozambican heritage, the survey and classification of monuments and relics, the actions of conservation and restoration of this heritage, and the promotion of its disclosure and touristic exploitation. The main actor within the architectural heritage scene in Mozambique was the architect Pedro Quirino da Fonseca (1922–2001), who reactivated the pre-existing heritage commission, surveyed and classified numerous monuments and relics and conducted interventions on architectural monuments.

Elsewhere in Africa, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, and São Tomé and Príncipe did not have any heritage entity; however, the architect Luís Benavente (1902–93) devoted himself to the preservation of the architectural heritage of Portuguese influence in these territories. Luís Benavente indeed possessed a vast knowledge about interventions in architectural heritage, firstly serving in the DGEMN and then in the Ministério do Ultramar. He used his acquired know-how to propose the classification of the Portuguese monuments overseas, presented in 1960; in this proposal he defined regulations and a way to survey and classify monuments. His activity in the Portuguese colonial territories began in 1958, when he went to São Tomé and Príncipe to survey and restore monuments, moving onto Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde. Luís Benavente was also involved in activities related to the heritage of Portuguese influence in other countries.

Early Heritage Concerns in the Estado da Índia

In the Estado da Índia, heritage concerns arose much earlier than in the other Portuguese colonies, especially given what was happening in the British Raj. The decline of Goa began in the 17th century, despite attempts to regenerate the city. The extinction of the religious orders in Portugal and in its colonies (1835) and the rise of Panjim15 as a city and as capital of the Estado da Índia (in 1848) seemed to seal Goa’s fate. In 1859, as part of the celebrations of the first 19th-century public exhibition of the relics and body of Saint Francis Xavier, the local city council implemented actions to ameliorate the image of Old Goa: improvement and reparation works in religious buildings, and demolition of ruined structures. These practices continued until the end of the century.16

The scale of destruction generated more and more protests against the destruction of historic heritage, and in 1895, the governor-general of Estado da Índia, Elesbão José de Bettencourt Lapa (1831–99), created the Comissão Permanente de Arqueologia (Permanent Commission of Archaeology), whose objective was the survey, research and classification of monuments of Portuguese influence in India, as well as to propose measures to conserve, repair and restore them. In the following year the Real Museu da Índia Portuguesa (Royal Museum of the Portuguese India), was created and installed in the building attached to the Church of Our Lady of Divine Providence in the Convent of Saint Cajetan in Old Goa — later expanded into the Convent of Saint Francis of Assisi). In 1902 the Comissão dos Monumentos do Distrito de Diu (Commission of Monuments of the Diu District) and the Museu Arqueológico de Diu (Archaeological Museum of Diu) was created and installed in the Church of Saint Thomas. But only in 1932 were several buildings of Old Goa and its surroundings classified as national monuments.

Despite its vast contribution to the preservation of the Goan heritage, the Comissão Permanente de Arqueologia was dissolved in 1950. In that same year Baltazar da Silva Castro (1891–1967), an architect with a vast experience in heritage activity in Portugal — he was a former director of the Serviço dos Monumentos Nacionais (Service of National Monuments) of DGEMN — arrived in Estado da Índia. In addition to resuming heritage activities in the Estado da Índia following the elimination of the Comissão Permanente de Arqueologia, he was commissioned to coordinate the restoration of monuments in Old Goa, preparing them for the celebration of the IV Centenário da Morte de São Francisco Xavier (4th Centenary of the Death of Saint Francis Xavier).

This celebration showed the importance that this kind of crowd festivities had for the Portuguese dictatorial regime, which usually used them in its propaganda. This celebration had a special symbolism, though, associated as it was with a historic hero along with a religious component: Saint Francis Xavier was the ‘Apostle of the East’, to whom millions of Catholics in the East were devoted, and his tomb in Old Goa was the object of numerous pilgrimages. Not only was a hero connected with Portugal celebrated in this event, but also Catholicism itself was solemnized, contributing enormously to the propagandistic agenda of the Portuguese regime by showing a Catholic Estado da Índia, different from India. In the celebration of 1952, the programme included the realization of several urban improvement projects in Old Goa, along with interventions on Goan monuments under the supervision of Baltazar Castro (Figs. 1 and 2).17 His activities had a huge impact on the architectural heritage of Old Goa. His interventions there reflected his previous practice in the DGEMN: in some works, he intended the recreation of idealized images of the monuments, resulting in their adulteration, since they acquired an image that they never had before.

