Posts Tagged 'Goa'

Traditional Hindu Central Courtyard Houses of Goa

An article by Mohan Pai

The Lost Spaces
Traditional Hindu Central Courtyard Houses of Goa
“It takes centuries of life to make a little history
and it takes centuries of history to make a little tradition”
– Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan

‘Central courtyard’ -Courtesy Dempo family, Panaji. Pic by Mohan Pai

Traditional Hindu Homes of Goa
The Hindu traditional houses of Goa reflect several millennia old Indian Architectural heritage. Structures created after the devastation during the Muslim and Portugese regime still reveal some of the rich features of the heritage that has survived in Goa, even though they have disappeared in other parts of India.
In spite of the destruction, the local Hindus showed a remarkable instinct for survival and stuck to their beliefs and tradition like a leach. The Goan Hindu is more conservative and more deep rooted in traditions. To quote Romesh Bhandari:
“Goa has a special role in the practice of Hinduism. It was the Aryans who first brought Hinduism as we know it today to Goa. The Hindus in Portugese Goa however remained insulated from what was happening to their co-religionists in other parts of India. The Goan Hindu is therefore of relatively greater purity than Hindus elsewhere. This relates to religious rites, practices and of the observance of customs, rituals and festivals.”
 Goa has had a very long and tradition of Vedic and Sanskritic learning. Goa has the ancient site of Konkan-Kashi (at Diwar Island) considered by the Puranas holier than Kashi itself. The institutions of Agrahara, Brahmapuri and Maths as eminent centres of learning which existed for centuries and the fact that the majority Goan Hindu population still follows Puranic pantheon based on the broad philosophy of Vedanta, all of which is indicative of Goa’s pre-eminence as a nerve centre of ancient Indian Vedic culture.
 Agraharas, Brahmapuris and Maths
 These were the three most important institutions consisting of communities of learned Brahmins whose profound scholarship attracted students from far and near. The Agraharas constituted the real universities of medieval India. Where as Brahmapuris which were the settlement of learned Brahmins in parts of towns and cities differed from the Agraharas.
 The third agency that played an important role in cultural life was the Math. It was a typical Indian monastery with monks, ascetics and students living within its precincts which also served as a free boarding house.The Math tradition of Goa has survived with Goa having three key Maths of Goud Saraswat Brahmin community – Kavale Math, Gokarn-Partagali Math and Kashi Math. In order to enable these institutions to carry on their work, they were richly endowed by Kings, Chieftains and philanthrophic and wealthy citizens.
Historical records of the 11th century AD describe Govapuri “as beatiful and pleasing city, the abundant happiness of which surpassed the paradise of Indra”. The prosperity continued till the arrival of the Portugese in the 16th century. During the Golden Age, the indigenous architect found expression not only in mansions, houses and temples but varied complexes like Agraharas, Brahmapuris and Maths”

Gokarn-Partagali Math, Partagali, Goa

Duarte Barbosa was a Portuguese factor at Cannanore and Cochin in between 1503 and (about) 1517 and had left behind an interesting account on trade and political events of the southeast including Bengal. About Goa, he says:
“This town was very large, with goodly edifices (Temples ?) and handsome streets and squares, surrounded by walls and towers. There is a very good fortress in it, and in the environs many gardens and orchards of fine trees and fruits, and many pools of good water.”
Tom Pires, a Portugese apothecary, who came to India in 1514 after Albuquerque conquered Ilhas mentions in his writings that there was a very large Hindu population and he gives the following description which obviously is that of the Hindu brahmin elite of the time:
“There are a great many heathens in the kingdom of Goa …Some of them very honoured men with large fortunes; and almost the whole kingdom lies in their hands, … Some of them are noblemen with many followers and lands of their own and are persons of great repute, and wealthy, and they live on their estates which are gay and fresh … They have beautiful temples of their own in this kingdom … There are some very honoured stocks among these Brahmins … These Brahmins are greatly revered throughout the country, particularly among the heathens… They are clever, prudent, learned in their religion. A Brahmin would not become a Mohammedan (even) if he were a king.”
Saraswats in Goa
Among the Brahmin communities of Goa, the Goud Saraswat Brahmins have always played a dominant role in religious, social, cultural and economic role of Goa.
According to some sources, the first migration (700 BC) to Goa by Saraswats was directly from the Sarasvati river banks via Kutch and southwards mostly through sea routes. The three main groups who came to Goa were the Bhojas, the Chediyas and the Saraswats and maintained connections with the Kutch, Sindh and Kashmiri Saraswats. The second wave of immigrants settled at Keloshi (Quelessam) and Kushasthal (Cortallim) and were named after those villages as Keloshikars and Kushasthalikars. From here they spread to other villages. The main deities which also came along with them were Mangirish, Mahadeo, Mahalaxmi, Kamakshi, Mahalsa, Shantadurga, Nagesh, Saptakoteshwar besides many others. Gomantak region is dotted with so many Kuladevata Temples of Saraswats which testifies to this fact.
The first group of Goud Saraswat immigrants from Trihotrapura (around 1000 AD) settled in two different parts of the Gomantak region. Thirty families were grouped in one commune and sixty six in other. The first commune was known as Tiswadi meaning 30 villages (modern Tissuary), and the other Shashatis meaning 66 (modern salcette). The Tiswadi commune was migrants from Kanyakubja and Shashatis was from Mithila. There is a view that these settlements together were 96 and referred as Sahanavis (Saha means six and Navi means ninety) and later as Shenvis. Once settled down, they continued in their traditional professions of administration and education and some got royal patronage and positions in governance in due course of time. Some enterprising Saraswats branched out into the practice of trading. The successes of these pioneering Saraswat traders encouraged many other Saraswats to whole-heartedly adopt trading as a main-stream profession.
There is another version of the story that, Sri Parashuram brought 96 families of the Panchagauda Brahmins from Trihotra (in Bihar) and settled them at Panchakrosha in Kushasthali of Goa. Such stories are also narrated about settlements of brahmins in Konkan Kanara Coast. This is considered to be more mythology than history. Legends say that Lord Parasuram, shot an arrow from the Western Ghats in adjacent Konkan and the arrow (Baan) landed at the site of Benaulim town. Benaulim also known as Banavali about 40 km from Panaji and 2 km south of Colva is today a beach resort. Even if the legends are considered only as myths, today a temple of Parashuram exists in Poinguinim village of Canacona Taluka in South Goa.

Sage Parashuram – A painting

Should Indus Valley be called Sarasvati civilisation ?
Recent researches based on the satellite photographs have now established the fact that what was called Indus Valley Civilization or Mohenjodaro-Harappa Civilization should be factually called Sarasvati Civilization. Hundreds of remains of these settlements have been discovered, the depth of the underground flowing Sarasvati determined and voluminous reports on these have been published.The Indus Valley civilization was so named because the first site discovered by Sir John Marshall in the 1920s, Mohenjo Daro or “mound of the dead,” happened to be situated in the Indus Valley. Thereafter, more discoveries were made and eventually as many as 2600 sites were unearthed between Iran in the west, Turkmenia, Bactria and the Pamirs in the north, beyond Delhi into western UP in the east, up to the Godavari in Maharashtra in the south, encompassing over one million square kilometers.
The culture goes back to around 7000 BC in Mehrgarh (Pakistan), which shows evidence of a strong agricultural economy and the presence of granaries for storing surplus grain. In its mature phase, this culture spawned the great cities of Mohenjo Daro, Harappa and Lothal, around 2600 BC.

Location map of the Indus-Sarasvati civilization

The more recently discovered Dholavira created elaborate stone gateways and water harvesting structures, and is deservedly renowned for creating the world’s first sign-board in the Harappan script. Lothal had a port with a dockyard and granaries. Yet by1900 BC, the Indus-Sarasvati cities were being abandoned and an eastward shift in population took place. This is reflected in the Sanskrit literature, with increasing importance bestowed upon the Ganga and Yamuna. Saraswat Brahmins preserve a tradition of their southward migration, while Goud Saraswat Brahmins say they came South via Gaud (Bengal) after the Sarasvati disappeared.

Human settlement patterns have always been closely intertwined with the fundamental economic activities that they support. Thus in the prehistoric period the pattern was migratory, moving with the growth seasons and the animal herds, and the house form corresponded to those needs. It was mobile, light, simple, and protective. A fundamental change in the economic system–the advent of the agricultural revolution, wherein early humans discovered that they could intervene in the reproductive cycle of edible plants and thus control and manage their food supply–brought a corresponding change to the human settlement pattern. No longer was a migratory pattern desirable. Instead, a more sedentary, more permanent form emerged. As agriculture developed further, human groupings were able to produce a surplus of food, and from this single fact grew division of labour and ultimately towns and cities.

