Goa State Museum

Location : Panjim (North Goa)

There are some star exhibits among the 8,000-odd at the Goa State Museum in Panaji. Innocuously placed in the ‘Furniture’ section of the museum, this elaborately carved and polished table with four impeccably sculpted, straight-backed chairs is a symbol of both beauty and brutality, dating back as it does to a dark chapter in Portuguese Goa. This stunning piece of ‘furniture’ is labeled by the museum as ‘Table of Goa Inquisition’. This was a time when the Portuguese interrogated, punished and executed many whom they had converted to the Christian religion but whom they suspected had returned to their original faiths.

The other star exhibit at the museum is the upper portion of a chariot that dates back to the Portuguese era. Wooden lottery machines, beautifully and intricately fabricated, are also intriguing. They were used to draw the winning numbers in the state lottery. Also notable are the Hindu and Jain sculptures, bronzes an inscriptions. Tip: The museum is not easy to find, so use GPS and ask for directions.