• yatri gulaak

Hidden Goa: São Jacinto island

Updated: Apr 10, 2021

Among the many delightful oddities of Goa, is an island on Zuari river, whose patron Saint is a 12th century Polish priest called St Hyacinth. Why a former Portuguese territory would seek protection of a priest from Poland ahead of St Francis Xavier or son of its own soil, Joseph Vaz?; is a question you can ponder on while helping yourself to an authentic Goan Thali, in the famous Sheela restaurant which is just across the island.


Mystique of São Jacinto island is further supplemented by its fiercely private residents who have made a heroic vow to protect their heritage amidst rapidly commercializing Goa. Its inhabitants have decided never to give their island on lease to outsiders (even mainland Goans are considered outsiders here) or allow mushrooming of hotel chains on this wonderfully serene spot. The island also has a secret underwater tunnel which runs from Church of St Hyacinthi (dedicated to patron saint) to Siridao on opposite bank of Zuari River.

However, the reason for our visit was an abandoned lighthouse, hidden in dense foliage and impossible to spot from any vantage point.


We crossed the causeway which connects the mainland to island, listening to sylvan waters of Zuari river lapping against the hulls of moored fishing boats. We first came across the large and weather-beaten Chapel of St Hyacinth which was closed to our dismay. It was high noon and residents apparently were already deep in their siestas. We walked along the peripheral road looking for a way into the heart of the island and found a narrow lane meandering through colorful houses and quiet village squares. Following it brought us to landing of an old stairway which led up a hill. It was the way to the lighthouse. Following these stairs, whose existence was greatly threatened by vines and creepers from all sides, we reached the summit. Stairway gave way to a football field. Standing in middle of this football field , we could see the lantern room of the lighthouse towering over treetops.

We found a narrow lane meandering through colorful houses and quiet village squares.
"Following these stairs, whose existence was greatly threatened by vines and creepers from all sides"
Standing in middle of this football field we could see the lantern room of the lighthouse towering over treetops.

The staircase of the lighthouse was in advanced state of corrosion, which divulged that it is an ill frequented place. To climb it one has to be sure footed as an ibex. Discolored exterior, heavily rusted railings and dark windows, painted a sorry picture against the grey overcast sky. This former beacon of hope, now stands extinguished. A cracked marble plaque tells it was erected on 10.02.1900 by governor Joaquim Machado. This tower of Rapunzel has seen better days.

The staircase of the lighthouse was in advanced state of corrosion
To climb it one has to be sure footed as an ibex
Rapunzel, Rapunzel let down your hair
"if you manage to get to the top , your spirit will once again flutter with joy at the spectacular view of Arabian sea"

However, if you manage to get to the top , your spirit will once again flutter with joy at the spectacular view of Arabian sea, of boats straining at their anchors, eager to face the stormy seas once again, leaving comfort of their moorings behind.

Man in the Ivory Tower

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See our other posts on Goa:

https://www.yatrigulaak.com/post/dudhsagar-falls-of-goa


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