Did Central Courtyard architecture originate in the Indus Valley ?
 These changes occurred most rapidly in very specialized climatological areas. The first urban agricultural centers emerged in areas blessed with benign and year-round growing seasons combined with the ready availability of rivers for irrigation purposes. Major permanent concentrated populations arose and probably originated in the Thar Desert crossed by the Indus River in what is now India that gave birth to Mohenjo-Daro and Harappan civilization which now dates back to 7,000 BC. where the Central courtyard architecture may have originated and subsequently spread to other regions like the Tigris Euphrates region of ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt of the Nile. Iran and China also had adopted courtyard architecture as far back as 3000 BC. In all these arid-region urbanized agricultural centers, the courtyard house emerged as the basic house form. Today, throughout the arid regions of the world, the courtyard house remains a sensible, satisfactory, and preferred solution. A wide range of courtyard house solutions emerged in such cities as Monenjo-Daro, Ur Kahun, and Athens, which formed the essential prototype that spread ultimately from the Spain of the Moors on the west to the valley of the Yellow River on the east. With Columbus’s voyages from Spain to the new world, the house form continued further west.
It should be noted that the courtyard house emerged as both an urban and rural prototype. Its key characteristic, however, is not its context but rather that it represents a fundamentally different conception of space. In the courtyard house, outdoor space is captured and included in the residential volume and ultimately becomes the heart of its morphology. This is an arid region concept that serves its climate well.
 Courtyard Houses in India
  The first courtyard houses, according to historical evidence, appeared to have originated in India probably around 6500-6000 BC. Evidence of the earliest village is from Mehergarh (6500-6000 BC). The settlement consisted of an irregular scatter of mud brick houses and the material for house construction The idea of settlement planning was well established at Harappa at a very early phase, Kot Diji (prior to 2600 BC). The basic overall layout of the settlements is distinguished by the orientation of the streets to cardinal points.
Most private houses had rooms arranged around a central courtyard. Doors and windows opened out into side lanes. Stairs led up to the roof or the second storey. Windows had shutters and latticework.
 Sir John Marshall describes the courtyard houses as follows:
“To the right of the porter’s lodge a short passage led to the central courtyard of the house, which was open to the sky and provided light and air to the rooms grouped about it on both the ground and upper floors. And here, let me say parenthetically, that the principle of the open court encompassed by chambers was just as fundamental to -planning at Mohenjo-Daro as it was throughout the rest of prehistoric and historic Asia, and as it has continued to be in India until the present day.”
Sir Johh Marshall in ‘Mohenjo-Daro and the Indus Civilization’ (1929).
Courtyard house architecture in India was not just an architectural style. It was a way of lifeCourtyard style architecture which eventually spread from north to south India is called by various names – haveli, wada, deori or nalukettu. If we look at the courtyard houses of India, they are indigenous and matched the climatic requirements. The spatial and formal elements fell into a wonderful introverted blueprint. It reflected the society of its times. Even the simplest courtyard homes have an air of elegant character. The Indian courtyard houses was a remarkable form of residential architecture. The courtyard was this style’s quintessence and its relevance to the home was apparent as well as subtle. It was the structure’s core.
The courtyard ordered other spaces by context in an abode where space was not rigidly fixed but could be adaptable depending on the time of day, season and exigency. It obliquely controlled the environment inside and served the needs of its inhabitants. Its mood changed with varying degrees of light and shade, and with them the ambience of the abode. Centrally located, it imprinted the domain of the dwelling like a visual anchor. Around this courtyard space the rest of the structure seamlessly coalesced by the play of peristyles and gallery spaces. It was the spatial, social, and environment control center of the home. The courtyard ordered other spaces by context in an abode where space was not rigidly fixed but could be adaptable depending on the time of day, season and exigency. It obliquely controlled the environment inside and served the needs of its inhabitants. Its mood changed with varying degrees of light and shade, and with them the ambience of the abode. Centrally located, it imprinted the domain of the dwelling like a visual anchor. Around this courtyard space the rest of the structure seamlessly coalesced by the play of peristyles and gallery spaces. It was the spatial, social, and environment control center of the home.

Haveli of the northern India

Sri Chakra is the Yantra of the Cosmos. It is believed that the Angan represents the four corners of the Universe.

This form of architecture met with the requirements of the traditional joint family system as well as the climate. The courtyard functioned as a convective thermostat and gave protection from extremes of weather. A dust storm could pass overhead with little effects on the inmates. The courtyard moderated the extreme effects of the hot summers and freezing winters of the Indian sub continent , and averaged out the large diurnal temperature differences. It varied from being a narrow opening to a large peristyle one in the interior zone of the house, with perhaps another or more near the entrance and the rear section. The total number of courtyards in one residence could sometimes be five to six. The courtyard house in India was not based on blind conformity and there was tremendous innovation over the intervening centuries.

Chettinad central courtyard house

Traditionally Nadumuttom or central open court yard used to be their in bigger houses of Kerala.They is an open area usually square shaped in the exact middle of the house dividing the house in its four sides. Due to this four side division of the house by having a Nadumuttom. Houses with one Nadumuttom used to be called as Nalukettu house. Similarly there was Ettu kettu and Pathinaru kettu which are quite rare.
Central Courtyard Houses of Goa
 The Hindu heritage or traditional houses of Goa that have survived today, have a backdrop of millenia years of history, starting with Mohenjo-Daro and Hararppan civilization and settlements. Most of the surviving Hindu traditional houses are central courtyard houses, the origin of which lies in the Indus Valley Civilization. The Indus valley Courtyard architecture which probably originated as far back as 6500-6000 BC spread gradually not only to the other parts of India but also to other ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt. It is matter of conjecture, with some basis, that the Central Courtyard Culture was probably adopted and brought to Goa by Saraswat Brahmins when the first wave of their migration settled down in Goa around 700 BC and the subsequent waves of migration. The Central Courtyard design dominates the architecture of the Hindu traditional homes of Goa. Considering the highly traditional, conservative and custom bound way of life, Saraswats who migrated to Goa, continued the ancient architectural style of residence for their residence in Goa, especially since the Central Courtyard (Angan, Rajangan) with Tulasi Vrindavan was considered a ‘sacred’ space by the householder.
 Goan domestic architecture is a combination of biodegradable building material and an exposure to the elements may have been responsible for the collapse of older constructions. The main stock of houses that have survived appear to be those built or refurbished between the middle of the 18th and the 20th centuries, a period when the region was under Portuguese governance. The year 1750 was a turning point in Goa’s political and social history. It is this turning point that was also responsible for the exuberance and ostentation in architectural wealth that we see in the houses of Goa built subsequently.

Illustration: courtesy Mario Miranda

 During the middle of the 18th century the gold rush in South America had begun a few years into the reign of King João V and following this wealth came into Goan hands. The proclamation by the powerful Marquis de Pombal, Prime Minister to the King, declaring all colonial subjects to be Portuguese further emboldened Goans. They began to express themselves (and their Goan identity) through music, dance, sculpture, painting, food and folklore. It was around this time that Goans first began to use their homes as vehicles of this expression.
 Hindus of Goa also began to use their homes to display personal wealth, unthinkable after the arrival of the Portugese. Most grand houses that we see today are the homes of Goan Christians. A few may belong to Hindu families as well but these are town houses originally built for the entertainment and luxury of European guests who could not be entertained in the more tradition-bound country homes where religious taboos disallowed the serving of prohibited foods and where women followed seclusion regulations. Conversion to Christianity turned ‘inward-looking’ houses into ‘outward’ looking ones. Small windows (rarely fronting the street), blind walls and open courtyards in the interiors of Hindu homes were transformed to create ornamental homes with balcaos fronting the street where men and women could sit together and ‘see and be seen’. Homeowners who claim that their homes can be dated to before the arrival of the Portuguese in Goa have refurbished their homes to such an extent that it is difficult to find evidence of their antiquity.
The courtyard house of Goa harks back to a long tradition of dwellings with a central space open to the skies circumscribed by rooms on all sides, a model as much functional in keeping the house cool in the hot climate, as of sacred inspiration. Along the famed Konkan coast, we find references to courtyard houses from the later medieval period onwards. Indeed, in order to find a suitable precedent to the patio house of Goa we need look no further than the domestic and monumental architecture of Vijayanagar. While the churches and sacred buildings of Goa have been the focus of a majority of studies on the built heritage of Goa, in more recent times, there has been increasing awareness that the resplendent houses of Goa are as deserving of careful attention.

‘The Chowki’ – Courtesy Sawakar family, Borim, Goa. Pic by Mohan Pai

 The architecture of Goa is a combination of Indian, Mughal and Portuguese styles. Since the Portuguese ruled for four centuries, many churches and houses bear a striking element of the Portuguese style of architecture. Goa was also under the Mughal rule and thus one finds monuments built in the typical Mughal style complete with the domes. By the end of the 18th century, there was a change in the style of the buildings of Goa. Though the Portuguese essence remained, there was an overdose of colors and usage of tiles increased. Blue and red turned out to be favorite colors with many houses being painted in bright blues and the roofs being covered by red tiles. The houses are usually large and have spacious rooms with windows for ventilation.

The height of Goa’s glory was mutually linked with the Portuguese, but the Goan grandeur predated the Portuguese. Chieftains, kings and a host of Indian dynasties had made this little jewel glitter with royal pomp. The inscription of around A.D.1000 (when Shashtadeva of the Goa Kadamba dynasty sat on the throne), describes the early splendor of the capital: ‘Gardens on every side. White plastered houses, alleys, horse stables, flower gardens, markets, harlots’ quarters, and tanks.’ In his son’s reign, Goa is reputed to have commanded a powerful fleet and traded with fourteen foreign lands. In essence, it was a coveted land with the most sought after port in India before the arrival of Muslims and Portugese.

The elaborate entrances and openness of Catholic houses, the best of which retain the courtyard, combine Indian tradition with new European influence both in structure and lifestyle within. Most of these houses came into existence during the later part of the 18th century after the Marquis of Pombal brought in the changes in the Portugese outlook of its colonies.
Ancestral Hindu houses in the town are plain, closed structures which conceal the illustrious tradition of the inhabitants. A step or two lead into quiet entrances, with small windows opening out on to the street. The house reveals its beauty only indoors – rooms converge on to the courtyard with ‘Chowkis’ which is the centre of family activity; light flows in hidden from the public gaze. It is a protective and private space.


