“What’s that?” I asked our friendly cab driver.
“Oh, that’s nothing. Just some old ruins,” he replied in a laid back tone, that could only be described as Goan.
The Churches of Old Goa are staple tourist fare. And like diligent tourists, we paid a visit to the most famous of them all – the Basilica of Bom Jesus and the adjoining Se Cathedral. Both sites had ingredients one would expect from a medieval church – massive in size, walls engraved, high ceilings housing intricate chandeliers and a presence that makes you speak in whispers, lest anyone else hears. With the sea of humans, though, the churches were reduced to fancy backgrounds for selfie enthusiasts – even with signboards and staff members explicitly asking people not to take pictures with people in them.
Making our way out of Se Cathedral, I noticed a lean brick tower in the distance.
As we made our way around the streets of Old Goa, the tower became taller, and then hid behind some trees.
The cab driver looked in the rear mirror. “There really is nothing there. Just ruins.”
I looked at my fellow travellers hoping for at least one of them to share my eagerness to visit that lonely tower.
After a few minutes the driver asked, “You want to go there? We can make a short stop.”
As soon as we reached, I jumped out of the car with a new friend. With others waiting, our instructions were clear. Go there, take a few pictures and head back as soon as possible!
Up close, the tower revealed itself to be just a fraction of what it must have been a few centuries ago. There was a large open space in front, and a large hall just behind it. At its fullest, it may have been much grander than the more illustrious buildings we had just visited.
‘Ruins of St. Augustine Complex’ read the signboard on one of the large stone bricks. Built in 1602 and abandoned in 1835, this church collapsed within the next few years. The silence of the space seemed to speak about its neglect and the lost grandeur.
Amid the spectacular ruins, not all seemed gloomy, though. A few pillars along the side of the fence spoke of survival even as the rest of the land stood barren.
I longed to spend more time within the hall behind the tower, but felt contented that I had the opportunity to visit. I grabbed my pictures and hurried back to the cab.
Back home, on digging around the web, I came across an interesting story surrounding the Church. In Hunting for a Georgian queen in Goa Srinath Perur writes about a martyred Queen, and the search for a missing relic that continued into the 21st century.
And a bonus bit of trivia – the eerie song, Gumnaam hai koi was filmed at the ruins.
In response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: what is guaranteed to distract you? What is your “Ooh, shiny!”?