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.
Dear Mr Parrikar,
I just saw in your photos that Betal temple in Querim was destroyed. I wrote an article about three Betal temples in nearby villages, and that one was my favourite. Beautiful building, wonderful wooden columns, the small scale that made it such a beautiful gramdevasthana. Now I see it’s gone. Very sad news. Do you know where the columns went? Any chance that they went to a museum, or at least were preserved somewhere?
Thank you for the photos.
Yes, the destruction was truly sad. I do not know what happened to the columns, whether they were ritually interred or simply trashed.
I Am currently doing by Post-graduation in Pune for Architectural Conservation. During this course time We as Students have seen Temples here in Pune which are brutally being over-shadowed by apartments buildings. There ‘were’ wada’s here of which many were pulled down deliberately, again to make way for, as You rightly said – butt-ugly, unimaginative third-world rubbish.
I was browsing the Internet for for my Research topic study, focusing on Temples in Goa, is when I came across Your Blog. And I wasn’t aware that so much of this heinous destruction is still happening in My Goa as well. In Pune it is the pressure to accommodate more people infill. But why are the Temples in Goa getting butchered?
Yes, I also agree with You that there are people who claim to be doing the ‘right’ thing for Our Cultural Heritage but are actually wiping out Our History and ‘Constructing’ a history with their name on it.
I have College Work (Submission) to be submitted Tomorrow, but after seeing this I had to stop what I Am doing and leave You this Email. One common problem with every Historic City/Place is the lack of Public awareness……
Will appreciate if You could reply to this cordial email.
Thanking You for Your sincere effort,
So sad. This perversion is all pervasive across India.
Tourism and large scale development has made life miserable in Goa. They need to be killed!
Dear Mr Parrikar,
I came across your beautiful collection of Photos of Goa by chance
when I was looking for images of Devi Bhagwati on the NET. It is a coincidence that I too am from Goa and our KULDEVI is Devi Bhagwati of PARSE, GOA.
I have some images of our Devi and other places in Goa. My family is from Pernem and I always make it a point to visit Parse whenever I am in Goa. The temple in Parse is a very peaceful place to be and one wishes it remains like this for ever.
If you would like me to contribute images of Goa for your collection I would be happy to do so. I must congratulate you for having taken these beautiful images and making an effort to put them together with your comments. YES, I agree that the beauty of Goa is slowly but surely getting eroded with the influx of so called development.
I have bookmarked your site for my reference and hope to see more images captured by you.
with best regards,
Nice work.Thanks for sharing. Now…..or One day Goans will act against this kind of destruction, it will be too late….
To save what is left of Goa, pl help us to ensure the loss of the families that seek to rule Goa
Sad, really, really sad. Whilst folks here in Melbourne are busy preserving old structures (< 150 years old), people in Goa seem bent on destroying centuries-old structures, which were built to keep cool naturally, without the aid of power-guzzling cooling systems.
A look at the original structure with its over-lapping roofs tells you enough about how much more the older architects knew about such things than the modern architects who seem to be ignorant about these issues and use RCC everywhere, even for roofing! A veritable oven of a building!
Thank you Rajan for this, though it makes me sad. Wouldn’t you think that the crores that supposedly go into our MLA’s pockets could go instead into a heritage fund to preserve antiquities such as these?
The temples of Goa are a greater heritage than its churches since they pre-dated them in many cases.
When you tear them down, you rob Goans, Hindu or Catholic of their ancestry.
The people who are responsible for this are money-grabbing, culturally ignorant, historically irresponsible people. But equally responsible are the apathetic people in Goa who allow this to happen.
Is not tourism Goa’s major source of income? Then why does the state not preserve these?
Maybe you could present a like portfolio of ‘before’ and ‘after’ images to the cultural affairs people and explain to them that the short run profit from this vandalism is greatly outweighed by the longer term loss of tourist revenue in addition to the loss of cultural heritage.