Day 2 started on a peaceful note. We got up early, and instead of having the usual bread-butter-jam, we headed out. There is a nice Udipi Veg restaurant nearby called Anand Sagar. The breakfast and coffee they serve is quite nice.
After a pleasant breakfast, we walked back to the main spot where the tour bus would pick us up, St. Anthony’s Chapel.
At around 9am, the bus stopped there, and after confirming our tickets, we sat inside. The day promised to be a really hot one, so we were quite glad to have chosen an air-conditioned bus.
Our first stop was the Sinquerim Boat House. Here we all paid Rs. 200/- per person to see dolphins. I wasnt very sure how the experience would be, or if would actually manage to see the dolphins. The boat ride far exceeded my expectations. The boat was first taken past the Fort Aguada lighthouse (old and new were pointed out), the Aguada prison, and an ancient church on the hilltop, as well as a huge multi-crore worth house facing the sea. Apparently this house is owned by a diamond merchant from Gujarat and had been used for shooting a Bollywood movie in the past. The various places that were also pointed out were Miramar Beach, Coco Beach (named for the coconut trees there) and Vasco da Gama.
The best part however were the dolphins. There were two that kept bobbing up at various places, and all the boats would rush towards them to give their groups the best view. The moment of viewing just lasts a second, but the sheer thrill of see these elusive creatures in the wild makes your day! They don’t jump up from the water like they do on wildlife programs on television, but just provide a glimpse of long snouts and gray skin.
The boats finally turned around and headed back to the boat house, all passengers wearing broad smiles. 🙂
Next stop were the Basilica of Bom Jesus and Se Cathedral at Old Goa. There are 15 old churches in Old Goa. These were the only 2 that we covered though with the tour bus.
Basilica of Bom Jesus is one of the oldest churches in Goa, and one of the most prestigious as well. It hosts the relics of St. Francis Xavier, patron saint of Goa, apostle of the Indies.It was also the first church in India to attain the status of minor basilica in 1946. The church is dedicated to the Infant Jesus. The mausoleum of St. Francis Xavier is located on the southern side of the main altar. The silver casket of the relics is placed on top of an elaborately designed 3-tiered bier.
On the opposite side of the same road is the Se Cathedral. It situated in Old Goa and is dedicated to St. Catherine. It stands as a living monument of the conquest of Goa by Alburquerque. At one enters the chapel you will see a statue of Our Lady. There is also a beautiful altar dedicated to St. Catherine upon which stands another statue of Our Lady Of Peity. The tour guide told us that this was the biggest cathedral in Asia… though I have yet to come by that particular claim justified.
Next stop was the temple of Lord Mangeshi. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, and is located in the village of Mangeshi on the Panaji-Ponda road.
The history of Shri Mangireesh or (Shri Mangueesh or Shri Mangesh) dates back to the Puranas. The Sahyadri Khand of Skand Purana says that Parshuram invited 66 Panch Gaud Brahmins belonging to 10 gotras from Trihotra (believed to be Tirhut in Bihar) to Kushasthal (now known as Kutthal, Goa) for performing the Yadnya after wiping out the Kshatriyas. Each group had brought with it the idol they used to worship and installed it in the villages donated by Parshuram out of the land reclaimed by him from the sea.Those belonging to the Vatsa and Kaundinya gotra received Kushasthal as gram dan and installed in the village their family deity, Shri Mangireesh. The Purana explains that the Bramha had established the Shivalinga at Monghir in Trihotra and it came to be known as Mangireesh or Mangeesh.
It is stated that when Parvati was in search of Shiva, she was scared at the site of a tiger that was Shiva himself and shouted for help from him. However, instead of saying “Trahiman Gireesh” she said: “Trahimangeesh!!” out of fear and nervousness. The Gomantak Kshetra Mahatmya reports the second avatar of Shri Mangireesh in Goa in the same fashion.
His temple at Kushasthal was a place of pilgrimage till the Portuguese took over this part of the territory in Goa in 1560. On the site of the temple now stands a church. In 1560, anticipating the onslaught of the Portuguese, the devotees had moved Shri Mangesh Shivalinga from Kutthal to a safer place under a Hindu prince. Surrounded by hillocks and covered by forests, the Shivalinga was kept at a place, which now is known as Mangeshi.
Mangeshi is also known as the ancestral village of notable singer Lata Mangeshkar.
The location is truly picturesque. After a short walk from the parking lot, we reached the temple. We washed our feet at the communal tap, and paid our respects to the Lord. In spite of the crowd of tourists at the temple, there was still as sense of peace and calm about the place.
By this time it was already 1.30, and there was a discussion in the bus as to the next stop: lunch or temple of Shantadurga? the maximum votes went to the temple of Shantadurga, and thats where we headed next.
