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Sanjeev Sardesai

The Taluka of Sattari holds such a vast fortune of heritage, and conservatively stating it may be next to impossible to experience or lay eyes on even half of this wealth in one lifetime. But it surely enriches the life of the visitor – even if the trip be of a short period!

Before you decide to proceed into the hinterlands or the forested areas, it would be a suggested priority to first stock your vehicle with drinking water or juice, a few packets of biscuits and lots of fruits especially bananas and most importantly get your vehicle checked for brakes and fuel.

This taluka is not only the custodian of only ancient footprints, but it is also a host to modern day facilities. The main town of Valpoi offers upgraded and modern day amenities like restaurants and clean accommodation and is administered by a Municipal Council. One immediately appreciates the wide roads and correct signboards. However, to find the locations you seek you must not hesitate to seek definite directions and information with the local passersby; you will be surprised to encounter many non-Goans responding to you in the national language, in a manner as confused as you!

Once you are in Valpoi Town, and you are ready to proceed ahead ask for the Goa Police Training School (PTS). This training institute, sprawled over a huge area, was established by the Goa State Government in these tranquil surroundings many decades ago. This institute trains the Goa State Constabulary in their in-house training facility. You may require prior permission from the Goa Police Headquarters to enter the same.

The Goa PTS is host to a unique museum – The Goa PTS Museum. It is a single room museum, housed in a Portuguese era tiled barrack. It holds a visitor in awe with the various arms and ammunition rifles, revolvers, machine guns, swords, ceremonial spears which date back to the Portuguese era. Besides these arms there is equipment used in police investigations like cameras, printers which seem acquired from an alien planet.

Besides a captured Portuguese pennant, the article that surprises all is the Cane Gun. Just like one sees in the movies, this is a normal walking stick which converts into a deadly gun hidden in its vertical arm with the trigger at its handle. Also just outside this Museum barrack, one can see an Armoured Gun Vehicle on display that was captured from the surrendering Portuguese forces in 1961 during Operation Vijay.

This museum stopover should take a visitor about 2 hours, keeping the formalities of entry and interaction at the museum in mind. The police officers and the staff-on-duty have always been extremely hospitable and welcoming! Every Goan must pay a visit to this PTS Museum, at Valpoi, atleast once in their lifetime. Besides acting as a morale booster for the training staff, it will be an enlightening experience for oneself with a hands-on experience of clutching rifles and guns.

Exiting from the PTS Museum, and just about 6 kilometres north east from the Valpoi Town centre, you reach the village of ‘Brahmakarmali’. Here in the very tranquil and serene surroundings you come across one of India’s three temples dedicated to Lord Brahma. The temple holds this granite carved, almost life-sized, four faced idol of Lord Brahma that was originally located at Karmali (Carambolim) near Old Goa, but the idol was shifted during the period of religious persecution.

Travelling back to Valpoi Town, and after taking a right road and three left ‘Y’ intersections, you reach the historic village of ‘Mhaus’ or ‘Mauxi’. In local parlance, ‘Mauxi’ means aunt or mother’s sister, and the people here too treat a visitor just like a close relative, when protocols are followed! Asking the villagers here, they will lead you to a Sri Ravalnath Shrine, at the end of a short road. This shrine is located at a small height and the River Zarme flows just below, towards its east.

During the monsoons this river carries the rain waters in high velocity, receding from the Sahayadri Ranges, flooding the bank along the route of this river. However, the scenario during the summer is a total contrast where the water flows down to a trickle in a dry river bed, exposing huge granite boulders. These boulders are a botanist’s delight as different types of lichens and many exotic plants are found growing around.

Interestingly, on these boulders many ancient petro glyphs or rock carvings are spotted suggesting that a hunting tribe could have possibly inhabited this area, eons ago. There are many carvings of the ‘Zebu Bull’ and two specific ones – one of a ‘Trishul’ (Trident) and another of a footprint carved on these boulders.

In 2015 there was an interesting incident when a villager dreamt that by digging up the area in front of the Trishul rock carving, he would find a lot of wealth! The news spread like wildfire in the small village, and hordes of people swooped down here with the intent to seek the ‘treasure’. After digging and clearing the area, they came across many very distinctive tubular holes in the rock – which at first sight looked man-made. The enthusiasm increased, but not treasure was found. The local environmentalists inspected these waist deep holes and searched for Stone Age tools but came to a conclusion that these tubular holes were made by natural erosion. But these buried tubular holes were ‘treasure’ on their own. It also helped spread awareness about the ancient carvings to people across Goa. If one is in that area of Sattari, one must make a quick visit here!

About 2-3 kilometres in the same travel direction, is another historic village of Zarme. Though mostly uninhabited, the village is host to four temples at three levels of the road, with the River Zarme flowing to the left of the road. In between the river and the road are two temples – one old and one recently renovated. Walking down to the Sri Sateri Kelbai Temple, you can lay your eyes on 14 exquisitely carved granite idols which were found under the river bed, behind. Another temple is being constructed besides this.

On the upper level to your right is another unique temple called ‘Chowkudo’, which has a roof and a beautiful plinth, but no walls. This shrine has many unique icons of several deities. And the one at a still higher level is a modern day temple dedicated to Sri Sateri and also called ‘Chowkudo’. The view of the Vagheri Hills from here is ethereal!

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