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The flotilla of barges plying in Goa‘s rivers presents a charming diversion to the tourist, but this picture postcard scene masks a dark and ominous reality.

Goa is being mined to death, with devastating consequences, some of them not yet upon us. Forests have been flattened, and beautiful villages trashed, muddied, their air rendered unbreathable with toxic particulates. Health problems among villagers are on the rise. The rapid spread of groundwater pollution has imperiled Goa’s water supply. Left unchallenged, the miners will bring about Goa’s demise long before the effects of climate change kick in.

Enabling and profiteering from this destructive effort are Goa’s criminal Chief Minister Digambar Kamat – himself a beneficiary of the scores of new mining leases sanctioned (by him) – and his cronies. As the most venal man ever to be elected to the state’s top political office (that takes some doing given the superlative standards of corruption attained to by Goan politicians) Digambar Kamat‘s rightful place is behind bars. But India is not a nation governed by the rule of law.

These days on the River Mandovi there is a virtual traffic jam of barges pregnant with iron ore. The Chinese are paying top dollar and the mining mafia along with their political bedfellows are raking in the moolah, environment and people be damned.

Although these images make a political statement (fine with me) I shot them because I saw photographic merit in the compositions. The first three were taken from the Mandovi bridge in Panjim soon after sunrise, the last from the ferry in Old Goa on a stormy afternoon.

Ore-laden barge in River Mandovi in Panjim, Goa

Ore-laden barge in River Mandovi in Panjim, Goa
5D Mark II, 14L II

Barge, River Mandovi, and the city of Panjim

Barge, River Mandovi, and the city of Panjim
5D Mark II, 24-105L

Barge in RIver Mandovi in Panjim, Goa

Barge in RIver Mandovi in Panjim, Goa
5D Mark II, 14L II

Barges at the pier in Old Goa

Barges at the pier in Old Goa
5D Mark II, 85L II

  • Deepak - August 12, 2013 - 4:55 pm

    I do not want to comment on pictures, the reason is simple its always outstanding, but hats off to you for writing this article in such a straightforward way, I think this is the first time I am reading an article which portrays truth without any bull shit in it. well said sir.

  • […] Barges В» Photo Blog by Rajan Parrikar Dec 19, 2009 … The flotilla of barges plying in Goa's rivers presents a charming diversion to the tourist, but this … […]ReplyCancel

  • Vishwas Prabhudesai - August 28, 2010 - 8:53 pm

    It is unfortunate that for the benefit of a few, the Lord Parashurama’s land is being destroyed with ruthlessness cruelty! When the history of Goa will be written some times later, who will be held responsible for the degeneration? The people or the politicians?ReplyCancel

  • Akshar - January 2, 2010 - 6:32 am

    Beautiful pictures.ReplyCancel

  • Mandar Gokhale - December 28, 2009 - 9:59 am

    These pictures bring back old memories of when I first visited Goa, ten years ago, and actually spent some time on one of these barges chatting with the crew. It’s sad to know that they are contributing to the destruction of the natural habitat there though 🙁ReplyCancel

  • Arun - December 19, 2009 - 7:16 am

    My favorite is the first!

    I’d feel much better about all this mining, if India was producing the steel, too; and finished products from the steel. At least there would have been some development. This “dig and export dirt” is the worst outcome, IMO.ReplyCancel

  • Atanu Dey - December 19, 2009 - 5:40 am


    Wonderful pictures. You need to publish a book of pictures.


  • Murari Venkataraman - December 19, 2009 - 1:17 am

    Wonderful photographs. They take me back a bit. I spent a fair bit of my childhood in Goa in the early 1970s. My father worked with Dempo and was in charge of the River Fleet, i.e. the barges. So the pictures are particularly poignant. In fact your entire blog evokes strong memories in me – of a Goa untouched by “development”. Thank you for that.ReplyCancel

In the middle of November I made several pre-dawn sorties to Old Goa hoping to frame the Church of St. Cajetan against the early morning sky, only to be foiled by dull, cloudy skies wrought by a lingering unseasonal storm system. On the verge of calling off the effort, I settled on one final attempt. And what a morning it turned out to be! The sky behind St. Cajetan lit up in a spectacle seldom seen in these parts.

St. Cajetan Church in Old Goa at sunrise<br>5D Mark II, TS-E 17L

St. Cajetan Church in Old Goa at sunrise
5D Mark II, TS-E 17L


As soon as I had this scene locked in, I rushed up the hill to the Chapel of Mount Mary hoping to catch the monuments bathed in the first light of the rising sun. I was in for yet another pleasant surprise – a sunrise rainbow arcing across from Divar island.

