Monday, November 07, 2005

Gone to Goa (and elsewhere)

The giant statue at Shravanabelagola

Just back from a week's holiday. We had planned to go to Pondicherry, then Goa, but the flooding that hit Bangalore also hit the roads to Pondicherry, so we had to drop that part of the trip.

So, I took a solo two-day trip to Halebid and Belur, two Karnataka towns that are home to some magnificent Hindu temples from the Hoysala Dynasty. They are covered with wonderful carvings and statues, and are very different in design from what I've seen elsewhere. My favorite was the Hoysaleswara Temple in Halebid. Well worth the trip.

The trip included a visit to Shravanabelagola, a town that is home to two Jain temples on hills. One temple is home to a 57-foot statue of a Gommateshwara, who -- according to one Web site --- renounced his kingdom and left to lead a life of penance and meditation, attaining Nirvana.

On Wednesday, we flew to Goa. We stayed in the Fontainhas section of Panaji, the state capital. The neighborhood is one of the older sections of town and the Portuguese influence shows. Lots of tile roofs and painted buildings. Very nice and a pleasure to walk around.

Highlights of our Goa trip included a visit to Old Goa, the former capital (abandoned in 1843) whose sights include the body of St. Francis Xavier (in a glass-paneled coffin in the Basilica of Bom Jesus) and some other magnificent churces.

But our favorite day was a trip to the beach -- at a town called Arambol in northern Goa. We lounged on the sand and ate seafood pasta in an open-air shack with a palm thatch roof. Wonderful.


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