Naik Mansion, Margao – Courtesy Naik family. Pic by Mohan Pai

The Rajangan or just Angan was a large space with internal court open to the sky; roofs from all sides of the house drained into it. The focal point of the central courtyard is the Tulasi Vrindavan in the centre. The four sides were open like an internal verandah (Chowki), quite often with special ornate columns, brackets, beams, etc. Column and their brackets are pre-Portugese features that depict the progression of the architectural style in ornateness and refinement. The Puja room is always located on the left side of the house. Apart from being a place of activity and the centre of the house, ‘Chowki ‘served as a dining area on festive occasions, for large number of guests.
Sopo, a cowdung finished mud masonry in the houses of lower class and lower middle class people, figured in upper-class homes as a built wooden or masonary seat and as a stylised balcao in the house of a Christian landlord. Though commonly termed as an Indo-Portugese feature, balcao or Sopo is very much an indigenous concept.
Goan traditional Hindu houses have the following standard features:
Rajangan or Angan (courtyard with a Tulasi Vrindavan)
Deva kood (a place for daily prayer and other rituals)
Saal (a hall) Raanchi kood (a kitchen with a door which is called Magil daar)
Balantin kood (A room special meant for pregnant and nursing mothers.)
Kothar (store room)
Pooja Hall (A hall specially meant for celebrating Ganeshotsav)
Vasri (Dining Hall)
Gotho (Goshala)
Manne (Bathrooms located next to the well)
It is very difficult to assess the age of the old Hindu houses that have survived. One can only put together information available from bits and scraps.
The grand Hindu mansions like that of Kundaikar, Gaunekar and the Dempo house in Santa Cruz were built much later during late 18th and 19th century retained the introspective character but added a couple of chandeliered salas and western furniture in keeping with their status as leaders of the Hindu community within the Portugese colony.
Among the few pre-Portugese surviving houses, the oldest is perhaps the Pundu Camotim’s house located about 3 km from Old Goa. It’s a vast house and according to its present owners it is at least 580 years old. The family appears to have lived in the house even before the Portugese arrived at the beginning of the 16th century. Filipe Nery Xavier , administrator and historian has recorded the grandeur of the house of Rucuminim Camotim as the first of three most important business houses of Goa in the first quarter of the 18th century.
The next house is that of Mhamai Camotim at Panaji next to Idalcao Palace which is a late17th century house built after they returned to Goa. The earliest detail relating to Mhamai Camotim family is a loose document found by Teotonio de Souza who was perhaps the first to trace their history. When the Mhamai family moved to Panaji it was partly inhabited by Portugese fidalgos and Goan merchants as a suburb of Old Goa.
Mhamai Kamat Mansion, Panaji. Courtesy Mhamai family. Pic by Mohan Pai
The age of Malbarao Sardesai’s ancestral house in Savoi Verem is uncertain. But it is a vast and sprawling construction with as many as 3 inner courtyards. The house has an elaborate gateway and a flight of steps leading into a large porch with sopes, long seats, to lie or sit on.
Casa Dempo, Panaji. Courtesy Dempo family. Pic by Mohan Pai
Casa Dempo in Panaji, the second house of Dempos was built after they returned to Goa and when the capital was shifted from Old Goa to Panaji during the mid-eighteenth century. This house has been partly refurbished over a period of time. Their first house was located in Panvelim near Old Goa when they returned to Goa in the late 16th century. Dempo house in Santa Cruz was built much later and markedly different from the older house in Panaji. 
References: ‘Mohenjo-Daro and the Indus Civilization’ by Sir John Marshall (1929), Raj Chengappa ‘The Indus Rddle’ in India today, ‘Goa – A daughte’s story’ by Maria Aurora Couto, Houses of Goa (Architecture Autonomous)


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(Traditional Hindu Central Courtyard Houses of Goa)

Mahadayi/Mandovi River Valley, India – Part I


This document covers a very important and ecologically vital geographical area which is rich in biodiversity – the Mahadayi/Mandovi River Valley in the central Western Ghats. Most of the forests in the Western Ghats have already disappeared due to population pressure and ‘development’ schemes that do not consider the long term consequences but merely look at the short term gains. And now it is the turn of this pristine valley to fall under the axe.

River Madei at Sonal Village, Sattari, Goa – Pic by Mohan Pai

This is mainly a pictorial documentation which attempts to bring out the natural wealth of this valley – its streams and waterfalls, its forests and wildlife, its people and the millennia old civilization and settlements on the banks of the river Mandovi in Goa all of which stand to be decimated due to Karnataka’s river valley project which proposes to divert a sizeable quantum of water from the Mahadayi to the Malaprabha river in Belgaum district of Karnataka. But the project is far more ambitious. It includes building as many as 11 dams on the Mahadayi and its tributaries in a small area of 50 sq km along with hydroelectric projects.

The project will submerge a vast area of thousands of acres; most of it will be thick forested area. The tribals living in the area will be displaced. Once these forests are destroyed there will be a drastic change in the ecology of the valley ruining its forests, wildlife and all its natural wealth.

Gavali Tribals of Chapoli – Mother & Child – Pic by Srihari Kugaji

The core catchment area of the Mahadayi lies in the heavy rainfall, thickly forested, approximately 200 sq km of mountain topography of Khanapur taluka, barely 10 km upstream of Valpoi in Goa, where Karnataka’s diversion and hydroelectric dams are to come up.

In my earlier book “The Western Ghats” , I had attempted to bring out the ecological damage that is being continually inflicted on the Sahyadris. The biggest ecological damage inflicted upon the Western Ghats is deforestation. The Western Ghats eco-region with an area of about 1,59,000 sq. km has been classified as a global ‘Hotspot’. This means that this is an area which is rich in endemic plant species and which has already lost more than 70% of its original habitat and is under severe threat due to human pressure.

The Mahadayi is a comparatively minor stream that arises in the Western Ghats and the river valley is a large pocket of dense, pristine monsoon forests, one of the richest reservoirs of biodiversity in the world that reflects complexity in plant, animal, bird life and is home to some rare endangered species of bats.
Mahadayi river valley is in the news because of the inter-state water sharing dispute between Karnataka and Goa. The Mahadayi Valley has been facing many threats. Illegal felling of trees and illegal mining has been going on for decades. Large scale plantation of exotic species (acasia & mangium) has also been damaging the ecology of the area.

With water diversion and hydroelectric projects, the Mandovi river, Goa’s life-line, faces imminent threat of choking because of the reduction in water flow, siltation and disruption of its ecology due to change in its profile – perhaps being even reduced to a trickle in the summer months and possibility of seismic disturbances.

The main threat that is now looming over the valley is the Karnataka Government’s plans to divert a large quantum of water from the Mahadayi river and its tributaries to the Malaprabha river basin to help the acute water scarcity faced by the region in the Malaprabha basin. But as long as the exploitation of water resources continues in the Malaprabha region, no matter how much water and from where it is diverted, the Malaprabha valley is likely to face the same situation in the near future.

But the project is far more ambitious. It includes building as many as 11 dams on the Mahadayi and its tributaries in this small area along with hydroelectric projects. The project appears to aim at impounding a large portion of waters from the Mahadayi and its tributaries that flows into Goa, which will mean that Karnataka retains and controls all the dams and the Mahadayi waters.

It is estimated that this project will submerge a vast area amounting to about 3,000 hectares; most of it will be the thick forested area on Karnataka side of the valley. Once these forest are destroyed there will be a drastic change in the ecology of the valley reducing the rainfall, ruining its forests, wildlife, and all its natural wealth.

Fungal diversity – Pic by Srihari Kugaji

The core catchment area of the Mahadayi lies in the heavy rainfall (3800mm-5700 mm per annum) thickly forested, approximately 200 sq. km of mountain topography of Khanapur taluka barely 10 km. upstream of Valpoi in Goa. A very large quantity of water that flows down the Mandovi all the year round originates in the streams and rivulets around Kankumbi, Jamboti, Talewadi, Gavali and Hemadga villages where Karnataka’s diversion and hydroelectric dams are to come up. The Mandovi river, Goa’s lifeline, faces imminent threat of choking because of the reduction in water flow, siltation and disruption of its ecology due to change in its profile – perhaps being even reduced to a trickle in the summer months.

Every variation in the Mahadayi water level will be crucial for Goa’s ecology, forests, wildlife, agriculture, drinking water, fishing and transportation.

Whither the Sahyadris ?

The Sahyadris or the Western Ghats is a major mountain range of the world that runs 1,600 km N-S forming the “girdle of the earth” and is the most important feature of the landscape of the southern peninsula of India. It has been classified as a “Global Biodiversity Hotspot” which is under constant threat due to human pressure.

It’s a precious gift of the Nature – priceless because the well-being of the entire southern peninsula hinges on the ecological stability of these mountains. And yet, there is a mindless exploitation and wanton destruction. The rate of forest destruction in the Sahyadris continues at a staggering rate. Tragically for the country and the region, most of the forest cover in the Western Ghats has disappeared.

The Western Ghats are remarkable headwaters and the main watershed for the southern peninsula serving six states; sustained by the heavy seasonal rainfall from the south-west monsoon, from which all the major and many smaller rivers of the southern peninsula originate and flow east or west emptying into the coastal waters. The real merit of the Western Ghats forests in terms of their watershed value is incalculable. These forests once destroyed are gone forever. No amount of scientific knowledge or investment in afforestation can get us back our rivers.

The Western Ghats eco-region covers an area of about 1,59,000 sq km and is shared by six states viz., Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Around 40 districts fall within the limits of this region. Population density is lowest in the Dangs in Gujarat – 106/km2 and highest in Alapuzha in Kerala – 1489/km2. Tribal population classified as tribals (ST) are highest in Gujarat (14.9%), followed by Maharashtra (9.27%) and least in Tamil Nadu (1%) and Kerala (1.1%).

