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Cholta Cholta - Walking tours of Goa
Cholta Cholta – Walking a section of Dr. Dada Vaidya Road, Panaji
October 14, 2010
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Our walk began outside the Mahalaxmi Temple gate and at this starting block we learnt so much. We learnt when the temple was built ( 1831, restored 1990) what the gate represents and then about the Vhoti. Peering into the offering tray was a lesson in what constitutes offerings at Hindu temples, who makes them and what goes into the offering. We walked the gentle slope to the main temple, and stopped to see the flower sellers weave yellow and pink flowers, with silver tinsel as offerings to the female deity. These ‘fatim’s ‘ are so common in Goa but this time we watched them emerge through the skillful wheel and interlacing of the banana fibre to adorn the Goddesss.

Temple architecture might seem cut and dried, but Goan temples come with their own uniqueness. The group learnt about the Deepstambh, a unique lamp tower found in temple courtyards in Goa, the Shikhara’s, the Kalash, the sanctum ‘gargbagriha’ and the “Pradakshina”. We explored the pathways and learnt about our own local Goddess, the original Pongekar’s and the legend of the Travelling Goddess. So many participants expressed how they had driven past the temple and never knew it was Panjim’s first Official temple. We loved that reaction.
We moved down the old stone steps to learn about how an old school got its name and none of the group will think ‘Mushtifund’ is simply a name any longer. Like everything around us, it had a story too!

A cross to mark a Portuguese official’s death and onwards to the source of Panjim’s life. The Boca da Vaca spring. We climbed the steps marvelling at how close we were to the Altinho hill and how water springs from here for the last 400 odd years. Unfortunately the 900 mt tunnel was closed but the sounds of the water as it gushed out of the earth resounded.

We made our way to the Sarvajanik Ganpati mandap and held our breath as we looked at this mammoth scene. A large Ganpati beaded together with over 250 kgs of beads, 2 months of labour and 11 young boys of the area. Every corner tells a story and this one showed us all what community can do and what a wealth of craftsmanship abounds.

We finally made our way to the Mayfair Hotel, where proprietor Mr. Chico Fernandes and his wife Martha, warmly welcomed the Cholta team. We had the opportunity to look at an original wall mural done by Mario Miranda, to admire the mosaic work crafted from his art on another space and to see original advertisements of the 1970’s. Mayfair Hotel has beautiful Oyester Shell windows, original eavesboard mouldings and a lot of character.

The sun had set on this stretch of Panjim’s busy road, but the stories and character of this Cholta walk was awakened. Until our next walk, then!

Schedule to come:

Friday,Oct. 22nd: 5.00 – 6. 30 pm: Fazenda, Abbe Faria Sculpture, Mhamai Kamat House, Adil Shah Palace

Sunday, Nov 21st : 10.00 – 12.00 noon: Tobacco Square, Mint House, GPO, San Tome and environ

Friday, Dec  5th : 5.00 – 6.30 pm: Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception, Jardin Garcia da Orta, Jama Masjid  and surrounding.

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