The island of Divar is situated on the banks of the Mandovi river in Goa and is the abode of fascinating people and cultures. The history of the island dates back to a time when Divar was home to a large section of the Hindu population in Goa.
But when the Portuguese started religious victimization, its residents escaped to various other parts of Goa, leaving behind ruins of temples and monuments which were of religious significance. Another reason for the abandonment of the place by the people is that Old Goa was under the attack of a plague epidemic.
Though now times have changed and the place is now a flourishing town with remnants of the abandoned era, pretty much evident in its elements and places that time forgot. Not may tourists make their way here, but when they do, it is usually around the time of the three major festivals which take place in four small divisions of Divar.
Two of the popular festivals celebrated here are Bonderam and Potekar. Bonderam is a carnival which takes place on the fourth Saturday in the month of August, when each part of the village brings out their floats for a colourful parade.
Potekar is a festival like Halloween which is celebrated three days before Lent and is an event where locals move around wearing handmade masks and bells. If you are going to visit Goa and want to see more than just beaches and shacks, well then the island of Divar is a good start.
1. Visit The Ruins Of The Kadamba Dynasty
Divar is divided into three villages - Piedade, Malar and Naro; the largest amongst them is Piedade. This sleepy hamlet was home to a Ganesh Temple which once stood atop the highest hill in the town. The temple along with other Hindu shrines were destroyed by the Muslim troops at the end of the 15th century. Christians followed them and acquired the place to build churches and chapels.
The hill at present houses the Church of Our Lady of Compassion along with a cemetery which exhibits fine examples of Kadamba architecture.
2. The Goan Village Of Sao Mathias
Now known as Malar, this village is a place which is straight out of history books. It was one of the first places where the Portuguese began mass conversions of Hindu Brahmins and Malar marks the inception of the religious transformation of Divar.
The Sao Mathias Church here is a 400 year old Portuguese church which is located in the heart of the village and is a beautiful structure which is part of the Bonderam celebrations every year. The Konkan Railway passes through the village which makes it more beautiful.
3. The Ghost Town Of Naroa
The history of Naroa dates back to the 12th century when the place was a Hindu pilgrimage site. The place was the confluence point of three branches of the Mandovi river and is home to the Saptakoteshwar Temple.
The temple was one of the holiest shrines of the Kadamba Dynasty but after the destruction by the Muslim rulers which was later followed by the Portuguese invaders, the beautiful village of Naroa lost its glory. Keeping alive its history are now two Christian shrines, Naro Fort and the Koti Tirtha Tali, which was once the site of 108 temples.
How To Reach Divar
The island is located approximately at a distance of 10 km from Panjim. The place can be reached only by one of the three ferry services which operate free of cost. A boat from Old Goa runs to the South side of the island, while the east end is connected to Naroa in the Bicholim district.
There is another ferry which operates to Ribandar from the southwest of Divar. Ferries operate frequently from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm every day.
PC: Anurag Jain