The Times of India: The Curca spring in Goa

Call to give Curca spring kiss of life grows louder.


The Curca spring lies like an unprotected monument, in ruins.

PANAJI: Neglect of Goa’s best constructed spring, Curca spring has saddened some villagers and others and pleas for the conservation of the pre-Portuguese site are gaining tempo with former director of archives and archaeology, P P Shirodkar pitching for its protection.

TNN | Sep 19, 2015, 02.00 AM IST

The site of the Curca spring has been swamped by overgrowth, and the ruin of an edifice within which the spring flows is slowly crumbling due to neglect on the southern face of the hill.

“The spring should be protected as it is the most beautiful fountain in entire Goa,” Shirodkar told TOI on Friday.


Ivar Fjeld, Manguesh Kuttikar and P.P Shirodkar.

A few heritage lovers from Curca have been lobbying for the protection of the site and restoration of the spring. “In 2010, a gram sabha of Curca panchayat had demanded the restoration of the spring,” said Manguesh Kuttikar, a villager.

Kuttikar and Ivar Fjeld, a Norwegian journalist and researcher of Goa’s pre-Portuguese history, discussed the issue of Curca spring with Shirodkar on Thursday.

Shirodkar had recommended the restoration of the Curca spring in 1993. “The tourism department had offered to restore the spring, provided sufficient funds were made available. But, unfortunately, the financial provision was not taken care of,” Shirodkar said.

The site of the spring also has some archaeological remains – possibly dating back to 13th century, but it is lying unprotected and in ruins, though heritage lovers find merit for its inclusion in the list of protected monuments and heritage sites.

The tourism department has restored a few springs – specially the ones at Boca de Vaca and Pomburpa, but the beautification is only temporary and the rot sets in after hardly two to three years later due to neglect and lack of maintenance.

“We have no reason to believe that the present owners will oppose the restoration. Members of the Ghanekar family are well known for their social work for the benefit of others,” Shirodkar said.

The site can be covered into a tourism spot and a plan for it was already drawn in 1993. “This is both a matter of developing heritage tourism and providing jobs for the locals,” Kuttikar said.

Agreed Fjeld, “A restored Curca spring can become a real tourist attraction particular for foreigners.”

Source: The Times of India

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Two claimed converted synagogues

How do we know who build this structure?


On a hilltop on Charao Island stands this structure.

This is what the Department of Archives and Archaeology, Government of Goa has recorded.

Chapel of St. Jeronimus, Madel Chodan on Chorao Island in Tiswadi. This Chapel is situated on the top of the hill at Madel-Chodan dedicated to St. Jerome. It is circular structure with a dome at the top with pillared verandah around and it was constructed in 16th century. There is a high stone platform in the northern end of this Chapel.


Was this originally a Catholic chapel?

There have been claims from some researchers into history, that this structure is a converted synagogue. It is difficult to find written sources on this structure, and not possible to acknowledge such claims.

We know that synagogues in Spain and Portuguese were converted into Roman Catholic shrines during the Inquisition. It is very likely this happened in Goa too. This kind of layout of a Catholic Chapel is surely not normal. And the inside space is very small. It looks too small to have worked as a synagogue. And there is no place on top of the hill for a Mikveh. No source of “living water”.  And what is the veranda for? It looks like, and could have been raised as a memorial over a rich Jew or Christian. There are no Hindu claim to this structure.

The settlement area around this “chapel” is full of traces of houses. I personally picked up what looked like Chinese porcelain from the ground. Synagogue.jpg

The view is fantastic from this site. You overlook both the island of Divar, the Mandowi river and Old Goa. Most likely a settlement area made by rich merchants.  But why was the settlement abandoned?  Why is there not a living soul here today? Was this also in Jewish ownership, before the Inquisition? A lot of places in the surrounding area haven names that ends with “aim”, “lim” or “rim”. A PhD-study of a possible Hebrew origin is much wanted.

Another structure in this area, that do not seems to be of Portuguese Roman Catholic origin, is the The Chapel of Our Lady of Candelaria at Divar island. A new examination is needed.


It could have been a synagogue, or a ancient Nestorian shrine.

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The Bocarro (Diaz Tavares) family in Goa

Research into the legacy of the Bocarro (Diaz Tavares) family in Goa:

Mr. Francisco (Diaz) Bocarro
Mr. Pedro Diaz (Tavares) Bocarro
Mr. Manuel Tavares Bocarro

The family of Francisco Bocarro were Separdim Jews
from Portugal who converted to Catholicism. Three
generations of them and are in the historical records
mentioned as “New Christians”. They were all in the
services of the Portuguese Empire in Asia.

The report is attached as a the-bocarro-familiy-at-goa

Posted in Cryto-Jews | 1 Comment

Fonseca: There were synagogues in Ela, Old Goa

José Nicolau da Fonseca, in his book, “An historical and archeological sketch of the city of Goa”, page 155, claims there were synagogues in the city of Ela. There were also a Rua dos Judeus (The street of the Jews) in the city, page 313.


A witness about Jews and Synagugues in Old Goa.

Download a free copy (PDF-file) of the book of Fonseca.