Knowing the ephemeral nature of these conditions, I did not wait to set up my tripod. With the TS-E 17L lens already glued to my camera, I fired off several frames handheld. In the photograph below, both the Sé Cathedral (1533) and the Church of St. Cajetan (1665) are seen in the distance.

Sunrise rainbow from Mount Mary Chapel in Old Goa<br>5D Mark II, TS-E 17L

Sunrise rainbow from Mount Mary Chapel in Old Goa
5D Mark II, TS-E 17L

  • Sanjeev S Katti - February 21, 2014 - 8:09 pm

    Too Good Pictures, ExcellentReplyCancel

  • Steven Pereira - November 27, 2011 - 4:18 am

    Most beautiful..

    Thanks for sharing such a beautiful blog..ReplyCancel

  • Sanjeev - December 18, 2009 - 5:25 am

    M-A-G-N-I-F-I-C-E-N-T !!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Rebello-Hamm Isabella - December 17, 2009 - 12:50 am

    I’m arriving Goa day after-tomorrow. I’m in Goa every year. Shouldn’t we have an ‘All dedicated to Goa’ meet. I like your ferocity! I’m from Salcette.

  • Juliet De Souza - December 16, 2009 - 1:15 pm

    Too beautiful for words to describe. Brought back a lot of memories of Divar. Thank you.

    Juliet from Los AngelesReplyCancel

  • chris - December 15, 2009 - 9:37 pm

    Excellent documentation of Goa’s pristine beauty.Superb photographs.ReplyCancel

  • JoeGoaUk - December 15, 2009 - 8:24 pm

    Both pics are very beautiful


The voyage across Goa‘s mighty River Mandovi begins late in the evening in fading light. Port of embarkation: Ribandar. Destination: the lost island of Divar. Total sailing time is expected to be 5 mins and 25 secs.

Ferry at Ribandar, Goa<br>5D Mark II, 14L II

Ferry at Ribandar, Goa
5D Mark II, 14L II


Capt. Emidio Fernandes is at the helm.

Capt. Emidio Fernandes<br>5D Mark II, 14L II

Capt. Emidio Fernandes
5D Mark II, 14L II


Midway we encounter unexpected turbulence. A barge loaded with the droppings of Goa‘s ‘mineral farmers’ (aka miners, the destroyers of Goa‘s environment) is headed straight for our ship.

Barge on River Mandovi, Goa<br>5D Mark II, 24-105L

Barge on River Mandovi, Goa
5D Mark II, 24-105L


Summoning all his experience, Capt. Fernandes skillfully dodges the incoming missile and your friendly photographer lives to shoot another day.

On the way to Divar<br>5D Mark II, 14L II

On the way to Divar
5D Mark II, 14L II

  • Suraj Sakhardande - June 11, 2015 - 2:28 pm

    Hi Rajan.
    I have created a android app called as Goychim ferry and have a facebook page for the same. Its a app designed and dedicated for ferry commuters.

    Can i share some of the pics from you blog (ferry-crossing-on-the-mandovi) in the page (by mentioning your blog post as the source for the picture)? I found some cool photos in here.

    Please reply me back if its fine for you.

    Thanks in advance.ReplyCancel

    • Rajan Parrikar - June 13, 2015 - 2:59 am


      Thanks for writing. You may share the link to my blog post. However, if you wish to use the photos themselves, the license is available for purchase.


  • […] visit to the island of Divar entails taking the ferry across the River Mandovi. See an earlier post for a heroic […]ReplyCancel

  • gaspar almeida - January 3, 2010 - 3:20 am

    Excellent pictures and photography.


  • Arun - December 13, 2009 - 8:08 am

    This is a great help in understanding the use of wide angle lenses.ReplyCancel

  • Sanjeev - December 9, 2009 - 11:21 pm

    O-P-T-I-M-I-S-E-D ! Both – the 14L and humour.
    I used to wonder if one can really use the 14L for regular shooting.. now I dont.ReplyCancel

Update: Tulsidas Borkar was awarded the Padmashree award by the Indian government in 2016.

Earlier this week I called on Tulsidas Borkar, the virtuoso of the harmonium, at his home in Mumbai. He is the quintessential Goan by temperament and manner, prototypical of an era that is now past. We talked about the great Goan musicians of the 20th C and their disproportionate contributions to Indian Classical Music. He then pulled out his harmonium and launched into an impromptu recital.

