The Island of Chorão

ISLAND OF CHORÃO - Beautiful Diamond cast in natural splendour wrought by gently flowing Mandovi and Mapusa rivers, was known in the olden times as Chuddamani, which in Sanskrit means the most beautiful diamond. Legend says that the island emerged from the diamonds thrown away by Yashoda, Lord Krishna’s mother.

The island was later known as the Ilha dos Fidalgos (Island of Noblemen) because Portuguese noblemen lived on this largest of Goa’s seventeen islands. Islanders preferred to call it Chodan and Chodna; the Portuguese conquistadores later christened it Chorão. Lavish beauty lurks in the surging topography made up of very little flat horizon, except for the lush mangrove region harbouring the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary.

The Mandovi and Mapusa rivers envelope the emerald island, spraying inland nine silvern rivulets with plenty of fish. Where there is fish, a quaint taverna serving urrak and feni can’t be far in a Goan village. Picturesque Aldona, Corjuem and Calvim in the North, Ribandar in the South, Mayem, Vanxim and Divar in the East, and Olaulim, Pomburpa, Ekoshi and Britona in the West, are the island's aquatic neighbours.

Cut off from the mainland on all sides, bereft of bridges either to reach Bardez in the West or Ilhas in the South, the island sports a quaint 24 hour ferry service to and fro. Approaching the island from Pomburpa, one sees two-wheeler-borne boys and girls heading for the famous Mayem lake.

The Chorão Island also preserves the traces of a very interesting ancient history, Indian Brahmin and Portuguese colonizers. The Island has several old houses, Catholic churches of the 16th century and dozens of Hindu temples.

On the emerald island one road snakes northwards to Mayem and Bicholim. The other moves uphill to pass by the 16th century church of St Bartholomew. The magnificent landmark was erected in 1569 and remodelled in 1649.

At the tip of the Grace hillock was the residence of the Patriarch of Ethiopia Dom Joao Nunes Barreto. The majestic seminary known as Real Colegio de Educacao de Chorão, established on April 2, 1761, was the most impressive building of that time. The polygonal dome remains till date. This majestic piece of architecture standing tall on the hill has been nicknamed Compro.

One gets a ravishing birdseye view of the lay of land across hills, dales and rivers until the view melts in the blurring hilly distance, behind a church or a convent or cathedral dome. A masonary arch, erected in 1937 in honour of St Matheus Evangelist, leads to the larger-than-life statue of Christ the King, reigning from an altar built on a square platform.

The magical Chorão, a place embedded in natural grandeur and a rich heritage, is now home to the picturesque ‘Viva Chorão’ .