On a monsoon weekend, in Talaulim’s Santanna


A white Maruti made its appearance outside, and the missus mentioned the arrival of visitors. Even as Vijay and Meena with their kids stepped in, I quickly and abruptly asked him to come along. Vijay thought there was something on my mind; in fact, there wasn’t. On a monsoon weekend, taking a ride to some distant village can be quite a bit of fun.

Aren, who just waits for a ride, supported my view with a persistent “Let’s go, let’s go.”

To get to the Church of Santanna in Tiswadi, if your headed there from Bardez, at Panjim you can take the Merces road that takes you right through the village. After crossing some spillover urban sprawl from Panjim, you get past the military camp at Bambolim.

Next one crosses through Curca. The garbage dump of Panjim’s waste, troubling the villagers there, comes up with some stench at one point of the drive. Looking south, one can see the scenic meeting point of land and river, and the intricate set of ‘bunds’ built by the people of another century to reclaim land that otherwise would be below sea-level during high tide.

“Go straight,” was that usual Goan direction, when we enquired. And we soon reached Talaulim. We passed some boys playing football in an obviously wet and slushy field. Seeing this, the kids began suggesting that Vijay (who missed his football practice because of this unscheduled outing) could join in.

“Look, there’s a castle there, dada,” said Riza, as we neared the place, being the first to spot the tall towers of the shrine. On the Net, this is called “Goa’s best surviving Baroque church”, and you’re told it “was completed in 1695 on the right bank of Siridao River not far from Pilar Seminary and has picturesque surroundings”.

Dr Jose Pereira, that amazing Goan scholar (linguist, former professor of Sanskrit, author of books on the mando, Indian and Muslim art, among many other things) calls this church a part of the “Indian Baroque Quintet”. He includes these five in the same basket: Espírito Santo in Velha Goa (1661-1668), Espírito Santo at Margao (1675-1684), Santana at Talaulim (1681-1695, Francisco Do Rego? Fig. 4), Nossa Senhora da Piedade at Divar (1699-1724, António João de Frias), and Santo Estêvao at Jua (1759).

Take a look at some of my pictures from Talaulim:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/fn-goa/sets/72157594238532645/

This is a touristic site:
http://www.goatourism.org/Destinations/Churches/santana.htm

And here’s Jose Pereira’s article on Goan (meaning old) architecture:
http://www.india-seminar.com/2004/543/543%20jose%20pereira.htm

While there, I thought of Goanetter Dom Martin (whose paintings are up at Old Goa’s Bom Jesu). While still a young journalist in the ‘eighties, one recalls editing Dom’s article of this church for a Sunday supplement of a local newspaper.

Dom’s point remains; this shrine still needs attention. Badly.

Vijay was persistent, and spoke to a lady, who helped generously in bringing the key and showing us around. After Rhea, Neil, Riza and Aren ran around a bit, we moved out via the lush-green-in-the-monsoon villages of Batim. We ran into a pre-feast procession, with young girls decked up as angels, and then ended the day with fast-food, Goan style at Umao’s in Santa Cruz. For the equivalent of US$4, four adults and as many kids had a decent snack (and you thought the Indian rupee wasn’t undervalued?)

If you know of any other interesting short-rides within Goa, share your notes here!

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