The book can also be purchased at Broadway Book Center in Panjim. Goa. Broadway also has a shop in Dubai.

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The “hundred Jews” mentioned by Charles Dellon

A.K Priolkar quotes an eyewitness account, by Charles Dellon, an Evangelical Christian born in1649 A.D. The French traveller writes about the burning of “hundred Jews”.


An eyewitness account of the Inquisition of Goa.

Dellon was a prisoner in Goa for eighteen months, following an order of the inquisitors on August 24, 1673. His book were Published in France in 1687 A.D, but was banned in Portugal and in Goa.

“Other acts of injustice, commonly committed by the Inquisition. The judges of the Holy Office might readily ascertain the truth or falsehood of the charge of Judaism, would they take the trouble to investigate the matter without prejudice, and to consider, that of an hundred persons condemned to be burnt as Jews, there are scarcely four who profess that faith at their death. The rest exclaiming and protesting to their last grasp, that they are Christians, and have been so during their whole lives, that they worship our Savior as their only true God, and that on his mercy, an the merits of his adorable sacrifice”, alone.12

12 The Inquisition of Goa, by Charles Dellon, (1687), quoted in Goa Inquisition, by A.K Priolkar (1961). p. 224 and 225.

Download a free copy (PDF-file) of a English version of the book of Delon.

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The war on Biblical faith, and the martyrs of “Rua dos Judeus” in Old Goa

84 Jewish converts to Catholicism, also called “New Christians”, were burnt at stake in Old Goa during a timespan of 31 years, from 1560 A.D to 1591 A.D. They were mostly traders or merchants, and were connected to “Rua Dos Judeus”. The Street of the Jews.


1. The confirmation of Martyrs:
2. The “degredado’s” in the service of the Portuguese:
3. The native Jews of the West Coast of India:
4. The 10 lost tribes and the Jews of Goa:
5. The ideology behind the Inquisition of Goa:
6. The “hundred Jews” mentioned by Charles Dellon:
7. The burning of pre-Portuguese manuscripts and books:

By Ivar Fjeld.
Fjeld is an investigative journalist and researcher in ancient Christianity in India. He holds a diploma from the Academy of Journalism in Oslo (1991), and is a member of the Press Club of the Parliament of Norway. He has had a residence in Goa since 2001. (Not finalized document).10th of August 2013.

Download a free copi (PDF-file) of the book.


From the event in Hotel Vivanta by Taj, Panjim, Goa, 31st of January 2014.

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The Times of India: Siridao chapel could have Jewish history: Historian

SIRIDAO: The quaint architecture of the Jesus of Nazareth chapel at Siridao has remained shrouded in obscurity, but a few are convinced the unusual dome-shaped structure holds a key to evidence of pre-Portuguese Christianity and a multicultural society in the area.


The chapel of Siridao has two different structures, and could have been an converted synagogue.

Perched on the edge of a hillock with a panoramic view of Zuari bay, the centuries-old chapel appears to be an extension of a smaller dome-shaped original. A circular platform on the floor behind the altar and a few other features resemble the setup of a Jewish synagogue. Says Fr Cosme Jose Costa, a historian and a priest from society of Pilar, “Around the circular pattern, there are several holes in the wall, which could have been receptacles for storing the scrolls of the Torah, the first five books of the Bible.”

The circular pulpit and secret passages under the dome have sparked off interest among researchers.

Cyril Fernandes, a freelance history researcher, who wants to rewrite history from a human rights context, was struck by the unusual architectural elements and travelled south for an appraisal of the Kochi synagogue.
“This design matches that of the chapel, but in Kochi the pulpit has ornate metal decoration around the pulpit,” he said. An opening in the pulpit in Siridao could be a gap to fix the table for reading the Torah.


Very unlikely, made by the Roman Catholic Church.

Viewed from the rear, the dome-topped chapel presents a breath-taking view unlike any Catholic chapel or church, and the tell-tale contrast in the original of the dome and the new extension is evident. Heritage lovers would say the chapel is a true example of assimilation of the hoary past in the contemporary architecture. But existing evidence of history is being defaced out of ignorance and the ruthless march of time.

Siridao lies on the northern fringe of the ancient Gopakpattana port, which once covered coastal areas of Goa Velha and Agasaim. Ships from different parts of the world dropped anchor till a millennia ago at this teeming port. A huge wall of the port extended from Dandi in Agasaim to Kharosai in Goa Velha, but time and tide have obliterated almost all its vestiges.

Costa’s discovery of a seventh century St Thomas Cross with inscriptions in Pahlavi language at Dandi in Agasaim a few years back did help uncover the historicity and rich multicultural society of Gopakpattana. “Persian traders under the Sassanid dynasty used Pahlavi language and the finding established the link of Pahlavi Christians with Gopakpattana,” says Costa.

The historian has linked his inference to the report of Cosmas Indicoplesutes, an Alexandrian traveller who visited India in AD 522 and also referred to a Bishop of Persian origin in Kalyan, near Mumbai being put in charge of Christians on the western coast of India. As a settlement of Pahlavi Christians existed in the ancient port, much before the Portuguese era, researchers veer around to the possibility of a Jewish settlement in Siridao. “The architectural and archaeological remains in the village merit a deeper study than the neglect and defacement they are facing now,” says Fernandes.

