Dark monsoon clouds hang low on the Western Ghats overlooking the 12th C Mahadeva (Shiva) temple in the village of Tambdi Surla, Goa. Many great Goan temples were destroyed by the Portuguese but this exquisitely carved gem, set in a remote jungle clearing, escaped unscathed probably because of its isolation. It is today the oldest surviving temple in Goa.
The southwest monsoons along India’s Konkan and Malabar coast are now in full flow. Those who live in this region of western India enjoy the verdant lushness that blankets the land at this time of the year. This is wild, opulent green that we are talking about, heightened by the diffuse lighting provided by cloud cover.
In 2007 I had the pleasure of photographing an entire monsoon season in Goa, and a small slice of it in Kerala. This is the first installment of a monsoon-themed sequence. To us Goans, the monsoon is not merely a season. It is a state of mind, a feeling. I shall try to convey that complex of emotions and aesthetic through these photographs.
The magnificent Church of St. Estevem in Goa lights up the eponymous village along the River Mandovi. It was founded in 1575, and destroyed twice by the Marathas, before the current structure assumed its final form in 1759. The church features a “cupoliform façade with prominent drum and lantern” and is built in the “Mannerist style with Baroque features.” (vide The Parish Churches of Goa by José Lourenço, Amazing Goa Publications, 2006.)
The village of St. Estevem also goes by the name Jua.