The official residence of the governor of Goa, known as “Raj Bhavan”, is located at the extreme end of a narrow cape jutting into the Arabian Sea , it is one of the Palaces of historical and architectural significance and antiquity in Goa. Earlier, during the Portuguese regime, it was the Official Residence of the Governors-General, which was then known as “Palacio do Cabo”. Later, it was the Official Residence of the Lt. Governors of the Union Territory of Goa, Daman and Diu, under the name of “Cabo Raj Niwas”, which name it retained till Goa was given the status of a State in 1987.
Raj Bhavan Chapel
At one corner of the Raj Bhavan, there is a beautiful Chapel which is about 500 years old. The Chapel, which has always formed part of the Raj Bhavan, is open for the Morning Mass on all Sundays, as also on Christmas and Easter. The Feast of the Chapel is celebrated on 15 August, (morning), which coincides with the Independence Day of India.
At a small distance away from the Chapel, down on the slope, passing through steps, is the Grotto, a place of worship. The Altar in this Grotto, which is installed in a cage cut out of a rock, is dedicated to St. Paula, The history, as written on a board hung at the place, states as follows: “St. Paula (347 – 404 A.D.), a Roman Senator’s widow and her daughter Eustochium were living an austere life in Rome when St. Jerome (341 – 420 A.D.) came there from Palestine in 383 A.D. Four years later, mother and daughter followed the great doctor to Palestine and went with him to Egypt to visit the hermits in the Nitrain desert. Upon returning to the Holy Land, they settled at Bethlehem. Here, they erected a monastery under St. Jerome’s direction and three convents ruled by St. Paula”.
The Feast of the Grotto is celebrated on 2 August (evening).
Just outside the gates of Raj Bhavan, there is a 180-year-old cemetery, which is the only remaining evidence of the presence of British forces in the Fortress. The British occupied Goa for about 14 years from 1799 to 1813. The Cemetery was built sometime in 1802 to serve the purpose of British Garrisons stationed at Fort Mormugao, Cabo and Fort Aguada.
Mr. W. Walker, a traveller, described the cemetery in 1855 thus: “I visited the burial ground at Cabo built and used by the British force of 10,000 (sic) men when they held possession of the seaboard points of Goa, to prevent the French entering India by this route in 1805.
There are 47 tombstones and 56 gravestones in the cemetery. The earliest burial according to the tomb plates was on the 19 December 1808 and the latest on 10 August 1912.
The cemetery, which was repaired by the British Consul in 1941, is in good condition.
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