How could I ever write a travel blog and never once seduce you with the charms of my home state, Goa, where you will find, nestled in the South, a picturesque village called Chandor. It used to be known as Chandrapur, in its halcyon days of yore, when it was the capital of the Kadambas, in centuries before the 14th; times we can reminisce about in tranquil states, for now, when history loses some of its tannic tastes and mellows like old wine, everything religious that portends to rile communal feelings, disappears in a nebulous haze.
A quaint village, home to some architecturally impressive ancient abodes, many new and fancy ones and a varied many with the ubiquitous sienna tiled roofs, which speak of a vanishing village charm, although as yet nestled in emerald verdant green. Whitewashed chapels abound, as do grottoes along roadsides, for reasons I’ve always suspected to be more supernatural than spiritual.
Chandor lies 12 kilometres from Margao and is not on the major route to anywhere, except perhaps Sanvordem or the rail route of the South Central, and therefore it retains the idyllic charm and nostalgia of a spartan, quiet, laidback Goa of years gone by.
You can drive past sosegada villagers, (who holler out greetings in the flamboyant dialect of Konkani peculiar to the South), small sleepy markets, avenues full of trees, rice fields and the sounds of shrill crickets at dusk. Or you can stop by for some quietude at the church of ‘Nossa Senhora de Belem’, which still looks as beautiful as it did the day it was built, albeit on the ruins of some older edifice. Or hike up to the mount for a view of expansive vistas, in the long shadows of the chapel of Our Lady of Piety. Or come by at Christmas when everything looks quietly festive, and the night brings coloured lights and well laid out Nativity scenes in peoples verandahs, each trying to outdo the other inorder to win the various crib competitions. Tarry along, visit the tree laden hamlets of Igorjebhatt, Cavorim, Cotta, cross the river further to places frozen in time, like Assolda and Paroda.
As you pass Cotta and drive across the bridge that connects it with Assolda, you see the river down below called the Kushavati. It’s muddy and swollen during the rains or sometimes just muddy from mining effluent of the mines at Quepem and Sanguem. It used to have people navigating it in canoes not such a long time ago but a long enough time to see them all disappear. It used to be popular with amateur fishing enthusiasts who scouted for mullets, red snapper, bream and rock crabs in waters that got increasingly saline as the river meandered towards the Zuari. It was also popular with jumpers every once in a decade. But that is the legacy of a village. The stories of ghosts, the funereal cemeteries, swooshing coconut palms, the heady aroma of plants that perfume pleasant December nights, this is Chandor, a retreat in the best of times and in the worst of times. I recollect almost drowning in the Kushavati when I was four, and as I floated to the surface, I remember vividly, a ‘toddy tapper’ high up in a coconut palm spanning the banks, wondering aloud how light I was. If I had to have listened to Finjan’s Klezmer music years ago, I would have sworn, despite the ensuing delirium and loss of consciousness that I was dancing on water. And that’s what every memory of my hometown feels like now, in retrospect, like I were dancing on the waters of the Kushavati, the artery of my village.
For my Dad with love. Happy Birthday.