This special series invites you into homes of interesting people in interesting places. Read about the other homes here.
Approximately 15km inland from Goa’s coast, the village of Moira sits within the shimmering crescent formed by the Mapusa river as it winds its way down to reunite with its parent river, the Mandovi. This crescent of the river does two things: firstly, it makes Moira’s soil astonishingly fertile; secondly, it acts as a natural moat for the village, and in doing so, sequesters it both physically and temporally. Far removed from Goa’s reputation as a party destination, the village of Moira seems frozen in time—a sleepy little place of silvery backwaters and emerald paddy fields.
How Goyal got to North Goa
It was these qualities that convinced designer Vikram Goyal to build a second home here. Vikram had been coming to the state as a holiday traveller for more than 20 years—he’d also been working on a range of interior projects for clients in Goa, travelling down once every month from New Delhi where he lives. “I hadn’t really gone with the premeditated idea of having a second home,” Vikram says, adding, “But then a friend of mine found this wonderful serene, quiet place just adjacent to the stunning Moira Church, and I loved it so much I just went for it!”
Designing the dream home
Vikram’s aesthetic leans towards edgy eclecticism tempered with pragmatism—his second home, therefore, had to reflect this as well. “What I very much wanted was to create a departure from your typical Goan home, and build a modern home but using a local material—laterite,” he says. Goa is rich in laterite (a stone older than humankind) and it is happily, abundantly available, durable and easy to work with. The fact that it is richly rust coloured and has a rugged texture just made it more appealing to Vikram. “It was really what drove me. I was very clear that I wanted to create something that was interesting from an interior design and architecture perspective—something that stood out.”
Vikram enlisted the services of local architect Tallulah D’silva, who herself is very committed to sustainable building practices. In addition, she was “Very enthusiastic about pushing the envelope, for creating new designs and working with local materials,” Vikram notes.
You don’t want to build a Swiss chalet here
You don’t want to build a Swiss chalet here
The result is a home that is both of the land, and a strikingly modern ode to it. The two-storeyed house sprawls over 8,000 square feet, its laterite walls rising from the region’s red earth like stone sentinels. A medley of large volumes on both floors ensure that despite the rugged appearance of the laterite bricks, the home feels less like a cave and more like an art gallery that also conveniently allows for living and entertaining. “I do a lot of entertaining here,” Vikram says. “There’s a lot of good cooking and drinking and bonhomie and festivity. You know what they say, ‘home is where the hearth is’—this home very much lives up to that old adage.”
Vikram also purchased the plot of land across the street, which he says can be used as a kind of meditation deck. “So you’re right in nature,” he says, “Surrounded by the paddy fields and the trees. It’s a very tranquil spot.” He watches the sun rise from his front porch, and on full moon nights, steps out to take in the sight of the all-white Moira Church bathed in moonlight. “That really is spectacular,” he says.
Is Moira village for you?
Moira, Vikram says, is the kind of place where a lot of creative people move to. “It’s like Brooklyn or the West Village, where the creative people moved first, followed by the corporates,” he adds. Real estate developers though have sensed the opportunity, so if you’re hoping to pick up an independent plot with a clean land title, you need to move fast.
Vikram also advises building sensitively, using local materials and artisans. “You don’t want to build a Swiss chalet here,” he says, adding, “It’s important to blend with the neighbourhood and with the local environment.”
Moira is essentially still a sleepy little village—even if it does have surprisingly good WiFi. “It’s better than what I get in Delhi,” Vikram says, laughing. While there are no restaurants nearby, most of Goa’s well-known eateries—Bomras, Sea, Gunpowder, La Plage—are a short, (approximately) half-hour drive away.
The village truly comes into its own in the monsoons. “You get to see all the greenery everywhere around you. It’s very verdant and rich and tropical,” Vikram says. Winters, the months from October to February are wonderful too, and Vikram especially savours the early winter mornings. “It’s very cool and quiet. I like to potter around, seeing all the plants. They grow so fast over here! I’ve gotten very much into tropical gardening after I built this home.”
All photographs by Bjorn Wallander/Viya Home