A Tribute to Wheel! ‘Goa Chakra’ is a ‘Must-See’ India’s Unique Carriage Museum comprising of over 70 carriages from across India restored to their original glory. An exclusive interview with museum owner, Victor Hugo Gomes.
Mangaluru: A unique transportation museum which displays nearly 70 carriages from across India restored to their original glory is open to the public in the state of Goa-You may have seen horse-drawn carriages, buggies and palanquins. But have you seen a cart for carrying school children or even a dowry-chest on wheels? Goa Chakra, an exclusive carriage museum in the coastal village of Benaulim in Goa, has all this and more. The impressive collection is displayed in a 750-square-metre building which houses temple chariots, camel carts, dowry chests on wheels, hearse carts, gypsy caravans, a gig (a light, two-wheeled carriage drawn by one horse) and several horse-drawn carriages. The museum is located very adjacent to the the owner, Victor Gomes house.
After my visit to ‘Ashvek Vintage World’, a vintage car museum owned by Pradeep V Naik ( a report was published yesterday in our website), as if I was not satisfied looking at those vintage wheels, I rode my rented two-wheeler to Benaulim to visit the Country’s only Carriage Museum. The route to this carriage museum lack signs, with streets bending at corners, and I had to ask every Tom, Dick and Harry for direction to Goa Chitra, which also houses the “Goa Chakra”- the Carriage Museum. A very patient person like me continued my journey, with a determination to the museum, which is graded as a “Must-See” by ‘Time Magazine’, as “Hidden Gem” by National Geographic, and one of India’s “Top Choices” by Lonely Planet. Finally, arriving at the destination, I had the pleasure of meeting the owner, Victor Gomes, who was a down-to earth’ and a friendly person, with whom I had an exclusive interview about ‘Goa Chitra’ and ‘Goa Chakra’.
Goa Chakra is a part Goa Chitra Museum, a huge hall dedicated to heritage carriages from various eras and states of India. A Hand drawn Rickshaw from Kolkata-Some Saddles and a Cart Horse Cart from Royal state of Rajasthan can be seen at Goa Chakra. There are carriages drawn by animals such as horses or bullocks. There are those pulled by men. There are palanquins to carry the ladies – some partially and some totally closed. There is the North India’s quintessential Cycle Rickshaw. UP’s Rickshaw that you can still see in most North Indian towns.A carriage from Kerala. A Palanquin for the Kids.There are cradles to carry children and there are temples that must be carried in string shoulders. Palanquin used to carry Temple Deities during processions. The museum has it all! Outside the hall a Victoria stood with grace and pride. And then as if giving way to the mechanical era stood old Volkswagen car – somewhere from the era between the carriages in the hall and the cars standing in the parking lot.
“Goa Chakra is centred around the wheel,” says founder and curator Victor Hugo Gomes. “India is built on the wheel. It is on our flag, and in our history. My collection tells the story of the wheel and its role – from creating to processing. It is the story of Indian society through the ages.” It has been a 20-year-old labour of love for Gomes, who’s 46 year old.. Each of these carts was purchased in pieces or in derelict condition. Years – and a small fortune – have been invested in restoring them using materials particular to each vehicle. Where possible, fabric and metal original to the cart have been left intact.
Regarding restoration- The pieces are meticulously restored by Gomes and Jaswant Singh, an in-house carpenter who has worked with Gomes for over a decade. Gomes said, “Singh and I have worked on the woodwork, while the polishing and weaving has been done by other people. Each cart, when purchased, is identified by its location of origin and brought to Goa Chakra to be reassembled at the workshop on the premises. There are carts from Northern Uttar Pradesh state which were used to carry bales of cotton, that are on display at the museum. Gypsy carts have a ‘locker’ for secure storage.
Weavers from different states have been brought in to restore the fabric and threads peculiar to vehicles from their region, including a cart with intricately-painted warli, a folk art of western state of Maharashtra. Gomes’ personal favourite, though, is the 9m (30ft) temple chariot from South India that is been restored, and placed at the entrance of the museum. His tales of how he sourced and rescued carts speaks of passion, of enviable conviction and love of all things old. One cart, he says, took almost two decades to arrive at Goa Chakra.
In the early 1990s, Gomes came across a discarded cart in North India. The owner quoted a “shocking” Rs 70,000 for it, but Gomes had only Rs 2,000 rupees at the time, which he paid as deposit, asking the owner to keep the cart for him while he raised the rest of the money. The full payment, apparently took over 18 years and when Gomes went to collect the cart, it had fallen to pieces. “The owner kept his word and kept the cart for me, but didn’t touch it or maintain it,” he says wryly. Documenting and re-creating some of the carriages had its own challenges. “Putting some of these carts back together was extremely difficult as we couldn’t easily find pictures or documents about them. We have spent hours wondering how certain pieces fit together. We try to be as authentic as possible in the final re-creation. And sometimes we are lucky to have visitors who give us an insight into local carts,” says Gomes.
More about Goa -Chakra :
Goa-Chakra, the museum of wheels is one of the sections in Goa-Chitra museum, which has been created out of love for the great Indian culture and without any kind of external influences. The museum of wheels is being temporarily used as an extension of the “Goa Chitra” museum. This museum has its own story. The documentation of each object is based on the actual information and the research regarding all possible details of it. Each and every tool, implement, article and equipment is organic. Goa-Chitra museum has a display of some 4,000 artifacts evidence of Indian lifestyle and traditional agricultural technology. This museum is not just about beauty and aesthetics but it is all about the makers and the utility of the objects. All the objects belong to India’s own tradition, culture and its people.
Victor Hugo Gomes is the founder and curator of this museum of transportation which houses the astonishing collection of about 70 non-mechanized indigenous carriages used in India. This museum is one of the best examples of great documentation, restoration and collection of the rich heritage of the wheel. Goa Chakra- A moving experience is the efforts of a single person Victor Higo Gomes is being initiated for display at one of the coastal villages of Goa called Benaulim which is also a typical village now developing into a town.
Chakra – the wheel. It is also the central metaphor in Indian culture, like the lotus with which it shares some morphological characteristics. In the Indian literature Rig-Veda also has mentioned about the carts and chakra/wheels as a metaphor for the equality of men and women. The wheel for India symbolizes much more than just carts and carriages, it celebrates the indigenous wisdom of our ancestors, their invention and their intricacies for details and a love for beauty and art.
Through this collection of this traditional, functional and fully-restored transportation, one can experience and assimilate the authentic, dramatic and personal stories on Indian creative thinking and self-sufficiency tales while observing the museum. The objects and artifacts in the museum represent a progressive history of success in the modern industrial age. Still, there are more objects and wheels in transit and will soon be arriving for the display in the museum.
Goa Chakra sits next to Goa Chitra, a much-lauded ethnographical museum run by Victor Hugo Gomes. Both are located on an organic farm, also the Gomes’ home in the coastal village of Benaulim, Goa. Goa Chitra is an unusual museum with over 4,000 traditional farming implements, furniture, musical instruments and other objects sourced from across the state, in much a similar fashion as the rescued carts in the new museum. Both museums are testimonies to a forgotten, simpler way of life. Article on “Goa Chitra” will appear in our website tomorrow.
For direction and other details of ‘Goa Chakra’ call : 0832-2772910