There are 58 protected areas – 13 National Parks and 45 Wildlife Sanctuaries. The total area of 14,140.36 km2 that is thus protected amounts to only 8.8% of the eco-region.

Of the remaining few pockets of dense pristine, evergreen forests, the Mahadayi River Valley located in the northern Karnataka and Goa now faces the Democles’s Sword in the shape of the proposed water diversion and hydroelectric schemes in Karnataka that will submerge an area of about 3,000 hactares, most of which will be the dense evergreen forests.

The Mahadyi River Valley one of the last “Wildernesses” with dense evergreen forests, abundant wildlife, beautiful streams and waterfalls covers an area of 750 sq km and is comparable to the Silent Valley(89.5 sq. km.) in Kerala in its wealth of biodiversity but much larger in area.


Pic by Amrut Singh

(The King Cobra – Ophiophagus hannah is the longest venomous snake in the world also called the Hamadryad which grows up to a length of 18 ft and is one of the most enigmatic creatures found in the Western Ghats. It is a snake that is highly feared and deeply respected and the Mahadayi Valley is a prime habitat of this snake. At Caranzol in Sattari taluka there are some well-identified habitats of the King Cobra.)

Global Biodiversity Hotspots

Norman Myers, a conservation biologist, in 1988 first identified ten tropical forest ‘hotspots’ characterised by exceptional levels of plant endemism and by serious levels of habitat loss. In 1990, Myers added another 8 spots to his list. Conservation International adopted Myer’s hotspots as its institutional blue print in 1989, and in1996.

To qualify as a hotspot, a region must meet two strict criteria: it must contain at least 1,500 species of vascular plants as endemic and it has to have lost at least 70% of its original habitat. These are the areas which are under constant threat due to human pressure. In the 1999 analysis, in all 25 hotspots were identified. A second major analysis was undertaken and the number or global hotspots stood at 34 in 2005.

Overall, the 34 hotspots once covered 15.7% of the Earth’s land surface. In all 86% of the hotspots’ habitat has already been destroyed. The intact remnants of the hotspots now cover only 2.3% of the Earth’s land surface. Over 50% of the world’s plant species and 42% of all terrestrial vertebrate species are endemic to these 34 biodiversity hotspots.

Among the 34 Global hotspots of the world, two have been identified in India; the Eastern Himalayas and the Western Ghats .

Of India’s 15,000 plant species with 5,000 endemics (33%), 4050 plants with 1,600 endemic species are found in a 17,000 sq km strip of forests along the seaward side of the Western Ghats in Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and Kerala. The Western Ghats Eco-region has 938 vertebrates (36% endemic), 330 species of butterflies (11% endemic) and other lower plants and animals. Endemism is highest in amphibians (78%) and lowest in birds (4%). As per the classification of ‘hotspot’, the Western Ghats have lost more than 70% of its original habitat and forest cover. Many species have already become extinct or have become endangered and on the verge of extinction.

Glassy Tiger (Parantica aglea Stoll) Wingspan: 70-85 mm – Pic by Mohan Pai

The Mahadayi river valley is rich in insects diversity and butterflies are perhaps the most colourful and conspicuous of insects. The butterflies in the valley include ‘Southern Birdwing’ , the largest of southern Indian butterflies with a wingspan of 140-190 mm and the smallest of the butterflies ‘Grass Jewel’ with a wingspan of 15-22 mm

Mahadayi – “the Great Mother Goddess”

Ancient carved image of ‘Gajalakshmi’ at Caranzol – Pic by Mohan Pai

In India, its mountains, rivers , trees and animals are honoured and revered more than any other nation in the world, seeing these objects as manifest divine creations. The rivers, especially are considered manifest forms of divine female powers that have descended from heaven. “Ganga Jal” is revered with implicit faith as an essential element of one’s salvation. “Ganga” in popular speech is used to describe any river since she is the Bhagirathi brought down to earth and could be received only by Lord Shiva and she is the mistress of all as in her they must all unite.


 Quite a number of ancient stone sculptures, representing the River Goddess have been discovered in and around the banks of the Mahadayi river both in Khanapur, Karnataka and in Goa indicating the existence of a dominating cult of the River Goddess in the area.
The Boat Goddess sculptures depict the Goddess standing in a boat, holding a dagger in her right hand and a bowl in her left hand. She is known by various names such as ‘Naukayana’ Devi (Boat Goddess), ‘Ashtabhuja’ (eight hands) Durga, ‘Mahishasuramardini’, etc.
All these sculptures probably belong to Kadamba period (12th or 13th Century AD). These sculptures have been found mostly in Sattari taluka at Nadve, Savarde, Dhamashe, Shel-Melawalli, Dhada and Guleli.

Mahadayi near Krishnapur – Pic by Srihari Kygaji

The Mahadayi river originates in Khanapur taluka of Belgaum district of Karnataka on the eastern slopes of the Sahyadris and flows west meeting the Arabian Sea near Panaji in Goa. But for the people of Khanapur and the eastern taluka of Sattari in Goa, She is the MAHADAYI – ”the Great Mother Goddess” as the name itself implies. The number of ancient carved images found scattered at Amgaon and Parvada in Khanapur Taluka and Sattari taluka of Goa at Caranzol, Savarde, Kodal, Rivem, Irvem, etc. represents the cult of the Mother Goddess worship on the banks of the Madei. The river Mahadayi becomes Madei in Sattari taluka of Goa and after the river Khandepar joins it at Bembol the river is called the Mandovi.

Like most monsoon-fed rivers, the Mahadayi also undergoes bewildering transformation during her seasons; slack, limpid pools of winter, partially dry beds of summer turning to fearsome torrents during the monsoons, submerging everything in its way and awesome in her destructive potential.

Damning the Rivers

When we dam the rivers, we literally damn them to an unnatural existence.
Patrick MacCully in his book “Silenced Rivers – The Ecology & Politics of Large Dams” says that the era of dams and damming rivers the world over is over (quite simply there are fewer and fewer rivers left to dam). In the United States now they are decommissioning dams and trying to restore their rivers to there original status, which is quite an uphill task. About 40 dams have been removed since 1999 when the breaching of Edwards Dam on Maine’s Kennebec river captured national attention. Another milestone was reached in October 2001, when conservationists celebrated the completion of a series of dam removals that restored 115 miles of the Wisconsin’s Baraboo river, the longest stretch of river ever returned to free flowing condition in America.

But in India state after state is hell-bent on damming the rivers either for irrigation or power orfor both under the guise of “development”. Past experience has proved that these so called“development” projects end up with far more incalculable, irreparable ecological damage. Thousands and thousands of sq. kilometers of forests have been submerged. In fact most ofthe forests in the Western Ghats have gone. The destruction of forests has very adverse effecton watersheds and catchment areas; thousands of families have been displaced, most of the time without proper resettlement; the wildlife and the flora of the area is completelywiped out; all this without any benefits to the local population. But what these projects in essence do is to destroy the ecology of the dammed rivers that have provided life-giving support for centuries to a wilderness of flora and fauna and civilisations on their banks. The ecology of the rivers is severely affected by dams, their waters running dry and they are reduced to a gutter status with only skeletal remains.

After these mega-investment, quite a number of dams get silted with not enough storage either for irrigation or to produce power. And there is also a danger of seismic disturbances to the areas.

Anjunem Dam on Costi river, Goa. – Pic by Mohan Pai

Hydropower projects & greenhouse gas emission

Latest scientific estimates show that large dams in India ar responsible for about a fifth of India’s total global warming impact. The study titled, “Methane emission from Indian Large Dams” estimates the total generation of methane from India’s reservoirs could be around 45.8 million ton, more than the share of any other country in the world. These gases are produced by the rotting of the vegetation and soils flooded by reservoirs, and of the organic matter (plants, plankton, algae, etc. Large dams have been known to be emitters of greenhouse gases like methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide for over a decade now.
Indian hydropower projects are already known for their serious social and environmental impact on the communities and the environment. The fact that these projects also emit global warming gases in such significant proportion should further destroy the myth.


The Water Disputes

The water endowed upper riparian States consider the water in their rivers as their property. As interstate rivers are not located entirely within a State but only flow through its territories, no State can lay exclusive use of such waters and/or deprive other States of their just share.

However, these States who zealously safeguard their autonomous status and rights forget or deliberately ignore their obligations to cooperate with each other while practising federalism. Because of this situation, many Chief Ministers of water deficit States have been forced to demand nationalisation of rivers.

The ongoing disputes are several- the Kaveri waters, the Krishna Basin, Indus Basin, Mahanadi Basin, the Indravati waters and now the Mahadayi waters. The Water disputes between the States are getting murkier due to the despicable actions of political opportunists. Vote bank politics has succeeded in dividing the culturally united dwellers of these basins into upper and lower riparian blocks to fight each other for their water rights. These people who are steeply bound by traditions for generations, who have been sharing the bounties of the river happily and its distress with concern for each other are now at each others throat fighting for their share of the same life-giving waters.

Karnataka’s unilateral decision to go ahead with the Mahadayi River Valley projects is now amounting to a very real threat. Karnataka is fully aware that the Mahadayi/Mandovi is a lifeline river for Goa and yet it is hell bent on diverting the Mahadayi waters into the Malaprabha basin. Most of the water from Karnataka’s Navilutirtha reservoir on Malaprabha goes for irrigation of water guzzling crops like sugarcane in its upper reaches creating a drought-like situation in its lower reaches. This has created a man-made water crisis in Hubli-Dharwad area. If Karnataka cuts a fraction of water released for irrigation, there will be no drinking water shortage for Hubli-Dharwad.

