Friday, February 23, 2018

Trek from Baga Beach to Anjuna Beach along the cliff, Goa

It had a dream of mine to go to Anjuna beach, trekking along the cliff, from Baga beach, ever since I saw a few people on the ridge, on our last trip to Anjuna via a boat ride. It remained a dream for almost 2 years, since there were no takers for a trek on a wednesday during the tourist season. Because it is on wednesdays that the flea market in Anjuna beach is open, that too during day light hours only. I love that flea market!!! My very good friend from Chennai came visiting for a few days, and he was game to try. Voila, my dream is coming true! Quickly got down to planning it; starting time, food to take, what to do etc.
There is Baga river separating Baga beach and the cliffs leading to Anjuna, and I never went that side before. To our luck, we missed an earlier left turn, and the next one took us past the Baga river, the road leading to the trek.
We found a nice parking spot, there were a few cars parked already, early birds and all that...
It was high tide and there was good amount of water in Baga river. The path starts from next to Baga river. There were  several motor boats waiting for tourists/passengers. It was real  tempting to get into one and float away to distant lands...
 
That dream for another day, right now the lovely path beckons a great trek. So, off we set went, one step infront of another, one path leading to another.
 
 The views along the way were spectacular. Sprinkling of boats on the sea, in the morning sun was a tranquil sight. 
 
At places the path was rather on the edge of the ridge. If you look down, it was scary, but the views from the edge were great.
 
After crossing a tricky path of boulders, we could see a beach shack and umbrellas and sun beds. This shack can be accessed from this trek. There is no other route from the land side. So, one can imagine it to be very quiet, less touristy, and in the midst of rocks, trees and water... 
Decided to go to the beach shack and spend some time on my next trip.
 At places, there was a steep climb of a few meters. I quite enjoy these short climbs. If it looks tricky, then I use my hands to find a grip and heave myself. Safety is very important to me. I want to live another day to do another trek...  
 
The colours of dry grass, the reds of the rocks, the blues and greys of the sea are an artist's delight. Since only a few people take this route, one could take stop and take in the scenery.
  
The route offered varied experiences; at places, laterite stone boulders to climb, others, going through a cave of shrubs, and yet others, along the ridge ....
 
We are close to the end of the trek, after climbing the ridge and dipping to the sea level, almost, we are turning into the Anjuna beach.
 
The last stretch and when we felt we are there, guess what greeted us? A pile of garbage dumped in the side of the cliff. They were also burning it. The shacks on the beach perhaps think no one will notice or it could also be that there is no pick up of garbage along Anjuna beach. Whichever it is, it is a sore sight, and damage to the environment. The municipal officials should take note of it.
Finally at Anjuna beach. We sat down on the rocks, and had our picnic. After devouring the sandwiches we brought and a good drink of water, we got up to explore the Wednesday flea market that Anjuna beach is famous for. Great products at very reasonable prices, juices, snacks, make for an enjoyable experience of exploration and satisfaction.
Shopping for gifts to family back home, my friend and I were heavy with shopping bags and lighter in pockets, set out for the return journey by boat, as my legs were screaming one trek is enough.
This is a relatively easy trek doable, if you are a regular trekker or a young person with good strong knees and healthy heart. The scenery and view of the sea, boats, rocks more than make up for the little exertion you will feel. It took us 1.5hrs. at a comfortable pace to complete the trek.
If you are in this part of the world, on a wednesday during the tourist season (from december to march), trek from Baga beach to Anjuna beach along the cliffs and ridges.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Chapel of St. Catherine, Velh Goa

Jo got this sudden urge to do some sketching. Well and good! He wanted to go somewhere, sit there and sketch. Even better! He said we should start in the morning and be back by afternoon. I said, "a picnic lunch?" and got on the job of getting ready a lovely lunch for the three of us, an architectural intern including. Bright and early on sunday morning, packed our picnic basket and clutching our sketch books and pencils, we set off to Velha Goa or old Goa. 
Since there was no plan as such, we parked where there was parking available, and sauntered on. We came across this beautiful old structure, and stopped there. It turns out to be  the Chapel of St. Catherine. It is right next to the archaeological survey of India museum. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site in Velha Goa.
That is we spent the next two and half hours sketching and studying the monument.  
 