Figure 1 

Arch of the Viceroys in 1951, before the intervention of Baltazar de Castro, photographed during the study mission led by Mário Chicó. Image courtesy of the Fundação Mário Soares, ‘Mário e Alice Chicó’ fonds, ref. nr. 07127.000.240 ‘Arco dos Vice-Reis’.

Figure 2 

Arch of the Viceroys in 1959, after the restoration by Baltazar Castro, photographed by the architect Naguesha Pissurlencar. Image courtesy of the Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo, fonds ‘Luís Benavente’, box 4 ‘Índia’, file 1, doc. nr. 14.

Vassalo e Silva’s Plan to Reintegrate Old Goa

In 1960 the Portuguese regime promoted what would be its last great propagandistic celebration, the V Centenário da Morte do Infante Dom Henrique o Navegador (5th Centenary of the Death of Prince Henry the Navigator), which directly connected Portugal with its overseas provinces. These commemorations acquired a huge importance in the Portuguese ideological context: for the Portuguese regime, they would be the culmination of the process of ‘Luso-Christian integration’ into the ‘Portuguese world’, reinforcing the statement that Portugal was a single country formed by several equalitarian overseas provinces, opposing in that way the international anti-colonial criticism.

Gilbert Freyre had mythologized Prince Henry the Navigator (1394–1460) as the major supporter of Portuguese overseas expansion who had promoted world evangelization, offering civilization to less developed people and instigating interrelations between several peoples and cultures, thus laying the groundwork for the way a lusotropicalist culture would spread all over the world. In Portugal, the DGEMN selected several monuments related to Prince Henry and the Portuguese Discoveries to receive interventions. These heritage activities were extended to the Portuguese overseas territories, increasing the propagandistic impact emphasizing the historic rights over these colonies, advocated by the dictatorial regime. At the same time, the Estado da Índia was preparing the commemoration of the Portuguese conquest of its capital Goa, which was taken by Alfonso de Albuquerque (1453–1515) in 1510, 450 years earlier.

In December 1958, in this context of increasing investment in infrastructure, culture, sanitation and heritage preservation in the Estado da Índia, the governor-general Manuel António Vassalo e Silva (1899–1985) arrived in Goa. The arrival of Vassalo e Silva prompted an increase in the development of the Estado da Índia, particularly in the territory of Goa. The preservation of the heritage of Portuguese influence in the territory was intended not only because of the directives from the Portuguese regime, but also because of Vassalo e Silva’s own convictions about the value of heritage monuments. Three months after his arrival, Vassalo e Silva received a report from the Goan architect Naguesha Pissurlencar about the classified monuments of Old Goa, which included a small description of each monument together with some photos. Six months later, Vassalo e Silva created a commission with the objective of proposing an ambitious plan called the ‘Reintegração da Cidade de Velha Goa no seu Ambiente Histórico, Arqueológico, Monástico e Religioso’ (Reintegration of the City of Old Goa in its Historic, Archaeological, Monastic and Religious Ambient), thereby combining the (supposed) wishes of the Goan people with the propagandistic intentions of the Portuguese regime.

Because of Old Goa’s enormous symbolism as the ‘former bright capital’ of the ‘once magnificent Portuguese Eastern Empire’, the governor-general believed the city should be allowed to decay to the point where it vanished completely. It was not just the memory of this ‘resplendent period’ that was disappearing; it was also the Portuguese hegemony in the Estado da Índia that was in jeopardy. Therefore, it was imperative to reverse the decay of Old Goa; at the same time the Portuguese rule in the Estado da Índia would also be metaphorically raised up. This would be another strong symbolic warning against India’s pretentions on the Portuguese territories.

Vassalo e Silva nominated a set of eminent personalities from the colonial administration and from the Goan archdiocese to be part of the executive commission, in which the proportion between Goan and Portuguese was equal. The commission was led by Goan José António Ismael Gracias Jr. (1903–93), the prominent president of the Tribunal da Relação (Court of Appeal) of the Estado da Índia and son of the illustrious Goan historian and writer, José António Ismael Gracias Sr. (1857–1919).

By August 1959 the work of the commission was concluded, and a report contained conclusions and proposals.18 In January 1960, in a conference held in the Vasco da Gama Institute in Panjim and attended by Pedro Teotónio Pereira (1902–72), Portuguese Ministro da Presidência (Minister of Presidency), Ismael Gracias Jr. affirmed the commission’s intent: ‘I am sure that, with the efforts of all, with our passionate will, with our enthusiasm, we will achieve our ideal: reinstalling the old city of Goa as an eternal light of Portuguese spirituality’ (Gracias 1960, 34–36). The idea of Portugal’s unique contribution to the colonial process — as mentioned earlier, the Portuguese (supposedly) mixed with native people, ‘civilized’ and converted them to Catholicism, did not harm them (compared to how other colonialist countries treated the native people), accepted them as Portuguese citizens, etc. — that legitimized the Portuguese administration in its overseas territories, was still present among Portuguese governors and some Goan elite intimately connected with the Portuguese administration. The presence of the Portuguese Ministro da Presidência himself, arrived from Portugal, at the official inauguration of the works in Old Goa, demonstrates that.

