History relates us with an exciting chapter of Goa, and still some landscapes, heritage sites and architecture exists to mesmerize us in the present day. Being here on this beautiful Chorao island of Goa, since my birth, many experiences of being ‘Goemkar from Chodna‘ make me feel proud about being a Goan.
Let me take you along this beautiful island, you may feel a little lazy and like a jolly villager..but trust me this is going to be a once in a lifetime experience for you. As you decide to come to Chorao island, if you are starting to come from Panjim, the capital city of Goa..do not worry about getting lost, just ask anyone the way to Old Goa via Ribandar..the first ferry wharf you get along that road via Patto is the one which will take you to the island of Chorao. The ferryboat..in its typical ‘blue-and-white’ look will carry you along the Mandovi river, and it’s a pleasant trip. The voyage of about a kilometer in distance will take you about half an hour and you have a lot of time to click your selfies along. Be sure to stay away from the edges of the ferryboat, as the trip is wobbly at times if the sea weather is rough.
So you reach the other side of the land, and you will already notice the village ambiance as you get off the ferryboat. The typical handcarts and mini-shops, a typical barber outlet, and a fisherman waiting for his first client may make you feel a part of the village lifestyle already. Don’t get carried away, there is lot of it ahead to explore.
Look at your left, as soon as you get off the ferryboat, you see a large gate painted with pictures of birds.. it’s the entry point to the famous Bird Sanctuary of India named after the bird watcher Dr. Salim Ali. Go ahead and book your tickets to watch some migrated birds like the Hornbills, peacocks, red beak cranes, long tail robins and if you are fortunate enough you may even get to spot a large croc or a bright red crab on the way. Be sure to book a guided tour for this bird-watching as you may lose your way back from the dense mangroves.
If you are feeling tired a bit, upon your return from the sanctuary, a local lemonade (limbu-soda) may just quench your thirst, so not to worry.
The map of Chorao island is quite interesting, our elder folks claim that if you start from one point in Chorao island, there are high chances of you to come back at the same point after a while as the roads here are along the river, and since it’s an island the roads take your around and get you at the same point you may have started. So as you drive on the roads, you may see many friendly faces smiling at you, it’s is the way of village people to show you that you are welcome on the island, explore it responsibly.
The houses of Chorao are a mixture of typical mud houses and large Portuguese style houses of the olden times. Of course, there are some modern designs, but you will find most are what you actually expected. Out of approximately 8000 people of Chorao, 80 – 85 % comprise of the Hindu and Catholic community. But about 30% of these people are out of India for jobs, and another 10 – 15 % have alternative accommodation out of the island for work purpose or so. You will know the reasons for their choices in a while. The rest consider farming, fishing or get involved in small business for a living.
People of Chorao island Goa, like the most of other Goans, have strong belief in God. The island of Chorao have quite a number of Churches, Chapels, Temples and if you observe, you will find large trees being worshiped too. Besides the Christ the King, probably one of the best Heritage sites to visit in Goa will make you feel as if you are in Rio. A 360 degree view is truly mesmerizing. And yes, do not miss the famous Comfro, a age old monastry which is now a protected site.
The best part of Chorao is that the Best mangoes (mankurad) and the Best Prawns (white ones) come from this village. This may be because the village has many mango trees and lot of sluice gates (manos). No wonder one of the primary occupations of the villages is fishing.
So, next we take you along the roads of Chorao to discover a few banks (SBI Bank branch, Central Bank) the Post Office, the Schools – St Bartholomews High School and the Dayanand High School, the Higher Secondary School – Rahuvir an Premavati Salkar Higher Secondary School, the small outlets where you get garam – garam kanda bhaji, the Communidade Building, the playgrounds, where you will find little and the young ones playing either cricket or football tourneys, you will also notice some large banyan trees along the way, and its one thing the villagers are very proud of, that they have managed to save the nature as it is. We have the St. Bartholomews Church, which is one of the best sites to visit, especially in the monsoons.
So while you drive along, you may come about at some junctions, and to decide where to go now… don’t worry, your friend is a villages who may be walking along with his cows or riding his mo-bike, request him to guide you and you will reach back to your point where you started. Chorao is connected with two ferry boat points, one connecting you to Pomburpa, from where you can go to Mapusa, and one a Madel, from where you can reach to Ribandar ( where you started your journey at). Besides this on the outskirts, there is a small bridge that connects you to the Thikazan village, from where you can reach Bicholim.
And here you are, after a day long experience of a village that is beautiful, and best suited for a healthy living. Beware though, you may have been in no network zone for a while, and if someone was trying to reach you on your phone he may get a message of being unavailable. So make sure you check your phone while on your way back in the ferryboat, call up your loved ones and share your experience about your journey to this biggest island of Goa, Chorao.