Archaeological Museum, Velha Goa, is situated in the convent adjacent to the church of St. Francis of Assisi in Old Goa. Old Goa also known as Velha Goa was the former capital of the Portuguese rule. It is ten kms. to the east of Panaji or Panjim, the present capital of the state of Goa.

It was taken over by the Archaeological Survey of India, in 1964, and reorganized in 1981-82.


On entrance to the museum, the 3.10 meter high bronze statue of Afonso de Albuquerque greets the visitor.  He was the Governor General and Captain of the Seas of India, who played a key role in conquering Old Goa in 1510 CE. His efforts destroyed the Arab monopoly of maritime trade in the Indian Ocean and consolidated the Portuguese presence.


The key gallery (gallery no. I) serves as an introduction to the nature of exhibits in the Museum. The visitors are introduced to a short history of Goa written in the form of an open wooden book placed on a pedestal.

The gallery begins with a diorama of prehistory of Goa, when early man (approximately one lakh years BP) in hunting gathering stage, roamed the environs of Goa.

A showcase depicts the stages in dismantling of Mahadev Temple, Kurdi (talukSanguem, district South Goa) and its transplantation. A dam to be constructed on the river Salaulim, would have engulfed the temple of Kurdi in its backwaters. As an immediate measure the temple was dismantled and transplanted at a higher elevation.

A conjectural site plan of ancient city of Chandor is on display. This model is prepared on the basis of results of archaeological excavation conducted in the village of Chandor, the capital of Goa during the early historical times.

The centre of key gallery has the standing Vishnu (13th century) with a Prabhavali (Halo) carved with Dashavatara,  the ten incarnations of Vishnu. Two damaged Uma-Mahesvara sculptures,  Mahishasuramardini, Gajalakshmi, and standing Surya, all belonging to Kadamba period (12th-13th century).

The museum has numerous hero-stones repre­senting naval battles emphasizing the maritime power of Goa in the Kadamba period. The bottom panel shows heroes on ships engaged in a ferocious naval battle. Hero Stones commemorate heroic death in battles and Sati Stones(sometimes shown with only a hand with bangles) commemorate wives immolating themselves on the funeral pyres of their husbands who have died in battles.

The main attraction of gallery no.I is the imposing 3.6 m high bronze statue of Luis Vaz de Camoes (AD 1524-1580), the national poet of Portugal. He holds in his hand the scrolls of his poem, the LUSIADAS, which eulogizes Vasco­ da Gama, who succeeded in finding the sea route from Europe to India.

Wooden and ivory sculptures of Christian saints represent the art nurtured under the patronage of the Portuguese rulers of Goa. The metal bust of Shiva (popularly known in Goa as Manguesh) belongs to the 17th-18th century.

Other stone objects of the Portuguese period on display are Royal coat of Arms, Bishop’s coat of Arms, Roman Catholic Sacramental Emblems, typical Goan fruit baskets carved in stone, the tombstone of Dom Jose Cariatil, Archbishop of Crangannore in Kerala (1786), the Tombstone of Dom Diago de Noronha, the first premier captain of Daman(1560), etc. Also displayed is a  large model of Old Goa with all protected monuments under ASI.


The vast gallery on the first floor are displayed with huge portrait paintings of the Portuguese Governors and Viceroys of Goa, originally from residential mansions and the Old Secretariat building at Panaji. They were shifted to the museum in 1962.  A complete list of them (1505-1961) can be seen on the western wall, above, the wooden staircase.

The screen showcase displays Portuguese currency (ESCUDOS / RUPIAS) and the indigenous Pardav, Tanga, Xerafins, Rupia, etc.

In gallery 7 along with huge portrait paintings, wooden sculptures of Christian saints, religious paintings like martyrdom of Jesuit priests are displayed. A model of the Fort of Diu is on display.

As one descends the eastern staircase, the ground floor gallery No.5, 4, 3 and 2 are located around a quadrangle.


In gallery no.5 there are Arabic and Persian inscriptions of AdilShahi kings of Bijapur and Marathi inscriptions of 16th-17th  century.

A niche in the wall has a stone pillar, brought from San Thome in Madras (present Chennai). A piece of an iron lance (now missing) was preserved in a small sunken niche at the top of the pillar. St. Thomas, the Apostle, was supposed to have been killed with this iron lance. On both sides of the pillar are painted figures of St. Thomas and St. Francis of Assisi.