The Initial Plan of Ismael Gracias’ Commission

By September 1960 the commission’s report had been sent to Lisbon, along with a plan called ‘drawing H93’ (Fig. 3). Superimposed on a survey plan of Old Goa made in 1910 by the Departamento de Obras Públicas (Department of Public Works) of the Estado da Índia, the commission technicians and advisers sketched a proposal for a street layout with new avenues, squares and gardens, anticipating the executive programme for the urbanization and reestablishment of the historic and touristic ‘Old City of Goa’.19 Both the report and plan provide an insight into the commission’s proposal for Old Goa.

Figure 3 

‘Drawing H93’, showing the initial proposal made by the Goan commission for a new street layout of Old Goa, containing avenues, squares and gardens. Image courtesy of the Arquivo Histórico do Camões — Instituto da Cooperação e da Língua, fonds of the former Ministério do Ultramar, collection ‘Estado da Índia’, file nr. 14672.

The commission was subdivided into three groups: one responsible for proposing urban improvements in Old Goa, one to assign adaptive functions to the existing buildings, and one to prepare the final report of the commission, based on the collected material. A set of resolutions approved by the commission was also prepared, based on the reports of the sub-commissions. As well as proposing solutions for several aspects concerning the rehabilitation of Old Goa, numerous hypotheses were suggested along different themes, which could be chosen as future solutions. Regarding the urban improvements, the commission proposed to develop the work in stages, the first one being the restoration of monuments and ruins and the placement of a statue (made by Martins Correia) of the Portuguese poet Luís Vaz de Camões (1524–80) in Old Goa, as part of the celebrations of the V Centenário da Morte do Infante Dom Henrique o Navegador.

Immediately after (and partially overlapping) the first stage, roads and squares and sanitation infrastructure would be constructed and public spaces planted. In Drawing H93 that accompanied the description of the proposal for the street layout (Fig. 3), in which the roads and gardened spaces were defined with a green colour, new denominations for public spaces were also proposed, as well as two options for the statue of Luís Vaz de Camões. Despite presenting new areas and public spaces,20 the proposed roads would follow substantially the pre-existing streets, with some rectifications and enlargements;21 several pre-existing roads would be conserved and repaired according to their historical value.

As for the new functions proposed for the monuments of Old Goa, the commission decreed that if churches and chapels were still used for their original purpose, they should continue to be used as such. The Convent of Saint John of God should be reserved for setting up the Arquivo Histórico do Estado da Índia (Historical Archive of the Estado da Índia); its church should temporarily house the future Museu de Arte Sacra (Museum of Sacred Art) until its definitive transfer to the Convent of Saint Monica. All monuments should have a protection zone delimited by competent technicians. The main goal of the project would be the reanimation of Old Goa. The commission visualized ‘the city of Old Goa reborn in a future more or less remote as an urban conglomerate, as an extension of the capital of the Estado da Índia [Panjim]’,22 anticipating the creation of areas for future construction, suggesting therefore the construction of some new specific buildings.

Portugal had vast experience in urban planning in its colonial territories. In fact, during the Estado Novo regime, in addition to urban plans developed in Portugal, urbanization plans in the colonies increased substantially, especially in Angola, Guinea Bissau and Mozambique after the World War II. The urban plans developed by technicians under the Estado Novo regime usually adopted rationalist principles favouring radial and axial urban structures, dividing the urban space in different sectors. In the colonial cities, these new urban spaces generally had low densities allowing the interpenetration of green spaces — a sort of garden city. The representation of the Portuguese state was then reinforced through remarkable public and religious buildings placed in strategic spots, the creation of emblematic plazas and main avenues, the rehabilitation and monumentalization of historical monuments, and the development of an ideological programme consisting of statuary and public art at key urban locations.23 Despite their modest size, in the Estado da Índia urban plans were developed for Panjim, Vasco da Gama, Margao and Mapusa.

