This was our first cave exploration trip to have hosted foreign guests and it turned out to be a wonderful experience. It was a great opportunity to share Goa's history beyond the Portuguese past, which is common knowledge.
Starting off from Taleigao cave, which is in Panjim itself, was a surprise for the guests. As can be seen in the photograph, a ficus tree (Ficus religiosa) has grown right at the cave's side (rather on it) and has spread its roots over the cave and through it. Although the roots have caused one of the cave walls to collapse they are also the reason the cave is standing.
While enjoying a typical Goan breakfast of "Bhaaji Paav" at a local restaurant in Panjim we discussed about hoe different dynasties have ruled Goa prior to the Portuguese and have left an impact on the cultural heritage of Goa. For our next cave we crossed the ferry at Diwar and reached Narve. Here there are tow caves right by each other yet almost a century apart. One is a single celled while the other is s double celled with a front courtyard which is now separated by a compound.
Further we went to see the Lamgao caves. Similar to Narve these two are also right next to each other yet from different timelines. Both caves have a tunnel like extensions at the back which are now inhabited by bats.. Harvalem, Kundai and Khandepar caves are right by the road so our little treks ended with the Lamgao caves.
Harvalem provided much more than caves. A waterfall nearby was a delight to watch an with this being the peak monsoon season there was ample water gushing down. Our guests enjoyed stepping in the cool waters for a few photographs.
After having a sumptuous lunch, we all felt like taking a nap on the travel to the next cave, but the small distance to the Adkoln cave didn't allow that. This cave rather surprised anyone as it sits right besides the road in stealth mode, expecting some sort of protection.
Kundai and Khandepar caves were next on the list. Our guests were thrilled by now to have explored so many caves in one day. Staying by the beach and going to places popular on google doesn't get one the satisfaction of truly getting to know it. But when any traveler finds a local who knows the hidden treasures, local food joints and the best places to visit and tips to get through an amazing experience, one would have enjoyed every little details pertaining to that place.
Ending our trip at Khandepar cave, the guests were able to make a tangible connection among the caves seen throughout the day. They were able to make a better connection to Goa's history, before 450 years of Portuguese rule, like never before. Exploring caves gives a sense of rooting yourself to the earth. Getting to know life of those who made these lateritic marvels, stayed in them and survived all the odds and moved on to carve another cave.