Islands of Chorao & Divar in Goa
Piedade Village, a large settlement in Divar Island, is one such pocket, which preserves the original charm and tranquillity of countryside Goa. The island of Divar in the Mandovi river can be reached by a ferry ride on both sides: the ferry on the north side of the island is at Old Goa about 7 kms from Panaji and the ferry on the south side is from Narwe. Amble down to the sunset point at the Vitorzen Jetty for beguiling river views
The island is home to some fascinating people and cultures. Its history dates back to a time when Divar was home to the massive Hindu population of Goa. But when the Portuguese started religious persecution, its residents escaped to other parts of Goa, leaving behind ruins of temples and monuments of religious significance. Another reason behind the abandonment of Divar by the people of Old Goa was a plague epidemic that spread at the time.
Bonderam and Potekar are 2 of the 3 major festivals here is when few tourists happen to find this place. Bonderam a carnival is when each part of the village takes out their floats for the parade has been taking place on the 4th Saturday of August. Potekar, like Halloween, is celebrated three days before Lent and is a spectacle where locals roam around wearing handmade masks and bells!
If you are planning to visit Goa and want to see more than just beaches and shacks, then Divar is precisely the place to start.
How To Reach Divar Island
The island is about 10km upriver from Panjim. Divar Island can only be reached by one of three free ferry services. A boat from Old Goa (near the Viceroy’s Arch) runs to the south side of the island, while the east end of the island is connected by ferry to Naroa in the Bicholim taluka (district). Another ferry operates to Ribandar from the southwest of the island. Ferries run frequently from around 7am to 8pm.
Things To Do On Divar Island
Hop into a boat and float through the mangrove forest at the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary.
The ruins of Kadamba Dynasty in Piedade: Divar is divided into three villages – Piedade, Malar and Naroa; the largest of which is Piedade. This sleepy village was home to a Ganesh Temple that stood atop the highest hill in the town. The temple, along with other Hindu temples in Divar, was destroyed by Muslim troops at end of the 15th century. And Christians which followed them, acquired the place to build churches and chapels. The hill now houses the Church of Our Lady of Compassion, a cemetery with remnants of Kadamba architecture and a chapel. The small chapel tells the story of religious persecutions, as it was converted from a Hindu shrine. The carvings and stone tracery within the chapel dates back to the Kadamba dynasty in the 14th century. Though kept locked up, the priest opens the shrine when requested.
A village stuck in time: The Goan village of Sao Matia, now known as Malar, is straight out of history books. Divar was one of the first places where the Portuguese started mass conversions of Hindu Brahmins, and Malar marks the inception of the island’s religious transformation. The Sao Mathias Church, a 400-year old Portuguese church at the heart of the village, is a beautiful structure that is part of the celebrations of Bonderam every year. The Konkan Railway, which passes through Malar, makes it all the more picturesque. You can easily reach Malar through a ferry from Old Goa and Ribander.
Witness how a pilgrimage centre turned into a ghost-town: The history of Naroa, dates back to the 12th century when it was a pilgrimage site for Hindus. As the site of confluence of three branches of the Mandovi River, Naroa was deemed as a blessed site and thus became home to the Saptakoteshwar Temple. The Saptakoteshwar Temple was the holiest temple of the Kadamba Dynasty, but after its destruction by Muslim rulers and then Portuguese invaders, the bustling village of Naroa lost its relevance. Keeping the history alive are two Christian shrines (Chapel of Our Lady of Candelaria and Fortress Chapel), Naroa Fort and Koti Tirth Tali (the archaeological area which was once the site of 108 temples).
Divar Island Guesthouse Retreat
A restored Portuguese home set on an acre of land thriving with plant and bird life – is a good introduction to the island. Free bicycles and a friendly management urge you out into a landscape dotted with mud-and-thatched homes and brightly-coloured Portuguese villas.
Come and experience living in a period Indo-Portuguese house which acts as a retreat for the soul. We welcome you to take a holiday or a break at our home and experience the old Goan way of life, on one of the last protected parts of Goa in terms of natural beauty, colonial architecture and local culture.
We don’t have a menu and don’t give you bills all the time, but we welcome you to wander off to where the wifi is weak. We are on an island called Divar where the sounds of birds are still more audible than vehicles and man. The island is accessible by ferries on the Mandovi river from Old Goa, which was the historic capital of the state during the Portuguese times.
Our home is a few hundred years old and we have maintained it to hold its grandeur while upgrading it to incorporate modern luxuries. We have rooms, a dining hall, a swimming pool, a bar, a shuttle court, a duck pond, a meditation spot, and more for our guests to use. We do try to remind everyone that this is not a hotel or a resort but a high end home which operates the way an affluent family used to live in the age of the past. The guests have plenty of activities in the house as well the island from bird watching to fishing and as well as savouring a fine scotch to perhaps a session of Bob Dylan poetry appreciation.
We like to live in the present and invite you to experience this through your holiday.
Your hosts, Jay & Susan
Casa dos Silveiras
This charming Portuguese villa has been the ancestral home of the Silveira family for over 100 years. Located in the village of Malar on the small and beautiful island of Divar, this place is connected to the mainland only by ferry from Ribandar and Old Goa.
Price: Rs 2,007 per night for the entire villa
Wow – Romantic Villa
The romantic villa was built in 1900 and boasts of the Portuguese architecture of the time. Made of laterite stones, the villa has four bedrooms and can accommodate upto 10 people. The garden area has two wells and seating for an al-fresco breakfast.
Price: Rs 14,970 per night for entire villa.