Another important fact was that the British planned New Delhi to be their new colonial capital side by side with the ancient Delhi — now the capital of independent India. The Portuguese, however, intended to revive the former Portuguese capital side by side with the modern capital of Panjim. The Portuguese character of Old Goa involved a regularisation of the street layout, the introduction of emblematic plazas, squares and main avenues, the monumentalization of architectural heritage and the placement of public art. The Estado Novo considered these features to be European characteristics, different from the traditional Hindustani cities — other than those cities planned mainly by Europeans.

Despite the monumentalization of Old Goa through urban operations around the existing architectural monuments, the initial plan developed by the Goan commission was indeed intended to recover — at least partially — the characteristics of a living city, by designating sites for future construction and providing new functions for the almost abandoned city. Concerning the monuments, all but two were religious. Due to the proposed urban operations, these religious buildings would acquire major importance, thus reinforcing the Portuguese Catholic culture in Goa, and thus differentiating it from the neighbour Hindu India.

It is important to note that no non-Portuguese monument was slated to be preserved. This was contrary to general practice in the British Raj, where almost any architectural monument that was not British might be restored, or in the Comptoirs de l’Inde, where French architectural heritage was generally recent (and still being built). These facts were certainly used by the Estado Novo to emphasize the Portuguese historical rights in the Estado da Índia: the Portuguese presence in India was so old that the Portuguese monuments had to be restored, and they composed the major part of the architectural heritage in the Indian territories under Portuguese administration.

But perhaps the most important urban operation with an ideological load concerned the non-religious monuments of Old Goa, namely the Arch of Viceroys. This arch, adjacent to the former Palace of the Viceroys, was one of the gates of the city wall, but it was also a monument commemorating the arrival of Vasco da Gama (c. 1460–1524) to India. By transforming it into a sort of triumphal arch in the middle of a large square, the analogy with the Roman arches of triumph, celebrating their great leaders, would be implicit. The Arch of Viceroys would be transformed into a major symbol of the Portuguese arrival to India, evidence of the historic presence of the Portuguese and thus supporting Portuguese claims for maintaining the Estado da Índia as a Portuguese territory.24

This propagandistic intention was also supported by the placement of the statue of Luís Vaz de Camões in a central location in Old Goa, celebrating the greatest Portuguese poet, whose major work praised the magnificence of Portugal and its overseas empire (Fig. 4). The choice of a commemoration of Luís Vaz de Camões would not have been random: the poet had indeed lived in Goa for some time, but most important is his major work, The Lusiads, an epic poem glorifying Portuguese history, focusing particularly on the Portuguese Discoveries and their ‘glorious achievements’ in the East. In addition, because he was the greatest poet of Portuguese idiom, the regime was giving, once again, an ideological meaning to a fact of history, by exalting the Portuguese language as another characteristic common to lusotropicalist culture and to the Portuguese overseas territories.

Figure 4 

Statue of Luís Vaz de Camões in the centre of Saint Francis Xavier Square in 1962, after the Estado da Índia became part of India. Photo by Francis Millet Rogers. Image courtesy of the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, ‘Francis Millet Rogers 1962’ fonds, ref. no. (540.55)(084.121) ‘Estátua de Luís de Camões e o Mosteiro de São Francisco de Assis’.

Official Response to the Plan for Old Goa

The report and plan made by the Goan commission were sent by Vassalo e Silva to Portugal, informing the Portuguese authorities about the need for this reanimation programme in Old Goa. The report was carefully analyzed, as can be inferred by some official communications elaborated by the proper services in Portugal. The engineer Eurico Gonçalves Machado, chief of the Direcção dos Serviços de Urbanização e Habitação (DSUH; Service for Urbanization of the Bureau for the Services of Urbanism and Housing) of the Direcção-Geral das Obras Públicas e Comunicações of the Ministério do Ultramar, praised the intent to preserve the heritage of Old Goa, especially its monuments and atmosphere. However, considering that the documentation only demonstrated an intent rather than a plan, he thought the elements and information were insufficient for him to render a proper judgment.25 Despite the exalted ambition of reconstructing the monuments of Old Goa and reconstituting its urbanism under the epithet of a ‘museum-city’, the director-general of DSUH, Eugénio Sanches da Gama, requested more elements about the programme to ‘reintegrate’Old Goa.26

