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.
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.
 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.