There is history writ large on the undulating terrain of Tivim, a Bardez village abounding in placid lakes, aging ruins of once robust forts and even quaint tunnels. Tivim begins just a few kilometres from Mapusa where the Tivim Industrial Estate ends. However, the bustling estate, housing some of Goa’s renowned industries, lies within the limits of Mapusa town.
Having crossed the industrial estate, you come upon a boulevard of aging mango trees, which welcome you to a very picturesque village. Though modern villas and trendy shops have come up all over the village due to Gulf earnings, tranquillity and repose still mark the emerald interior.

The North-East is quite verdant, being greened by tree- covered hills. Same is true along the banks of the tributary of the meandering Mandovi river which flows softly, virtually cutting the village in two. It perhaps does so to water and nourish the fertility of the low lying paddy fields. The habitable plains support a hardy population of 10,000 souls living as best as they can, in harmony.

Had the Portuguese succeeded in connecting the tributary to the Chapora river near Colvale (through Tivim), the canal would have proved a lifeline to the eastern part of the Bardez taluka and its rustic trade and commerce. But lack of funds allowed the ambitious project to proceed just a little way beyond the riverside church of St Christopher before being abandoned.

This village once formed the busy gateway to the Western Ghats. At that time, innumerable bullock-caravans passed through Vaghabill dirt-track bringing in essential commodities from the Western Ghats. Goa, in fact, was gripped by scarcities caused by the Dutch blockade of the coastal trade during the period.

Tivim’s neighbourhood includes of Colvale and Assonora and across the northern hill lie Pirna, Revora and Nadora. The river detaches the village from Moira, Aldona and Nachinola. In Goa, rivers do play an important role of establishing links between villages on the opposite banks. Old women in Tivim often quip, “Age mhoje dhuve, tuka dili Thive. Punn Thivechi tar buddon meli ghe, dhuve!” (My daughter, you were married in Tivim. Alas, the Tivim canoe capsized and drowned my daughter). Tragic indeed is the woman’s tale but it hasn’t deterred mothers from looking for grooms across the river for their daughters. And the boys more often than not remark, “Handdir asa nouro, hi sodhta soglo vaddo” (Where is she searching the groom, while the suitable boy is right beside her?)

The village was larger but the eastern appendage of Sirsaim has been delinked from Tivim recently. Sirsaim is where lie the tall and dusty iron-ore dumps. In the earliest stage of mining in Goa, iron ore was being prospected here. Ore loading having been abandoned now, the corroded riverside jetties look forlorn and deserted now. Shipping giants Sesa Goa, however, have set up a modern shipbuilding yard in Sirsaim besides a precision instruments unit.

The Konkan railway intersects the village and a full- fledged station sits along the newly laid rails passing through the escavated laterite rocks. For the first time in their lives many people in the interior hamlets watched the first train come hooting along on January 26, this year. The village as well as the rest of Goa is in for more regular hooting in days to come.

After parting with Sirsaim, Tivim no longer remains the largest village of Bardez. But whatever may be its present size, its past is definitely significant as well as turbulent. As someone has said earlier, the village virtually set on a powder keg, having to contend with the hostile excursions from the territories belonging to the kingdom of Bijapur next door.

Mesmerised by its exquisite beauty and strategic importance, the Bhonsles, Ranes and the Marathas launched waves of attacks from across the river, which once formed the border of the Velhas Conquistas. The Portuguese naturally repulsed the invaders to retain the prized possession which came to them with the capture of Bardez taluka towards the end of 1543.

“The bunds (protective walling) of khazan (low-lying) lands adjoining these rivers, used to be demolished when the situation so demanded, so as to inundate the fields in order to stop the advances of invading enemies,” writes Dr Nandakumar Kamat of the Indian Heritage Society (Goa).