Goa State is a part of the narrow Konkan coastal strip on the western side of the Western Ghats (15 47’ 59’ and 14 53’ 47” North latitude and 74 20’13” and 73 40’33” East longitude. The entire eastern part of Goa State is flanked by the western slopes of the Sahyadris that extends in the form of an arc with a length of 125 km N/S and covers an area of about 750 sq km. The rainfall remains relatively high over this tract in view of the comparatively low elevation. The Sahyadri crestline zone borders Goa and Karnataka and most of the streams flowing into Goa, originate just across the border in Karnataka.

Vajra Sakhala Waterfalls in Chorla GhatPic by Mohan Pai

The Mahadayi/Mandovi is the most important west flowing river of Goa. The river arises in the Western Ghats of Karnataka at Degaon in Khanapur taluka at an elevation of 940 m with a total length of 87 km(35 km in Karnataka and 52 km in Goa). The river and its tributaries drain about 2,032 sq km area out of which 375 sq km in Karnataka, 77 sq km in Maharashtra and 1,580 sq km in Goa. The Mahadayi/Mandovi river basin in Goa occupies 43% of the total area of the State and this explains why maintaining the ecology of the river is so vital to this small State.


Emerald-green fields on the banks of the Madei – a village near Honda, Sattari Taluka, Goa-Pic by Mohan Pai

The ecology of the Mahadayi basin is already very fragile on account of large scale deforestation and illegal mining in Khanapur taluka. Karnataka now proposes to intercept the yield from about 258 sq km which is the core catchment area of the Mahadayi. The massive diversion of the Mahadayi water from this area will see a quantum jump in the silt flowing down from the denuded mountain ranges from across the border and will result in water flow being reduced to a trickle. For Goa, the fresh water flows from the core catchment area that lies in the heavy rainfall, thickly forested area of about 200 sq. km. of mountain topography of Khanapur taluka barely 10 km upstream of Valpoi in Goa. A very large quantity of water that flows down the Mandovi all the year round originates in the streams and rivulets that spring around Kankumbi, Jamboti, Talewadi, Gavali and Hemadga villages.

Goa has been at the mercy of its two larger and powerful neighbours and bordering states of Maharashtra to the north and Karnataka to the east and the south. Most of Goa’s major streams – Tiracol, Chapora, Mandovi, Surla, Ragoda, Khandepar and Galgibag originate just across the border in the Western Ghats of either Maharahtra or Karnataka. For this reason Goa is an extremely vulnerable state when its bigger neighbours draw ambitious plans to create large storages or divert waters close to the sources of rivers flowing into Goa.

The Mahadayi/Mandovi river valley is one of the few surviving pockets of the “Last Wilderness” in the world and the main watershed for Goa’s rivers. It’s a pity that instead of saving and protecting it, it has now come under the axe for the sake of “development”!

Mahadayi/Mandovi River Valley, India – Part II


Threats to the Valley

Location of the Valley

The Mahadayi River Valley is one of the few remaining areas of wilderness in the Sahyadris and like the threats to these remaining wildernesses all over the world, this piece of wilderness is also facing several threats due to human pressure.

Mahadayi River before Vajra Poha Waterfalls – Pic by Srihari Kugaji

The main threats are as follows:


Many forest patches in the valley are privately owned (malki lands). The owners of these lands are a law unto themselves. While the Forest Act provisions are also applicable to private forest lands there is nothing much that can be done to prevent the owners from felling trees. Many malki lands have been denuded of tree covers and converted to food and cash crops. There are instances of valuable forest lands being sold to unscrupulous elements. There was a move to sell Yellurgad fort also known as Rajahansagad and there has been apprehension of Bhimgad fort being sold in the light of the fact that 47 acres of land adjacent to the fort has been already sold to a Kerala based firm. Private mining interests are taking advantage of the situation to carry on illegal mining.


Illegal mining has been going on in the valley for decades with the help of powerful vested interests.


Large scale illegal mining – Kalmani Village in Khanapur Taluk – Pic by Srihari Kugaji

Illegal tree felling also continues with a powerful timber lobby. Timber felling also clears the way for manganese mining. Large-scale felling of trees has also been going on by various gangs in connivance with forest officials.

Large scale tree felling & burning of forests on the steep precipitous slopes – Maan village, Chorla, Khanapur taluk – Pic by Srihari Kugaji


Large-scale monoculture plantations of acacia (Australian) and mangium are being plantednot only in the heart of denuded forests but also in the rich grasslands between the forestexpanses and over the plateau. This disturbs the very composition of the flora itself adversely affecting the dependent fauna, particularly birds, bees and insects.


a) A sponge iron plant has been set up in Londa, just south of the Mahadayi Valley. The project site is within 25 km radius of the Londa Forest range and situated virtually on the crestline of the Western Ghats. In Goa itself, four sponge iron plants are operating in the Sahyadri zone.
b) Goa part of the Madei/Mandovi river basin is also facing considerable amount of pollution and damage.

Mining dumps along the banks of the Mandovi in Goa –Pic by Mohan Pai

Numerous mining leases for manganese and iron ore have destroyed the wilderness in Goa, leaving its surface looking like a bombed crater. As a result there is considerable sediment load in the rivers. It is estimated that at least 70,000 of run-off materials are dumped in the Mandovi river. The worst affected rivers are the Mandovi and its two tributaries – Dicholi and Khandepar. According to Goa University researchers there are 27 major mines within the Mandovi river basin. Tata Energy Research Institute which prepared “Area-wise Environmental Quality Plan” states in it report that “ around 21,000 hectares of private and forest land, which accounts for at least 18% of Goa’s private and Government forest, has been lost due to mining”. • POACHING There is widespread poaching both on Karnataka and Goa side. Hunting parties come from places like Mumbai with sophisticated gear for game that includes deer, wild boar, bear, bison, jungle fowl and panthers.


Much more threatening of all the threats is the energetic resurrection of the Karnataka Government’s decades old projects of diversion of the Mahadayi waters into the Malaprabha river along with the Mahadayi Valley power projects.

Kalasa Nala Dam Site at Kankumbi – Pic by Mohan Pai

The Malaprabha story



The Malaprabha Reservoir Project at Naviluteertha in Belgaum district Karnataka was completed in 1974 to irrigate an area of 2,18,000 hectare in Dharwad, Belgaum and Bijapur districts. What was envisaged during the planning of the project as the “cropping pattern” and what exists today is a complete contrast. Crops like paddy, sugarcane and horticulture which are water guzzlers, seem to have replaced the traditional cropping pattern. In the last thirty years four sugar mills have come up in the Malaprabha basin, apart from many others in neighbouring areas. The traditional four-month cultivation cycle has found it difficult to resist the profit-driven approach of growing of the 11-month water intensive crops. The farmers at the head and mid reaches of the irrigated belt are using water of the east-flowing Malaprabha by employing electric pumps. As a result the tail-end villages are facing an acute state of drought. There is almost a sense of doom in the Malaprabha basin with water scarcity and environmental deterioration. The Malaprabha dam since its completion thirty years ago has filled to capacity only thrice. The hills of the eastern plains in the area are denuded and extensively deforested and as a result there is a decrease in the rainfall. Drinking water supply has been affected seriously. Villagers gathering around a single tap with red, green, yellow plastic pots to collect their little share of water is a common sight.

Malaprabha is a much bigger stream than the Mahadayi. According to a former Conservator of Forests, Government of Karnataka, it was the wanton deforestation of the Jamboti area of Khanapur that was primarily responsible for the present state of the Malaprabha river. As a result the Renuka Sagar Reservoir has been affected seriously failing to fulfill the targets.


The proposed Mahadayi River Valley scheme involves building six dams on the Mahadayi and its tributaries near Kankumbi-Chola to divert water into the Malaprabha, While the Mahadayi hydroelectric project will have five more dams on the tributaries to produce of power. The main diversion dam on the Mahadyi known as Kotni dam, is also designed to produce power, apart from diverting water into the Malaprabha above Khanapur.


Foundatiom markingsfor Mhadei Dam at Kotni – Pic by Mohan Pai

These dams will be: one on Kalsa (below its confluence with Surla), one on Haltar Nullha, diverting its water into Kalsa reservoir near Chorla and three small dams on Potni Nullha above Kankumbi (it meets Tilari river in Maharashtra), interconnected and led into Kalsa reservoir. Kalsa reservoir, cumulatively then, is diverted to the Malaprabha through a tunnel near Kankumbi. The water from the main Kotni dam is to be led through a 5.5 km tunnel into the Malaprabha at Asoga near Khanapur.

These six diversion dams involve 1.6 km of dam length, 6.4 km of tunnels through forested ridges, and 3.5 km of open channels as excavations. Areas of submersion amount to 4,300 acres of prime forests and 1000 acre of dry and wet agricultural land. The second project – Mahadayi Hydroelectric project with twin purpose Kotni dam and dams on the tributaries of Irti, Bail and Andhari will submerge another 400 acres of pristine forests bringing the total area of submersion to 5,700 acre including a few villages. The diversion dam on Kalasa (below its confluence with Surla river) will be depleting the waters of Surla river. Surla river makes a beautiful waterfall in the Chorla Ghat and this will turn into a mere trickle like the Jog falls. Besides, the reduction in waters of Surla river will alter the ecology of Sattari Taluk affecting its agriculture, fishery and its economy.

South of the Mahadayi river, two more dams have been planned at Palna and Katla on Dudhsagar (Khandepar) river which forms the source of Dudhsagar Waterfalls in Goa. These dams will reduce this beautiful falls to a sorry state of a trickle just like the famed Jog falls. But more serious will be the consequences for Khandepar river, the waters of which will be considerably reduced. The reservoir at Opa which meets the drinking water needs of Ponda will be seriously affected. River Khandepar is the main tributary of the Mandovi and this will ultimately reduce the inflow in the Mandovi.

