A vacation in Goa is a dream come true for many. The gorgeous skyline, golden sand beaches, palm trees and tons of water sport activities allure many a traveller to visit this beauty at least once in their lifetime. But this charming description of the state isn’t just restricted to its beaches, pubs, and nightlife. There is yet another equally captivating side of Goa which is definitely worth exploring for an avid traveller.
I had the incredible opportunity to explore the cultural, historical and biodiverse sides of Goa and let me tell you, those sides are as enthralling as the pristine beaches.
On my first day in Goa, I rented a little scooter and made my way to the Museum of Goa (MOG), fascinated by the images I had seen on Google. As I checked on Google Maps, MOG was almost 30 minutes away from where I was staying but with nothing better to do, I decided to drive the distance. We went through many narrow dusty roads and reached a part of Goa that was almost industrial.
I got down worried whether Google Maps had led me astray, but as I did a 360 degree turn, I spotted the sign for the museum. I walked in unsure if this place would live up to its hyped reviews on Google. Four quick hours later, I was in awe and will happily tell everyone who visits Goa to see the museum. And, these were some things I discovered within its walls.
Did you know that chillies are not native to India? And neither is the pav bread? Both were used as tools of conversion by the Portuguese when they came to India. The chilli came mostly to suit the tongue of the invader but bread was considered food of the firangs - there were missionaries who threw pieces of bread into the wells and the backyards of Hindu Goans – making them outcasts of their own society. The outcast Goans with no other go converted to Christianity, but maintained the caste hierarchy that they were so used to (which exist to this day).
As I walked further in, an indigo shrine especially caught my eye because it punned on two similar-sounding words: ‘dies’ and ‘dyes’. Dies or moulds of fruits and nuts of Goa all dyed blue, was evocative of Goa’s past as a trading port that grew so rich with jobs and opportunities that it became a country within a country. In today’s terms that would be the equivalent of Microsoft declaring its IT Park in Bengaluru or Hyderabad to be a province of the Microsoft corporation.
But perhaps the most haunting thing I saw was a boat full of idols of gods and goddesses escaping Goa under yet another Christianising wave by Portuguese priests. I say “yet another” because there were many. Goa, unlike the rest of India, was under colonial rule for about 450 years. And every event that occurred in the European home of the rulers had an equal impact in the places ruled by them. So you can well imagine what happened in Goa during the Inquisitions and witch-hunts of Europe!
As I stepped into their beautiful garden my mind was abuzz with a million thoughts—there was so much I did not know about my own country. I vowed not to live in so much ignorance and read up more.