With the help of the old forts, captured from Adil Shah, the Portuguese raised a formidable protective barrier along with some new fortresses from Colvale to Tivim. The major fort called Forto Novo de Tivim was built by the Count of Linhares in 1635. The Count of Alvor added the minor forts known as Forte de Assumcao do Tivim and Forte de Meio do Tivim in 1681. And a deep ditch, originally meant to join the Colvale river to the Moira one, provided further protection against the Marathas and the Bhosles.

The Maratha warrior Chatrapathi Shivaji, in connivance with the Dutch stationed in Vengurla, however, attacked and captured the fort of Colvale on November 20, 1667. The Portuguese backstepped from Tivim shrewdly, which motivated Shivaji to return to his side within three days flat.

According to the late Indo-Portuguese historian Dr P. Pissurlenkar, in the dead of a night in 1683, the forces of Shivaji’s son Sambhaji advanced into Goa. The sudden, ominous blare of the trumpets froze the Portuguese force in the fort. The Marathas held the fort in a pincergrip and brought the defending soldiers to their knees by poisoning the well from which they brought water when the fort supply dried up. Sambhaji’s army prevailed over Bardez for 26 days from January 2 to January 25, 1684, and in the booty they carted away were 46 heavy cannons from the forts of Bardez.

On March 5, 1739, Khem Sawant (Bhosle) scaled the walls of Colvale fort and captured it. A more terrible fate awaited the military officials at the Tivim Fort, which the Bhosle army captured in October 1739 in a bloody battle. The Bhosle army massacred several military officials, and it was only after the signing of a Treaty by the demoralized Portuguese with the Marathas on September 18, 1740, that the problem was bottled like the proverbial evil spirit. Of course, peace eventually ensured when the Portuguese captured Pernem in 1838.

So much for the pathetic past of Tivim, whose humble populace bore the brunt of the war of the lords. They could hardly live in peace for long. Their khazans being inundated to stop the enemy advance, agriculture which was their main source of livelihood, would be badly affected time and again. These factors lead to periodic migrations.

The Hindus migrated to escape Christianisation along with the idols of Mahalakshmi, Vetall and Kelba to Dhargalim in Pernem. Rui Gomes Pereira ((i)Hindu Temples and Deities
When European prospectors struck manganese and mica on the dusty hills nearby, Tivim emerged into a trail of the gold- diggers and it joined the mainstream of India’s iron-ore exports. Discovery of mineral deposits augured well in times when Goans had to migrate to Bombay for employment. Were the Bhosles of Wadi and the Marathas to have an inkling that precious metals lay hidden here, they would have never given up trying to capture Tivim.

The village of Pereiras and D’Souzas came alive anew in 1956 when the late Fr Inocencio Correia started the novenas of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour every Wednesday at the Tivim church. The magnificent church of St Christopher houses antique treasures in age-old statues of St Michael, St Sebastian and St Thomas besides the aesthetically carved pulpit. The church was constructed in 1627 (rebuilt in 1720) beside the picturesque river bank.

The church eyewitnessed interminable battle and bloodshed. The Marathas even torched a part of the church impelled by the ignominy in which the Portuguese had rounded up their men and converted them forcibly. Around this time and in another vindictive move, the Marathas hijacked three priests from the Chapora Fort and made them Hindus in 1683.

But at no time in history did the riverside church attract such a vast crowds of people, particularly of the sick, weak and worried devotees of every community, as it did for the novenas of Perpetual Succour in 1956. People laden with anxiety trudged the long, untarred distances of that time in hope and were rewarded with miraculous cures.

However, the religious fervour too waned almost like a fad in the course of years. Of course, the annual blessing of the motor vehicles carries on since times immemorial. Of course, a quest for materialism had already replaced other human preoccupations in liberated Goa. But the never say die village always seems to have a trump up its sleeves. In 1966, for example, a tall girl from Dhanva in Tivim, Reita Faria, played it beautifully and bagged the covetted Miss World crown. Though the slim and svelte Reita was born and bred in Mumbai, Goan hearts instantly swelled with traditional pride when Reita outshone the beauties of the affluent countries of the world, to become the first Indian beauty to bag the award. Nostalgia of the great event still lives on.

