Kumta: Jewel of the Konkan

pics of fresh vegetables and fruits market in Kumta by Arun Shanbhag
On every visit to India, I follow a similar schedule. We head to Goa to pay our respects at the Ramnathi Devasthan in Ponda. From there we head south along the coast to Kumta.

Kumta is a sleepy township. The busiest part of town is Main Street, called paent, which is only a few blocks long. The place for any and all your shopping. Its where all the locals 'hang-out' too. There is not much else to do in Kumta. Rest and relax.

And best of all – I get to speak konkani all over town! My konkani is good enough, I easily pass off as “from Mumbai” (which is not incorrect)! Yes, every shop-owner, rickshaw driver, stall-wallah, lady selling vegetables, and their brother speaks Konkani. 🙂 So even among strangers, I feel at home.

In the mornings, the local market is buzzing. It's only a few rows of vegetables and fruits. And not surprisingly, friendly folks and juicy vegetable and fruits everywhere.

Join me for a short tour of the Kumta Vegetable Market!

This pair of smiley guys seemed to have the biggest stall there.
pics of fresh vegetables and fruits market in Kumta by Arun Shanbhag
These brinjals (?) were mouth watering. Appears to be a hybrid between a “Gullaen” and the brinjal. Can someone shed more light on this?
pics of fresh vegetables and fruits market in Kumta by Arun Shanbhag
Yes! MANGOES! BTW, this was from our May-June trip. Those little green ones are deceptively sweet. Called manik-bhat, a local variety and very popular all over the konkan coast.
pics of fresh vegetables and fruits market in Kumta by Arun Shanbhag
Who said, sucking up cannot be sweet!
Thats the way to eat the manik-bhat mangoes. Wash (optional), pinch the stem and make a small hole. Gently roll and squeeze the mango, so the pulp is ejected into your mouth. Suck, fast. Discard the leftover at a nearby cow who will glady finish it off 🙂
pics of fresh vegetables and fruits market in Kumta by Arun Shanbhag
As I negotiated my way around the market shooting pics and striking conversation with the shop-keepers, this girl selling a grab-bag of spices and colors was giggling. Not sure what she found humorous. When I turned my camera on her, … she was full of modesty.
pics of fresh vegetables and fruits market in Kumta by Arun Shanbhag

A tighter crop, lightening the spice girl’s endearingly beautiful features.


For every guy who ever wondered: What women really want?
The largest crowd was in front of this stall which sold bangles, earrings, nose-rings, bracelets, anklets and other trinkets. Note the women who have orange flowers in their hair (3rd from left; 2nd and 4th from right). Those are the traditional aboli flower strands, very common in the konkan. (see next pic).
What women really want? Pics from Kumta by Arun Shanbhag
On the market, a woman was selling these (l to r) drumsticks topped with woven aboli flower strands; dainty lady-fingers (a longer and delicate version of the Okra available in the US); a ripe pineapple; more drumsticks (these appear less fleshy) and a bowl with more flower stringers.

What women really want? Pics from Kumta by Arun Shanbhag


My question is this: Even if the women selling flowers, spices, and the small guys selling mangoes, were to sell all their produce by the end of the day (highly unlikely), how much money would they earn? Would it be enough to buy other food for their familiy, clothes, school tuition? savings perhaps? Something to think about!

My visits to Kumta are times for introspection. While M stays at home and rests and lazes around, I walk the markets, the alleys, the temples, and talk, talk and talk. With the guy selling mangoes, the vegetable seller, the woman here, the flower seller there, the shopkeeper elsewhere. I want to know them, see the world from their eyes. With all my education and training, what can I do for them? What can you do for them?



Other Kumta Related Posts:


94 thoughts on “Kumta: Jewel of the Konkan

Add yours

  1. dear arun
    I am very happy to see the photos and very much excited to see my childhood place and watch the photos every now and than. I visit kumta atleast once in a year.
    Thank u very much for your work and pl keep on adding updated photos.
    thanks
    shridhar mani shanbhag

  2. beautiful photos – and intriguing thoughts. i think the MOST important thing we ca do is to listen. then, if we are able, we can (and should) act.

  3. Hi Arun,

    I have been following your blog for a few months. All ariticles reflect heaven in simplicity.

    Bageshri
    Mumbai

  4. Dear Arun,

    The guy in close-up selling Manik bhat mangoes is Mr.GopaLa…. While i was kid i was very scared of him… my grandma used to say “if you dont listen i will call GopaLa!!!” and daily while he was passing from our compound he used to shout at me….” Masti kartai rey? pakkadko leko jato dekh” in his hindi accent ……

    Now as we grown up i always meet him in market during my visit to Kumta and his smiles bring back my old memories and he said in my last visit when met “Kitle hooDh zalrey maraya tu… kitlo saan aShiloh, aayi mast trass kaDla tuka Convent ak gheun wachak… Rickshant ghaal horta ashiley””” Dev bare karu tuka!!!!!!

