On April 18, which is celebrated as World Heritage Day, the Goa Heritage Action Group (GHAG), organised a talk on ‘Restoration of Monuments in Goa,’ by Varad Sabnis, who is an Assistant Superintending Archaeologist at the Department of Archives and Archaeology (DAA), Goa government.
During his talk, Sabnis elaborated on various restoration works, carried out by the department and also on the recent news of the inclusion of petroglyphs at Pansaimol, in Rivona (South Goa) in the tentative UNESCO World Heritage Sites list. Sabnis informed that it was the combined proposal for the inclusion of the petroglyphs of the coastal Konkan region of Maharashtra and Goa.
He explained that there were around 50 to 60 sites in Ratnagiri (in Maharashtra), which are similar to the petroglyphs at Pansaimol. “Pansaimol is an important part of the proposal. The sites at Ratnagiri have taken the reference of the research carried out at Pansaimol because compared to Pansaimol, the sites at Ratnagiri were discovered quite recently,” he said. He added that it would take around a year to submit the final proposal, and thereafter, a team of experts would visit the site, and then, the final decision on the list would be taken.
Sabnis then spoke of the restoration aspect of monuments in Goa. He started his presentation by informing the audience that there were 51 monuments/sites in Goa that were notified by the state government. These consist of caves, temples, churches, mosques, water tanks, rock-engraving sites, and other archaeological sites.
He spoke about the restoration of Jain Basdi, at Bandora, which has been restored now, based on the old photos shared by the locals. They managed to find a part of a shikhara in the fallen debris, and thus, the structure was restored accordingly.
The department is also involved in the restoration of forts, like the Alorna fort, which is situated on the banks of the Chapora river. Speaking about this fort, Sabnis gave an interesting historical insight about the fort. He informed that in the second half of the 18th century, when the Portuguese official conquered this fort, he received the title of ‘Marquis of Alorna.’ This title was used for the next five generations, and there is even a wine named Quinta da Alorna, which is still sold in Portugal.
FORTS, TEMPLES & ACCIDENTAL DISCOVERIES
The other important project of the department was the restoration of the Saptakoteshwar Temple, at Narve village. Sabnis stated that it was restored by Fundacao Oriente around 20 years ago. They are now restoring the main structure, the water tank, and the deepastambha. While restoring this temple, the locals informed them about the tunnel and a well, which they discovered in due course. They also found a lot of old objects buried in the well.
Sabnis, in his presentation, also spoke about the restoration of Khorjuvem fort, Chapel of the Mount at Old Goa, and Sakhali Fort which took a while to restore as the place was encroached by shops and offices. They are now planning to have an art gallery, museum, and flag post at the fort. These are not additions, but adaptive re-use.
Sabnis spoke about the various activities carried out by the department, such as salvaging a sculpture of betal, which was found in the submerged village of Kurdi; remains of an old Jain temple found during the highway expansion at Navelim; 12-old-sculptures at a waterfall at Ladafe in Bicholim; Hero stones at Panzorconi; Sati stone at MPT; among others.
He concluded the talk by adding that the department is now using modern technology to help clean and preserve the objects. They are now stored at the automated storage facility, where the data of each object is stored on software for the safety and security of the objects.
During an interaction with the audience, Sabnis informed that there was a list of 23 monuments/sites which are in the process of getting notification.