A sizeable area will have to be cleared to accommodate the labour and it can be expected that the forests will be further damaged for the requirement of their fire-wood. Within an area of 20-25 km there will be as many as 11 dams and extensive excavation, blasting, etc on account of tunnels and channels. All these activities will seriously disturb and wipe out the wildlife of the area.

The Kalasa-Bhandura water diversion scheme on which the work has already commenced is going to submerge about 723 ha(Kalasa 320 ha & Bhandura 403 ha). Should Karnataka go ahead with the Kotni Hydroelectric & diversion project on the scale that it has been planned the total area to be submerged will be 2145 ha forests plus another 330 ha of forest land for roads, dams power houses, township, field offices, etc. The villages that will be submerged, some them completely and some partially are: Kankumbi, Parwad, Chorla, Kongla, Kirwale and Kabnail, Gavali, Pastoli, Nerse, Jamgaon, Mugwede, Chapoli, Jamgaon and Kavale

Another Malaprabha ?

The question to be posed here is, considering the imbalance existing in the Malaprabha basin, to what extent will the diversion from the Mahadayi will really solve the problem. And at what cost ? As long as the exploitation of water resources in the Malaprabha basin continues, no matter how much water and from where we divert it, we are likely to face the same situation in the near future. As outlined above, the environmental cost of the “developmental scheme” will be devastating.
The denuded Malaprabha Valley in Khanapur taluka bereft of tree cover – Pic by Mohan Pai

Malaprabha basin itself provides a potent pointer. Barely 10 km away from the Mahadayi valley separated by Jamboti ridge, the Malaprabha basin has witnessed marked deforestation, denudation, water scarcity and environmental deterioration within a span of 32 years.

The forest cover of Belgaum district would be reduced from 13% to 8% after releasing the forest land to Mahadayi Diversion and Hydro-electric project. Reduction in forest cover would have considerable effect on the climate – reduction in rainfall, temperature and humidity.

What the Mahadayi project is set to do is to destroy permanently an area, rich in biodiversity, which ranks second in India after Sundarbans and eighth in the world as the finest tiger habitat and is home to many species of flora and fauna including endangered Wroughton’s Freetailed bat and Theobald’s Tomb bat. Barapedi caves in the Mahadyi valley is the only place where Wroughton’s Free-tailed bat is found in the whole world and Theobald’s Tomb bat is rare. Apart from Krishnapur caves it survives only in two other places in India.

Forest destruction spree

In the words of a retired Conservator of Forest, Government of Karnataka “In the name of development the Karnataka Power Corporation has ruined much of our forests and so far more than one lakh hectares has already been destroyed in Sharavathi, Kadra, Kodasalli, Supa, etc. The same fate has fallen on Bedthi – Aghanashini valley forest. And now, it is the turn of Mahadayi. KPC should stop this forest destruction spree immediately other wise we will have to pay heavy price for it”. He also adds “It is not prudent move to destroy forest for electricity. Let it be generated by some other means”

Stockpile of timber near Amgaon – Pic by Srihari Kugaji

Deforestation and the Global Carbon Cycle

Carbon dioxide ( CO2) is the major gas involved in the greenhouse effect, which causes global warming. All the things that produce CO2 (like car burning gas) and the things that consume Co2 (growing plants) are involved in the “global carbon cycle”.

Tropical forests hold an immense amount of carbon, which joins with oxygen to form CO2. The plants and soil of tropical forests hold 460-575 billion metric tons of carbon worldwide. Each acre of tropical forest stores about 180 metric tons of carbon.

Deforestation increases the amount of CO2 and other trace gases in the atmosphere. When a forest is cut and replaced by cropland and pastures, the carbon that was stored in the tree trunks (wood is about 50% carbon) joins with oxygen and is released into the atmosphere as Co2. The loss of forests has a great effect on the global carbon cycle. From 1850 to 1990, deforestation worldwide (including that in the United States) released 122 billion metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere, with the current rate being 1.6 billion metric tons per year. In comparison all the fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) burned during a year release about 6 billion tons per year.

Releasing CO2 into the atmosphere increases the greenhouse effect, and may raise global temperature. The role of fossil fuels burned by cars and industry is well known, but tropical deforestation releases about 25% of the amount released by fossil fuel burning. Tropical deforestation, therefore, contributes a significant part of the increasing CO2 in the atmosphere.

Mahadayi/Mandovi River Valley, India – Part III

By Mohan Pai

Ecological Impact of the Mahadayi
Water Diversion on Goa
The construction work on the Kalasa-Bhandura diversion dam for which the Deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka laid the foundation stone on September 22, 2006 at Kankumbi near Goa-Karnataka border is progressing rapidly. The project is threatening to wipe out this millennia old culture and society. Goa, although a small state, is one of the most prosperous state of the Indian union, paying the highest per capita tax and earn the highest per capita foreign exchange. Mining, tourism, corporate taxes, income tax, excise etc. net about Rs. 8,000 crores an annum to the National Exchequer.
The State of Goa is the smallest of all the States in the country yet, it shows an astonishing diversity of endemic species, habitats and ecosystems. Goa is under the influence of two global biomes – the marine biome of the Arabian Sea and the terrestrial forest biome of the Western Ghats. Within this geographical canvas are a wide range of ecosystems and habitats e.g. forests, Ghats, alluvial plains, coasts, rivers, estuaries, mangroves, wetlands, etc.
Madei river at Ganjem, Ponda taluka, Goa – Pic by Mohan Pai

Madei/Mandovi is the largest river in Goa which drains almost all of northern and central Goa with the basin area of 1,580 sq km or 43% of Goa’s total land area. Any tempering with its headwaters will seriously disturb its natural ecology and will damage the ecosystem of the entire river basin in Goa.
The livelihood of 296 villages in the talukas of Tiswadi, Bardez, Bicholim, Sanguem and Ponda depends on the resources of Madei/Mandovi waters. It will also affect the Zuari river basin which is linked with the Mandovi through the Cumbharjua canal.
The change in the Mandovi’s profile will also adversely alter the ecology of its estuarine, thickly populated islands of Chorao, Diwar, Corjuem, Jua, Cumbharjua, etc.

The Salinity Factor

The fresh water flow from the Mahadayi river in Khanapur taluka maintains the Mandovi. The Mandovi is a tidal estuary which means that it is an extended arm of the sea with tidal salt water intrusion. The fresh water flow keeps the salinity at a certain level. Reduction in the fresh water flow will disturb the fresh water regime by pushing up the salinity to a much higher level.
At present the salt water ingress and the tidal influence is felt 36 km upstream beyond Ganjem or nearly 70% of the river’s length in Goa. Reduction in the fresh water flow from Karnataka would completely alter the river profile by moving the estuarine front deeper even beyond Valpoi.
Out of the total drainage area of 1,580 sq km 509 sq km is affected by salinity and in another 540 sq km local conditions do not permit any water resource conservation schemes and that leaves only 531 sq km drainage in Goa which could be utilised. The increase in the salinity level will have a detrimental effect on Goa’s entire coastal ecosystem not only jeopardising Goa’s khazan lands, mangroves, avifauna, agriculture, fisheries and river navigation but also its drinking water storages and treatment plants at Sanqulim, Opa and other places sharply reducing the drinking water availability in the river basin.
Forests & Wildlife
The Madei river waters sustain the forests and the wildlife of the Madei Wildlife Sanctuary in Sattari taluka, Bhagawan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Molem National Park in Sanguem taluka and Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary.

Tree Frog – Pic by Mohan Pai


The reduction in the Mahadayi waters will not only decimate this area (448.5 sq km) but will result in decimating surrounding forests since the whole belt is one contiguous belt of wilderness.

  Gaur or Indian Bison, the State Animal of Goa

The whole of Sattari taluka depends on the waters of Madei for its agriculture including the centuries old method of ‘Puran Sheti’ and the Vasant Bhandaras – lift irrigation employed by most of the villages. These 27 odd villages will face a total ruin.
Khazan fields – intricate system of dykes & sluice gates – Pic by Mohan Pai

Khazan lands are saline floodplains covering an area of about 17,500 ha which have been reclaimed over centuries (Historical records of the 6th century mention Khazan lands) by constructing an intricate system of bunds (dykes) and sluice gates. Khazan lands are ecologically, economically and socially very important for agriculture and piscine culture. This unique system is based on the ecology of the area that includes the present level of salinity of the water. About 2,000 ha are under dense mangrove vegetation. The mangroves help protect the outside of the mud and laterite bunds that enclose the Khazan. Mussels, clams, oysters, crabs and prawns are harvested and the fish and shellfish sustain a large population of indigenous and migratory birds. Reduction in fresh water flow will push up the salinity to a much higher level which may result in the Khazan lands becoming unproductive, affecting thousands of people depending on the Khazan lands.
Khazan field – Sluice gate – Pic by Mohan Pai

(Kulagar in Sattari – Kulagars are hill slope terraces where arecanut and coconut plantationsalong with climbers like betel leaves, pepper, etc. are cultivated. Banana, mango, jackfruit, pineapple, kokum, chillies, turmeric are also being cultivated in kulagars) – Pic by Mohan Pai

Other plantation crops grown in Goa are the bamboo, the banana and mango, bhirand or kokum is also an important plantation crop which forms a part of daily diet. It is used as a garnish to give an acidic taste to curries and vegetable as well as in the preparation of cooling kokum syrup during the hot summer months.
River Navigation

The Mandovi estuary is navigable round the year up to about 45 km from the mouth upstream and is one of the two main waterways of Goa mainly used for transporting iron ore barges of capacity 1,000 – 1,500 tons and transported to the Mormugao Port for export. The depth of estuary varies from 8-10 m at the mouth to less than 2 m.

