“South Goa tour with an Elvis-impersonator tour guide. I was the only non-Indian in the group – the others were visiting from out of state, eg Mumbai, and were a very polite, friendly, middle class bunch.
Strolled up 31 January Road through the quaint Portuguese district to the Panjim Residency, the government tourism centre from where the tours depart. There’s a selection of tourist shops on the ground floor of the centre with hotel rooms upstairs which were advertised at a considerably lower rate than the Panjim Inn – closer to 500 Rs per room per night, instead of 800. However, the Panjim Inn does have a certain charm with it’s galleries of paintings and fibre-glass sculptures of brass appearance, along with traditional colonial furniture in the rooms.
Old Goa’s Se Cathedral was our first stop – the largest church in south asia. Viewed from the front, the right hand tower is missing as it was struck by lightening. A church service was underway so I was only able to take photos of the interior from the entrance.
Snapping a stray puppy on route, we walked over to the Basilica of Bom Jesus – a World Heritage Monument – where St Francis Xavier’s body now rests. He died in the 16th century and although he wasn’t embalmed, his body can still be seen today which the Goans believe is a gift from God. The body is only displayed to the public every 10 years: 1974, 1984, 1994 and 2004 (from November until January 05 unfortunately) – the mausoleum was impressive though. Photographs displayed of the body show that an arm and an opposite little finger are now missing.
The next stop was Shri Manguesh hindu temple – took photos from outside. A hindu monk gave me a concise history of the temple (the Portuguese had tried to destroy the hindu temples in their efforts to convert the Goans to Catholicism but apparently the English came to their defence, believing in religion of choice… aren’t the English great? BTW, have you got any money…) He showed me some chariots in an outstable which are brought out annually at some festival – pageants would traditionally have been a method of educating and informing the illiterate.
Shri Gopal Ganpati was the next hindu temple. I think I accidentally left the camera on an incorrect aperture setting here, thinking it was on P mode…
After this, the roads became even bumpier and steeper – we seemed to be going up and down some hairpin bends around the countryside. One young boy spent most of this leg of the journey wretching out of the window – seems that’s not an uncommon occurrence here.
Ancestral Goa at Big Foot Loutolim Goa was a favourite of mine – a Yorvik Viking centre set outdoors where we saw representations of traditional life and craftsmanship, as well as a wishing area dedicated to the Big Foot legend.
Next port of call was Colva (pronounce Kahlua) where I was royally hassled on the beach: boys who wanted to be photographed with me (initially amusing) girls who just wanted to talk no hassle (oh, and then sell their wares) a bloke undertaking a research project in to the differences between sex and marriage in India and Britain… The sanest person with whom I engaged in conversation was a boy whose friends had dared him to come and sit with me for 15 minutes! He won his bet and I took the opportunity to learn some Konkani – the official Goan language.
Dev borem korum