Tulsidasbab was born in 1934 in the village of Borim located in Goa‘s Ponda taluka (the same village gave us the poetic genius Bakibab Borkar). He had the privilege of receiving training for 10 years from Madhukar Pednekar – also from Goa, from the village of Malpem in Pednem taluka – perhaps the greatest harmonium wizard of the 20th C.

In the course of a long and distinguished career, Tulsidasbab has provided harmonium support to most of the leading Hindustani vocalists of our time – Amir Khan, Bhimsen Joshi, Mallikarjun Mansur, Kishori Amonkar, Jitendra Abhisheki, Basavraj Rajguru, to name a few. Even more important, he has produced the next line of musicians, with several of his students now counted among the top tier harmonium players in the country.

In 2005 Tulsidasbab was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award by the then President of India A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

In the late 1970s and through the 1980s, the frequently-played filler interlude in between programmes on AIR-Panjim was a musical ‘button’ in Raga Tilak Des (Tilak Kamod with a dash of Raga Des) performed by Tulsidas Borkar.

Tulsidas Borkar (harmonium maestro) in Mumbai

Tulsidas-bab Borkar
5D Mark II, 85L II

Tulsidas Borkar, at his home in Mumbai<br>Canon 5D Mark II, 24-105L

Tulsidas Borkar, at his home in Mumbai
5D Mark II, 24-105L

Harmonium maestro Tulsidas Borkar<br>5D Mark II, 14L II

Harmonium maestro Tulsidas Borkar
5D Mark II, 14L II

  • Premanand - May 6, 2015 - 3:40 pm

    I think now I understand the third photograph (and with that I understand one of the uses of wide angles). Panditji’s hand is given a slightly exaggerated perspective as compared to the keyboard and even panditji himself. It is the hand/fingers of the “pandit” that creates the music/magic, the “vādya” is just the instrument (pun intended).ReplyCancel

  • Amar Patil - August 11, 2012 - 4:02 am

    Excellent !ReplyCancel

  • ram pandit - October 12, 2011 - 2:38 pm

    KHUP CHAAN….!!!

    rasikanvar jadu karnari bote…ReplyCancel

  • Sudhir Nayak - March 30, 2010 - 6:01 am

    Excellent pictures of Borkar Guruji! Some of the best of his many photos that have been clicked till now.ReplyCancel

  • Sanjeev - December 6, 2009 - 2:03 am

    Excellent !ReplyCancel

  • Ajay Divakaran - December 5, 2009 - 6:53 pm

    Beautiful pictures that capture the maestro in a natural way.ReplyCancel

  • Arun - December 5, 2009 - 12:06 pm

    Very nice! The last one, with the 14mm, wow, what a use of the lens! You were probably at the minimum focus distance of about 8 inches? I hope you send Borkarji a set of prints. He should be delighted with them.ReplyCancel

I was loitering in Korgaon in northern Goa when I descried the village barber Apa Korgaonkar in action. Armed with my wide angle 14 mm lens, I decided to go head-to-head with Apa’s weapons.

For 15 minutes I watched the proceedings, with my lens barely 8″ or so away.

Village barber Apa Korgaonkar in Korgaon, Goa<br>5D Mark II, 14L II

Village barber Apa Korgaonkar in Korgaon, Goa
5D Mark II, 14L II

Village barber Apa Korgaonkar in Korgaon, Goa<br>5D Mark II, 14L II

Village barber Apa Korgaonkar in Korgaon, Goa
5D Mark II, 14L II

Village barber Apa Korgaonkar in Korgaon, Goa<br>5D Mark II, 14L II

Village barber Apa Korgaonkar in Korgaon, Goa
5D Mark II, 14L II

  • […] had a close shave with the barber of Korgaon sometime ago. Today we meet Suresh Hiroji, the tailor of Korgaon, an enchanting village in north […]ReplyCancel

  • Arun - December 3, 2009 - 10:47 pm

    Very nice use of a wide-angle!ReplyCancel

  • Roland - December 2, 2009 - 9:26 am

    What about the gratis ‘maleesh’ that ended the haircut and shave that was a Bombay speciality? Do they do it in Goa too?ReplyCancel

  • vnm - December 2, 2009 - 6:53 am

    Are traditional barbers in Goa medicine-men as well?ReplyCancel

  • Sanjeev - December 2, 2009 - 6:03 am

    paisa vasool !
    # 1 is # 1ReplyCancel