Goa is a sun, sea & sand blessed, coastal region, on the western side of India. Goa is a premier holiday & leisure destination, for both domestic & international travelers. The island of Divar is located approximately upriver 10 km from Panjim, the capital city of Goa. Divar island is connected to Old Goa on the south-east side, Ribander on the south-west side and Narve on the north side, all by ferry. A ferry also connects Divar to the city of Panaji from further north-west, in the village of Vanxim. The Konkan Railway passes through the village and the nearest stop to the village is the train station.
The drive to the village is scenic, with paddy fields and wooded hills lacing the roadway, very typical of the Goan countryside. Though in a manner equally typical of modern Goa, of late the paddy fields lie fallow and overrun with weeds, along with your odd crocodile that came through when the levees were purposely broken in early 2000.
The Island of Divar was a famous site of Hindu pilgrimage and hosted the ancient temples of Shree Saptakoteshwar, Shree Ganesh and Shree Dwarkeshwar besides others. These were destroyed by Portuguese zealots in the 16th century in their drive for the Christianization of Goa.
If you ever visit Goa, cross over by ferry to Divar Island and feel the deafening serenity and enjoy the scenic surrounding.
The Current Cemetery near Church at hilltop once housed Ganesh Temple which was razed by the Portuguese and the Hindus had to take the Ganesh Idol and rehabilitate it in village of Khandola near Marcel. The ancient site of Hindu pilgrimage is called ”Porne Tirth” (”Old pilgrim spot-in Konkani”) even today. Rui Gomes Pereira in his book ”Goan temples and deities” writes, “The original temple (Of Shree Saptakoteshwar) was constructed in the 12th century by the kings of Kadamba Dynasty. Shree Saptakoteshwar was the patron Deity of the Kadambas. The temple was destroyed by the sultan of the Deccan in the middle of the 14th century and reconstructed at the same locality by Madhav Mantri of Vijaynagar at the close of the same century. It was again destroyed by the Portuguese in 1540.”
Prior to its destruction, the temple used to attract more than thirty thousand Hindu pilgrims from Goa itself during its annual procession. The Saptakoteshwar idol was shifted to Narve in Bicholim after the destruction of the temple by the Portuguese. The present temple in Narve, Bicholim was rebuilt by Shivaji Raje Bhonsale the Great Maratha leader. Raje Shivaji initiated the reconstruction and re-establishing the deity at present place. The orders were carried out by Temple “vishwastha” Shri Shivram Desai. (Also read list of temples in Goa).
A Jesuit priest Fr Francisco Sousa documented the religious importance of “Divar” in his book Oriente Conquistado (Conquest of the orient) around the latter quarter of the 16th or early 17th century. Fr. Sousa testifies that “Divar was as much venerated by the Hindu Brahmins as the Holy land by us, on account of a temple of many indulgences and pilgrimages”, Rui Gomes Pereira details further stating, “The linga of the temple, made of five metals – gold, silver, copper, iron and bronze” was later relocated in Bicholim. And on the foundations of the same temple a prayer and catechism house was constructed in 1563.
According to Dr Olivinho J F Gomes, Professor of Konkani, Divar was one of the first places the Portuguese ventured to convert locals to Christianity, targeting primarily the Hindu Brahmin caste, thus creating the Roman Catholic Brahmin community.
The original inhabitants of this island were people who once lived in Old Goa but had to leave during a disastrous plague that greatly reduced the population of Old Goa.
Piedade, a small village is spread at the bottom of a small forested hillock on which there is the Church of Our Lady of Compassion. The island is dotted with well maintained, elegant Portuguese villas. From the top of the hill, superb panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, including Old Goa, the capital of Goa, Panaji, the meandering Mandovi River, and the bridges across it can be seen.
Fr. José Antonio Gonçalves of Divar, initiated the Conspiracy of the Pintos – planned rebellion against Portuguese Rule, in 1787. He was Professor of Philosophy at the (former Jesuit) College of Maddel, Chorão.
A very popular festival held in Divar and which is on the Goa tourism Dept. itinerary is the Bonderam festival held in the month of August. To be precise the Bonderam festival is held on the 2nd last Saturday of that month.