The temple is dedicated to Shantadurga, the goddess who mediates between Vishnu and Shiva. The deity is also called ‘Santeri’ colloquially. Local legends tell of a battle between Shiva and Vishnu The battle was so fierce that Lord Brahma prayed to Parvati to intervene, which she did in the form of Shantadurga. Shantadurga placed Vishnu on her right hand and Shiva on her left hand and settled the fight.
The deity of Shantadurga is shown as holding two serpents, one in each hand, representing Vishnu and Shiva. She is then said have gone to Sankhwal a village in Salcette Taluka to kill the demons that were harassing the Brahmins. As a reward, she was given the name of Vijaya. Shri Vijayadurga shrine was located in Sankhwal along with Shri Shantadurga and Shri LakshmiNarsimha but was later shifted to a place called Kerim in Ponda Taluka during the Portuguese invasions.
Finally we headed for lunch. We reached Dona Paula at around 3.30pm, at a restaurant suggested by the tour guide, Taste of Paradise. The plan was to have lunch, and then walk upto the point of Dona Paula, the point where the rivers Zuari and Mandovi join the Arabian Sea.
We were a little hesitant to have lunch there, but then thought we might as well get it done with instead of searching out another place right then. The place was a surpise, definitely. It was clean, and the food was tasty and priced reasonably.
From the restaurant, it was a 10 minute walk to the viewpoint. There is a hammer shaped headland, and on a small rise, is the viewpoint to see the confluence of the rivers with the sea. On the way up, there are 2 statues. Most tour guide would tell you that the statues are of lovers who committed suicide, and they are Dona & Paulo. The truth is very different.
“Dona is the title given to married women according to Portuguese customs. And Paula Amaral Antonio de Souto Maior is the lady in debate. She is not a romantic figure but definitely a historical figure. She was the daughter of the Portuguese Viceroy of Jaffnapatnam, in Sri Lanka. She and her family arrived in Goa in 1644 and she married a Fidalgo from Spain in 1656. Her husband was Dom Antonio Souto Maior. They were an extremely affluent family and the entire property from the present day Cabo Raj Nivas all the way to Caranzalem belonged to the Souto Maiors. She later passed away on December 16, 1682.” Dona Paula was a woman of charity and is known to have helped the villagers and worked a lot for their betterment, so after her death, the villagers decided to re-name the village as Dona Paula. Initially the village was called Oddavell.
The statues are of Mrs & Mr Robert Knox, and were made by Dutch sculptress, Baroness Yrse Von Leistner who etched the sculpture as she was in awe of the philosopher Robert Knox.
There wasnt much to do at this place, after we had seen the point and taken the requisite photos. So we slowly made our way back to the bus. Enroute we had coffee and ice cream (guess who had the ice cream? ;)) and some snacks. By around 5pm, we left Dona Paula, and drove around Panaji. Miramar beach, the Unity statue signifying religious peace in Goa were pointed out. The final stop for the day was a cruise on the river Mandovi.
There were about 4 cruise boats at the dock. The one our tour had arranged was called Paradise Cruise. It was the last in line, it was also the last to start. The was quite a pleasant experience. It would have probably been better it we could have actually seen the river on the cruise. However, the cruise set off only at around 6.30pm. But that time, the sun had already set. There were 3 levels to the boat. Level 1, was the roof, where evryone grouped up, and there was a stage set up with DJ console. The programs arranged by the cruise organizers were held here. Level2 was the entrance/exit to the boat, as well as the self-service counter+bar. Level 3 was the in-house disco. Entry free for ladies; for men its Rs. 50 entry fee.
There were some snacks like samosas and sweet corn that were served (at a price, of course) on the first level. The show on the stage started at around 6.15, with a dance that was a traditional offering to the river to offer safe passage. The rest of the cruise was a mix of dance performances, and invites to couples to dance, followed by asking only guys to dance and having the ladies go down to the disco. However, we opted to stay and watch the scenarios rather than going down to the disco. Good fun in all.
We finally disembarked at around 7.15, after a 45 minute cruise.
The last and final stop was a dry fruits and wine shop, for those interested. Goa is famous for cashews, and also for an alcoholic drink called feni, which is made from cashews. Also, after buying the requisite permits, one can buy a certain number of liquor bottles across the state border. We were interested in neither the cashews nor the liquor, so we opted to stay back in the bus.
The bus finally dropped us off that St. Anthony’s Chapel at around 8.30pm. We made our way back to Anand Sagar, where we enjoyed a light dinner and walked back to our room. However, I wouldn’t recommend Anand Sagar for dinner. It didn’t taste very great, nor do they serve tea or coffee in the evenings. The breakfast is the best part of their menu.
We ended the day tired, but with a smile. 🙂