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Goa - Rachol Seminary near Rachol Fort in Raia

Friday, October 31, 2014

After visiting the Rachol Fort. We decided to visit the Rachol Seminary.

We were first hesitant whether we should go in or not, as we were wearing shorts. When one of the locals informed us about underground dungeons. Underground Dungeons in Church premises a fact little bit difficult to digest and so we headed to see it. Had anyone stopped us on our dress code, we had planned to say that we were passing by, so just stopped by to pay it a visit. We are tourist. Who would like to be a tourist in his own country?

The Rachol Seminary is one of the biggest Seminary in Goa. It is also called  Patriarchal Seminary of Rachol.  It is called SeminĂ¡rio de Rachol in Portuguese and Raiturchi Patriarkal Siminar in Konkanni.

The premises houses a beautiful garden in front of the Church, the new seminary building and of course the old seminary building. Note that all the three structures are white in color. 

In fact all Churches and Chapels in Goa are painted white, except for a few in Old Goa. 

The Church was under renovation. The renovation was being conducted by ASI i.e Archaeological survey of India. Though the Church is open to public, we couldn't take any snaps there as the workers were busy restoring it. The premises was filled with bamboo scaffolding. It was dark  and also dusty to add to it. What snaps should I take now? I better come back when it is restored so take some good snaps.

All that stood in the church is the Reredos and the Pulpit. Both were painted golden in color with a few statues nearby. There were no pews in the church. 

On the first level stood the musical instruments covered under a sheet. One of the musical instruments being a piano and the other a windpipe for voice modulations. 

We then followed one of the workers who was working on setting up the roof, a narrow stone spiral staircase led us to the top. The staircase was so narrow that I had problems while climbing up and down. We finally reached the Church Bell and then the top. The top offers a very beautiful view of the place. Again we had to do a lot of balancing up there due to the repair work, so we couldn't take photos.

At the Entrance of the Old Seminary there is a small photo frame informing about the history of  it. It was built around 1609 to 1611.

We then started walking around the the old seminary building. The old seminary building is in the shape of a square with a two badminton courts in the middle surrounded by chickoo trees and other vegetation.

We then met up with one of the Brothers there. A Brother is a person who is in the process of becoming a Priest. He showed us around in the Seminary.

The Walls of the Seminary have got paintings of Priests. Some of the paintings were visible, others were not so visible. Again their identities were missing. As per the Brother even he was not aware as to who they were. 

The Old Seminary was a storey tall which is still occupied by Priests and Brothers. Best part is all the four sides are identical. So you will feel like you have seen it , but you haven't.

Photography is not allowed in the premises so I couldn't take photos here. The Seminary all  houses a collection of old coins and crockery along with a unique photo frame structure. 

The Brother should us around the entire Seminary. He then took us to the top most point of the Seminary from where we could see a beautiful view of Shiroda, the Zuari River, the fields and the hills in  a distance on a rainy day. There was a brown patch of land, where some guys were playing football. A per Brother they are all Brothers who are playing football there, as it is a source of exercise for them. He also told me that they even plough fields here along with fruit plantations. The place houses both Mango, Chickoo and Coconut trees along with a couple of vegetable plantations. 

We then asked him about the underground dungeons, as that was the reason why we landed there. He informed us that they are below the badminton courts. 

He came with us to the court, there are two opening to lead to the dungeon, but as it was around 5:30 PM on my watch and it was getting darker we didn't go in. He informed us that there is no lighting in there and that we need a very good torch to go in there, plus to add to it, it is occupied by bats and snakes. So going in there was not a smart thing. 

On the badminton court, there are small grilled openings from where we see inside i.e below, water is filled in it and it is so deep down, so I can imagine how deep is this place. 

We then thanked Brother for showing us around in the premises. This was his last year, come 2015 , he would be a Priest. A matter of great honor for his family and also for him to serve the Lord. 

Goa - Rachol Fort on the outskirts of Madgaon City in Raia

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

We tried doing a search for this place on Google Maps, but we not able to locate it.

But had just a photo of this place, this was our clue, we headed out to see this place. With a lot of help from the locals finally we reached this Entrance.