In gallery 4 are displayed hero-stones and sati­ stones of medieval period. Hero stone ( shows a man preparing to take Samadhi (complete and slow withdrawal of life force from the body, a form of death chosen by self) in a Vrindavana (a rectangular chamber to be sealed after burial). One Herostone depicts offering of head to the deity as a sacrifice; two headless bodies of heroes sitting in yogic posture, with their heads placed underneath can be seen. Satistones depicting wives immolating themselves on funeral pyres of their husbands who have died a heroic death in battles. Some Herostones show naval battles.


A beautiful diorama in a corner of this gallery depicts one episode of the religious upheavals that were a bane of Portuguese establishment in Goa.

The diorama displays the original bone relic of the right arm of Queen Ketevan of the kingdom of Georgia, on the southern border of Russia.

Emperor Shah Abbas I of Persia (1587-1629 CE) conquered the eastern Georgian kingdom and imprisoned Queen Ketevan in 1613. When she refused to accept the religion of Islam, she was tortured and strangled to death. The Augustinian Friars from Shiraz, in Iran, secretly collected her bones, which in the following centuries, got dispersed far and wide. During Archaeological Excavations conducted by ASI, starting 2003, in the ruined church of St. Augustine in Old Goa, a part of the right arm bone was found at the spot mentioned in an early text.


The three images of Vetala displayed in this gallery represent a unique cult of BhootAaradhana, the worship of the Bhootas or Vetala, who are demi gods residing in the underworld. This cult is prevalent especially in the Malabar, the western coastal region of India.

Hindu gods and goddesses like Ganesha,  Mahishasuramardini, Vishnu with Garuda, Uma­-Mahesvara with Kartikeya,  Bhringi,  Ganesha, Kalabhairava, Lakshmi, etc.are also displayed in this gallery.


The navigation gallery with the wooden model of a sixteenth century Portuguese ship and iron and stone anchors, highlight the maritime importance of Goa since time immemorial.


In gallery 2 are displayed models of various types of sikharas, (temple tower) believed to have been brought from the ruins of the ancient Saptakoteshwara Temple on the Divar island on the river Mandovi. In the center of the open courtyard, a life-size image of St. Catherine, the patroness of Goa, is displayed under a pillared shade.


In the 7th century, under the leadership of prophet Mohammed (570-632), a large region around the Mediterranean sea; Spain, Portugal, North Africa, Egypt, Middle East and the Indian Ocean, was politically united in the name of Islam.

After many centuries of Islamic domination, Mongol conquests in the 13th-14th centuries destroyed Arab Civilization. As a result, the following three centuries, the 15th, 16th and the 17th saw the rise of European powers.

In the 15th century, the Ottoman Turks had the Middle East under their control. They effectively sealed the land route around the Red Sea and Persian Gulf. As a result Europeans could not get direct access to India and the far east.

The profitable trade route to India was monopolized by the merchants of Venice, who had a secure agreement with the Ottomans. Flotillas of ships would leave Venice twice a year, and reach Alexandria, on the northern coast of Egypt, where Arab merchants would sell them the riches of the east like spices, textiles, ivory etc. The Venetian merchants would in turn sell these wares in Europe, making huge profits. The desire to search for a sea route to the east energized other European mariners.

By the 15th century, the Europeans had mastered the navigational technology that enabled them to avoid the land route and find an alternative sea route to the profitable trade of India and the Far East.

In searching for the sea route to India, the Portuguese took the lead. Expeditions to explore the west coast of Africa followed. In 1487-88, Bartolomew Dias, went down along the west coast of Africa and rounded the Cape of Good Hope (the southernmost tip of Africa). Spices brought back by him created a sensation in Europe. To block the arrival of the Portuguese to the Indian Ocean, the Venetian merchants tried their best, but failed. More than once, their flotilla of warships, in the Arabian sea, under the governor of Diu(Gujarat), was effectively defeated by the Portuguese. Six years later in 1498, Vasco da Gama sailed around Africa and reached India.

The Americas were discovered by Columbus in 1492. Vasco Da Gama set foot on the Indian shores in 1498. The Portuguese consolidated their position in Goa from 1510 onwards. It was the beginning of the hegemony of the west over the east, a period of colonization that lasted for four hundred fifty years, till the middle of the twentieth century.

Opening Hours: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Closed on: Friday

Entrance Fee: ` 10/- per head
(Free for children up to 15 years)
Contact Detail: Dr.KishoreRaghubans
Assistant Archaeologist
Archaeological Museum
Archaeological Survey of India
Old Goa – 403402
Phone: 0832 – 2285333