Mouth of the River Mandovi – Barge carrying iron-ore – Pic by Mohan Pai

Fishing is a major industry in Goa and over 40,000 people are dependent on fisheries for their livelihood. Out of 11 talukas of the state, fisherman fro 8 talukas are involved in fishing. Fish curry and rice is a staple food of Goan people.

Fisherwomen of Britona – Pic by Mohan Pai

The inland catch from the rivers was 3,749 tonnes as against the total catch of 73,135 tonnes (2001). There are landing centres for inland fisheries all along the banks of the Mandovi. The reduction in the water level and the deeper ingress of salt water will affect the fishing due to barriers to fish migration and this will reduce the fish catch. The tourism industry in Goa depends on the local fish produce which will definitely face problems.
The mangroves will be also affected and the shellfish breeding will be depleted and the aqua farms along the river banks also will face problems.


Goa’s sandy beaches are major tourist attraction. Goa is an international tourist destination and tourism is the most important component of Goa’s economy providing employment related opportunities to the local population. Tourist arrivals amounted to 2.3 million in 2005 exceeding the local population by almost a million. Number of hotels and resorts, residential dwellings, commercial establishments, beach side entertainment centres/eat outs have changed the landscape of the coastal strip with activities that follow such a coastal tourism.
Tourists at CalangutePic by Mohan Pai

The Government has laid special emphasis on creating an attractive image for this international destination by developing infrastructure and diversifying a beach oriented tourism to other forms of tourism such as heritage tourism, eco-tourism, adventure and aqua-sports, etc. And there is an attempt to shift developmental activities towards hinterlands and backwaters as well as the Western Ghat forests in the form of eco-tourism. The other tourist attractions are the wildlife sanctuaries and the waterfalls of Dudhsagar which is a main tourist attraction as well as Surla waterfalls and Vajra Sakhala waterfalls in Chorla Ghat which will be reduced to a trickle due to reduced waters.

Watersports – Northern beaches of Goa Pic by Mohan Pai

Seismic threat

Karnataka’s project with as many as 11 dams to be located within an area of 50 km radius have been planned in an area much prone to earthquakes. Two large dams – Supa reservoir and Codasalli are just 50 and 35 km away respectively from the Mahadayi project area. Since the project area is bordering Goa, Goa will also be very vulnerable for any seismic disturbances.

As a result of shortage of water staple produce of rice, pulses and cereals may get affected. The plantation crops such as cashew, coconut and arecanut which are largest plantation crops in Goa are bound to suffer. The largest size of cashew plantations are located in the Madei/Mandovi river basin in the talukas of Sattari, Bicholim and Bardez. The area under arecanut is 2,000 hectares and almost half of it is in Ponda taluka.


Mahadayi/Mandovi River Valley, India – Part V

By Mohan Pai
The Madei/Mandovi River in Goa

The Madei in Sattari




The Mahadayi river enters Goa near Khanapur taluka border below Sosodurg (called Dara Singha peak on Karnataka side), the highest peak in the Sahyadris (1019 m.) in Goa. In the upper reaches of the river in Sattari valley the river is called Madei and it flows for about 20 km westward till it reaches Bembol, the point of its confluence with Khandepar river. From here the river is called the Mandovi till it meets the Arabian sea ahead of Panaji.
Sattari taluka is crisscrossed with innumerable streams flowing from the Western Ghats from the Maharashtra state in the north and Karnataka in the west. Prominent among them are four streams: Surla (or Nandode Nadi), Volvonta, Kotrachi Nadi and Ragoda.
Farmer of Sattari – Pic by Mohan Pai
Surla River (Nanode Nadi): Surla river originates in the dense forests of Surla and Kankumbi in the Western Ghats of Karnatak. Kalasa nala joins it before it enters Goa. Two main streams join Surla river in Sattari – Mandrichi Nadi and Deuchi Nadi.
River Surla (Nanode Nadi), a tributary of Madei in Sattari – Pic by Mohan Pai
Surla river joins Madei near the village of Nanode above Valpoi. The length of this stream in Sattari is about 20 km.

Anjunem Dam Reservoir in Sattari – Pic by Mohan Pai

Volvonta river:The Volvonta (Haltar Nala) rises in the Western Ghats and enters Goa at Shiroli and it flows south for 21.5 km and joins the Mandovi at Sarmanas. The river is subject to tidal influence upto Sanquelim. River Volvonta has three main tributaries: Costi Nadi(8.5 km) joins the Volvonta at Ghoteli in Sattari. Cudne Nadi (17 km) joins the Volvonta at Karkhajan. Dicholi (15 km): originates in the Western Ghats of Maharashtra and enters Goa at Kudchirem to join the Volvonta at Karapur.

Arvalem Waterfalls on Bicholim River – Pic by Mohan Pai

Kotrachi Nadi: This stream emerges from the dense forests of Golali and Ivrem-Budruck. It flows southward and joins Madei at Velguem in Sattari.
Ragoda River: Originates in the Western Ghats and flows north-west over a distance of 35 km and joins the Madei at Guleli. The Ragoda itself has a tributary – Jamboli which starts at the Karnataka border runs westward till Jamboli and then north-west to join the Ragoda.
The other important streams that join the Madei in Sattari are: Kumbhtol (10.5 km), Patwal (10 km), Zarme (11.5 km), Khotodem (9.5 km) and Advoi (8 km).

The Mandovi

In Goa, after a restricted course through the flat-topped range, while receiving waters of the Volvonta coming from Ambekhol of Chorla Ghat and as many other smaller streams join in, the Madei emerges into a more open valley and from Bembol to Pilgao takes a north westerly course for about 17 km. swinging towards the west to join the Arabian sea at Panaji. From Bembol, where it meets the river Khandepar the Madei becomes the Mandovi. River Khandepar meets Madei at Bembol.The Madei becomes the Mandovi from this point of the confluence. Pic by Mohan Pai

As the tributaries join in, in it’s estuarial region it develops a broad and slow moving course accompanied by remarkable changes in the landscape and drainage characterised by the typical features of a drowned topography with the island of Divar standing prominently in mid-course with its northern counterpart, the island of Chorao, not looking so prominent as an island because it is on the right bank of the Mandovi encircled by the small but complex network of Mapusa river drainage. Khandepar river in the south and Mapusa river network of drainage in the north are the important tributaries of Mandovi in Goa.

Khandepar River: Khandepar river originates in the Western Ghats on Karnataka side and enters Goa through the Castlerock heights and plunges down as the beautiful Dudhsagar waterfalls.

Dudhsagar Waterfalls – Pic by Uttam

It is also called the Dudhsagar river in this stretch. After the falls it runs in a deep valley for some distance till the village of Colem turning north. Calem Nala, its tributary which originates on the Karnataka boudary in the Western Ghats and runs westward till Pimpalquin and then turns north till it joins the Dudhsagar (Khandepar) river with a total length of 29 km. Khandepar river valley is broad with alluvial embankments and is dominated by plateau heights occasionally showing peaks. It has a large drainage area through its tributaries in the south, draining the area of north Sanguem and Ponda talukas in its wake.
Mapusa River: Mapusa river originates in the dense forests of Dumacem and Amthane and flows southward for 26 km and joins the Mandovi at Penha de Franca. The Moide, a tributary of river Mapusa originates in Guirim flows northeast for 17 km and joins the Mapusa river at Sircaim. The Mapusa river drainage consists of threaded and ill-defined streams in broad, flat and in some places marshy levels skirted by the Nandoli-Porvorim-Mapusa-Assonora-Sirigao plateau heights and shows that the whole low level tract is infilled alluvium, fed by waters as well as debries by the steep down cutting rivulets of the plateau rims, of which the Assonara stream is the longest.
Sinquerim: The river starts from Alto-Porvorim hillock in Bardez and flows westward through Pilerne, Verem, Nerul, Candolim and joins the Mandovi at Sinquerim. The river length is 11 km.
Penha de Franca – Pic by Mohan Pai
The church at the confluence of the Mapusa river and the Madovi riverstands very prominently on the river bank of the Mandovi. According to the story, Ana de Azavedo, a wealthy widow, who was a devotee of Nosa Senhora de Penha de Franca in Portugal bequeathed all her estates to the Franciscans and this church was built on her property during herlifetime and hence the name ‘Penha de Franca’.

Aguada Bay near the mouth of the Mandovi – Pic by Mohan Pai


The Mandovi is the widest, approximately four km. at the Bay of Aguada and river Sinquerim joins it in this bay. The Mapusa river joins the Mandovi at the upstream end of a 6 km stretch. Divar island, approximately 11 km long, bifurcates the Mandovi into two channels. Before joining at the upstream end of the island, the two channels lead into an extensive network of narrow channels in a marshy area. The Cumbarjua canal joins the Mandovi about 4 km upstream of the Divar island. The 30 km stretch of the main channel of the Mandovi, from the eastern edge of the Divar island to Ganjem, gets progressively narrower and shallower in the upstream direction. Rivers Dicholi, Volvonta, Kudnem and Khandepar join the Mandovi along this stretch, Khandepar being the largest of the four streams which is fed by the river Dudhsagar at its upstream end.
View of the Mandovi from Our Lady of the Mount Church, Old Goa. In the foreground is St. Cajetan’s Cathedral and St. Francis of Assisi rise above the groves of palm


Goa’s Riverine Civilization

Mauxi Rock Engraving


The prehistory of Goa is intrinsically meshed with the ecological history of its rivers. According to historians, the nomadic humans descended down the river valleys of the Western Ghats and dispersed along the estuaries and the coast some one hundred thousand years ago.


