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Strolling through history

Every village in Goa is brimming with rich history.While earlier, this history remained within the walls of the village, mostly amongst the elders, now many historians are delving deeper and with the increasing popularity of village walks, this information is spreading.

Sawani Shetye, a Porvorim-based archaeologist with an MA in Archaeology and Ancient Indian History and Culture has been conducting an archaeologist-led trail to six ancient sites along the bank of river Mhadei, called ‘Stories of Sattari’ under her brand Bhoomij Heritage Consultancy. “The trail is a simple walk and also a learning experience. I cover places like Zarme, Nirakarachi Ray (Sacred Groves), Brahma Karmali Brahma Temple, Mhovacho Guno and Karanjhol. So far, I have conducted three trails with one exclusively for the members of the Facebook group Konkani Speaks. There is a great interest among Goans to learn the history about these places and the walks have received a great response, going houseful. The age group is usually between 5 to 60 years,” says Sawani, who recently returned from conducting a tour to the Buddhist Caves in Lonavala.

Bhavesh Velingkar curates the ‘Veling Heritage Walk’, where he explores various facets of the village in Ponda taluka. The two-hour walk is well researched and includes facts, history and trivia about the village. “The walk usually consists of about 80 percent locals and 20 percent tourists. I take the participants to three temples in the village, my ancestral house that is a 200-year-old house, and Jagor Mall,” says Bhavesh, who works as a Customer Executive with Pepsi and only finds time on Sundays for the walk.

Bhavesh is originally from Veling and lived in the village before moving to Ponda. He has researched information and also cross-checked it with Professor Prajal Sakhardande and the Mahajans of the temples. He also conducts the Ponda walks that consists of Municipality Garden, Kranti Maidan, Dada Vaidya statue, Almeida High School, the Pendse residence (oldest house in Ponda) and Safa Masjid. “It is important that we give the right information to the participants and since I have lived in these places, I know about its history. We recently conducted a walk for the professors of the Goa Engineering College,Farmagudi, Ponda, followed by a walk for the students of the college,” informs Bhavesh.

Sanjeev Sardessai of Goan Shutterbugs has been organising history trails in Fontainhas, Old Goa, Campal and Divar and even customises walks according to the places. With a passion for history, Sanjeev prefers attentiveness when it comes to the walks. “I enjoy the walks especially when the participants are really interested and not attending it for fun and only photos. Some participants take it very lightly and distract others as well by giggling throughout,” says Sanjeev.

Sanjeev informs how the history for these walks has to be well researched as hearsay can be misleading for every participant. “I do my study first and I also ask people around the place about the history. There are stories that are passed around and I am dead against it. Some people think that they know everything when it comes to walks and talks but history is such that it is written by somebody and can be academically challenged. One was not there when it happened and some don’t like to hear facts or refuse to believe them. There are participants who raise queries which also challenge us to find out more about the history of these places. I often ask them to give their email id so I can verify the information and send them the details,” says Sanjeev.

The Don Bosco College ‘Heritage Treasures Club of BBA (T&T) Department organised a heritage tour across the island of Divar, called ‘Devadechi Pasoi’, along with Marius Fernandes of Divar. A group of 30 students visited ten spots on the island that were of significance to the history of Divar as well as Goa. The first stop at the start of the island was Dovarnem followed by places Manos (Sluice Gates) at St Mathias, St Mathias Church, Our Lady of Divar high school, 8th century roof and its carvings done by the Kadamba, a heritage cave, and the house of Rev Fr Jacome Gonsalves.

“The aim of organising the heritage tour was to help students recognise a career option in the field of guided tours. The students of Don Bosco College, Panjim who guided the Devadechi Pasoi also organised the same walk for the students of Dempo College, Panjim. We marked 20 places of the island that hold historical significance, which were then shortlisted to ten spots. The students were then told to find out more about those places by reading through books at Central Library. The beauty of the walk was that the students themselves had to be the tour guides and do their own research,” says Marius. [H]

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