Rajan Parrikar Photo Blog

Those Whom the Gods Wish to Destroy

Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad. – Old jungle saying.

In the past 6 years, I have traveled the length and breadth of Goa, documenting the destruction of this erstwhile paradise’s natural environment and cultural heritage. I am the only Goan alive to have covered so much ground in such a concentrated manner, and to have seen the scale of the destruction first-hand. This pits me against not only the local politico-builder-land shark combine, but also the local ‘activists’ who have revealed themselves to be toothless poseurs and frauds.

I have now become inured to the widespread environmental and cultural crimes against Goa. Still, any fresh atrocity 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 exquisite work of Goa‘s master craftsmen of yore dismantled in favour of butt-ugly, unimaginative third-world rubbish, which will then be painted in psychedelic colours that not even Photoshop can tame. Alas, tearing down of heritage assets is now par for the course all over Goa.

These sites could have been restored carefully (“jirnoddar”), the rework informed by their original design and aesthetics. But when a society loses its moral compass and becomes culturally desiccated, this is what you get.

Vetal temple

Vetal temple in Keri - not long ago
5D Mark II, 24-105L

 
New construction at the site of the old temple

What I saw this morning
5D Mark II, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 MP

 
Intricately carved wooden pillars inside the temple

Intricately carved wooden pillars inside old temple
5D Mark II, 24-105L

 
Ancient pillars cast off with debris

Pillars now cast off with construction debris
5D Mark II, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 MP

 
Vetal temple at Naveli-Sakhali

Old Vetal temple at Naveli-Sakhali
5D, 24-105L

 
Old temple demolished

New temple construction
5D Mark II, 24-105L

 

The Mahalaxmi Temple was one of Panjim’s treasures (see first photo below). This is how I remember it from my earliest days right through my late teens. Pleasing round pillars, an airy mandap, clean and simple – just lovely to be in and around. Then in the 1980s, brutes armed with Civil Engineering degrees came in and turned it into a hovel.

Original Mahalaxmi Temple in Panjim

Original Mahalaxmi Temple in Panjim c. 1900
Photo credit: see Reference 1

 
The new horror

The new horror
5D Mark II, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 MP

 

[1] Old photo of Mahalaxmi Temple above taken from The Hindus of Goa and the Portuguese Republic by António de Noronha (1923), republished in translation in 2008 by Broadway Book Centre, Panjim.

 

Once a luscious sight, now deflowered.

Church of St Diogo, Guirim

Church of St Diogo, Guirim
5D, 300L f/4 IS

 
Guirim church - 6 months later

Guirim church - 6 months later
5D, 300L f/4 IS

 
 
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