Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Goan Proverbs

Distant hills look beautiful; near ones are ugly.

Fry the chapati when the pan is hot.

The cobbler's gaze is on the feet.

The hanging fruit is never too heavy for the creeper to bear.
Truth is twelve years old.

You cannot swallow hot milk, nor can you throw it away.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Terekhol Fort

North of Arambol, the sinuous coast road climbs to the top of a rocky, undulating plateau, winds down through a swathe of thick woodland and joins the river Arondem, which it then follows for 4 kms through a landscape of vivid paddy fields, coconut plantations and temple towers.

The tiny enclave of Terakol, the northernmost tip of Goa, is reached via a clapped-out car ferry from the hamlet of Querim, 42-km from Panjim. The Terekhol Fort once belonged to a local raja and was taken over by the Portuguese in 1746.

It was used as a base for freedom fighters during the liberation of Goa in 1961. The Terekhol Fort was a key Portuguese fort for the defense of Goa, on the north side of the estuary of the Teracol River, the northern most boundary of Goa.

Within the fort there is a chapel - St.Anthony's church - which is locked most of the time. The Chapel has a classical late Goan facade and is opened only on special occasions. From the battlements one can look across to Querim Beach.

To cross the Tiracol River takes twenty minutes on an ancient Goan ferry operates every 30 minutes. The Terekhol Fort has now been converted into a Heritage hotel. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Forts of Goa - Fort Aguada

Immediately south of Candolim, a long to laterite peninsula extends in the sea west of Reis Magos, bringing the seven kilometer long Clangute beach an abrupt end. Aguada Fort, which crowns the rocky flattened top of the headland, is the best-preserved Portuguese bastion in Goa.

Strategically located at the estuary of the river Mandovi, fort Aguada was constructed in 1612 to safeguard Portuguese interest against the Dutch and Maratha's and to protect the old capital - Old Goa from potential enemy attacks.. Today Aguada Fort is the largest and the best-preserved Portuguese bastion in Goa.

The Aguada fort derives its name from a freshwater spring within the fort which was used as a watering hole for ships that called there - "Agua" in Portuguese means water. Ringed by thick battlements and 5 metres high and 1.3 metres wide walls , the heart of the fort was protected by two hundred cannons and a deep dry moat, which one still has to cross to get inside.alt

Fort Aguada comprises of a lower fort which is surrounded by bastions all around and an upper fort. The lower port was primarily made for providing a safe cover to Portuguese ships while the upper fort was built to serve as a watering station to the ships.

The other unusual feature of the fort is a four-storey Portuguese lighthouse, erected in 1864 and the oldest of its kind in Asia. This lighthouse, built in 1864, initially used an oil lamp. It was later renovated and modernised in 1976. This lighthouse was home to a gigantic bell that was retrieved from amongst the ruins of the St. Augustus monastery at Old Goa. However, the bell has now been moved to the Our Lady of Immaculate Conception church at Panaji.

On the north side of the fort, a rampart of red-brown laterite juts into the bay to form a jetty between two small sandy coves. This picturesque spot is known as Sinquerim Beach. Fort Aguada Resorts, among the most expensive hotels in India, lords over the beach from the lower slopes of the steep sided peninsula.

During the Salazar Administration, Fort Aguada was repurposed for use as a prison primarily, some claim, for Salazar's political opponents. Today it continues to be Goas largest prison.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Cabo de Rama fort

Moving south of Madgaon, a deviation from the National Highway going to Karwar at Chinchinim, a quiet bumpy road goes towards the hills on the edge of the sea. At the end of this long winding road is the lonely Cabo De Rama.It is said that Lord Rama, the hero of Ramayana stayed here with his wife during their 14 years of exile. This fort was invaded by many armies at different periods of time and has witnessed numerous battles particularly naval ones.The Portuguese cruised in and wrested it from the local Hindu rulers in 1763. At one point of time this fort also served as a prison for political prisoners during the Portuguese rule.

The fort has elaborate defenses complete with a moat, gatehouse and several bastions. Many of the bastions still have large cannons lying strewn above them. This fort houses a small chapel which is in use till date. Besides the chapel is a small grotto with a statue of the Virgin Mary. The fort also used to have a well and two springs from which cold and hot water used to emerge from two different spouts. The fort also houses a large water tank with stone steps descending into it. Also within the fort are ruins of buildings that may have been used are quarters for the troops stationed at the fort.

The western side of the fortress, where the cliffs drop sharply to the sea, provides a great view both to the north and south. There is practically no sign of life on the hilltop at all, apart from a few soaring sea eagles, and the occasional monkey scampering between clumps of vegetation. This is the best place for those who want to be away from stressful life, because this place offers peace and serenity. From the fort one can get a great view of the Arabian sea and the nearby Cabo de Rama beach.

Cabo de Rama beach
The waters here have a beautiful greenish blue hue and it has many cozy spots for lovers to enjoy a day together. To the north of the beach lies a small river that is shallow enough for one to wade across. Summer or winter, the river water is always cold, sweet and calm. Palm trees line up the shoreline making it an ideal spot for couples with picnic baskets. Behind the beach is a steep cliff with a rocky, flat top and a set of crude steps leading down to the beach. On the left side of the beach a little into the sea is a boulder with a single tree atop it. This boulder can be reached sometimes when the tide is particularly low. While the beach has a bunch of ideal spots, it has no shacks or restaurants. So make sure you pack a nice big basket with goodies to get you through the day.

You can get to this place by either by hiring a car, taxi or even by a bus which drops you right to the fort from Margoa or the nearby town of canacona.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Panjim Oneliners - Panjim in the eye of others

If someone asked you to explain Panjim - capital city of Goa in a couple of sentences , i am sure this would be a big task even for the most seasoned of goan . Here are a few one liners how various travel books and travelers have defined panjim in their writings.

...the strange and compelling statue of man bearing down upon a supine female form depcits one of goa ’s most famous home grown talents, Abbe Faria, an eighteenth century Goan priest, father of ‘ hypnotism ’ and friend of Napolean in full melodramatic throes.

Amy Karafin, Anirban Mahapatra, in “South India”, p.194

Slung along the banks of the wide Mandovi River, Panaji (also still widely known by its former Portuguese name Panjim), goa ’s small and spritely state capital since 1843, boasts its own laid-back brand of originality. Purpose-built neat and tidy by its former Portuguese colonisers, the city’s inhabitants have adapted its European -flavoured legacy to suit their affluent and easygoing needs.

~ Lonely Planet, in Introducing Panaji

Among goa ’s cities, Panaji is great place simply to wander with the old quarters, Fontainhas and Sao Tome still bearing a distinctive Portuguese influence.
~ Paul Harding, in Goa (2003), p.110 (Sources)

Chapel of Saint Sebastian, has crucifix first brought to Panaji in 1812 from Old goa after the Inquisition was suppressed. It is considered an unusual piece since Christ ’s eyes are open – rather than shut as is customary - and legend has it that this was done to instill fear in the hearts of those being brought before the dreaded Inquisitors.

~ Amy Karafin, Anirban Mahapatra, in “South India”, p.195