Islands of Chorao is located five kms from the capital city of Panaji. Chorao Island is an island along the river Mandovi near Panaji of the Indian state of Goa. The Choro Island was called chudamani, meaning stunning precious stone in Sanskrit.
Local legends narrate the history of the islands emerging from the diamonds that were thrown away by Yashoda the mother of Lord Krishna. The Islanders call it chodan or chodna. It was the Portuguese who called it Chorao. The Portuguese noblemen were the founders of the Chorao Island and created it as a pleasurable place to live. Thus, the place derived its name as Ilha Dos Fidalgos (Island of Noblemen).
The earliest settlers with the island had been 10 households of the Goud Saraswat Brahmins.The island was said to be a place of learning and also boasts a Sanskrit University. According to the Hindu deities and Temples by Rui Pereira Gomes, the island had ancient temples of Ganesh, Devki, Ravalnath, Kanteswar, Mallinath, Bhaukadevi, Bhagwati, Narayan, Sanata-purush, Chandeshwar and Dadd-sancol. Also Vanadevata and Roulu on Caroi Vado. These were destroyed by the Portuguese and this was the time that the people of Chorao smuggled the deities via Mayem to Naroa and Marcel a where they are held.
Amongst the first places to be captured by the Portuguese who called the island Chorao, the Chorao Island is a quaint place that has a whitewashed church and some old villas. The island mystifies many visitors as it is screened by a thick hedge mangrove beyond the aquatic swathe. It is known to be the largest amidst Goa’s 17 islands which is also bestowed with rich riverine endowments by the Mandovi and Mapusa rivers jointly.
One can reach the Chorao Island by taking a ferry from Ribandar which is on the road to Old Goa at around 3 km from Panaji. There is also a ferry linking Chorao to Pomburpa on the island’s west. One of the roads moves northwards to Mayem and Bicholim and the other road passes uphill by the majestic 16th century church of Sao Bartholomew.
Facing the Arabian Sea, the Sa Bartholomew church was erected in 1569 and founded by the Jesuits. The magnificent landmark reflects the grandeur of Mannerist Neo-Roman architectural style. The church was transferred to the diocesan clergy before 1642 and it was remodeled in 1649. In 1559, the second church dedicated to Our Lady of Grace came up in Maddel. This church was known for its large fairs that were held on the feast day with horses, camels and textiles being traded by foreign merchants.
The Chorao island offers picture postcard views of the towering Old Goa convents. The famous Dr. Salim Ali bird sanctuary is also situated here. However to explore the sanctuary one needs a canoe as the forest department has no operational boats. A number of soft drink stalls are situated on the ferry wharf on Chorao and one of these hires out a canoe with a guide in season that is from October to April. A drive around the island takes you back to vintage Goa.
Travel Information :
By Airways : Dabolim is the closest airport which is located at the distance of about approx 30 km away from Panaji. There are regular flights accessible from main cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Mangalore and other major cities.
By Train : Madgaon is the closest junction to reach at Panaji that takes max two hours of journey.
By Bus : Kadamba bus stand of Panaji is the main bus station. The state owned bus services of states Goa, Maharashtra and Karnataka operate from this station. These buses connect cities in Goa to in and out of the state Goa.