Rain in the Basilica: Protecting Goa’s Bom Jesus from the Ravages of Climate Change
Keywords:Basilica of Bom Jesus, St. Francis Xavier, Tropics, Goa, climate change, monsoon, architectural conservation, climate imaginary
Over the last century, monsoons in Goa have become more intense, with an increase of over 68% in rainfall (Goa State Biodiversity Board, 2019, p. 42). Such effects of climate change are devastating to architectural heritage, especially those structures built using materials like laterite, a weaker stone, vulnerable to rapid deterioration when it is left exposed. This is the precise problem concerning the Basilica of Bom Jesus, a sixteenth century building that is still in use. The monument which houses the relics of St. Francis Xavier is one of the most important cultural icons of Goa, as evidenced by its ongoing use and also its iconic representation in visual culture. While research may be available regarding the effects of climate change and architecture in the tropics generally, little pertains to the specificities of Indo-Portuguese architecture and especially heritage buildings. My article seeks to make an intervention in this regard, focusing on the effects of climate change with regard to the conservation of Bom Jesus. Considering the adverse effects of climate change on built heritage, architectural conservation in Goa cannot be merely about preserving cosmetic appearances, but rather must involve safeguarding monuments against major structural damage.
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