Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Heritage Heirlooms - The Jain Temple at Kudne


The Jain Temple at Kudne

The Caves at Lamgaon

The golden age in Goa's history is undoubtedly in the reign of the Kadamba Dynasty. They ruled Goa from the 11th to the 14th century AD and had very good trade ties with Gujarat. In this time, many gujarati traders came and settled here with their families bringing with them their religion, culture and traditions. The tolerant Hindu Kadamba Kings paved the way for the integration and propagation of the Jain communtiy in and around Ponda and Bicholim. 

It was during the rule of the Vijayanagar dynasty that grants were given to establish Jain bastis including their temples and shrines. Jain relics have been found in Bandoda, Ponda and in Kudne, Bicholim Taluka. This Jain temple is located near an area called the Gujir Vaado in Kudne. The name itself suggests the place was the Gujarati settlement area once upon a time.

It was in the year 1684 that the Mughal armies under Aurangzeb burnt down and plundered Bicholim leaving it in ruins.

Jain Temple at Kudne

The Jain Temple at Kudne was once a beautiful little temple dedicated to Adinatha and belongs to the medieval period. The monument is thoroughly neglected today though it must have stood elegant in this charming and quaint village of Kudne. Said to have been built through grants in the early Vijayanagar era, it is an important monument from the time of the period giving us an insight into the prevalent building practices then. 

It is a proud structure built in the typical North Indian Shikhara style. The lateritic blocks uncovered point to the existence of arches in the Mukha Mandapa of the temple. The Octagonal Shikhara over the Garbha Griha  is five tiered including the semi-spherical lower part with a small rectangular entrance to the sanctum.

The five tiered Shikhara

A broken stone head of a Tirthankara (Jain religious leader) with beautifully sculpted curls was also found near the garbhagriha. A stone torso of a Jain Tirthankara with a srivasta symbol was also unearthed. The sculptural structure of the idols indicates that the temple belongs to the Kadamba period. This is the only medieval temple of Goa which has a nagara (Indo-Aryan) architectural feature.

Likeness of the Idol of the Tirthankara
This temple also has a marked semblance with the Saptakoteshwar temple at Narve and the Chandranath at Paroda.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Heritage Heirlooms - The Caves at Arvalem


The Buddhist caves at Rivona

The Petroglyphs of Usgalimal

The Caves at Arvalem

The Jain Temple at Kudne

The Caves at Lamgaon

Goa is an ancient land. In the recent past, it has always been showcased as a Portuguese cultural centre, but its rich history predates the Portuguese by many millennia. The heritage structures in Goa include some really ancient laterite rock-cut caves. Fascinating as these are, they are from Buddhist, Jain and sometimes Brahmanical origin. The scholars are still ambivalent on some of them. One such place is the Arvalem caves in Bicholim Taluka.

Archaeological Survey of India plaque outside the caves 

Arvalem Caves
These caves are believed to have been carved out in the 6th century AD. Located near Sanquelim, overlooking a river, the caves have a courtyard in front which has a flight of steps which probably went down to the river (Now the area has been filled up by soil because of the road that is passing in front of the cave). There are altogether five inner chambers having two outer chambers and one separate chamber which seems to be a residential chamber. The outer chambers have a colonnade. 

Seeing the construction of these caves with the sanctuary at the southern end and the vihara at the northern end, many experts are of the opinion that these are Buddhist caves. In later times though, they seem to have been taken over by Hindus and Shiv-lings have been established which is attributed to the Bhoja period. This would be somewhere around the 8th century AD according to the dating done on the Shiv-lings.


1. Cave Architecture in Goa-A project report submitted to the Goa University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Bachelor of Architecture by Varun Desai
2. Research in history books and websites

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Heritage Heirlooms - The Petroglyphs of Usgalimal


The Buddhist caves at Rivona

The Petroglyphs of Usgalimal

The Jain Temple at Kudne

The Caves at Lamgaon

The sun, sand and surf attract tourists from around the world to Goa. And yet, this is not the only claim to fame this beautiful land has. As late as 1993 saw the accidental discovery of some ancient rock carvings at Usgalimal (also known as Pansalimal) in the Kushavati river bed in Sanguem Taluka of South Goa. After a bout of flooding, the silt from some part of the laterite river bed got washed off and exposed beautifully chiseled figures. Seeing this, the locals scrambled to call in the archaeologists who have since extensively studied and analysed them.  

It is believed that these carvings date back to the 8th century BC or the upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic period, perhaps more commonly thought of as “the Stone Age”and were created by the people of the 'Kush' tribe inhabiting this valley. This makes them a whopping 10,000 years old!! 

The carvings depict a wide range of subjects notably the bull, deer, antelope, peacock, dancing figure, mother and child, the mother goddess and the enigmatic 'triskelions'. These 'triskelions' are a concentric circle pattern more associated with the Celtic and European peoples and believed by some archaeologists to have been used to measure time. Elsewhere it's also called the circle of life.


Dancing figure

The carvings are known as ‘Petroglyphs’, because they were created by chipping away the outer surface of the rock using a tool of some sort. They predate the rock paintings that have been previously discovered in other parts of India and are very different from them.

Mother Goddess

Animal figure

Hunting the Bison

Another Bull Motif

Animal fights
As with most prehistoric paintings as well as rock carvings, the predominant focus is on the animal figures as also some dancing figures and infants which suggests fertility rituals. The circle of life could point to some form of religious cosmology too.

The circle of life or the famous 'Labyrinth'

A trapping cage for game

The Kushavati River bed... site of the ancient Petroglyphs at Usgalimal

There is an urgent need for conservation of this unique and beautiful site. It's a silent testimony to the human urge for artistic expression from time immemorial. A little care will go a long way in preserving this heritage for future generations to get a peek into our prehistoric past!!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Heritage Heirlooms - The Buddhist Caves at Rivona

As part of bringing the rich cultural heritage of Goa in the limelight and showing the average tourist and local alike that there are other, more beautiful facets of Goa they have not yet discovered, I bring to you the first in the series of .. - Heritage Heirlooms -

The Buddhist Caves at Rivona

Cave 1 

Located near the Kushavati river, in the village of Rivona (the name Rivona might have been derived from ‘Rishivana’ meaning the forest of sages, or in the present case, of monks). The site is called devachi zaga ( meaning the abode of God). This cave is oriented towards the east. It has a pedestal measuring 4.8 m X 3.2 m which fits the idol of Buddha and is called’ Sonyachi peti’ (Golden box). The idol of Buddha discovered at Rivona is seated in Vajrasana position with Bhumisparsha-Mudra (right hand touching the earth with the left hand kept on the lap.) A huge lotus pedestal for seating the idol was also found at the site.

The large Cave No. 1 at Rivona (Pic courtesy Preethy Nair)

Cave 2

This Cave is at two levels and has two entrances, one at the upper level and the other at the level below. The steps going down from the upper level lead to the chamber which has a skylight and a stream of fresh water. It also connects to the lower entrance. The skylight chamber leads inside to another chamber which has a stepped platform built of laterite and which has a vaulted ceiling. This cave has seen some intervention by later humans since there are laterite bricks neatly laid at the upper entrance and a tank made behind at the lower level. 

Cave no 2 Upper entrance (Pic courtesy Vandana Balakrishnan)

Lower entrance to the Cave 2

The tank behind the lower entrance

The Skylight in the chamber of Cave 2

Source: Cave Architecture in Goa-A project report submitted to the Goa University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Bachelor of Architecture by Varun Desai