The roads leading to the Kharvi Abode, in Betul, are serene and calm. Step out of the hustle and bustle of a busy city and see the other side of Goa that few are aware exists.
Take the tapered roads, see the swaying coconut trees, return the friendly smiles and just feel the contentment on people’s faces and you will find yourself in Betul, an isolated piece of land, blessed to experience the confluence of the River Sal and the Arabian Sea, which makes it a popular fishing hamlet.
Betul is one of the few villages which still practices the traditional techniques of fishing, and this is the reason the museum is specifically set up – to pay tribute to the fishing community and the marine biodiversity of the place.
The entrance to Kharvi Abode is fascinating. You first enter the museum, which has a curated display of a variety of seashells – around 9,000 of them, including corals and fossils – which were either collected, bid for at auctions or purchased from collectors across the world.
SHELLS & THEIR STORIES
“I’m a thematic collector,” says Victor Hugo Gomes, founder and curator of the museum. “There was a time I was into collecting only garrafaos and I would go to every little nook and cranny to find them.”
“Some of the shells I have purchased on auction have cost me ₹ 80,000 to ₹1,20,000. I have some species of shells which fall in the Schedule I and IV of the Wildlife Protection Act, because of their rarity,” he adds.
Some of the shells, corals and fossils are from South and North America, Japan, New Zealand and Australia, he informs.
He talks about how shells are symbols of culture and spirituality, and also have agricultural significance.
“They were used as currency, tools in households as scrapers and blades. In the religious aspect, shells were used as sacred shankas, musical instruments and even worn as accessories – especially the mother of pearl product,” he adds.
He further explains how shells were once found in every home. “Every Goan home probably have shells around, but there is no awareness about them. My aim is to make people aware of this.”
Awareness is something he has created. “No one knew the relevance and what level the shells can be taken to. They have a lot of value. Once I got a fisherman who came to me with a sea horse, I asked him to leave it back into the sea,” Gomes says.
However, there are changes to the shells, too, that have become evident. Gomes says, “Over the years, I have notice that there have been a lot of changes in the shells that are found. They are brittle, some are getting extinct and this is all due to human negligence.”
Kharvi Abode may soon be the only place where you will find genuine shells.
LOCATION: Kharvi Abode, Betul
MUSEUM TIMINGS: 10 am -- 5 pm
ENTRY FEE: Nil
GOOGLE MAPS: https://maps.app.goo.gl/fcA2LUP9Uy5z17b58