Remote and deserted.

The abandoned farm and church of Unaðsdalur lie on Snæfjallaströnd (“Snow Mountain Coast”) in the Westfjords of Iceland. We were treated to a sampler of the harsh conditions the region is exposed to; these photos were taken in the midst of a raging gale.

In the first image, the lighthouse on Ædey (“Eider Island”) is seen in the distance to the left of the frame. As the name suggests, Ædey is a major breeding ground for Eider Ducks.

Unaðsdalur church near Kaldalón, Westfjords, Iceland

Unaðsdalur on Snæfjallaströnd, Iceland
5D Mark II, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 MP

 
Unaðsdalur church, Snæfjallaströnd, Westfjords, Iceland

Clouds of fury
5D Mark II, TS-E 24L II

 
 
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  • Jackson Frishman - August 15, 2014 - 11:24 am

    What a beautiful sweep of cloud you captured!

    For all the Iceland photo mania going on these days, you seem to be the only photographer doing much in the Westfjords.ReplyCancel

    • Rajan Parrikar - August 15, 2014 - 11:49 am

      Good to hear from you, Jackson. The Westfjords are off the main tourist circuit (thank God!) and somewhat difficult to get to.ReplyCancel

The series continues.

The next chapter in the Vetals of Goa theme features the deity from Sanvordem. My introduction from the first post in the series is excerpted below:

 
From The Vetals of Goa: Amona

The ancient deity of Vetal, its iconography and associated rituals, are important elements of, and unique to, Goa‘s Hindu tradition. The deity was most likely worshipped by the Austric Gauda tribe, Goa‘s earliest settlers, and later embraced by the Nath Panthis between the 10th & 13th C. Eventually it came to be absorbed into the larger Hindu pantheon.

A mere 50 or so out of the hundreds of ancient Vetal sites in Goa survived the iconoclasm by the Portuguese. Every single site in the Bardez and Tiswadi talukas was destroyed. For instance, before the foreign invasion, the village of Taleigao was a strong centre of Vetal worship, but I doubt you will find a single current resident of the area with any memory of this past.

The Vetal praxis serves to define the circumference of Goa‘s cultural influence which extends beyond its current geographic borders. Vetal worship is prevalent in the Sindhudurg district of southern Maharashthra and unsurprisingly, the people there have strong emotional and cultural bonds to Goa.

Traditionally the images of Vetal were cast out in the open with provision for a simple roof overhead. After all, as the village protector, he was expected to be out on his nightly patrol. To this day, offerings of footwear are made at his temples. Buffalo sacrifice was once common but is now far less so. Fowl and goat are still routinely offered.

The evolution of the depiction of the Vetal image itself is interesting. Traditionally, he preferred to go au naturel, and so the idols were displayed that way. But nowadays the ‘naked truth’ makes people somewhat uncomfortable, and therefore in several temples he has reluctantly taken to wearing the dhoti. (Reminds me of Bertrand Russell who wrote that whoever coined the phrase “the naked truth” must have perceived the connection that nakedness is shocking to most people, and so is truth.)

During the years 2006-2008, I set off on Vetal‘s spoor and checked off 45 of the surviving old sites in Goa (around 5 still to go).

 

For an introduction to the Vetal mythos, see this. All the posts in this series are consolidated here.

 
Vetal of Sanvordem, Goa

Offering by poojari Laxmiprasad Ghaisas
5D Mark III, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 MP

 
Vetal of Sanvordem, Goa

Vetal of Sanvordem, Goa
5D Mark III, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 MP

 
Shobha Parab at Vetal temple in Sanvordem

Shobha Parab, temple sweeper
5D Mark III, 70-200L f/2.8 IS II

 
 
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  • S P Naik - August 12, 2014 - 5:14 am

    In our Village temple of Paliyem, we have two deities of Vetal standing one next to the other.ReplyCancel

    • Rajan Parrikar - August 13, 2014 - 12:06 am

      I have photographed the two Vetal images from Paliem. They will be featured in a future post.ReplyCancel

Volcanic bakery.

