The cemetery at Colva

It is around midnight when we pass Colva Cemetery.

I had arrived in Goa earlier that November evening and after settling into the service apartment I was staying in, head to Colva Beach for dinner with my friend. A delicious dinner of Italian food later, it is time for a leisurely stroll back to the apartment under a moonlit sky and a gentle sea breeze accompanying us.

We pass restaurants that are still serving dinner, tourists walking back to their hotels, sleepy dogs, shops shut tight… And then quite suddenly, a large angel looms out of the semi darkness, startling me for a second. That’s when I realise that we are passing a graveyard, the Colva Cemetery, and the “angel’ was part of a tomb.

We stop to look over the low walls of the graveyard. Of course, we can’t see much in the darkness except for ghostly outlines of tombstones and tomb sculptures. Also visible is a rather sinister and spooky-looking barn like structure with no doors or gates. Since the moonlight doesn’t penetrate inside, it is shrouded in darkness.

“What’s that?” I ask. “It can’t be the church, can it?”

“No. The church is behind us, and across the road. Maybe a chapel?” my friend suggests.

“Maybe. But why is it so dark?” I shiver involuntarily.

“Let’s come back tomorrow morning and find out, shall we?”

We come back in the morning and see one of the most beautiful graveyards that I have come across.

Colva Cemetery, Graveyard, Colva, Goa, Travel

The first thing we notice in the light of the day is that the sinister and spooky looking ‘barn’ from the previous night. It has transformed into a beautiful whitewashed structure with a tiled roof and a façade typical to Indo-Portuguese architecture. It is open on both sides, and contains neatly laid out graves with wooden crosses as markers. At one end of this covered structure is a crucifix.

Colva Cemetery, Graveyard, Colva, Goa, Travel Colva Cemetery, Graveyard, Colva, Goa, TravelThe elaborate decorations on the gravestones — flower decorations, rangoli-like decorations, chalk drawings, flower vases, candles, lamps — are initially a little surprising, till I realise the date. It was All Souls Day (November 2nd) a few days prior to my visit and all decorations are because of that..

Colva Cemetery, Graveyard, Colva, Goa, TravelColva Cemetery, Graveyard, Colva, Goa, TravelIt is quiet and peaceful at the cemetery and there is no one around except for us. Outside, that is outside the covered structure, are rows upon rows of simple graves with wooden crosses as markers. There are niches with stone slabs on the wall indicating more graves. Then there are the more elaborate ones with stone slabs and elaborate carvings and what looks like family burial vaults.

Colva Cemetery, Graveyard, Colva, Goa, TravelColva Cemetery, Graveyard, Colva, Goa, TravelColva Cemetery, Graveyard, Colva, Goa, TravelIn my opinion, the most beautiful part of the cemetery are the angels. I loved every single one of them !

Colva Cemetery, Colva, Goa, All Souls Day, Graveyard

 

Colva Cemetery, Graveyard, Colva, Goa, Travel

Colva Cemetery, Graveyard, Colva, Goa, Travel

Colva Cemetery, Colva, Goa, All Souls Day, GraveyardI visited a graveyard for the first time in London and it was quite by accident. I was quite homesick at that time and that visit gave me a lot of peace and comfort. Since that first time I have visited a few more and always came away with a sense of peace and comfort. The Colva Cemetery was no different with the peaceful atmosphere and the angels.

Though I would have liked to spend more time at the cemetery, I decide to leave when some people walk in with fresh flowers. I say a silent prayer and leave. Over the next few days that I am in Goa, I stop and say a little prayer, each time I pass the Colva Cemetery and have that comforting sense of peace surround me.

Note:

This post is not meant to promote cemeteries as a tourist attraction; it is to share my personal experience. However, if you do visit the Colva Cemetery or any graveyard for that matter, please respect the dead. Do not walk or climb over the gravestones. And if there is a burial happening, please respect the privacy of the mourners and leave.

24 thoughts on “The cemetery at Colva

  1. I had once been in the age old Park Street cemetery in Kolkata. Even the founder of the city Job Charnock , lies there….the place was so peaceful and it provided me a feel of calmness….I don’t know why….

    Liked your experience with the cemetery in Colva…nice pictures as well… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Welcome to “My Favourite Things”, Maniparna. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. Maybe the sense of peace in a graveyard comes from the fact that so many people lie at peace there?