In response to these requests from Portugal, in April 1960 Vassalo e Silva sent to Lisbon an official document, with three plans attached on a scale of 1:2000. Two of them were topographical plans showing the future urban arrangements (roads and gardened spaces) proposed by the Goan commission (Fig. 5). Like Drawing H93 first produced by the commission, these plans also had the new roads marked in red colour and the gardened spaces in green colour. But these plans were more detailed (one more than the other, which was just sketched), not only as a result of the smaller scale used here, but also because the project was adapted to the topographical conditions existing in Old Goa. The third plan was based on the previous ones, showing only architectural monuments (Fig. 6), the new proposed street layout and the captions with denominations of public spaces, monuments and parking places (the plan seems to show also the placement of future new constructions). Vassalo e Silva also informed Lisbon that, due to the risks presented by the ruins of several architectural monuments in Old Goa, he had already ordered the start of some interventions, consisting of conservation works and minor maintenance tasks, such as replacing roof tiles and re-plastering or painting small areas, in order to return the monuments to their pristine shape.27

Figure 5 

Topographic plan showing future urban arrangements — roads and gardened spaces — proposed by the Goan commission in 1960. Image courtesy of the Arquivo Histórico do Camões — Instituto da Cooperação e da Língua, fonds of the former Ministério do Ultramar, collection ‘Estado da Índia’, file nr. 14708.

Figure 6 

Plan showing the architectural monuments, new street layout and captions with the denomination of public spaces, monuments and parking places, proposed by the Goan commission in 1960. Image courtesy of the Arquivo Histórico do Camões — Instituto da Cooperação e da Língua, fonds of the former Ministério do Ultramar, collection ‘Estado da Índia’, file nr. 14708.

Official Discourse versus Technical Application

This new documentation sent by Vassalo e Silva to Lisbon was analyzed first by the architect Fernando Ressano Garcia (1927–2016), senior technician of the DSUH, who laconically added a set of criticisms to the programme proposed by the Goan commission. Ressano Garcia had been recently on a service mission in Goa, and in May 1960 he finished the first stage of the Master Plan for the City of Goa (Fig. 7). In this plan, Old Goa became one of Panjim’s suburban local councils, holding historical and monumental interest because of the religious buildings and ruins existing there. Ressano Garcia considered the process of abandoning Old Goa was irreversible due to several issues, and therefore a condition of musealized space should be peremptorily assumed, allowing the careful administration of the monuments and their surroundings as museological pieces.28

Figure 7 

Master Plan for the City of Goa, elaborated by Ressano Garcia in 1960. Image courtesy of the Arquivo Histórico do Camões — Instituto da Cooperação e da Língua, fonds of the former Ministério do Ultramar, collection ‘Estado da Índia’, file nr. 14708.

Such an opinion contrasted with the most ambitious intentions of Vassalo e Silva and the Goan commission, and was behind the antagonism manifested by Ressano Garcia in October 1960. The issues mentioned by Vassalo e Silva were systematically discounted point by point by Ressano Garcia in his text: Old Goa was a repository of religious monuments and ruins, and became one of the great monuments of the Portuguese past. Because of that, Ressano Garcia did not visualize any possibility of materializing the urbanization of Old Goa. Not even the existence of convents, seminaries and military bases could attract a population to allow the establishment of proper living conditions in the urban core of Old Goa. In addition, the transfer of population from other cities was unacceptable, due to the investments already made in them; this forced population growth could jeopardize the plans already in progress for increasing the development of Margao and Vasco da Gama.29

As for the urban programme proposed by the Goan commission, Ressano Garcia considered that the amelioration of the urban arrangements of public spaces should respect and maintain the atmosphere and spirit of the site, through humble interventions, avoiding their superimposition onto the existing monuments — all of which was contrary to the plan sent by the Goan commission. Ressano Garcia exposed several specific considerations related to the project, focusing especially the proposals for the Arch of Viceroys and the space between the Basilica of Bom Jesus and the Cathedral.30 He also thought that the new buildings proposed by the Goan commission for Old Goa would not only constitute a violation to the existing monuments, by acting as a third element between the Basilica of Bom Jesus and the See Cathedral, but would also create a barrier between the city and the Mandovi River. He could therefore not advise their construction.31

Although Ressano Garcia agreed with the idea of reanimating Old Goa, he felt that such possibility would only be plausible as a museum or historic city, and so rejected its urbanization as proposed by the Goan commission. Rather than turning the former capital again into a living city, he advocated turning this almost abandoned site into an enormous monument to the Portuguese memory in the East. The monuments still resisting time, together with the existing ruins, would symbolize the Portuguese presence in India, which was already considered as ancestral heritage, in contrast with the presence of other European countries.32

