Thursday, December 09, 2010

Explore Goa: Cholta Cholta

Cholta Cholta at Panjim Gardens.
Cholta Cholta (A Konkani term which means "While walking") is a walking tour organized by Goa Bookworm. Goa Bookworm promotes reading for children. They have a special library where children can explore a fine selection of books organized by age group. Goa Bookworm organizes these Cholta Cholta tours so that children (and adults) learn more about the history of Goa.

My friend Cecil thought it would be a good opportunity for both of us to learn something about Panjim - especially since I am on a "Explore Goa" tour. I jumped at the opportunity and took a local bus to travel all the way to Panjim (The capital of Goa that is about 60 kilometers from where I live). My family (especially my brothers) were perplexed why I chose to travel by the local buses when I could easily ask one of them to drive me by car. I've been enjoying my travels by buses because I get to know a lot of interesting people-  so I plan to use buses as often as I can during my stay here in Goa.

The turnout for the walking tour was less than expected but the organizers decided to go ahead with the tour. The tour starts at the Panjim Garden which has been recently renovated. The garden is named after Garcia de Orta, a Portuguese naturalist and a pioneer of tropical medicine.

Jardin Garcia de Orta - Panjim.
After a brief history of the Garden, we were shown around some of the shops and their historical importance. A book binding shop next to the garden still has a working book binding machine from the Portuguese era. Unfortunately, I could not take a picture of the machine as it was too dark and cramped inside. We also visited a gift shop that has been handed down through generations and was one of the most popular gift shop during the Portuguese times, often visited by the Governor of Goa and his wife.

Gift shop owners showing their family heritage.
Our walking tour then took us to one of the first Marathi school for girls. The school is now almost in ruins and I was quiet surprised to note that it is now a government run public school and classes are still held in this dangerous looking contraption.

First Marathi school for Girls under Portuguese rule.
I hope common sense prevails and the government decides to restore this building instead of letting it fall apart and rebuild a concrete monstrosity in its place. One of the unique features of this building is the metal roof with intricate designs. It does not appear to be a common Portuguese design element but something very unique to this building.

Metal roof of the school building.
The tour also covers the Jesuit house and the Vasco Da Gama club. However, due to time constrains, we decided to skip these 2 places. We also visited the Jama Masjid Mosuqe - which is housed in a building. This means that the traditional dome is missing. Only the minaret on top indicates that this is a house of religion.

We finally concluded our tour in front of the Panjim church. The church celebrates its annual feast on 8th December, so the church was fully lit and novenas were in progress. We learned an interesting fact about the church. The distinguishing feature of the church (i.e. the winding steps) were not part of the original building. They were added much later on.

Panjim church on the eve of its annual feast.
That concluded the Cholta Cholta tour. You can contact the organizers of the Cholta Cholta tour on their phone numbers +91-9823222665 or +91-8322420146 or visit their blog.


erudition said...

Love this picture of the Panjim church Cajie, how did you manage to zap out the crowd?


Cajie said...

This is a long exposure shot (I think 5 or 6 seconds). Moving things disappear in such shots since the darkness of the person is filled up by the light from the background as the subject moves.

Anonymous said...

Dear Cajie,

Thank you for posting cholta cholta on your blog spot. I enjoyed
reading about the walk, even though I was at most of it! Your
photographs are also good matches to the text, which you wrote up so
well. Thank you!

I am also writing to ask your permission to post a link to your
blogspot on our's. In this way I am saved the task of writing up about
the walk and have the advantage of your photo's. Please let me know if
this is possible.

Thanks again and best


Anonymous said...

Hey, I am checking this blog using the phone and this appears to be kind of odd. Thought you'd wish to know. This is a great write-up nevertheless, did not mess that up.

- David