A huge arch in the middle of a long wall near the chapel entrance has been defaced by the recent beautification. Three remarkable statues, a cave behind the chapel and some other remains also point to Siridao’s glorious past.

The village itself is now reduced to a deserted place due to large-scale migration. Many senior residents have either passed away or migrated to join their kin. “We are not aware or informed about our past by our elders,” Inacinho Marquis, a local resident says.

A few years back some books and documents were found in the chapel but villagers are not aware about the fate of the records.

The existence of Jews in Old Goa and along the west coast before the advent of the Portuguese has been well recorded by a few historians. A street in the former capital was called Rua dos Judeus or the street of the Jews. Fernandes showed the unique chapel architecture to Nissim Moses, a Bene Israeli who lived in India till recently. Moses later wrote in an article, “The Portuguese Jews arrived in India as traders probably well before the year 1500 when it was socially acceptable to be Jewish in Portugal.”

Hundreds of Jews living in Old Goa during the rule of Yusuf Adil Shah (1498-1510) are also believed to have contributed in building the former capital.

The Jewish presence may have been wiped off during the inquisition in Goa from 1560 to 1812. Scholars would need to dig deeper to find evidence of their settlements in Siridao. “The antiquity of the Siridao and Kochi pulpit needs to be studied by scholars in Jewish history and architecture,” says Fernandes.

Source: The Times of India

Posted in Media reports | 1 Comment

UNI: 30th January 2014 Goa-Israeli roundtable

A daylong round table conference on the topic ‘Heritage Tourism and Cultural Exchange between Goa and Israel’, will be held at Kala Academy here on January 30th.


Deputy Israeli Consular General of Israel in Mumbai, Mr Matan Zamir, light the lamp at Kala Adacemy. Next to Dr. Shalva Weil.

The conference is organized jointly by Kala Academy Goa, Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) and Norway-India Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NICCI).
Kala Academy chairman Vishnu Wagh, while speaking to reporters here today, said that the conference will be inaugurated by Deputy Chief Minister Francis D’Souza.

He further said that after the inaugural function, a debate and discussion on the topic ‘Heritage Tourism and Cultural Exchange between Goa and Israel’, will be held, in which speakers including renowned personalities like Dr Shalva Weil of Hebrew University,Jerusalem; Varad Sabnis; Matan Zamir, Deputy Chief of Mission,Consulate General of Israel in Mumbai; Surya Wagh; Dr Nandakumar Kamat of Goa University; Praxy Correia, representative of Christian Friends of Isreal in Goa; and Nikhil Dessai, Director of Tourism,government Goa will participate.

Ivar Fjeld, representative of NICCI in Goa, will act as moderator of the debate session.

Source: United News of India (UNI)

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Jerusalem: Jews of Goa, December 18th-19th 2016

Jerusalem: A two-day interdisciplinary congress were held December 18-19 2016.Day 1 at the Hebrew University and Day 2 at the Ben-Zvi Institute.


The offcial website of the Jerusalem conference.

This is the link to the program: The Jews of Goa.

And to the official website of the Jerusalem conference:

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Garcia de Orta Municipal Garden: A letter to the Mayor of Panaji


This garden represent an oportunity to create heritage tourism. An ancient hero of Goa, most Goans have never heard about.

The Mayor of the city of Panaji (Panjim) sit on an untapped gold mine. By just furnishing a board of information about the life and legacy of Dr. Garcia de Orta in a garden that bears his name. 

Respected Sir.

Shri Surendra Furtado.
Honorable Mayor of the city of Panaji (Panjim)

Proposal for Garcia De Orta Municipal Garden

This has reference to todays meeting related to Garcia De Orta Municipal garden.
30th of January 2014, a Goa-Israeli roundtable was held at Kala Academy, in the
presence of the honorable Deputy CM of Goa. One of the proposals which has come
as a fruit of this roundtable, is to set up an information board inside the concerned
garden. A board that will give all visitors insight in the life and legacy of De Orta.

This proposal has been presented to Dr. Pratima Kamat of the Department of History at Goa University. She is the the right person who can provide the concerned information about De Orta, which can be displayed inside the garden.

If such a board can be set up, as a joint-venture between the Goa University and the
oce of the Mayor of Panjim, it will make the city a more favorable destination related
to heritage tourism. In particular for tourists from Israel.

To create awareness in Israel, I will c.c this proposal to a personal friend of mine,
Dr. Gideon Avni, the head of Archeology Survey of Israel. He is expected to come to
Goa as my private guest this winter, and will be able to grace such an initiative.

Sincerely yours.
Mr. Ivar Fjeld
Ribandar, Goa.
13th of October 2016

(end of letter)

There is enough space inside the Garcia de Orta Municipal Garden, to turn it into a World Class, Heritage Tourism site. And it will cost hardly a few pennies…


The garden is an almost hidden treasure in the centre of the city of Panaji (Panjim)

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