In November 1960, the director-general of the DSUH in Lisbon, Sanches da Gama, said there were no funds available to execute all the commission proposals and so the ambitious plans proposed by the Goan commission could not be carried out. His technician, Ressano Garcia, considered the scale of the development unfeasible, particularly the plans for public squares that appeared to require more attention than the historic areas. Sanches da Gama therefore also identified only the operations he considered viable and instructed them to be done: liberation of covered ruins from vegetation, selecting among them those which were worth recovering because of their quality or condition razing the other ones (reusing the materials for the reconstitution of the buildings to be recovered); respecting the original architectural lines of all the buildings still standing, giving priority to those that deserved major consideration because of their aesthetic value; and the replacement of ancient streets.33

Confronted with the restrictive orders from Lisbon, Vassalo e Silva stepped back from his intentions and in January 1961 he wrote to the Ministério do Ultramar in Lisbon about the communication misunderstandings between Lisbon and Panjim. He declared that the revitalization of the old city was not intended to be a great urban conurbation with a vast population, but rather a rebirth, ‘transformed into a monastic city, a spiritual and silent city with life, as homage and respect to the glorious inheritance we should be proud of’. However, that did not mean impassively assisting the destruction by time of the relics left by the Portuguese ancestors. In fact, he said, some work on a small scale was already being done, because of an urgent need for preservation. Visibly bothered by the critics, Vassalo e Silva refuted them, declaring that Ressano Garcia misunderstood the proposal because he did not know all the details of the plan nor the Goan reality.34

The Role of Architect Luís Benavente

The exchange of criticisms between Lisbon and Panjim continued. In February 1961, Armando Girão, a senior technician of the DSUH, strongly stressed that it was reprehensible to carry out works in Old Goa without a detailed plan, and especially without the approval, advice and guidance of the DSUH, as determined by law. Given that the architect Luís Benavente would soon go to Goa on a service mission, Armando Girão ordered work be restricted to the necessary operations to avoid the immediate ruin of any monument: any future procedures were to be under the supervision of Luís Benavente.35 Due to his enormous experience with monuments, Luís Benavente would go on a service commission to Goa to work specifically on the project of the reanimation of Old Goa. The Portuguese regime was sending to the Estado da Índia perhaps its most famous professional in terms of architectural heritage, confirming thereby the importance of the project of idealizing Old Goa as a patriotic symbol of the Portuguese presence in Hindustan.

In addition to the reparations of certain monuments, the manipulation of some urban spaces may have already been in progress when Luís Benavente arrived in Goa in September 1961, namely the construction of streets to access some monuments and the creation of the gardened space between the Basilica of Bom Jesus and the See Cathedral. The Instituto Pio X de Teologia Pastoral (Pius X Institute of Pastoral Theology) was also being built.36 Created through the initiative of José Vieira Alvernaz (1898–1986), Patriarch of Goa, this institute was installed in a side building attached to the Church of Our Lady of Divine Providence in the Convent of Saint Cajetan, which received a huge intervention of reconstruction and enlargement following the language of classical architecture (Figs. 8, 9 and 10).37

Figure 8 

Church of Our Lady of Divine Providence in the Convent of Saint Cajetan, showing to the left of the church the building that was to hold the Pius X Institute of Pastoral Theology, photographed during the study mission led by Mário Chicó in 1951. Image courtesy of the Fundação Mário Soares, ‘Mário e Alice Chicó’ fonds, ref. nr. 07127.000.133 ‘Igreja de São Caetano’.

Figure 9 

Project by architect Naguesha Pissurlencar for the facade of the Pius X Institute of Pastoral Theology. Image courtesy of the Arquivo Histórico do Camões — Instituto da Cooperação e da Língua, fonds of the former Ministério do Ultramar, collection ‘Estado da Índia’, file nr. 14708.

Figure 10 

Church of Our Lady of Divine Providence in the Convent of Saint Cajetan flanked by the Pius X Institute of Pastoral Theology, photographed by Francis Rogers in 1964. Image courtesy of the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, ‘Francis Millet Rogers 1962’ fonds, ref. nr. 726(540.55)”15/17”(084.121) ‘Igreja de São Caetano’.

During those six months in which Luís Benavente worked in Goa, he wrote three specific reports concerning the heritage programme for Old Goa, and probably also contributed to a partial plan of Old Goa on a scale of 1:2000, showing its monuments and defining the protected area for the historic core (Fig. 11) (this plan seems to be an evolution from another similar plan likely produced by Humberto Reis during his study mission in Goa in 1951).38

Figure 11 

Plan of Old Goa showing its monuments and defining the protected area of the historic core. Image courtesy of the Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo, fonds ‘Luís Benavente’, box 79 ‘India (diversos)’, file 548, doc. nr. 18.