Just the entrance remains, the entire fortification is broken down. The entrance is very close to the Rachol Seminary..

The Fort Entrance is on the left side of the Zuari River and can be accessed from Margao. It is approximately 8 km away from Margao. It is located on the Margao-Chandor- Curchorem Road.

History states that  the Muslim Bahmani rulers built this fortress. This fort has been conquered by many rulers and finally came under Portuguese control in 1520.  As the Portuguese control expanded across Goa, the importance of this fort reduced and finally it was abandoned. 

To read about Goa - Rachol Seminary near Rachol Fort in Raia  

Goa - Accomodation at Madgaon

Monday, October 27, 2014

We then headed out of Madgaon Railway Station. As we are trekkers we decided to walk it out till Madgaon City. I had estimated that it would take us around 45 minutes to reach.

It was not raining, though it rained while we were travelling to Madgaon, the weather was humid. We walked and walked and in another 15 mins we decided to board a rickshaw to take us to Madgaon City. 

The rickshaw had a State of the Art look. It had doors on the side of it with small windows in it. The ride make you sweat and gasping for breath.   

We crossed the bridge, the architecture of which I had always admired.  Other side of the bridge is  Madgaon City.

Why I admire the bridge so much? I don't know, who built this bridge and why they built this bridge in this manner. But never the less that is the only way we can commute to the city. So finger on my lips.

The rickshaw driver don't work as per the meter and quote any fee. He charged us Rs. 60. Not bad. He dropped us outside the Margao Muncipility Building.

From there we headed off to Gomati Hotel. Why Gomati Hotel? We had stayed here when I was visiting Goa during the carnival. The rooms are nice at a cheap price and restaurants and travel utilities are easy to find.

Hotel Gomati is located near to Hotel Saaj (check Google Maps) on the junction of the Luis Miranda Road and the Minguel Loyola Furtado Road. Hotel Gomati is not tagged o Google Maps.

I headed off to Gomati Hotel and advertised  that I was a blogger and that I had a webite and I am here to travel and wite about Goa. 

They offered us room no.101. Rs.1100 would give us AC, hot water, TV and Fridge in a double bed room. for Rs. 840 we would get all the above minus the AC. As I would be covering their Hotel they gave me all of the above for Rs.840.

Wise thought, I should keep promoting my blog more to get better deals in accomodation. haha.

The time was 3 PM on my watch. We had two agendas for the day. Lunch and Motorbike. We were hungry and so decided to head out for some lunch. Though we had crossed the lunch time, we still decided to try our luck.

Goa - Fish Thali at Hotel Ajanta at Panjim

Friday, October 24, 2014

Fish Thali

Kingfish (Surmai) dipped in Semolina (rawa) shallow fried in oil.
Served with crab, crab flavoured coconut gravy, Lady finger (bhindi) vegetable, dried prawns fried in oil with onions and spices and a Goan version of Solkadi and not to forget the rice. 

Amazing Fish Thali. The food was so nice that I ordered another round of Kingfish and dried prawns.

All of this just for Rs.100.

An Encounter with the Cows at Khar Road Railway Station Ticket Counter

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

One of my friends asked me to meet her outside the Khar Road Railway Ticket Counter.

The time we decided was 6 PM. I have never alighted at Khar on my travel by train.

Like always my friend was late and I had to kill time outside the ticket counter. I was checking out the timings of the trains when suddenly something brushed me on my right side, "Who is this mannerless creature?" I said to myself. To my surprise it was a cow. 

Cow at the ticket counter. Now I was curious what the cow was upto. I followed the cow. The cow stopped at an un-manned ticket counter. Sneaked its mouth in the small circular hole in the glass trying to get itself a ticket. But sadly there was no one to hear it out. 

The cow turned its head to the left, there were men standing in a queue to get themselves a ticket. I guess the cow tried to interact with them. Sadly no one understood the cow :( the cow then sat down. Poor Cow.

My friend finally arrived at 6:15 PM and I narrated the entire story to her. She couldn't believe that all this had happened. Though she saw the cow sitting down next to the ticket counter. She thought I was cooking up a story. Now how do I prove my point.

