Dharohar: National Museum of Customs & GST - Atlas Obscura

Panaji Promenade is lined with many heritage buildings from the Portuguese era, most of which house government departments today. Just west of the Old Secretariat Building stands a beautiful bright blue two-story building facing the casinos on the riverbank. This building was once upon a time the highest building in Panaji and is said to have been built around 1600. It was later renovated in 1834 and from around that time, it served as the Customs House (Alfandega) during the Portuguese Era.

From 1963 to 2000, the building was yellow and white and it served as the Headquarters of the Indian Customs and Central Excise Department at Goa. In 2001, the exterior of the building was painted indigo blue because indigo was one of the commodities traded during the Portuguese Era. 

Today it houses Dharohar: National Museum of Customs and GST, the only of its kind in India. There are sections that explain the history of trade and taxation from ancient India through the medieval era, Portuguese and British eras, the role of taxation in nation-building, as well as the role of Indian Customs in the contemporary world. 

The museum highlights the role of customs as guardians of India’s economic frontiers, cultural heritage, and social security. Over the decades, customs seized an assortment of illegally smuggled items such as gold bars, diamonds, watches, and more. Their anti-smuggling operations led to significant seizures of centuries-old, prized items. The museum holds a collection of such items which have been presented with dramatic back-stories of how they were seized. There are metal, stone, and wood artifacts on display, along with paintings of the Old Customs House. 

Located in the heart of Panaji, this is a one-of-a-kind museum that showcases the important role played by Indian Customs and Indirect Taxes department in the interest of the nation.

Know Before You Go

The museum stands along Dayanand Bandodkar Marg, a short distance west of the Old Secretariat. The heritage building in which it is housed is also called the Blue Building.

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December 20, 2023

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