2013-07-17 / Special Correspondent

Sun, Sand and Sea plenty of that in Goa

The health conscious and lovers of Nature get a double deal from the gurgling springs at Rivona which still retains the pristine purity of centuries ago when the locals, too, turned to Rivona for its invigorating benefits surrounded by the most gorgeous scenery.

Go there after a hot day of walking and visiting some famous sights and get rid of the tiredness, the stress and the strain under the gushing spout of a spring which sensuously and gently caresses you. No need for artificial stimulants because the spring waters are rich in medicinal and body cleansing qualities. There are many other springs besides the much visited and much loved Rivona. Some of the best known health restorative springs include the Anna Fonte at Margoa, the Bocade Vaca at Panjim and the Ambora.

The Carambolim Lake is artificial, having been created to irrigate some of the surrounding

fields, which thanks to this ingenious intervention, are now fertile and produce some generous harvests. It is to the credit of Go an agricultural engineering that, at a time when there is widespread international concern about the growing food shortage with threats of worse to come, that they are taking sensible steps to prevent a food calamity.

At the same time they have provided a friendly and relatively safe environment for a variety of birds. At the Carombolim Lake bird watchers have a lovely opportunity to observe the activities of the gentler of the species like water fowl.Not far from Carombolim is the bird sanctuary on the island of Chorao – a meeting place for local and migrating birds and enthusiasts will be thrilled by the sight of some lovely species including osprey, cormorants, egrets, curlew, sandpipers, pintail ducks and garganey.Bird watchers can rely on knowledgeable local guides to row them in small boats with running commentaries to the havens of rare bird species in their habitats.Museums, the world over, are often derided as the graveyard of the dead. That’s unkind for many museums, have a lot to teach us about other civilizations, cultures and indeed our own selves.

The Goa State Museum at Patto, Panjim, is not large by international standards, but its modest collection tells us volumes not only about Goan but Indian culture with which it is so inextricably linked. Goa is still regarded, because of its strong colonial connection with Catholic Christian Portugal, as a predominantly Christian country. Christians, Hindus and Muslims have coexisted peacefully long before the Portuguese intrusion and this is proudly reflected in the Goa State Museum and the Christian Art Museum.The Amazing Tambdi Surla We hear a great deal about the ingenious architecture of the Aztec

and Mayan civilizations and the glories of Egyptian pyramids and other wondrous buildings –

rightly so for these are stupendous achievements done when most of mankind, particularly the Western world, was still in an advanced state of barbarism!n terms of literature, art, philosophy, architecture and aesthetics, Goa is also a luminou star in the firm ament of spiritual and cultural beauty. Many of its ancient temples, some stillintelligently preserved and protected are indicative of the early architectural skills of Goan

builders and engineers. Deep in a clear in gon the banks of a river in a dense forest is thestone temple of Zurlaone one of the wonders of Goa. Tambdi Surla is a unique example of the architecture of the Kadamba period (12th or 13stone masonry without mortar for bonding, the usual technique. With monolithic pillars it faces east and raised on a plainly moulded plinth,One marvels–as indeed I did– not only at the solidity and ingenuity of this divine creation

but also at the accuracy, precision, beauty and intricacy of the sculptures that adorn thismasterpiece.The Third Culture: Indo Portuguese Encounter One of the leading experts on this relatively benevolent Encounter, Alberto de Noronha, hasperhaps written the definitive account of this intriguing period. The book is aptly titled THE

THIRD CULTURE: Some Aspects of the Indo-Portuguese Encounter.

Before proceeding further may I dwell briefly on a wider encounter, a largely degradingexperience for the victims of colonialism, African, Native American, Australasian and Asian.The vastly superior technological, naval and military power of the invaders ensured for them a relatively easy passage to land and resource-seizure of the black, brown and yellow races of the world.

The nauseating concept of the White Man’s Burden based on another ridiculous fallacy – “white race supremacy” – added insult to injury.When they seized Goa, the Portuguese too, shared the view of the racist conquistadores. But for various reasons, the resilience and pride of the Goans and the presence in the Portuguese administration of some decent and intelligent individuals who learned quickly about the noble history and culture of the Goans, their amazing achievements artistically and architecturally, led to an altogether new development – the emergence of a Third Culture. Noronha tells us that this

Culture is formed at the point of intersection “and this is what happened to the Portuguese who came to India and to some extent Goans.”This was not a one-sided relationship. Both sides benefited and both to a large extent enriched each other culturally and spiritually. Alberto de Noronha quotes Goa’s illustrious poetphilosopher, Bakibab Borkar: “The virility and vitality of this (Goan) quiet, soft mannered and peace loving society’s culture were tested and proved beyond doubt when in the sixteenth century the Portuguese conquerors of Goat tried fanatically to uproot it completely. Though partially impaired under their onslaught of superior arms and administrative machinery, it not only outlived it but even absorbed some good and progressive features of their Latin culture.

Besides, it turned every difficulty they thrust upon it in to a new opportunity to revitalise andenrich itself. It adopted some fine modes of Western living and grafted on its ethos andaesthetics the good sense and good taste peculiar to Latin culture brought by the Portuguese.”

Goa has always been a generous and hospitable host to its legion of tourists from many parts of the world. The Goans, uniquely among former colonial victims, generally have no hang-ups and no resentments. This must account for the fact that Goa is still today one of the safest tourist and travel destinations in the world. Its popularity never seems to wane.Goan artistic activity, ancient and modern, religious and secular, has been lovingly preserved

under the categories of sculpture, Christian Art, Cultural Expression, Contemporary Art and in a fascinating Numismatics collection.The Museum of Christian Art within the convent of Santa Monica in old Goa with the emphasis on the Indian, mainly Hindu input into Christian Art is testimony to Faith Diversity. There are other magnificent “pieces” of the modern and old period but one is filled with respect and admiration for the Goan Way of Life, to some extent captured by the two museums is the tolerance, friendship and affection among the people soft his secular state. We live in a dangerously troubled world in which the forces of hatred and in tolerance seem to be striving for dominance.It is comforting to know that there still are some parts of the world where the pursuit of happiness, not hatred, is the dominant factor. Goa’s example needs

emulation on a wider scale.

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