Suddenly another cow rubbed me on my left hand side and went in. "You watch" I said to her. Now this cow did the same thing which the earlier cow did. Sadly no one understood the cow. Thanks GOD for sending this second cow. 

Looks like the traveler cows want to travel but somehow they are not able to communicate with the man on the other side of the ticket counter.

We both had a good laugh and walked out. This is the first time I encountered cows trying to book themselves a ticket to travel by train. If animals have such good thoughts , then why cant we humans do the same. This will stop ticket less travel. LOL

Goa - Prawns Fried Rice at street vendor in Madgaon City

Monday, October 20, 2014

I have had prawns fried rice before, but this one was a twist in the taste.

It was prawns fried rice fried in orange colored prawns curry. Something similar to the one my Mom makes. The combo taste was just right for my taste buds.

I am surely gonna ask my Mom to make this unique twist of taste at home.

Goa - Squids Masala at Hotel Venice in Margao City

Friday, October 17, 2014

Squids Masala

Bhandup Pumping Station near Nahur Railway Station on the Eastern Express Highway

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Amazing macro photos of lifeforms taken by my Facebook friends at Bhandup Pumping Station was more than enough to motivate me to travel to Bhandup Pumping Station.

Michael who had accompanied me to Tungareshwar joined me in my exploration.
Bhandup Pumping Station premises
Google provides very little information about Bhandup Pumping Station.
Herons in the Water
We decided to leave early in the morning, as the light of the early morning sun was best for shooting and it wouldn't be that hot at that time of the day.

We met at Ghatkopar Railway Station on the Central Line at 7:15 AM. We then boarded a train to Bhandup. In a matter of 10 minutes we were at Bhandup. 

Google Maps shows a rough map about this place. We decided to board a rickshaw from Bhandup West to the Pumping Station. The rickshaw driver readily agreed. 
We then crossed Nahur Railway Station to reach the intersection of Eastern Express Highway and Airoli road. The rickshaw driver told us that it would have been cheaper and less time consuming if we had alighted at Nahur Railway Station. But as we were not aware of it. We alighted at the junction. It cost us Rs. 67 from Bhandup Station till here. 
Salt Pans
We asked a couple of locals about the whereabouts of Bhandup Pumping Station and they were guiding us to Nahur Railway Station as it was close by.
Rock Salt Pyramids
Finally we met a college student and he told us that there are two ways of enterng the Pumping station. One of the ways is on the Airoli Road and the other in on the Eastern Express  Highway on the way to Bhandup. 

On the Eastern Express Highway we need to take the first left. The first thing you see is the Bhandup Waste Water Treatment Facility on the right and salt pans on the left. If you see this then be sure you are on the right path.
Heron's in the salt pans

A tiny tarred roads leads away from civilization. With wild grass growing on either side of the road. As you go furthur on this roads the sound of the vechicles racing on the highway reduces. Finally we can hear only the sounds of the chirping of the birds and the sounds of the insects hiding in the grass.   
We located a couple of insects, butterfiles, dragonflies and massive locust here. Snaps attached. 

The left side offers a beautiful view of the salt pans, with Herons searching for food in the waters of the salt pans. 
We saw rock salt pilled up as a hill, about a storey tall, covered with dry grass. 
Please note that this land is Forest Land owned by the Govt. and the Police keep patrolling. Also please carry food and water and there are no shops here. In going in Summer do wear a cap and sunglassses as the heat can darken your skin. As it did to mine. 

Please do carry a good camera as it was a wonderful place for macro photography. We need to keep our eyes open else we will miss these lifeforms.

We captured wonderful snaps of chameleons, ants and lifeforms which we don't even now about. We snapped  a couple of Kingfishers too. 
The road then narrows down to a muddy path. There are couple of other paths too in this wilderness. Not sure where they lead too as there are no signboards on the way. 
Not sure what insect this is

We had issues with mobile network also over here. Mike was trying to get the GPS co-ordinates but sadly we couldn't get any. 
There are large water bodies or creeks in the premises too. We met a local fisherman here. 
Mike and Me

He told us his sad story. As per him this land has been sold by the Govt to a Hotel company. There broke down his house, cut the electricity supply and also took away his boat. Now he has to get in the waters to cast his fishing net.
Kingfisher birds
As per him the waters and abundant supply of fish. 
Two's Co.
We haven't explored this place in entirety.  A day is not enough to explore this place. A the tiny roads led to more tiny roads. 
Two's Co.
Rains is the best season to come here as lifeforms are available in plenty here. 
As we bid adeos to Bhandup Pumping Station. Come rains and we will be back.

