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Almost four years in the making, ‘Goa Travels—Being the Accounts of Travellers from the 16th to the 21st Century’, finally saw the light of day earlier this month. Published by Rupa and Co, N Delhi the book encapsulates the accounts by travellers to Goa from the early colonial period to contemporary times. Edited by Manohar Shetty who provides also a revelatory introduction, the anthology consists of riveting accounts of Goa in its prime as the ‘Rome of the East’ in the early 16th century, followed by its neglect by the erstwhile Portuguese rulers and its rise again in contemporary times.

A colourful band of travellers people the anthology, including the French jewel merchant Jean-Baptiste Tavernier who visited Goa in 1641 and 1648, the Dutchman John Huyghen Van Linschoten (1583- 1589), the Portuguese adventurer Fernao Mendes Pinto (1554 and 1557), the German diplomat J Albert de Mendelslo (1639), the Italian nobleman Pietro Della Valle (1623), the clergymen Fr Pierre du Jarric, Fr Anthony Monserrate and the Abbe Carre, the racist English explorer Richard F Burton and several other intrepid visitors, all drawn to the golden shores of Goa, lured by lucre or the call of the Lord. The anthology also reproduces a vivid, harrowing and firsthand account of the infamous Inquisition by the incarcerated Frenchman Dr Dellon.

Following the pages from history are contemporary accounts by travellers to Goa, not by casual holiday makers but by writers who went beyond the surface attractions of beach and booze, and examined the place with depth and sensitivity. ‘Goa Travels’ is a serious yet highly readable collection for all those who wish to go beyond the cliché and the gloss of the tourism brochure and imbibe a truer picture of our beguiling and beautiful state.

This article was first published in Timeline GOA Magazine: Issue 1 Vol. 1 (Page 43)


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