A Hindu Temple runs deeper than its brick and stone exterior, existing on various planes of meanings and significance. On one hand, it is the nucleus of knowledge and learning, a preserve of Indic Knowledge Traditions, on the other, a socio-economic entity and a welfare institution. In the Hindu social system, temples have served as centres of art, culture, and economics where music, dance, painting, sculpture, architecture, and other forms of craftsmanship have flourished; as treasury offices that distributed resources, and as legal courts that dispensed justice.
This year, Pathik – Temple Trails & Stories is unfolding along the azure sea in Goa, taking you on a pilgrimage across some of the most exquisite, yet lesser-known Devasthanams of the world. Uncovering Goa beyond clichés, we will immerse deep and long in her vibrant community life, experiencing first-hand the uniqueness of this Indian state where traditionalism blends seamlessly with modernity. Tracing our steps back into the annals of history, we will discover the civilisational wonder that was Bharatvarsha.
Dr. Pankaj Saxena, our guide and convenor of Pathik, will help develop a lens for ethnic tourism that is both thoroughly discerning and culture-positive!
Enrolment is Open!
Before Scholarship Deadline of 24 October
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Goa is alive and versatile beyond the beaches, beer, and casinos that she is usually associated with. She will take you by surprise where a road turns, leaving behind the glimmering sea and stretches towards the cliffs, where the neon haze of the casino district fade in the distance and the narrow lanes of an old temple town come to light. Inciting great curiosity, the journey of Pathik will beg a myriad of questions – What’s the story behind the strange church-like architecture of the Goan temples? Why are they built away from the beautiful coastline?
We’ll look for answers, and in the quest, dive beyond the glory of the Portuguese colonial heritage projected in Goa. On this pilgrimage, we shall discover the unconquerable soul of Bharatvarsha still residing in Goa – the seat of regeneration and civilisational survival.
* The journey of ‘Pathik: Goa Chapter’ will start with a freewheeling conversation with Dr. Pankaj Saxena, Director of the Indica-Rashtram Centre for Cultural Leadership. He will explain the meaning and importance of temples and temple-going. This conversation over tea and snacks will veer towards the history and culture of Goa, touch upon the peculiar Goan temple architecture and reasons for it, and more of such curious topics. This orientation will help you appreciate the temple trail ahead.
* Today, we shall also see an Odissi dance recital in one of the temple premises that we are visiting in Goa and get to know how the temple as a spiritual and sociocultural entity featured in the development of performing arts for elevating collective consciousness..
* On Day two, we shall begin a proper tour of Goa’s temple trails. While the state has many temples spread through its perimeter, often located in the most far-flung, remotest of places, Ponda remains the epicenter of Goa’s most magnificent devasthanams resplendent with divinity and also human activity. We will visit various important temples in the near vicinity on this day. Each of these temples has a unique place in the society and history of Goa, and a unique ambience of its own.
* Mangueshi Samsthana is devoted to Lord Shiva and is the centre of the Saraswat Brahmin community of the Konkan region and is one of the most vibrant eco-systems to be encountered.
* The Nagesh Maharudra Temple is a swayambhu linga temple and has a very interesting temple legend – a sthala puranam associated with it. On visiting this temple and when talking to the scholars and priests, you will get to know the concept of swayambhu temples in Hindu culture and how they are different from other kinds of temples.
* At the Lakshmi Narasimha Temple at Veling you will experience nature at its most sublime and will learn how nature and culture have always been in harmony in the Hindu society.
* The Mahalasa Narayani Temple at Goa is a very interesting temple in which the Mohini form or the female form of Lord Vishnu is worshipped. Here you will get to know not just the interesting story behind the sthala puranam of the temple but also about the thrilling history of the shrine detailing how it was shifted to this place during the sixteenth century.
* At the Ananta Shayanam Temple at Savoi Verem you will get to know the significance of the three types of vigrahas found in its garbha-griha and learn why some deities are shown in a reclining posture.
* You don’t actually know a temple until you participate in some of the intense rituals, held sacred by the local devotees. An aarti at a ancient Goan Samsthana is such an event and you will get to experience and participate in it on this day.
* After discovering the sublime beauty of Goa’s temples, on this third day, you will get to dive deeper into the state’s complex historical background that has shaped the destiny for its temple culture. On this day you will be visiting the ruins of various ancient shrines, with scholars and historians to inform you on and off site about the history of the destruction of these temples and why they were destroyed by the Portuguese invaders.