Visapur near Lohgad near Lonavala

Monday, October 13, 2014

It had been a while, since I had been on a trek. So wanted to do a easy one and so Manohar and I finalized on Visapur near Lohgad and Bhaje Caves near Lonavala. 
Directions to Lohgad from Lonavala
 I had been to his fort around a decade ago with Neel. Though I have been to Lohgad a couple of times in the past. Have to admit that Lohgad is a easy fort to trek as there are steps right till the top of the fort. The only difficult part here is Vinchu Katta (Scorpions Tail) where too many people don't go.
So even if we don't make it to the top of Visapur we had a backup plan. 
As decided we met at Ghatkopar Station in the west at 6:15 AM. Manohar had bought his car along. We decided to travel by car. 
Manohar's car parked at the foot of Visapur Fort
Lonavala can be reached by train and ST buses plying to Pune. But while returning these buses and trains are packed as they depart either from Pune or places beyond Pune. So when you are tired post the trek we need a place to sit and not stand and hunt for a mode of transport home. And if you have a car that runs on both petrol and CNG , there is nothing like it as it leads in reduction of transportation cost. 
Visspur Fort
As it was early in the morning we couldn't get breakfast, we decided not to waste time searching for a place to eat but to zoom off to Lonavala as there would be plenty of options there. 
Muddy Trail to Visapur
I love early morning journeys as the roads are traffic free. We watched the sun rise as we zoomed off on the Mumbai Pune Highway. Though we had to exit at Lonavala.
Fortification of Visapur
When I last came here, I had boarded the Chennai Express and alighted at Malavali Station. One station after Lonavala Station on the way to Pune. From there we have walked all the way to the base of Lohgad. The initial road was made of tar which later converted into one made of stones all the way to Lohgad. 
The hut from where you need to take a left to go to Visapur
But now we were travelling by car, so had to come by a motoroable road till Visapur. Which I believe did existed even then. The road had to come from Lonavala as it was a stoney road from Malavali station.
Checked google maps and exited the Mumbai Pune Expressway to head to Lonavala We had to travel on the Dudhiware Khind Road to reach Lohgad. As we didn't have breakfast and were not sure when lunch would be served, we decided to break for breakfast at Kamat's at 8:15 AM. 
We had Masala Dosa, Idli Sambhar and Tea for breakfast. Collected some biscuit and cake packets at Lonavala to have at Visapur.
Asked a couple of locals for directions to reach Dudhiware Khind Road. Finally we were on the Didhiware Khind Road, on this road there are signboards leading you to Lohgad. It is a small tiny tar road which curves at every nook and corner, it also has its share of high's and low's , but the road offer's a wonderful view of the hillside, Lohgad fort, the hills and valley's in a distance and the villages on the way. 
Manohar climbing via the waterfall track to Visapur
We reached Lohgaon the base village to Lohgad Fort. Refreshments , snacks and even lunch is available here but at a premium fee. A ten minute walk from here leads to the base of Visapur . The time was now 9:20 AM on my watch. 
Caves atop Vissapur Fort
Note that there is no base village for Visapur. have to comment that the stoney road which we used to take while coming from Malavali station has now been replaced by the tar road. Tourism has started flourishing which is a good sign for the village of Lohgaon. Another source of income for them. 
We geared up and started on our trek. The weather was just pleasant. Which is good else our body batteries would have started draining as the heat at 9 AM is also madness. 

