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Kesarbai’s Keri

Keri is a small village in Goa, around 15 kms east of the capital Panjim. It is sometimes spelled Querim, the trailing ‘m’ denoting the nasal phonetic characteristic of Konkani syllables. Since there are at least 3 other villages in Goa bearing the same name, the ambiguity is removed by calling it Keri-Ponda, after the taluka in which it is located..

Kesarbai refers to the legendary musician Kesarbai Kerkar who was born and raised in Keri. Go here for an introduction to this rara avis and her extraordinary artistry. Kesarbai‘s recording of Raga Bhairavi was among the selections of music put on the Voyager Golden Record carried aboard the Voyager spacecraft launched by NASA in 1977, now a wanderer in the far reaches of interstellar space.

The predominantly Hindu settlement of Keri is the archetypal hinterland Goan village. Ringed by hills, fortified by forests, graced by beautiful temples, soothed by birdsong, it still clings to the zeitgeist of a Goa that is fast disappearing. Idylls like these are on their last legs given the march of destruction development.

In this photo essay I concern myself with some ‘objects’ encountered on a couple of rainy mornings in Keri earlier in July.

Kesarbai was born in this house that is now occupied by her brother’s progeny. This framing minimizes intrusion of the thicket of electric power lines crisscrossing its façade.

Kesarbai Kerkar's house

Kesarbai Kerkar's house in Keri, Goa
5D Mark II, TS-E 17L


Fresh rain and cloud cover accentuate the colours of the beautiful temple of Goddess Vijayadurga. Notice the deep reds of the kaavi artwork (sgraffito) beneath the sloping roof of the mandap. Unfortunately, most of the detail is lost in the reduced image size required for web display.

Vijayadurga temple in Keri, Goa

Temple of Goddess Vijayadurga
5D Mark II, 24-105L


The old temple of Vetal, now in the crosshairs of some villagers who want to demolish it and erect a new pile of concrete doo-doo in its stead (‘development’ !). What it really needs is restoration. One can only pray for divine intervention.

Vetal temple

Vetal temple
5D Mark II, 24-105L


This ancient image of Vetal is imposing, probably the tallest (over 7 feet) in active worship in Goa.

Vetal of Keri

Vetal of Keri
5D Mark II, 24-105L

Pillar at Vetal temple in Keri, Ponda

One of the carved wooden pillars in the Vetal temple
5D Mark II, 24-105L

Off to school with grandma

Off to school with grandma
5D Mark II, 70-200L f/2.8 IS II


Raghoba Naik runs a traditional convenience stall by the Vetal temple. He is a type that seems to exist only in works of fiction, someone who has very little yet who owns the world. The oft-heard Atithi Devo Bhava has become a meaningless cant in India, but not in Raghoba‘s world. No outsider to the village is released without a cup of tea and snacks. It would be considered an act of rank discourtesy to ask about payment for the goodies.

Raghoba Naik

Raghoba Naik at his stall
5D Mark II, 24-105L

Raghoba Naik of Keri

Raghoba Naik of Keri
5D Mark II, 70-200L f/2.8 IS II

  • Ambarish Jha - March 19, 2019 - 5:58 am

    This is awesome. I was looking to place a link to some information about Keri on my travel company’s website and I came across your blog — well, full eight years after you had written. This is awesome. I would like to make it a point to visit Keri on my next Goa visit and see how much it has changed since the description of your time.

    Thanks for the blog!!

  • […] spacecraft launched by NASA in 1977 as an exemplar of the best in human cultural expression. Click here for more on Kesarbai and her […]ReplyCancel

  • raghunath kerkar - September 23, 2016 - 3:16 am

    Dear Rajan Sir,
    excellent clicks.

    dev tuje bare karo.

    Raghunath KerkarReplyCancel

  • Gaurish Kerkar - August 12, 2012 - 4:10 am

    Nice Photos and details. Recollected some nice olden memories. It will be more pleasant, if added SHRI SATERI temple’s photo too.ReplyCancel

  • […] evokes sharp pangs of anger and disgust. I was meandering through the serene village of Keri (see Kesarbai’s Keri) this morning when I saw a beloved old temple torn down to make way for a new concrete turd. The […]ReplyCancel

  • Mangeshi » Photo Blog by Rajan Parrikar - March 24, 2011 - 5:19 am

    […] has traditionally served as priests at the temple. Kesarbai Kerkar, from the nearby village of Keri, had her musical awakening here through the kirtans and bhajans she absorbed as a […]ReplyCancel

  • Arun Prabhu - December 28, 2010 - 5:05 am

    Coincidentally, we visited Keri and the school named after Kesarbai Kerkar her on the very day you have posted this on your blog. It was truly a marvelous experience. We need to protect the hills and restore the antique structures. Hopefully someone will fight this builder mafia head on!ReplyCancel

  • Amogh - December 18, 2010 - 8:18 pm

    Nice to see the pics from my native village. Only missed photo of Surashri Kesarbai Kerkar High School which is one of the renowned place of the Keri area. Would love to see such of more photos from Ponda taluka.ReplyCancel

  • Arun - December 18, 2010 - 12:41 pm

    Goa has certain popular paint colors for buildings it seems. The iron work on the windows in photo #1 is neat. The portraits of Raghoba Naik is for me evocative of all of India.ReplyCancel

  • VM - December 18, 2010 - 1:39 am

    Wow! Another magnificent, unforgettable Vetal. Any decent idea about which year it was carved? Great photo…ReplyCancel

  • Ajay Divakaran - December 17, 2010 - 1:22 pm


    Beautiful pictures. Raghoba’s face reveals a lifetime of rich experience.


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