Many sites of importance in south Goa are unprotected, vulnerable to vagaries of nature and human threats; government has failed to notify these important places
The Archaeological sites of South Goa are at present in deplorable conditions, lying unprotected and vulnerable to threats. The Betul Fort, site of Rock Carving at Pansaimal in Sanguem, site of Rock Carving at Kazur, in Sanguem, Rachol Fort ruins, Springs of Salcete and several other notified protected sites in Salcete, Sanguem, Quepem and all over South Goa lie in ruins waiting for attention and sympathy.
Starting with the Betul Fort, which was built on the orders of Shivaji Maharaj in 1679 on the mouth of River Sal at Betul, still remains to be notified as a site of Archaeological importance. This fort till recent years had no signage or notification of the fort existing at this place. History Lovers Group of Goa along with the likeminded people took up the task and erected a board of giving its historic importance. However, this fort is still not recognised by the State Archives and Archaeology department as a heritage site.
When Herald took a round of protected sites in an around Sanguem it was noticed that there is no protection for the sites nor there was any information displayed there. The stone carving at Kazur near Sanguem is situated in the paddy field with mostly the figures of the deer carved on it. However, one has to walk through the field to reach the site only to see the stone and a board of prohibitions. There is no information of the Archaeological site displayed anywhere near the site. The green signage of the protected site only has "Petroglyphs" and nothing else. Several tourists come to the site and go with photos puzzled about the site. When Herald attempted to inquire about it, a lady from the village said it is “Doodha Fator” and had nothing more to tell.
A similar condition was seen near the Laterite Rock Carvings at Pansaimal in Sanguem. It contains the early rock carving on laterite at Pansaimol Colomb on bank of the river Khushavati. The main figures are deers, Mother Goddess, dancing girls, fish and other figures. There is no tar road leading to the site making it extremely difficult to travel on. This road passes through an abandoned mine nearly six storeys deep and has no guarding on the sides. Again there is no information displayed near the site.
Ramnath Prabhudessai, a local from Sanguem, said "How does one make out what the site is supposed to be and what is its importance? It is high time that the Government puts these places in order and also promotes them for tourism which has not been done till date. The promotion will not only improve the condition of the site but will also uplift the village," said Ramnath.
Many springs of Salcete lie in a very bad condition today. There was a time when the local inhabitants used these springs water for drinking purpose but today due to modernisation the people hardly use these spring waters. But one should not forget this water contains medical properties which can heal lots of health problems. These springs need to be given a new life before it is completely destroyed, say sources.
Damodar Temple site in Margao, Mardangad Fort in Ponda, Shri Kamakshi Temple site at Uzro, Raia, Shri Shantadurga Temple site at Kelshi, Lotoulim, Rachol Fort ruins, Dovarne sites all over Goa are some of the many sites in South Goa which need to be identified, protected and promoted as sites of Archaeological importance.
Yogesh Nagvenkar of the History Lovers Group, who involves in heritage walks and improvements of the heritage sites, told Herald "We have ourselves installed signboards at several of the unprotected monuments and sites so that the people know the importance and the heritage of the sites. It is time that the Government takes up the job and puts the things in order at these sites before they are lost forever," said Yogesh.
Rohan Bandekar, from Vasco and an active member of the History Lovers Group, said, "The Government has a department looking after archives and archaeology of the state. However, the website of the Department of Archives and Archaeology neither has detailed information nor photos of the protected sites of Goa which is sad. The Government should have the information of these sites with photos uploaded on at least the website so that the world can see it."