There is a small hut at the base of Visapur, from there a muddy trail starts to Visapur. We need to keep walking on this trail till you reach another small hut on your left side. it takes around 15 minutes to reach the second hut. The road divides into two here. Take a left here and then the first left. Now this is the tricky part, there is no signboard here. So if you miss this then you will be walking on the plateau like we did. We walked for around 20 minutes  an realised that we are going around the fort but not climbing it. We returned back to the hut to start all over again.  
Bones found on Fort premises
Once you take the left, it is a climb via the waterfall route. Again no sign if we were on the right track or not. Finally a red arrow on the rock confirmed that we were on the right track. Now this road is full of asorted stones from which the waterfalls during the rains. Suddenly there was thich forestation all over us. The forest was so thich that the sunlight could't penetrate it. But that was short lived and we were back in the sun. 
As you go higher the climb gets steeper, plus we had water trickling down the rocks which made the climb difficult. Note there is no shade here and temperature had started rising. We took plenty of breaks and finally the walls of the fort were clearly visible to us. That offered the last bit of motivation and finally we were atop the fort. We see two caves here. Though one was filled with water the other had graffiti. The time was now 11:20 AM on my watch. 
Manohar and Me
History books state that this fort was built somewhere between 1713-1720  by Balaji Vishwanath. the first Peshwa of Maratha Empire. Lohgad fort was built first, Visapur ws built later. But the history of both forts are inter-conncted.
Lohgad had turned out to be the fort that housed the treasury of the Marathas. The British understood this and made plans to attack the fort. In 1818, British conquered Visapur. As Visapur is one a higher ground in comparison to Lohgad, the British placed their cannons atop Visapur and bombarded Lohgad. Thus both forts landed under British control.  
Sculpture at mMain Entrance
Like always we had to explore the entire fort and we had little time on hand. We decided to walk, if not on the walls the near the walls to get a good view of the fort from both the inside and the outside. This fort is bigger than Lohgad in all aspects. The fort is not fully fortified as some of the walls have collapsed over the decades. 
The walls offered a good view of Lohgad, the other hill ranges and valleys around us. Again there is hardly and trees atop this fort. It's a plateau with green grass all over it. We also located a couple of bones. Not sure who they belong to. 
The Main Entrance to Visapur
The fort has plenty of water bodies which are still filled with water. It also houses three fortified structures which I guess were houses or store houses in the forts glory days. Certain stretches of the fort were filled with flowers. Now don't ask the names as I don't know. 
Water bodies atop the fort
We located cattle atop the fort grazing on the grass and sipping on the waters from the water bodies. Which meant that some of the water bodies had portable water. Now question I have in my head is "How did the cows get on top?" I am sure they have not come up the way we came up. As I could not see any cowdung on that path. So there is another way of entering this fort. 
Carved stones atop the fort
Finally we located the main entrance to the fort. It had the sculpture of Hanuman on the rocks. A couple of boys were coming up that route. They were shepherds, their cattle were grazing atop the fort. They informed us that it route is extremely easy to climb and the base village is Malavali. This route near the entrance was slippery as the water was still trickling down the hills. Sadly we couldn't take this path as we were not sure which village it lead too and to top it, Manohar's car was parked on the other side. 
Structures atop the fort
Took photos of lifeforms, cattle and us. No sign of cannons? Finally we located cannons here. 
From one of the points on the fort we could see Manohar's car parked in a distance. 

We had refreshments and finally headed back to our start point. The time was 1:50 PM on my watch. We again had to go down the steep waterfall routes. Slowly and steadily in the hot scorching heat we made our descend. Our water supply was over but I didn't give up. In an hours time we were down. 
Lohgad in a distance
We dragged ourselves to the car. Yippee finally we made it. Now we had to stop at Lohgaon to have a chilled colddrink. Got ourselves Thumps Up for 40 bucks. We headed off to Lonavala for lunch, though it was time for snacks we still wanted to try our luck.

This is the most expensive lunch we have had so far on a trek. We had ordered Veg Kolhapuri along with Roti's at Kumar's restaurant. The cost of Roti was Rs.40 each. We had 6 roti's in all. Cost of the roti's was double that of the Veg Kolhapuri. Can you beat that. The fuel expenses to and fro, to Lonavala was lesser than the cost of lunch at this place. What a shame. 
View of Manohar's car in a distance
After having our expensive lunch we decided to head back to Mumbai. 

This was a good trek, but the climb took its toll on our legs.   

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