The Church of Nossa Senhora de Belém (Our Lady of Bethlehem) cuts a smart picture in the diffuse light of the setting sun. Located in the Goan village of Chandor – corruption of “Chandrapur,” the ancient capital of the Bhojas (4th – 6th century AD) and the Kadambas (10th – 13th century AD) – the church was built in 1645. After the frontispiece gave way in 1949 “it was reconstructed in Neo-Gothic style, but the nave and sanctuary of the church retain their Mannerist character.” (vide The Parish Churches of Goa – A study of façade architecture by José Lourenço.)
The tiny village of Mauxi (pronounced “Mao-shi”) lies in the densely forested and as yet unmolested taluka of Sattari in northeastern Goa. I set out very early one morning from Panjim for the 60 or so minutes drive to sample sunrise in Mauxi and its pastoral purlieus. These tranquil settings and experiences, not long ago readily accessible, are becoming increasingly scarce in a Goa that is fast becoming uncivilized. As we shall see, even in this fairly remote settlement, unmarked on most maps of Goa, there are surprising delights to be found for the discerning.
Nearby in a grove and out in the open lie ancient sculptures, among them an exquisite Vetal, au naturel.
The villagers then point me to a mass of rocks bearing prehistoric petroglyphs, unmarked and with no official protection. Only the recent intervention of a committed Goan environmentalist – Rajendra Kerkar – has alerted the villagers to the significance of this site.
I took time off from blogging during September to tend to matters in need of more immediate attention. Regular programming will resume shortly.
For now, here are a couple of candid pictures of mine taken by Sanjeev Trivedi during our excursion earlier this Spring through Death Valley, California.
This year the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi falls on August 23. The weight-challenged Mr. G is much loved and admired all over the country. In Goa, the celebration has traditionally symbolized a return to the roots with Goan Hindus repairing to their native villages across the state. Fun, fireworks and lots of delicious high calorie vegetarian food mark the occasion, for Mr. G is the biggest foodie around.
A few selections from the 2007 festivities at our place in Panjim follow.