Don't just go Travelling, Go Soul Travelling!- Chandor Trail
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What if I told you of a unique activity in Goa that takes you on a trail and gives you a Glimpse of it's soul? By soul I mean the history, the past days of glory and the influence on the present day. Would you react if you got to know your house sits on land that once was a battlefield? Or the little chapel nearby is where a king had been executed? Such information can only be found in books and in the minds of historians. But wait, wouldn't it be interesting to actually explore these spots with the relevant history behind it?
SOUL TRAVELLING! Remember the name! The concept behind the trails is simple. 'To explore the heritage and culture of a route with a blend of stories, myths and history along the way'. Each trail would have a local guide to take you around the off beat locations of significance, answering your queries as they come by. Although the walk lasts for around 2 hours approximately, the work that goes into crafting and arranging it takes over a month. Interesting facts are extracted by studying the historical literature and relating it to the condition of the location in the present day. Additionally, the findings are verified by the top historians. Finally, discussion with the local residents and wise old men whose ancestors have lived through the history reveals the final bits of myths and beliefs. As a result, you get an enthralling experience every walk.
Let me take you through my first walk with Soul Travelling. Varun Hegde, the man behind this movement was the guide for a trail named 'Chandor- The Origin’. He broke the ice by getting each of us to introduce ourselves to bring a sense of comfort during the next 2 hours together. He posed a question regarding something very dear to Goans. Konkani! What are the different scripts that people have written Konkani in? (Answer at the end of the post). Present day Chandor was the first recorded capital of Goa. At the time it originated as Chandra Aura which became Chandrapura (city of Chandra), dedicated to the hindu deity Chandranath.
We were taken to the site of the ruins of the city temple. Varun explained how the temple was in ruins and the efforts of some locals along with the archaeological team have led to the protection of this site. The ‘Nandi Bull’ is the primary focus of this spot. After Chandrapura, the capital shifted to Gopakapattana (present day Goa Velha). Due to circumstance, Old Goa became the next capital for around 200 years. Then, a plague fell on the area which brought about the present capital Panjim aka Nova Goa.
As the train continued, we stopped at a significant spot with regard to the 'Mussol Khel' that occurs once a year on the Monday before Ash Wednesday. This is a practice that originally was performed by the Kshatriya caste of Hindus. Even after conversion to Christianity, the tradition wasn't left to die as it was deep rooted in their blood. The locals dance with Bamboo sticks and sing songs in praise of the kings and the history of Chandor. The performance begins at the spot we were standing at and terminates at St Tiago Chapel at the end of the road. The dancers stop at every house on the road except the houses which have had a recent demise in the family. It starts at around 8pm and goes on up to 1 o'clock at night.
The next spot was the Fernandes Heritage Home. Mr Ranjiv, the owner is one of the Mussol Dance performers who showed us around the house with various secrets and surprises. The House was beautiful by itself and has stood for several generations. Every bit of furniture and artifacts have a family story behind it. Doors were inlaid with Oyster shells in the place of Glass. The reason being that the shells are translucent and give lighting along with privacy. Wouldn't you want that in your dressing rooms at home? The Ballroom, Piano, Chandeliers, wooden flooring, artistic mirrors etc took us back to the lifestyle of the rich families at the time. The enormous number of heritage items on display brings questions upon questions about its use and history. Do visit the place and be sure to have a look at the CUPBOARD WITH SECRET COMPARTMENTS FOR JEWELRY, SECRET ESCAPE ROUTE, JAPANESE TEA CUP, METAL BABY ON THE ALTAR, SWORDS, ELEPHANT TRAP, GUN HOLES, DRESSING ROOM AND MUSSOL PROP.
The St Tiago Chapel was the next spot. There was Chandranath Temple before the Portuguese destroyed it and built the chapel in its place. At the entrance of the stairs there is a stone with footprints. It is believed that when the Portuguese attacked Chandor, the people do not support the Kadamba King during the battle in which he died. Out of rage, the queen took off and threw her jewellery, cursed the women of Chandrapura and beat her feet on the stone before jumping into the river committing suicide. The Mussol Dance also recounts this tale with the songs during the performance.
The last and final spot was the Pereira Braganza house that is one of the oldest houses in Goa dating back to the 17th Century. The land was gifted to the vice consul of Goa in Spain A.F.S Braganza by the King of Portugal Dom Luis. His two daughters were given each one half of the house. The names of their husbands were added on to their portion so the West wing is the Menezes Braganza house and the East wing is the Pereira Braganza House which we visited. Ashley who is from the family takes care of the place and showed us around. The personal collections and gifts to the family has added on the heritage value of the place. Three years after a member of the family has been buried, the remains are transferred into the family Mausoleum. Things you do not want to miss are FAMILY CHAPEL WITH THE NAIL OF ST FRANCIS XAVIER, WOODEN TOILET, TORTOISE SHELLS, AFRICAN COCONUT, KEROSENE RUN REFRIGERATOR, BALLROOM, HIGH BACK CHAIRS GIFTED BY THE KING, IVORY ENAMELED KEYS OF A PIANO.
With that the trail came to an end. By end I mean just the walking. To regain all the calories burned during the trip we were taken to a local snack stall by the road to taste the authentic local Goan snacks which is available all around Goa. The famous Ross Omelette, Vada Pav, Kandha Bajji, Samosas and of course Hot Tea to wash it down was served on demand to the participants. If you have to ask me, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I would recommend this activity if you're looking for something off beat beyond the beaches, booze and parties in Goa. Each location has its culture and tradition that one can witness in the form of food, art forms and architecture. This is by far the best experience money can buy for a budget traveller. There are trails every week so Goan or non Goan, it is a cultural treat to all.
The contact details are:
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Answer to the Question:
Devanagari, Kannada, Roman, Urdu, Malayalam.