- May 5, 2017
- Posted by: Planet Goa Team
- Category: Natural Wonders
Goa is just brimming with interesting tales of culture and history, many of which are yet untold. The Desi Motorcycle Diaries Adventure Group lets you into one of Goa’s lesser known Verna Caves!
Just when you think you know everything you could possibly know about this place, Goa manages to surprise you by revealing yet another fascinating facet to it and gives you yet another reason to love this beautiful state.
And the DMD Adventure Group will definitely vouch for this fact. Founded about seven years ago, it was this group of adventure enthusiasts’ keen interest in exploring the virgin areas of Goa that led them to what they describe as “unbelievable” on the Verna plateau popularly known for the Verna Industrial Estate.
“Dr. Nandkumar Kamat, the noted researcher and scientists unleashed some secrets of unseen Goa in a recent article, titled: ‘The Goa that you may not know’. Some interesting facts mentioned in this article caught the attention of the DMD Adventure Group and we decided to explore some of these places entioned,” says Suprajit Raikar, who led this team. Armed with all the necessary equipment for a caving expedition, he was accompanied by Ashwin Shetye,Srikrishna Mauzo, Harish Usgaoenker and Prabodhini Ekawade.
Just at the outskirts of the industrial estate in a place called Old Mardol stands the noted Mahalsa Temple which is known for its huge brass bell. This bell does not have a ringer attached to it. According to the temple website, the ringer was attached only when someone wanted to testify. It was believed that if anyone lied while ringing the bell, the Goddess Mahalsa, said to be the Mohini avatar of Lord Vishnu, would punish him or her by killing him or her within three days. The belief was so strong that it continued during the Portuguese rule in Goa and the testimony was accepted in the court of law.
Behind this temple, at the foot of the plateau, lies a little known tunnel-like cavern which has recently been revealed to be one of the oldest caves in the whole of Goa. The entrance to the cave is just 1 meter high. And as the group crept further, they noticed a tunnel like opening going further into the mysterious darkness.
“The cave is amazingly magnificent and can accommodate 1200 people at a time. The Rivona cave is not even half as big as this cave. Though the exact size of the cave has not yet been confirmed it can be said that it is the largest natural cave in Goa,” states Raikar while also adding that the temperature inside the cave was extremely hot and humid.
On inquiring with the locals, it was learnt that it’s believed that ages ago, travelers from Ghataprabha and other areas of Karnataka who visited the ancient port (Gopkapattana) at Agacaim stopped at the temple to pray. This cave was a meeting point of the travelers where they took shelter and rested after seeking darshan of Devi Mahalsa. The manmade structures for sitting and keeping lamps inside the cave lend evidence to this story.
The cave is now home to numerous bats hanging from all the corners of the cave and there are also signs of inhabitation by porcupines and snakes. However this ancient and mysterious cave faces a grave threat to its existence as the area is marked for an ambitious project by a well-known industry, looking to set up its premises right above the caves. If this project takes shape, then the cave could be well destroyed.
In a bid to salvage this historic wonder, the DMD group has written to the village panch (Verna) and also to the Archeological Department of Goa. They are also working closely with historians like Prajal Sakhardande and earth scientists Dr. Nandkumar Kamat.
“We need to preserve this cave for the next generation. Any delay will result in the company destroying it,” says Raikar. “We will lose our heritage unless we act fast and act smart.”
“Unravelling the secret hidden mysteries of Goa’s History, Suprajit Raikar of Desi Motorcycle Diaries and a software engineer led me to the biggest, deepest, mysterious, unique tunneled cave located in the historic Verna in Salcette Taluka. Along with me was my History student Nateshwar Parab. Suprajit came well equipped with all the necessary items required for a cave expedition. He led us through a small crevice in a massive rock and we literally had to crawl in and then we saw this huge gigantic cave filling us with an eerie feeling of excitement. We went deep inside and saw many hollowed out chambers too it was an unending cave. Suprajit is making best efforts to save it from being destroyed by builders and my full support to this cause of Save Verna cave… This cave is one of the oldest sites of Goa.”- Prajal Sakhardande, historian, Goa