Basalt columns in Skagafjörður, Iceland.

Basalt columns in Skagafjörður, Iceland

Lava cooked
5D Mark III, 70-200L f/2.8 IS II

 
 
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  • Jackson Frishman - August 10, 2014 - 7:52 am

    Beautiful, haunting shot, Rajan! I love those grim basalt formations floating in blue and ghostly white.ReplyCancel

    • Rajan Parrikar - August 13, 2014 - 12:05 am

      Thanks, Jackson. The formations are striking but their beauty does not come through fully at this small size.ReplyCancel

Wandering minstrels.

The Bhopas are itinerant folk musicians of Rajasthan. I came across this couple in the ancient town of Mandore. These are not staged shots.

Bhopa in Mandore, Rajasthan

Bhopa with his Ravanahatta, Mandore, Rajasthan
5D, 70-200L f/2.8 IS

 
Bhopi at Mandore

Bhopi and child
5D, 70-200L f/2.8 IS

 
Bhopa and Bhopi in Mandore, Rajasthan

Bhopa and Bhopi
5D, 70-200L f/2.8 IS

 
 
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  • Damodar Vinayak Bale - August 5, 2014 - 9:07 am

    INDIA i.e. BHARAT, is full of costumes, colours and musical instruments right from ‘Kashmir to Kanyakumari’ and from ‘Kokrasar to Kachha’. It’s so immense and worth, that there is no need of looking to western ways of living.
    But ‘Alas’ the very cultural language of this great Nation, namely, “SANSKRIT” was suppressed from the PEOPLE, so that they could never unite.
    If “SANSKRIT” language could be ‘revived, promoted and propagated’ by way of “NATIONAL EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM”, PEOPLE would surely be united NATIONALLY.ReplyCancel

Goa’s best known falls.

Doodhsagar translates to “Ocean of Milk.” This spectacular 310 metres waterfall cascades down a cliff just inside Goa‘s eastern border with Karnataka. The flow peaks during the monsoon months of July and August. I made the trek last year in early August and was met with just the right conditions: wet, squally, misty.

Dudhsagar waterfall, Goa

Up close
5D Mark III, TS-E 24L II

 
Doodhsagar waterfall, Goa

Doodhsagar
5D Mark III, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 MP

 
Doodhsagar waterfall, Goa

Freight train crossing
5D Mark III, 70-200L f/2.8 IS II

 
Dudhsagar waterfall, Goa

Atmospheric
5D Mark III, TS-E 24L II

 

I took this photo of an old photo from the Central Library Archives in Panjim. It is by the legendary photographic team of Souza & Paul who were active from 1890 to around 1910 and to whom we owe so many photographs of that era.

Doodhsagar archival photo

Doodhsagar circa 1900
© Souza & Paul, Central Library Archives, Panjim

 

The falls are accessible via the regular train. However, the totality of the experience can be had only over the land trail and during the monsoons that is not an easy undertaking. The journey begins in village of Collem (Kullem) with a motorcycle ride alongside railway tracks. After that comes a trek through dense jungle. En route we ford a couple of swollen streams and then negotiate a steep mountainside. Another hike along the railway tracks brings us to the base of Doodhsagar. I have put together a short slideshow of the excursion below.

 
 
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  • srikanth - August 12, 2014 - 9:19 am

    Hi Rajan
    Have been a big fan of your music blog for many years now. Lately have got addicted to your Goa views/snaps. Fab stuff! One dumb Q- would you rate the doodhsagar trek as tough or doable by 40-something’s?
    Thanks.
    -s.ReplyCancel

  • Priyaranjan Anand Marathe - August 4, 2014 - 7:08 am

    Nice clicks Rajan. I have a question. How did you protect your camera and gear from the mist and rain?ReplyCancel

  • Arun - August 3, 2014 - 8:19 am

    This, I suppose, is the spectacular waterfall that is seen in the movie Chennai Express?ReplyCancel