For a good dose of quirky colonial architecture, head inland from Margao, where villages such as Loutolim and Chandor are littered with decaying old Portuguese houses, most of them empty – the region’s traditional inheritance laws ensure that old family homes tend to be owned by literally dozens of descendants, few of whom are willing or can afford to maintain them.
A superb colonial-era palacio stands at Quepem, a thirty-minute drive southeast of Margao on the fringes of the state’s iron-ore belt. In 1787, a high-ranking member of the Portuguese clergy, Father José Paulo de Almeida, built a country house in the town. Known as the Palacio do Deão, it grew to become one of the most grandiloquent in the colony, and later served as a retreat for the colony’s Viceroys. The palacio was recently restored to its former glory by a Goan couple who scoured libraries in Lisbon for original plans of the building, what you see today is a faithful approximation of how the house would have looked in José Paulo’s day. The engaging guided tour lasts around half an hour, winding up on the lovely rear terrace overlooking the river where, by prior arrangement, you can enjoy a copious Indo-Portuguese lunch – an experience not be missed.