In his first report, Luís Benavente suspended the work on the new road bridge connecting Panjim and Old Goa, which would replace the 17th-century Count of Linhares Bridge. Luís Benavente suggested that the new bridge should be built in a place where it would not have any negative visual or physical effect on the old bridge, classified as a monument.39 The second report was about the problem of the exterior plaster of the Basilica of Bom Jesus (Figs. 12 and 13). Luís Benavente criticised the reckless decision of removing the plaster from the exterior facades of the basilica,40 which left the fragile stones exposed to the climatic action that was now degrading it. He developed a historic evolution of the Goan buildings made with stone to explain that they had been plastered since ancient times, and condemned the loss of architectural expression in the building. The plaster should therefore be replaced as soon as possible, according to the appearance of the church in some old photos he had found.41 In the last report, Luís Benavente said that the visual expression of the See Cathedral demanded the reconstruction of the tower that collapsed in the 18th century; he found that the present general composition was unbalanced and a little unpleasant, as could be seen in a photomontage he made.42

Figure 12 

Basilica of Bom Jesus before the intervention performed by Baltazar Castro, photographed during the study mission led by Mário Chicó in 1951. Image courtesy of the Fundação Mário Soares, ‘Mário e Alice Chicó’ fonds, ref. nr. 07127.000.133 ‘Igreja de São Caetano’.

Figure 13 

Basilica of Bom Jesus after the intervention performed by Baltazar Castro, photographed by Francis Rogers in 1964. Image courtesy of the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, ‘Francis Millet Rogers 1962’ fonds, ref. nr. 726(540.55)”15/17”(084.121) ‘Basílica do Bom Jesus’.

These elements characterize the role of Luís Benavente’s respect for the Goan architectural heritage: not only were the major monuments worthy of intervention but the modest and the functionalist structures should also be preserved and valorised, as his discussion of the Count of Linhares Bridge demonstrates. All the heritage activities should be preceded by historical and archaeological research, and the entire process of intervention should also be documented. In addition, every monument should have a useful function that allowed its preservation within society. These were principles he defended three years later in 1964, during the heritage debate that produced the Venice Charter for the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites, of which he was one of the signatories.

Nevertheless, Luís Benavente continued to defend the repristination of some architectural monuments, in order to recover their primitive image. But his defense of the pristine original was quite moderate compared to the actions of Baltazar Castro in Old Goa and in Portugal. This was just one of the visible contradictions between the official speech of the political leaders and the actions defended by the technicians: without entirely adopting this notion, the nationalist and imperialist discourse of the Estado Novo, even if disguised as a multicultural and open regime, became ucronic and stopped in time. On the other hand, the technical staff was more open to influences from outside Portugal, and so they were aware that the Goan plan, as it was presented, could not be accomplished, whether it was because the financial resources were extremely high and prohibitive, or because it was not technically achievable, or — most likely — because the heritage concerns evolved with time (avoiding the reintegration in style, demanding the prominence of authenticity, etc.). In fact, this conflict of heritage policy between leaders, who defended the reintegration in style, and technicians, who defended moderate interventions, reflected what had been happening in Portugal since the early 1950s.

A Permanent Indo-Portuguese heritage

On 18 December 1961, an event occurred that brought to an end not just the project for the reintegration of Old Goa, as delineated by the Goan commission under the auspices of Vassalo e Silva, but the hopes of the Portuguese regime in maintaining a Portuguese presence on the Indian subcontinent. At dawn that day, Operation Vijay began — the invasion of the Estado da Índia by Indian troops.43 Despite the order of Oliveira Salazar to resist until the last man was standing, governor-general Vassalo e Silva decided to surrender to the Indian troops the next day, thus ending 450 years of Portuguese sovereignty over this territory.44

However, the Portuguese regime in Lisbon would not recognize this annexation until the Estado Novo fell on 25 April 1974; Indian sovereignty over its former territories was formalized on 31 December 1974. Because Vassalo e Silva surrendered, he was denounced by the regime in Portugal. Not only were numerous lives spared because of his decision to refuse to accept the orders of Oliveira Salazar, thus avoiding a worthless bloodbath, but the cultural patrimony of Portuguese influence in the former Estado da Índia also benefited. In the face of the imminent Indian invasion, Oliveira Salazar had ordered that the relics of Saint Francis Xavier be immediately sent to Lisbon, and that the Adilshahi Palace in Panjim — the headquarters of the government-general of the Estado da Índia — be destroyed. Vassalo e Silva strictly refused to comply with these orders, because ‘Saint Francis Xavier was a saint from the East, and thus his place was there’, and because ‘by no means was it acceptable to destroy testimonies of the ancient Portuguese greatness in East’ (Morais 1995: 116–119). As for the architect Luís Benavente, he was ordered to avoid being taken prisoner and to save any documentation related to the architectural heritage of the Estado da Índia. He managed to partially follow these orders — he took refuge aboard the Italian cargo ship Confidenza.45

