Monday, 7 November 2011

Annual Celebrations at St. George Island

St. George Island
It may also be known as Grande Island.
I always wanted to visit this place, infact 3 years ago, we,  a group of 4 did go to Bogmalo Beach to hire a boat to the Island but to our bad luck we had to come home disappointed as that was not the right time to go there due to choppy waters – It was mid April.
Then I have decided to go only on the Tulsi lagan day, to be a part of the celebrations, when both Hindus and Christian Communities visit there for their annual feast.

Last year, we went to Baina beach only to find out the event took place a day before.  In order not to miss this time, I had to double confirm by visiting  Baina beach i.e. on the 6th Nov.

Next day, 7th Nov., it is being Tulsi Lagan / vivah  (or Vodli Diwali) which come after  about a two weeks from the main Diwali ( No fixed date).

Well, we had to get up at 6 am so as to reach the Baina beach by 9.30am from where the canoe motor boats sail to the Island.

I must say here, the small canoe boats are not safe as they are meant for fishing and for up to 6-8 people but on this occasion, I have seen some boats sailing with upto 55 people including children. Ours sailed with about 20.
Tourists boats available from Bogmalo, Baina beach, Panjim etc during the season say Nov-March.

No life jackets used. It is a fisherman folk family and friends traditional festival so they take as much. It's a free ride for all.
Local authorities or politicians should  arrange special boats making numerous safer trips on this day.

No pvt or tourist boats were available yet, when available, there is a charge of say Rs.750 per head to and from the Island.

We started our journey at 10.20 am and within 10 minutes we arrived at the nearest Island which can be seen from the shore – The Bat Island or Pequeino Island. Then it took about another 20 minutes to reach at the final destination i.e St. George Island or Grande Island. The distance between the Baina shore to this Island would be around 4-5 KMs (don’t know how to put it in Nautical miles). Nor I could figure out the speed of our boat, it was pretty fast though.

There were over two dozen canoe boats, some making more than one trip.

The crowd there I would put 1,500  upto 2pm. Some boats seen arriving even after 2pm. Some started leaving as early as 11am

Almost equal number of men, women and children

At the Island, there is one old broken or collapsed jetty, some part of it, people using for diving as can be seen from the videos /slides.

To the right, on the big rock, there is a Holy Cross (renovated in 1996) where people sing Ladainhas or Litany in groups. Starting from 10m till 3pm or beyond. Very next to it there is a small St. Francis Xavier statue/Shrine which must be a newest addition – See Pics/Video. After the litany, grams or chonne are distributed to all - see pic

As you go uphill, there is a Hindu Tullasi or Tulsi. People offer fruits/Coconuts and perform Poojas along with the Hindu priest (Bhatt). People also seen adding oil to the huge brass lamps stand (Ponti).

Up on the hill (need walking/ climbing about 15 minutes) there are some old abandoned or dilapidated buildings/houses (Not all are from  pre-liberation period). Beautiful view of the Arabian sea and the rocky islands.

There is also a large helipad (Helicopter landing place ) pic can be seen in the slide at 7.36 and 7.58. This is on the way to the Lighthouse.
see pic here

Walk or climb further (another say about 15 minutes – Not suitable for aged people or people with heart problem) you arrive at the St. George Light house. One can go up on it, there are 85 steps in a circular stairway.  Up there, it is even more beautiful- like a birds eye view of the Island and the sea. I am being acrophobic, was not very confortable up there but did mange to take some pics

Now, I am also told there is a deep well near the light house, which I was not aware of and hence missed out on it.  Olden days, ships used to dock there (at the island) for potable (drinking) water from this well. The well is now in abandoned state and water may not be safe.
Back at the beach..
Almost all people/groups come there with food and drinks (some with beer and whisky). No food available on the Island as no one stays  or lives there at the moment, not even at the lighthouse.  However, there was one launch belonging to Navy I think. see pic

This Island was recently in the news when Indian Navy put a claim before the Goa Govt. to acquire the Islands but people opposed the move.

Sailing to this Island also reminded me of Goa’s Anjediva Island  off Karwar Coast. I have been there in a similar motor boat back in early 1980s, it is now  handed over to Navy and access there now denied by the Navy on security grounds. Not even allowed on Feb 2, the Feast day although it was agreed in the terms and conditions of handover agreement.

George Island has a small beach, sort of safe swimming or bathing  zone even for kids.

We left the Island at around 2.30 and back to Baina beach just after 3pm. On our way back, we could see some peacocks in the Bat Island, could not capture on camera as their colour was almost same as the rocks. We could see Bogmalo beach, Bimvel beach, planes taking off at Dabolim Airport etc – see pics –slide show.

I will certainly go back there again but not by canoe boat.
I took the risk... you don’t have to.
Thanks to the boat master of  Sri Ruchika Amba.
I was even served food and drinks

Thanks for your time

elebrations at St. George Island today
Christians had their annual Ladainhas (Ladin) at the corss  here, whereas,  Hindus performed Puja at the Tulsi here, on St. George Island off  Baina Beach.

Today 7th Nov. 2011

Our boat


 St. Francis Xavier

 tulsi Pooja

 View from lighthouse

Video 2  (Beautiful Photos)

More pics added

Bat Island (Pequen)

the other side bat Island (while returning)

 St. George or Grande Island

Broken jetty with Navy’s launch

Having fear of heights?

Helipad and Helicopter landing place


 Over crowded boats?

Swimming bathing zone

Bimvel Beach

Bogmalo beach
Baina beach


Anonymous said...

Very nice videos.

Anonymous said...

Good information with photos & videos. Thanks!