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Calapur Destroys Vijayanagara Heritage

Nandkumar M Kamat

Calapur- Santa Cruz is one of about 100 villages in Goa without any ecological future. Presently under Santa Cruz village panchayat, Calapur  village settled by ‘Kalapa” a royal official (Amatya) of Goa Kadambas ruling from Govapuri (Pilar) has recently destroyed its cultural heritage site of Vijayanagara period and has invited the impending threat of disastrous inevitable monsoon water stagnation in a three square km hinterland from Kenkare estate to Ubo Dando. Hidden behind a row of tall red galvanized  metal sheets in the once fertile cultivated low lying tenanted paddy fields a private commercial project is rapidly taking shape in Cabeca ward proving that inclusion or exclusion of Santa Cruz in GPPDA doesn’t mean anything if the local village panchayat is supportive of such ecologically and culturally destructive commercial projects.

If one inspects the project site, a tenanted field, two meters below the  level of old Panaji-Agacaim road, it is nothing short of a miracle how this destructive project which would cause permanent flooding of Ubo Dando ward was permitted in violation of  Section 17A of Goa Town and country planning act which prohibits any development and filling of low-lying land below 50 cm or more. Section 17B outlines penal provisions which include a fine of up to Rs one lakh for the offences. The board proudly displayed by the builder claiming that “all permissions” have been obtained, outside the project site clearly exposes the hypocrisy of all those in the village shouting against forced urbanisation. One cannot be selective on such issues. Not a tear has been shed on what has been lost.

The communidade of Calapur which was involved in the meticulous planning of the drainage of the village during monsoon has also fallen silent. It knows how the rainwater from Ubo Dando ward used to be stored temporarily in the low lying paddy fields before crossing the culvert under the main road and joined the wetlands on Taleigao side. The project has now not only blocked the ancient culvert, a major east to west cross drain under the road but has even moved the construction very close to the road. Calapur had earlier systematically destroyed the full upper catchment of Ourem creek which begins from Chirculem creek originally known as river of Calapur navigable during the Kadamba period. The memories of ancient Kadamba port location can be traced to name of the ward “Bondir” which earlier fell in ancient Lagumorambika village mentioned in Kadamba copper plate inscriptions. The Ourem creek begins at 50 m altitude from a seasonal stream in the valley like depression near Kenkare estate, flows through Ubo-Dando ward, passes under the major culvert near Santa Cruz market, then flows straight through paddy fields while encountering six old embankments with dilapidated sluice gates before emerging near the picturesque Braganza house before widening as Chirculem creek. A private housing project built by reclaiming paddy fields permanently destroyed the creek catchment at Bondir. In the upper catchment behind the Chamunda complex the original channel of Ourem creek is fully segmented and water resources department, village panchayat or communidade had never worried about its complete destruction despite this channel being lifeline of half the population in the village against sudden flooding.

The project emerging in ecosensitive low lying paddy fields near Madonna pharmacy has permanently obliterated the archeologically important site of a medieval Saivaite monastery of Vijayanagara period. Emperor Harihara II, had defeated the Bahamanis in AD 1380. Goa was then declared as “capital” of whole of Konkan province. A fierce battle had taken place at “Madiyagombu” somewhere close to present Merces village.

Considering the importance of the Kalap-Pur village, after conquest of Goa, King Harihara II granted a parcel of land to build a Saivite monastery in the village. This fact would not have come to light if noted Goan historian B D Satoskar were not to report a rare circular stone inscription found in the same paddy field where the above project is coming up. The inscription had been buried face down and village boys playing football during summer used to sit on top of it before out of curiosity they turned over the monolith. When they discovered engravings of a Lingam, symbols of Sun and Moon they thought of bringing it to the attention of Saivaite Kenkare family residing close to the site. Being devout Saivaites, Kenkare family gladly accepted the inscription and installed it below their “Tulasi Vrindavan”. When I had examined this rare inscription in 1987 (which is reportedly still in custody of the family now shifted elsewhere), I had noticed that the script was Halekannada and the language was pure Sanskrit. Late Dr Vithal Mitragotri, then assistant archaeologist with Goa government declared that it was a land grant given by Emperor Harihara to a Saivaite monastery in Calapur. We discussed plans to carry out archaeological excavations of the paddy field but somehow the idea wasn’t followed further. However, it was noticed that the tenants had given up cultivation of the fields in 1990. Then some unidentified persons began to dump mud in the low lying fields.

Indo-Portuguese historian and eminent daughter of the village late Dr Tereza Albuquerque was very excited about this rare inscription during writing her monograph- Santa Cruz-Calapor- -Profile of A Village In Goa (1989). The location of the monastery at the site clearly indicated the importance given by the Vijayanagara emperor to the village. Very few inscriptions of the Vijayanagara period are available in Goa.

Calapur inscription is the only circular stone inscription of Vijayanagara period with a hole in the centre. From 11th century the village was already known in Konkan as a major salt producer. But 16 huge salt pans in village are in total ruins now. The above commercial project has finished any chances of a full archaeological investigation of the location of the heritage monastery. Many new religious sites which are doing roaring business have sprung up in the village. But Calapur won’t be able to bring back the lost Vijayanagara cultural heritage. Kenkare family took custody and diligent care of the inscription, but they were helpless in ensuring the conservation of the heritage site. With stagnation of water and flooding in Ubo Dando now guaranteed due to the destructive project, Calapur Santa Cruz faces a bleak future. Insult to divinity may bring calamity.

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