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Beyond Churches and Temples - Goa

The wave of Catholicism which swept over Goa with the arrival of the Portuguese did little to erase deep Hindu beliefs. In fact a certain synthesis seems to have taken place and today Goa still has a rich heritage of temples, churches and mosques.

While most of the ruins in this territory are those of churches, temples or mosques, and much restoration has gone into these kind of buildings the archaeological and architectural remains cannot be confined to them alone. Ancient rock-cut caves have been found at Arvalem, Lamgao in north Goa, Priol in central Goa, and Rivona and Aguem in south Goa. It is not, however, known whether these caves are of Buddhist or Brahminical origin.

Chandrapur, in south Goa, is believed to be the ancient capital of Chandraditya, son of the Chalukya King, Pulakesin II. It is dated back to the 7th century A.D. At Chandor village one can also find the famous Menezes Branganca-Braganca Pereira mansion. Not only is it one of the largest in Goa, the period furniture – some pieces being 300 to 400 years old – here is certainly worth a visit. It is open to tourists and visitors with prior appointment only.

Alternatively, you may wish to visit Gopakapattam, now Velha Goa, the site of the monastic order of Fr. Angel, a Goan saint.

One cannot but make a passing reference to the forts which dot the Goan coastline. Agoada (Aguada), built during the 17th century and Reis Magos, built during the 16th century, can be conveniently visited on the left bank of the Mandovi river. At the tip of the island of Divar, one comes across the ruins of Fort Naroa. On the right bank of the Chapora river is another fort called Alorna. Other mentionable ones here are the ruins of fort Thivim, Sanquelim and Tiracol (Terekhol) – the latter, now a tourist resort along Goa’s border with neighbouring Maharashtra.

Now on to the south of Goa. Cabo de Rama, associated with the local legends and folk lore of Lord Rama is what comes to the mind immediately. Anjediv, an island here, is the site where General Shipman – the first Governor of Bombay – lived and died in exile. It is now a Naval establishment.

And if one needs to savour the old Portuguese flavour that is so special to this land, why not try the Old Pillory, known in the local Konkani language as Hat Katro, where the hands of criminals were severed. On the Old Goa bank one can visit the ruins of the Arsenal. Or, how about the Palace of the Viceroys, though now in ruins, it was here that the Viceroy lived in regal splendour that rivaled that of the great easter potentates of his times. It is estimated that the viceroy’s personal revenue was to the tune of 100,000 pounds sterling. The Arch of the Viceroys reconstructed during the 1950s and Rachol Fortress, around the Archdiocesan Seminary in South Goa are also worth the effort. The Museum of Christian Art, very recently inaugurated in the beginning of 1994, is a joint effort of several organizations to conserve the rich heritage of Goa. And in Panaji itself, is the Adil Shah Palace, which houses the Goa Government secretariat.

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