Of the programme for the reintegration of Old Goa, only the works initiated during Portuguese rule were completed after the transference to the Indian sovereignty. It seems that in the early period, the Indian administration made no significant changes in the heritage policy and staff in Old Goa; the Archaeological Survey of India adopted a cautious and conservative position.

Indeed, of that initial ambitious programme, only repairs to stabilize a few buildings were done, some proposed streets were opened and the garden space completed between the Basilica of Bom Jesus and the See Cathedral, where the statue of Luís Vaz de Camões remained at least until the late 1980s. The Instituto Pio X de Teologia Pastoral was also completed, and in several public spaces the vegetation continued to be cleared away. In 1986, when the monuments of Old Goa were classified as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO, these monuments and their surroundings did not differ substantially from the idealizing plan of the Goan commission led by Ismael Gracias Jr., partially approved and performed by the Portuguese authorities (Fig. 14).

Figure 14 

Saint Francis Xavier Square, located between the See Cathedral and the Basilica of Bom Jesus, in the 1970s after the Estado da Índia became part of India, showing the intervention proposed by the Goan commission. Image courtesy of the Archaeological Survey of India, Goa Circle.

Since the mid-1940s the Portuguese dictatorial regime had likely been aware of the precarious position and military weakness of the Estado da Índia in facing the threats of an imminent invasion by the recently independent India. Obstinately resisting the increasing anti-colonialist opinions throughout the rest of the world, the Estado Novo felt that, more than losing a historical and symbolic territory, the loss of the Estado da Índia would imply the danger of also losing its African colonies. The Portuguese regime thus proceeded with an intensive propagandistic programme, intending to justify the Portuguese permanence in India through ideological, historical and cultural reasons. By showing a ‘lusitanized’ Estado da Índia absolutely different from the other Hindustani territories, the result of a distinct kind of colonisation, the Estado da Índia was, therefore, closer to Portugal than to India in aspects more important than the geographical ones.

As one of the most visible and palpable signs possible, architecture monuments were propitious for use as ideological instruments with propagandistic intentions. For that reason, the Estado Novo decided to apply the same procedures used in the Estado da Índia that it had used in Portugal in the last two decades: by intervening in the architectural heritage and using it as a powerful propagandistic instrument. Therefore, Old Goa and its architectural monuments were used to support the justification of the Portuguese permanence on the Indian subcontinent. The Goan commission developed an ambitious plan, proposing the reintegration of Old Goa by restoring its monuments and developing an urban plan. The former magnificent capital would be reborn as a great monument intended to symbolize the ‘eternal light of the Portuguese spirituality’ in the Estado da Índia.

However, the time and circumstances were significantly different from those in Portugal when ideological procedures were applied to architectural heritage, which accounts for the cleavage between the official speech of the Estado Novo leaders and the measures subsequently adopted by technicians. The priorities in Africa directed the resources there, especially after the beginning of the colonial war, and the financial resources to support the Goan plan were extremely limited. In addition, the heritage panorama had also changed enormously, especially the concerns about authenticity, values, re-use and even the symbolism associated with that heritage. And finally, the enormous distance between Portugal and the Estado da Índia in several fundamental matters (physical distance, culture, ethnicity, political rule, etc.) contributed to render the Goan plan impracticable — as was also the maintenance of the Portuguese presence there under those circumstances.

Despite the obvious efforts made by the Portuguese regime to preserve the architectural heritage of Old Goa, aiming to ideologically politicize it and use it as an instrument to legitimate the maintenance of the Portuguese Estado da Índia, at the end of 1961 the Portuguese sovereignty in the Hindustan effectively ended. Although the heritage activities in Old Goa did not prevent this long-anticipated denouement, they played a fundamental role in the continuation of the Portuguese presence, with its substantial cultural heritage that remains to this day (Fig. 15), many classified by UNESCO as World Heritage sites. Thousands of Indian and foreigner tourists roam the spaces of the ancient Portugal capital of the Estado da Índia, delighting in the discovery of the remains of the mythic Golden Goa.

Figure 15 

Panorama of Old Goa from the churchyard of the Chapel of Our Lady of the Mount. Photo by the author.