Chamundeshwari of Pilgaon

Home of the Goddess.

Adjoining the meandering Mandovi river, Pilgaon was once the archetypal Goan village: lush, leafy, serene, blessed by the goodness Nature grants a riverine habitat. But all that changed when Goa‘s mining mafia commandeered the area. For the past five decades these environmental assassins, under the guise of helping Goa‘s economy, laid waste to Pilgaon and its surrounds. Life for the locals rapidly descended into a living hell of craters at their feet, sludge in the water bodies, and air filled with toxic particulates. Then, at long last, came the miracle – in September 2012 the Supreme Court of India, acting on the pleas of local activists, finally stepped in and imposed a complete ban on mining activity in Goa. For the believers this was divine intervention, a manifestation of the power of the resident divinity, Chamundeshwari.

Pilgaon’s old temple of Goddess Chamundeshwari, an avatar of Shakti, was originally located in Goa Velha, 17 kms away (as the crow flies). Following the sacking of the temple by the Portuguese c. 1530, the idol was relocated to Pilgaon and reconsecrated. The memory of Chamundeshwari lingers even to this day in the imagination of the Catholic village folk of Goa Velha, especially the traditional salt farmers who visit Pilgaon once a year to commune with the Goddess.

I made good on this reprieve to go to Pilgaon during the monsoons earlier this year. The capacity of the land to revivify itself is quite astonishing. The scars were visible, but Pilgaon can breathe now. Green shoots had broken out all over, peace and quiet had returned to the area; the promise of a renewal was unmistakable. Whether this is here to stay or a mirage remains to be seen.

Chamundeshwari temple in Vargao-Pilgaon, Goa

Chamundeshwari temple in Vargao-Pilgaon, Goa
5D Mark III, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 MP

Chamundeshwari of Vargao, Pilgaon, Goa

5D Mark III, 70-200L f/2.8 IS II


On entering the village we first came upon this luscious scene. The only problem with what should have been a compelling image was the unsightly mass of power lines cutting across the frame. Enter Miss Photoshop. Eliminating the intruding lines is now trivial: trace a path, then stroke it with the spot healing brush in “content-aware fill” mode and voila!

Temple in Pilgaon, Goa

Temple in Pilgaon, Goa

Temple in Pilgaon, with and without intruding power lines
5D Mark III, 70-200L f/2.8 IS II

  • […] ruining the look and feel. Then I was reminded of Rajan Parrikar‘s words from his post ‘Chamundeshwari of Pilgaon‘ on his […]ReplyCancel

  • SP NAIK - December 14, 2013 - 8:24 pm

    Great pics. It is amazing how you eliminated those power lines from the image.ReplyCancel

  • sukhad - December 11, 2013 - 3:06 am

    P.S: You take lovellllllly photos! I always get so much vicarious pleasure on your website!ReplyCancel

  • sukhad - December 11, 2013 - 3:01 am

    I wish, I wish, I wish, that I could trace a path across eastern Goa, then stroke it with the spot healing brush in “content-aware fill” mode and “voila!” restore all our scarred agriculture, plundered mountains and tortured villages to its original glory!

    It rends my heart to know that its only wishful thinking…. the mining mafia and the government (whoever is in power) would never tolerate such a healing!ReplyCancel

  • Usha Malkerneker - December 10, 2013 - 6:50 am

    As expected beautiful pics but the sadness is hard to shake. Mining may have been stopped but the miners with big bucks will be given preferential treatment by the same Goans who want the beautiful Goa. Money buys ppl. Having said that, can one restore the beauty lost to its entirety? How do we recreate the mountains eroded by the mining, left like a half eaten prey? Can we teach ppl that the beauty of the nature is the biggest treasure of Goa and teach them not to let the new wave of tourism destroy it. If Goans themselves don’t respect the place, no one else will.ReplyCancel

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *



To prove you're a person (not a spam script), type the answer to the math equation shown in the picture. Click on the picture to hear an audio file of the equation.
Click to hear an audio file of the anti-spam equation