What’s the magic element which catapults Tivim and Thiekars to the headlines so often? Hardened by consistent hazards to life and property in the past, Thiekars have developed a different outlook, sometimes quite tough. Haven’t we heard about the double murder in Tivim and of the Goan Tarzan Kistu D’Souza, who ate snakes and alligators? Imagine the cheek of the virtual cannibal leading the cops along hills and thickets to nab the murderer, who was none other than he, himself. It was like the merry chase the legendary bandit Kustoba or Kistulo took the villagers once upon a time.

Kustoba would raid the landed gentry, whom the Portuguese government had given rifles to defend themselves. The villagers formed a vigilant group and went in search of the bandit, but the sly fox laid a trap. He cornered the gullible guys and gave them a sound thrashing before sending them home minus the rifles. Such good, bad or ugly records seem to be created in this village all the time. Kistu, however, is a much more milder man now and often found fishing down by the river.

Liberation has transformed the place and the most evident manifestation is five per cent development and ninety-five per cent politics. Among the first Catholic ministers in the Bandodkar government, figured the late Anthony D’Souza, a renowned freedom fighter and a one-time Mayor of Panjim. That D’Souza bid adieu to Bandodkar, to sit among the founding defectors from the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak party to the Congress party, is another pathetic story. Once a political maverick, Dayanand Narvemkar, too ditched the MG party, on whose ticket he had bagged the Tivim assembly seat, and joined the Congress and enjoys a position of power ever since.

Tivim has produced great personalities like the late Ignatius Fonseca, who was the owner-editor of the Anglo-Lusitano Press in Bombay. There were other freedom fighters like Sylvia Menezes, Tatoji Khandolkar, and Xembu Palienkar besides Anthony D’Souza and Mussolini Menezes. The retired Bishop of Nagpur, the Rt Reverend Leobardo D’Souza, also hails from Tivim. And there are other bright stars abroad whom we don’t know. Some of them have not kept contact with their native village. One hopes that more sons of the village will rise to great heights in every sphere of human endeavour like Nicholas Pereira, a brilliant soccer international. In the field of education, the St Anne High School run by the Holy Cross nuns render yeoman service.

The youth of Tivim, particularly in the vaddes of Cansa, Dhanva and Bodiem have done admirably well in terms of social service. Bodiem, a ward near the river, has a church of its own since long, and seems to be rather cut off from mainstream Tivim.

A vast complex is being readied at Cansa to cash on the advent of the Konkan railway. Tivim can jolly well add itself to the burgeoning tourist map of Goa. The idyllic countryside abounding in green hills, mineral springs and the exploitable ruins of the forts reminding of the battle-scarred past, can prove immensely valuable.

Mussolini Menezes did endeavour to get the aborted canal proposal reviewed by the government but in vain. Young Sidney Ferros, who has the ear of the political bigwigs, and other dynamic persons like Amancio D’Souza, who has set up a plush Plaza de Antonio Resort in Calangute, could help put their native village head and shoulders above the neighbouring villages. And the local sarpanch Premnath Mavlingkar could help usher in some more progress and prosperity, and save the youth from running from pillar to post in search of Gulf jobs.

To take them to the 21st century, the Bardez station of the Konkan Railway is already in Tivim-Sirsaim. Rolling in undoubtedly will be development and also denser population. Bardez gets electricity from the giant transformer set up in Tivim and will soon get all the goods that the railway is bound to bring in. But Thiekars, who are generally bound for Mapusa, Panjim and Bicholim, are caught up in a quiz. Which route will they take? Because the next Konkan Railway stop is at Carambolim near Old Goa, and far from their destination. A few more quizzes may seek solutions in days to come as the rural environment will gradually melts away.

Joel D’Souza