It is the perfectly proportioned Chapel I have seen. It is constructed in laterite stone, which having been exposed to the monsoons of Goa, and the salty humid weather, turned to beautiful burnished red and brown shades. Part of the front facade is plastered in lime mortar.
The two towers flank the main entrance on either side. Surprisingly on the entrance door posts, lintel and jamb are made of light grey granite along with a door jamb on another door. Rest is all in laterite. 
 
The name plate states that the Chapel was constructed in 1510AD bu Alfonso de Albuquerque to commemorate his entry into the city on St. Catherine's day. It was rebuilt in 1952.
The Chapel sits on a gently sloping site, with lawns on three sides.
 
The interiors are simple; granite stone slabs for the flooring, laterite stone walls and ceiling in above the altar, which keep the place very cool and airy.
 
There is a choir gallery above the entrance area, facing the altar, the stairs to which are from the side verandah.
 
There is a wide walkway on the side.
There are a couple of plaques of stone inscriptions on the walls in Portugese language.
For the students of architecture, there is a lot to learn from the perfect proportions, the forms, and the material from this jewel of a monument dating back to the 16th. century.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Batalha Monastery - Portugal

Second day of our stay at Alcobaca, we headed out to see Batalha Monastery right after a good breakfast. From our research on the internet, we learnt that half a days sight seeing is adequate for Batalha Monastery. There are frequent buses from Alcobaca to Batalha. So we boarded one and excited to see another great Monastery...
The distance was about 22 kms. in the north westerly direction, and the bus stop is quite close to Batalha monastery. As you are nearing the destination, you will see the spires and towers looming into the sky and your pulse quickens.  
As per UNESCO.org:
 The Monastery of the Dominicans of Batalha was built to commemorate the victory of the Portuguese over the Castilians at the battle of Aljubarrota in 1385. It was to be the Portuguese monarchy's main building project for the next two centuries. Here a highly original, national Gothic style evolved, profoundly influenced by Manueline art, as demonstrated by its masterpiece, the Royal Cloister.
 Constructed in fulfilment of a vow by King João to commemorate the victory over the Castilians at Aljubarrota (15 August 1385), the Dominican Monastery of Batalha, in the centre of Portugal, is one of the masterpieces of Gothic art. The greater part of the monumental complex dates from the reign of João I (1385-1433), when the church (finished in 1416), the royal cloister, the chapter-house, and the funeral chapel of the founder were constructed.
 
Front view of the monastery
 
Unfinished chapels
 
It was the first time I was the flying buttresses for real. We had studied them I history of architecture while in college. This was a real treat
 
Founder's chapel
 
Buttresses supporting the external wall
          Main entrance                        Statues of Apostles on entrance portal
Built of limestone, originally, with time, became yellow ochre.
 
                             Main entrance from inside               Looking at the altar 
It is long and narrow church, measuring 22m in length and 32.4m in height. The cluster columns are a feast to the eyes.
           Beautiful Keystones in the roof                                         Tomb of John and Philippa
      
                        Stained glass window       Compound Cluster columns and ribbed vaulted roof
  
King John 1 Cloisters of Monastery
  
Exquisite Tracery work in arches in the cloisters of the monastery, over looking the central courtyard.
   
            Manueline arches in Unfinished chapels       Portal of the Unfinished Chapels
  
A very well maintained architectural wonder, it is a must visit place if you are visiting Portugal. Do keep half a day for the enjoyment of the beauty and serenity of this monastery at Batalha.

Trek from Baga Beach to Anjuna Beach along the cliff, Goa

It had a dream of mine to go to Anjuna beach, trekking along the cliff, from Baga beach, ever since I saw a few people on the ridge, on ou...