Friday, 17 February 2006

Goa's portuguese heritage

Goa is one of the few parts of India that was never under British rule. In stead it was ruled by the portuguese, which has certainly left it's mark on the state as can be seen from the following pictures from Goa's two former capitals, Old Goa and Panjim:

Mike and Rob (the english guys I'm hanging out with here in Goa) in front of Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception in the newest of the old portuguese capitals, Panjim. This is a trademark sight for Goa - old whitewashed churches surrounded by palm trees. Unlike the British, the Portuguese made an intense effort to convert the natives to christianity - not always using the nicest of methods (banning hinduism and burning heretics being a case in point). For that reason Goa is one of the largest and most important christian enclaves in India. Only the christian Northeast (between Bangladesh and Burma) rivals that position.

The largest cathedral the portuguese ever built, including those in Portugal. This picture from the earliest portuguese capital, Old Goa, which was cleared completely due to a disease prone location near various swamps.

Small church in the middle of the charming, old portuguese neighbourhood, Fontainhas, in Panjim.

Another picture from Fontainhas - like walking the streets of Porto!

At the end of the day, however, India is still mainly a hindu country and even Goa despite it's very visible christian past is today 2/3 hindu. Here I am in front of a temple dedicated to the Monkey God Hanuman, which presides in all it's colours on a hill top visible from many parts of Panjim. A striking contrast to the many white washed churches.

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