Saintly Remains

Our last day in Panjim was spent visiting Old Goa. This ancient settlement was a few miles to the east of Panjim and was formerly the capital city of Goa. According to our cab driver, who was full of local lore, the city was home to hundreds of thousands of people till a plague struck and wiped out anyone who did not cross the river.

With the city deserted, the survivors founded Panjim to the west. Today all that is left standing in Old Goa are the grand churches that catered for the old inhabitants. Whilst the Goans kept the churches in order they let the old settlement fall to ruin.

We visited two of the churches whilst we were there. The first was a basilica and contained the mummified remains of Saint Francis Xavier in a gilt laden coffin with a glass side.







The second was the cathedral which was the only church I have ever been into which had a chandelier hanging up in the main aisle.

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Next stop was Margao and the train station. We had decided to catch a train to Hampi in the Karnataka region to the east. This ancient settlement has profuse religious meaning to the Hindus as it was the site that several of their deities were born, including the Monkey God.

We stayed in a nasty little hotel next to the station as our train was at 8AM and we affectionately called it Chez Grub. It did the job for a single night though and before we knew it, we were on the train to Hospet Junction near Hampi.

This time we took a ride in Sleeper Class as it has windows you can actually see out of.

The main differences between this and AC2 was a distinctly thinner cushion on the berths (This had the result of forcing me up every hour or so to stretch my legs). Not only this, but the carriage was much more noisy, with a large makeup of Indian families with their children. Every time the train entered a tunnel a chorus of young screams filled the carriage.

Hawkers would come bowling down the aisle noisily, almost all the time and we even had a eunuch come by begging for money. When no one handed any over, the eunuch would clap loudly in way of delivering a curse. Luckily, we were left out of these interactions and escaped from the eight hour journey curse free!

3 thoughts on “Saintly Remains

    1. hugh Post author

      Well I saw a documentary on it with Paul Merton as the unwilling interviewer…

      In India, if you are born with both bits in place, you are quickly cut and given a dress.
      Unfortunately for these few, they have no say in any of this and become instant outcasts, forced to form roving gangs that extort money from local businesses; usually by way of making a nuisance of themselves until they are sent packing with some coins in hand.

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