Archeologists have found tools that suggest occupation of sites in Goa along the upstream Mandovi river that date from early palaeolithic to mesolithic stages. Rock engravings have been found at Mauxi in Sattari taluka and in Usgalimol in Sanguem taluka, some of which belong to Mesolithic period of the old stone age (8,000 to 5,000 BC).


The recorded history of Goa goes back to 300 BC when it was part of the Mauryan Empire followed by the rule of a series of Hindu dynasties through the ages which included the Bhojas, Satvahanas, Abhira, the Kalachuris, the Chalukyas of Badami, the Rashtrakutas, the Silaharas and the Kadambas until the fourteenth century when Mohomedans invaded Goa, followed by the rule of Vijayanagar empire for nearly a century and then a brief spell of rule by the Bahamanis of Bijapur until the Portugese conquered part of the territory in 1510 AD and stayed for 452 years until 1961.


Goa became a flourishing riverine civilizaton from early times when it had become an important entrepot of ancient and medieval world, mentioned in historical text as “Gouba” by Ptolemy (2nd century AD) and as “Kava Sindabur” (Goa Chandrapur) by the Arabs. During the fifteenth and sixteenth century its prosperity brought fame and it was called “Goa Dourada” and “Rome of the East.” Decadence hadset in during the later part of the Portugese rule but since the independence in 1961, Goa has prospered with its mining, fisheries and tourism. Goa has one of the highest per capita income among the Indianstates. Tourism now is a major industry as Goa is now an international destination and the number of annual tourist arrivals (2.3 million) now far exceeds the population of Goa (1.3 million)

Over the centuries, Goa has developed its own riverine culture and society; its own agricultural systems like Khazan fields and ‘Puran Sheti’; its fishing expertise and horticulture; its religious and folk traditions;its art forms, music and cuisine;

Now the future of this ancient riverine civilization and a vibrant and prosperous state which has become an international tourist destination is at stake because of the so called ‘‘Development” schemes of the neighbouring state.


The Temple District

 Majority of the famous sixteenth and seventeenth century temples are located in the Mandovi river basin in Ponda taluk. Most of them are the temples of the escapee Gods shifted across the river because of the religious persecution by the Portugese

Intricately carved doorway – Shri Mahalakshmi Temple, Bandode – Pic by Mohan Pai


Kamakshi Temple, Shiroda – Pic by Mohan Pai

Mangesh, Shri Nagesh, Shri Mhalsa, Shri Shantadurga, Shri Mahalakshmi, Shri Laxminarsimha, Shri Kamakshi and many others.

Away to the south of Ponda taluka, far from the main concentration of temples at Shiroda is located the temple of Shri Kamakshi. Originally from the village of Raia, the deity was transferred here when the temple at Raia was destroyed by the Portugese.. The temple has no domes and its tiled roof has the concave profile of a Buddhist Pagoda, projecting beyond a two-storied octagonal tower with a golden filial.

Arvalem Caves: These are 6th century caves locally known as Pandava caves. They have long been thought to be of Buddhist origin, with the lingas installed in the four shrines after the decline of Buddhism …but this is not altogether certain and they may have been Brahminical from the start.

Aravalem Caves – Pic by Mohan Pai
The Mahadeva Temple at Tambdi Surla is the only structural temple of the Kadamba period belonging to the 13th century which has survived. The temple is built of black basalt with slab roof design over the main hall and a typical Dravidian style Shikara and carved ceiling.


13th Century Mahadeva Temple – Pic by Mohan Pai

A Vibrant Civilization Steeped in Tradition

Ghodemodni, a martial dance performed during the festival of Shigmo. The dancers tie wooden horses at the waist and wear bright costumes and colourful headgears and march towards the village temple. The dance probably came to Goa from Saurashtra.


Cities & Settlements on the banks of the Mandovi


Right Bank of the Mandovi

Mandovi at Panaji. Idalcao Palace in the foreground – Pic by Mohan PaiIdalcao’s Palace, Panaji – Pic by Mohan Pai



PANAJI – the capital city of Goa State housed only a tiny fishing village amongst the swamp
lands and palm trees. 



It was Yusuf Adil Shah, the Sultan of Bijapur who selected this site and built a fortified palace around 1500 AD. After more than 500 years the palace still stands as the most prominent structure on the banks of the Mandovi and is known as Idalcao Palace.



Blue-tiled murals which line the entrance hall of the Menezes BraganzaInstitute. It’s a uniquely Portugese art form ‘azulezos’ which depictscenes from the great poem by Luis de Camos, ‘The Lusiads’ whichtells the story of the adventure of the Portugese Empire in the east.

In the 1820s and 1830s, streets, lighting, public buildings and housing were rapidly developed and in 1834 its official status was raised by the government in Lisbon to that of a city with the title Nova Goa and in 1843, it was declared the capital of Goa by royal decree.


Dramatic statue of Abbe Faria in Panaji – one of the most fascinating of Goan exiles was born in 1756 in Candolim village in Bardez. His father took him to Lisbon and he was ordained in Rome as a priest. He lived in Paris and was involved in the Pinto revolt in Goa as well as the French revolution in France actually leading a battalion of revolutionaries in 1795. He became famous as the originator of hypnotism through suggestion. Pic by Mohan Pai


Dona Paula

Legend says that Dona Paula was the lady in waiting of the Governor General’s wife and the Governor fell for her beauty and charms. The governor’s enraged wife had her stripped and bound and thrown over the cliff into the sea. However, the governor’s wife allowed Dona Paula to keep her necklace of pearls, a gift of love from her confessor. The local fishermen believe that at the stroke of midnight, Dona Paula rises from the sea and roams the area wearing the pearl necklace and nothing else, leaning on the arm of the priest – her confessor and lover.

Image of India – white statue at the tip of the promontory – Pic by Mohan Pai

Dona Paula is located at the western end of Panaji and has a beautiful bay and a beach. The white statue called ‘Image of India’ by Baroness Yersa Von Leistner portrays a man and a woman.

Dona Paula Bay. Pic by Mohan Pai


Flock of sea gulls at Ribander – Pic by Mohan Pai


At the end of the causeway from Panaji is Ribander, the name meaning “Royal landing place” is a long rambling village on the banks of the Mandovi between Panaji and Old Goa. It was home to Goa’s historic hospital – the Hospital of the Poor which was the successor to that first famous Portugese institution, the Royal Hospital of Old Goa tranferred at Ribander in 1851

OLD GOA – “ The Rome of the East”

The Basilica of Bom Jesus was built by the Jesuits between 1594 and 1605. This building is perhaps the finest example of Baroque architecture in India. The relics of St. Fancis Xavier lie in this Basilica and the expositions of the bodily relics of St. Francis Xavier are held at ten-year intervals. Pic by Mohan Pai

Old Goa, the capital of the Portugese Empire, a city of prosperity and splendour, had become one of the wonders of the Orient “the Rome of the East” with a population of well over 2,00,000 in the first half of the 16th century.
The city was already doomed, cholera first struck in 1543, as the population grew, the primitive drainage system unable to cope. A whole series of epidemics occured and the city’s population was decimated time after time. But it was not until 1759 that the Viceroy moved to Panjim, a healthier site nearer to the coast.
Hundreds of buildings including dozens of huge and magnificent structures have disappeared without a trace totally submerged by the returning jungle, and yet in the midst of this vanished city, a small number of buildings remain perfectly preserved.

The Arch of the Viceroys, which once was the main gateway to the city was built by Vasco da Gama’s great-grandson. On taking office, all Viceroys made their processional entrance with great ceremony through this archway where they were presented with the keys of the city. Pic by Mohan Pai

Adil Shah’s Palace Gate – Pic by Mohan Pai

Doorway to Yusuf Adil Khan’s palace has been preserved in the premises of St. Cajetan’s Church. The gate is all that remains of Adil Shah’s palace today which was built with building materials from the Saptakoteshwar temple built here by the Kadambas when Govapuri was their capital in the 12th century. The gate itself is so intricate that one can imagine the magnificence of the temple that the stone came from.

Madhav Tirtha – Pic by Mohan Pai

This is the only monument to Madhav Mantri, the Vijayanagar General, who restored peace and prosperity after conquering Goa from the Bahamanis in the 14th century. A Vedic scholar, an ardent Shaivite ans apatron of learning, Madhav Mantri not only restored the images of Saptakoteshwar and other deities to their new shrines but he also revived the tradition of Vedic and Puranic learning in Goa.

Safa Shahouri Mosque – Pic by Mohan Pai

Safa Shahouri Mosque, Ponda was built by Adil Shah in 1560It is an unusual prayer-hall standing on a high plinth with a picturesque tank that bears closer resemblance to a Hindu temple tank. The building is now being preserved by the Archaeological Survey of India.

Reis Magos Church – Pic by Mohan Pai

The church of Reis Magos in the village of Verem (Bardez), situated on the right bank of the river Mandovi near its mouth was built in 1555 AD and is dedicated to the three Magi. This was once the residence of all dignitaries and also a mission of the Franciscan order.
The fort of Reis Magos was first built by the Portugese in 1551 and was again completely rebuilt in 1739.


Ramparts of Fort Aguada – Pic by Mohan Pai
FORT AGUADA: the largest and the best preserved of Goa’s forts and is one of its best known landmarks. The headland on which it was built offered an ideal site, superbly located for both seaward and landward defence shielding the most vital access to the heart of Portugese territory.
The oldest, one of the first lighthouses built in Asia was commissioned here in 1864.


Fishing boats at Betim – Pic by Mohan Pai

Gurudwara at Betim – Pic by Mohan Pa

Historical Mosque at Surla, Bicholim with a dried up water tank in front. Pic by Mohan Pai

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