Thursday, September 17, 2009

Goenchi Ganva ( Goan villages)-St . Estevem

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 Remains of the St. Estevem fort
Travelling has always been a kinda family hobby- we all love to travel. May be not huge long vacations to faraway exotic places, but as far as possible, we try to squeeze in a few  journeys to nearby places as and when time permits. But inspite of that, I dare say I haven’t seen much of goa. There remains a huge list of places in goa itself that still crowd my ‘places-to-see-before-I-die’ list. So I have made it a kind of mission to see as many of these hidden treasures of my ‘bhangrale goi’(golden goa).

The annual festival of ganesh chaturthi isn’t really a great deal in my ancestral house in marcel. I have no paternal cousins, so once Ganapati bappa sits comfortably in his throne, the only thing I’m left to do is yawn. And that, mind you, I do with full dedication-in college or at home. But this chaturthi was different. As I sat outside my house, my Black Beauty, my Honda Dio, beckoned me. I had heard about a fort of some sorts which was very close to my village, but which I hadn’t seen in 18 years of calling the village my own. So finally, me and my brother set out on our ‘quest’ of the ‘hidden treasures’ of my mummaland, a la ‘motorcycle diaries’.

The said fort is situated in the quite, little, peaceful island village of St. estevem. Thw village is located at a distance of 21km from panjim, and 11km from old goa. If you are coming from panjim, you will pass through the checkpoints of old goa, banastari, Marcel and finally st.estevem. Along this route, ask anybody on the road about the next checkpoint and he should be able to guide you.

I decide to move around the village a bit before going to the fort which is situated on a hill in the middle of the village.Riding through this village was like a trip back in time. The old world charm of the goa of yore is still intact in this village and its surrounding areas. The large old colonial houses dot both sides of the narrow village roads. A large number people from this area are employed abroad, and the financial stability can be seen in the village. Don’t be surprised to see a ‘Western Union Money Transfer’ or any other financial institutions in this sleepy village. It felt very peaceful to ride through the village.

As you move outside the village a bit, to surrounding villages like akhada, you are welcomed by large open fields on both sides of the narrow road. The encroachments on agricultural lands going around in other parts of goa haven’t reached here yet. The birds still fly over open fields here, the cattle graze   and the farmer, sows his seeds. You see the goa you otherwise see only in old films. The village church completes the picture.

 A view from the fort
 Finally, I decided to go to the fort. The climb to the fort was steep, but not more then what my Dio could take. Once on top, the view was was mesmerizing. The fort, isn’t really, a ‘fort’ in the traditional sense of the term. It is hardly as wide as basketball court and much of it is in ruins. It is currently under restoration by INTACH.  It was originally built in 1668 as a kind of lookout post and offers a commanding view of the surrounding areas, as far as Old-Goa. One can see the Mandovi snaking its way through the landscape.

The fort is really a nice place for spending some quite moments, alone or with your special someone. Its not a place you should specially come to see from far away, but a visit is worth it if you happen to come nearby(or if you have bunked your college and you are looking for a place to spend time). There is also a catholic shrine on top of the hill. All in all, a beautiful place to pause and breath for a while.

After spending some time on top, it was time to head back home. But, I felt refreshed. And the possibility of exploring more such places excited me.But I hadn’t finished exploring this village.  ‘I’ll be back’, I promised myself…and drove back to my everyday life…..

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