      I want to visit Job Charnock’s tomb for a very different reason. I am a geologist and he lent his name to a special rock type called Charnockite. In fact his tombstone is made from the same rock. I hope I can visit his grave one day.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes…you’re right..the eternal peace for them… 🙂

        Really ? I had no idea about it. Thanks a lot for enlightening me. The greatest outcome of blogging is to know wonderful things from people like you …. 🙂

        What kind of rock it is ? Why it was named after him ? just feeling inquisitive…

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        1. Charnockite is a metamorphic rock recrystallised under high pressure and moderate temperature conditions. The Charnockite suite of rocks are among the oldest in the world. In India, they are found in the Salem region of Tamil Nadu. The Charnockite came about when it was discovered that his tomb had a type of rock which had not been identified or studied before.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. The cemetery does look beautiful, Sudha. And quite peaceful, too.

    While we were in Goa, we passed a cemetery a couple of times, and saw some very beautiful angels on graves, but didn’t stop by.

    I have never photographed inside a cemetery, except for the Dutch cemetery at Fort Kochi. It is quite a creepy experience for me.

    Loved that you added the little note at the end of the post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, TGND. I’m more than a little concerned about ‘death tourism’. In Varanasi, I saw hordes of tourists sitting near the burning pyres and clicking photographs or walking around it. And I have also known people to try and get into cemeteries for a good story or photographs.

      I almost didn’t post this one as I was worried about how it would be perceived. Hence that little note.

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    1. Welcome here, The Weekend Baker. Initially it was the architecture that drew me to the graveyards, but now the inscriptions and the stories they tell are equally interesting. At the Colva cemetery, I came across a family grave with 5 generations of members buried their. It was quite poignant reading their names, their life spans and imagine the possible lives they must have led.

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  3. the first cemetery i entered was the Sewri one, sudha. and since then, have seen a few more. but this is really beautiful… if i can use that word… the sense of peace comes through so well… i love that little piece you have added at the end. I am going to borrow that disclaimer the next time i write about a cemetery!

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    1. The first cemetery i entered was at Lower Slaughter in the Cotswolds region of England. I was part of a guided tour group. One of the group members was from Italy and a Catholic and she was quite horrified about walking through one as part of a walk. She and I were the only ones who stayed on one side, while many didn’t.

      Yes, cemeteries are beautiful places and peaceful as well.

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  4. Yes, the cemeteries do give me a sense of peace now. This was not the case when I was a child and a growing teenager; thanks to all the spooky tales of graveyards and ghosts. Many of the old cemeteries are beautiful with lovely tombstones. I recently went for a burial in Pune – the cemetery has some beautiful carvings and engraved tombstones of British and Indian soldiers. Sadly, the caretaker has allowed neighboring buildings to dump their building waste and debris. The undertaker also mentioned that many tombstones have been desecrated and beautiful sculptures stolen.

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    1. Cemetries give me peace during daytime; after dusk, I pretend they don’t exist 😛 But seriously, I have felt a connection that I cannot really explain at graveyards.

      Unfortunately, graveyards have become touristy and ‘photogenic’. It is quite fashionable to say that you are a journalist to gain entry into graveyards for photographing it. I wonder if I could also be accused of doing the same.

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  5. I have to really catch up with the Goa posts and they all look so inviting.

    I wish you had not started off with the cemetery though. No matter how beautiful, I don’t like cemeteries. I’d rather look at an angel in a church or museum and admire the sculpture. Hope you are not going to chase me off your blog for this comment, when everyone else is agreeing with you 🙂

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    1. You can look at the angels in the graveyard and imagine that you are in a church or a museum. Just ignore the graves 😉

      But seriously, I understand perfectly. Graveyards and cemeteries are not really places to visit and they can get quite creepy and uncomfortable. So, I am not going to chase you off my blog.

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  6. I visited Colva but never got a chance to visit this cemetery. I would definitely check them out during my next visit. I had been to graveyard but never seen one as beautiful and creative as this one. It is really nice to see painting on tombs that are decorated beautifully.

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    1. Welcome here, Anmol. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. Colva Cemetery is right across the road from the Colva Church. Its difficult to miss it. I have visited a few, but the Colva graveyard has to be one of the most beautiful that I have been to.

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