* At the Devaki Krishna temple of Mashel you will see Krishna being worshipped not by his consorts but his mother – a most remarkable assemblage of presiding deities for a temple found in India.
* At Shaiva Caves, Haravelam you will see the rock-cut architecture of Goa in a natural surrounding showing you the harmony of nature and the culture in Hindu temples.
* On this day you will also get to attain the darshana of Lord Brahma in a very unique Brahma Temple at Karmali. In popular estimation, there is only one Brahma temple at Pushkar, Rajasthan. Lord Brahma is generally not associated with temples in Hindu cosmology except at the shrine of Pushkar, which is known to be the only exception. But here in Goa you will find another Brahma temple and get to learn about its history as well as the reason behind the taboo on creating temples dedicated to Brahma.
* Nearing the end of this wonderful tour through Goan history and culture, you will also get the experience of authentic local Goan vegetarian cuisine, something that does not probably exist in popular conceptions.
* On the fourth day of our trip we will visit the Mahadev Temple, Tambdi Surla, the only ancient temple left standing in Goa. When the Portuguese invaders came to the state, they destroyed all the ancient temples but this one survived for its hidden location amidst hills, at the origin of the Mandovi River. It is situated at the footsteps of the Western Ghats, where the Mandovi River begins. The River takes an almost circular bend here, practically creating an island with the U-shaped land in-between. The river in its flows, surrounds the temple. That is why, upon entering its premises, you will get to hear a great rumble of water gushing through the narrow channel. The sky here is almost always completely overcast. There is mist everywhere, particularly gathered in the mountain slopes and the hum of insects emanating from the thickets. Located inside a wildlife sanctuary, the path to the temple is as scenic and adventurous as the destiny.
* Coming back to the heartland of Goa’s temple region, we can’t go back without visiting the most famous of them all – the Shantadurga Temple of Kavale. In stark contrast to the Tambdi Surla temple, the history of the Shantadurga Temple tells a tale of cultural survival. It was rebuilt after the Portuguese destroyed the original temple and quickly regained its stature thereon. Today, it stands as one of the most important Shakti temples in the southern part of the Indian subcontinent.
* In and around this temple we will get to meet and interact with the archakas and other communities integral to the temple ecosystem. We will also study how these communities make the temple a living system and how the local community is integrated with the institution.
* On this day, we will get a glimpse of the traditional Goan architecture with a visit to an old Goan house more than 250 years old. We will see how architectural continuities make for cultural continuity and how culture is passed through abstract as well as concrete mediums.
* On this day, we will sum up our observations and learnings on the temple trail with a visit to the local museum where the checkered past of Goa is preserved. We shall recount the many assaults that the temples here have suffered at the hands of colonisers, the culture of abrahamic iconoclasm that led to the systematic destruction of temples, and the great cultural survival of Goa’s Hindu against all odds.
* The journey will come to a close with another classical dance performance by a great Odishi dancer.
Note: This itinerary is subject to changes. A final, more detailed version will be shared with you closer to the programme dates.
Odissi Danseuse and Yoga Teacher
Odissi is one of the oldest Indian classical dance forms. From the age of Maharis to Gotipuas and now, odissi has been an icon of grace and devotion. The flow and delicateness in the dance make it one of a kind.
Accommodation will be provided at the hotels on a twin-sharing basis. During the journey, a mix of Indian, Continental, and Konkani vegetarian meals will be served. Comfortable travel to-and-from airport and entrance fee at all places are also part of the services offered.
Note: Personal expenses and other expenditures not mentioned here to be borne by participants.
Fee for Indian Citizens: ₹29,999 (incl. of all taxes)
Fee for International Candidates: $499 (incl. of all taxes)
This amount is inclusive of travel for the entire duration of yatra, food and accommodation, workshops and activities during the programme, Rashtram alumni status after the programme, 25% discount in all the future programmes of Rashtram. Break up of the fees is as follows:
Rashtram is committed to the safety and wellbeing of its learners, faculty and staff. Rashtram will provide support to ensure the yatra has all covid safety protocols. Additionally, all learners will sign a declaration upon admission into the program, confirming their status of health and willingness to follow COVID protocols as per relevant government regulations issued at the time. We would have to follow standard disciplinary actions (including debarment from the programme) against anyone who is non-cooperative about the established safety protocols.
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