Built during the early 16th century, Vasco House is known to be one of the oldest Portuguese houses in India. Currently owned by Santosh Tom, this house is also known to be the place where Vasco Da Gama once resided at Fort Kochi! A charming condo, with European style windows that have stone seatings on either side, high ceilings and wooden flooring, it exudes the glory of the historical voyager’s taste. One can picture him pacing next to the window, overlooking the streets, thinking about his next voyage.
Subhead: A Legacy
Santosh owned a portion of the house as a share of his family inheritance that once belonged to his grandfather. It is now, 20 years since he has been maintaining the place, having retained most of the old structure of the building. Considering that Vasco House is a heritage property, Santosh had limitations as well, when it came to modifications of the house.
The heritage department allows him to modify only the interiors where he has built a false wall to divide the huge rooms to create a space for guests and has also added new bathrooms to each of these rooms. If you wish to experience this space, you can contact Santosh through Airbnb.
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Subhead: Natural Cooler
The high wooden false ceilings keep the rooms relatively cool during the harshest of summers. The thickness of the outer wall all across the building is around 4 feet in width, which also helps to keep the heat from penetrating into the interiors.
For Santosh, it was a moment of childhood deja vu, as he points out to the little altar that hung on the wall of the living room, exactly where he and his parents and siblings stood while they prayed every day. As we move into the second bedroom, a small passageway led into a mini living room, with a tiled roof and traditional recliners. An old wooden box served as a centre table and a classic grandmother clock hung on the wall. Santosh’s in-laws belonged to the ship manufacturing industry, where he managed to salvage an old ship’s steering wheel which hangs on the wall of the bedroom next to the window. Old brass cooking utensils decorated the shelves along with framed prints of old paintings.
The house which has no airconditioned rooms does pose a challenge for Santosh. It would have worked out to be expensive as the high ceilings would have to be brought down and that would eventually ruin the old charm of the property. He also lamented that he has not able to carry out any modifications on the external side of his property due to the heritage value of the house.
Subhead: Personal Taste
Santosh loves the charm of the old homes. Even though he has been living at his 500-year-old property for over 40 years, he always looks out for colonial styled homes to vacation in or travel to. He says he enjoys the huge wide rooms and the old decor, such as mosaics and wood works.