By Nida Sayed
Feb 18, 2018
The Dargah of Konadi in remote Korgao-Pernem is seldom explored though it sits merely a few miles away from the bustling town of Mapusa. A pre-Portuguese era monument, the Dargah is reckoned to be one of the oldest in Goa, and has its shrine dedicated to ‘Auliya’ (saint) Khwaja Ismail Chisti. His ‘incorrupt remains’ still lie here.
The Dargah was originally built in the 16th century. Situated along the banks of the Tiracol River, the Dargah lies on the Goa-Maharashtra border. Contrary to the architectural grandeur of Dargahs of Bijapur and Ajmer, this quaint and idyllic shrine occupies a humble space in its utter simplicity.
Over half a millennium ago, the sultan Yusuf Adil Shah is said to have had appointed Khwaja Ismail Chisti as the caretaker of land areas in Konadi. After his demise, the Dargah overlooking the water body was erected in his honour.
The saint’s descendants, who still go by the nomenclature Khwaja, inform that the saint has his roots in Bijapur, Karnataka, and traced his ancestral origin to another saint, Khwaja Aminuddin Chisti.
An arc-style entrance with minarets on either side welcomes visitors into the premises where sunshine filters in through the foliage of fruit trees. A compound wall of concrete circles the Dargah and a beautifully arranged row of coconut trees leads visitors into the prayer hall.
“This keeps the atmosphere cold even on a hot summer afternoon. In winters, visitors shiver in the biting cold even in the daytime,” retired academic Hafifa Khwaja, one daughter-in-law says.
The monument has a house-like appearance without any dome. “The ones built during the Adil Shah era in Goa do not have the typical dome mainly associated with mosques.
They were built along the lines of temples in ancient Goa and had a house-like appearance,” historian Prajal Sakhardande writes in his book, Muslim History and Heritage of Goa.
The walls of the Dargah are handcrafted out of smooth mud, like most old Goan homes, and the grilled walls allow visitors to gather a glimpse of the holy shrine maintained in the foyer area. Not only is this one of the oldest shrines in Goa, but is considered the holiest owing to the miraculous powers of the wish fulfilment.
However, much of the Dargah’s old world charm has been lost to modern-day additions of a tin roof and tiled floor in front of the monument.
The Dargah’s pious ambience stays unaltered and is amplified by the Tiracol River that stretches beneath it, thus offering a therapeutic sense of calm to visitors. The monument used to touch the riverbank in the bygone era, the family informs.
“Today, the Tiracol river divides the two states — Goa and Maharashtra. However, in 1947, when India gained independence, Goa was still under the Portuguese rule. Back then, Tiracol River formed the border between two countries, with military posted on its borders 24x7. Indian and Portuguese foot soldiers would man either side of the water-body,” Ayub says.
Taking a boat ride into the river, gives a breathtaking view of the monument. The vantage point further fuels one’s perception that the Dargah of Konadi is one of the finest examples of Islamic architecture in Goa.
Palm-fringed trees line the entire Maharashtra side of the river while the Goa belt is contrasted with the monstrous eyesore of sand extraction, right next to the Dargah.
Muslims comprise a minuscule fraction of the population of Konadi-Korgao, yet nearly 100 people turn up for the Friday ‘Zuhur Namaz’ on the premises. “These mainly comprise Kashmiri businessmen from neighbouring villages of Arambol, Mandrem, Keri, etc, and migrant labourers from Karnataka, who work at construction sites in Korgao,” Abdul Alim Yassin Naik, another family member of the Khwaja family, says.
Living in proximity of the Dargah, he takes care of the upkeep and maintenance of the monument. He is in charge of the Dargah committee and a ward member of the Korgao village Panchayat.
Footfalls sometimes increase to a thousand during the annual Urs associated with the Dargah with followers of the Khwaja, both Hindu and Muslim, from either side of the river visiting.
“There is no caste or religious barrier to access the Dargah. Devotees from everywhere are welcome to pay their respects to the saint,”