    My eyes were moist looking at his snap… Too nostalgic!!!!
    Luv ya Arun!!!!

    1. Abdul –
      That is so fantastic to hear! And I can imagine him doing exactly that. Growing you we have had similar bogey-men who helped parents keep us in line. But these are gentle souls.

      Glad you mentioned his name – On my next trip there, I will try and meet with him. I know where he’ll be.
      Thank you for sharing that.
      Arun

  5. Dear Arun,
    Wow … phew it was a nostalgic trip to Kumta thru ur web pages…. great work of my home town KUMTA!!!!

    i loved the konkani dialects used made me felt for moment that i was transported to Kumta PaeTey- Mooru KaTTe

    Life is very beautiful in Kumta…. masLi Kadi, Teesri sukka and Basle AmbaT … i miss all our delicacies !!!!
    Local Festivals like Bhandi, HonDe during Deepawali, Markalu, SuGGi, Dumsoiley in Holi …. I MISS ALL THESE EVENTS!!!

    Keep up the good work
    Regards
    Abdul Karim Shaikh

  6. Hi arun,

    You really make us proud of KUMTA

    I have a deep heart connection with kumta, my hometown…..its sad that I don’t live there anymore…but I will and my heart is always……I studied right from 1st std to till I complete my diploma from SVP……and …..you can I mage how great memories I must be having…I have lot to share …… now I live in dubai,U.A.E as my job brings me here.

    My heart cries for kumta….my homeland…….i did visit Kumta on my last trip to India (2008) and stayed there for 4 day & enjoyed every bit of it…right from eating fresh fish from fish market to going to hedge to murror to honmov to chitrigi to headbander to hervetta to everywhere…..eat Fresh made BONDA,JEELABI…..USAL PAV…BANNS ……drank shiyyale…lot of fun….did visited some of my friend home and had lunch & dinner with there perents….eat in MEENU OOTA hotels……went on van to Honnavar …..i know every bit of Kumta……

    Thanks for you great we site…really I Miss kumta a lot…and want to be connected always….

    Thanks

    1. Victor:
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts so enthusiastically here.

      that is a trend I notice, all Kumta-kars are always thrilled about Kumta – something about the place. 🙂

      and yes! Bunns! had them on this visit! 😀
      Wishing you the best
      Arun

  7. Hi Arun,

    I just chanced upon this site when I was searching for ‘Shree Ram Jaya Ram Jaya Jaya Ram’ and then the links took me to sweet Meera (I am sure your parents would yell, ‘dristi kaad go’, the whole day :)), and then to other links on your page and then to this page.

    To say that each one of your lines gave me vicarious pleasure, would be an understatement. I thoroughly savored the pages so much so that I was compelled to write about my attachment to Kumta.

    My mother was born and brought up in Herwatta, Kumta and I remember how myslef and my two brothers eagerly looked forward to visit Kumta every summer and meet all our cousins and raid the ‘Hittal’ of Ambo, Panas, Jambu, Jambal and walk to the ‘Ghatti bod’ (our favourite hillock just outside of Herawatta.), and play so many pranks that we were fine only as long as we did not annoy our dear Abu – ‘Thane Ek Avaz kaLLyari ammi Muthun ghevche chi’. His stare was more painful than the ‘Embo’s bite’.

    I studied in Nirmala Convent, Kumta for a year. I do not think I remember so many teachers (Shri’s NR Hegde, IR Hegde, SP Hegde, Gowdar, Fernandes) and classmates (Sanjay Hiremath, Sharad Shanbhag, Prashant Shetty, Vijay Naik, Abubaker, Siddique, Ullas, Ganesh, Caroline, Jyothi) from any other school even though I studied there for only a year. Later on, I got the opportunity to work as a Scientific officer at Kaiga for 2 years, and I feel blessed for these opportunities that came my way.

    The red earth, the mossy laterite stones, the people who know we arrived before we reached home (Just by a glance at at me and my ilk in the auto), that is Kumta. I still find my friends in Kumta sometimes…I just like to walk to the theatre, the market, the temples and the beach.
    It is as peaceful as meditation. I have yet to travel by Konkan rail. I was in the US when my family tried and made me ‘laL gaLify’ by explaining to me the scenic beauty and the Doodh Sagar falls, enroute to Mardol, Goa our temple town.

    My Abu used to have Panak pooja done every summer when we were there at the Vithoba temple and many people from surrounding villages used to come for the lords blessing and a sumptous meal.

    Pansa SaLLa, KeLya BaLka, Bhirinda KaDi, TaikiLya Saru, Ambya HumaNe, Batatya Ukkari, DaLi Toi and yeah the PataL God…and the list goes on…and this is not speaking about the Fish delicacies that my dear Kumte Amma (Hubli Amma was my dads side :)), used to make.

    And as you said…with an all familiar air, I do speak in Konkani to everyone in Kumta, and they all seem to know the language, a true Konkan town. I am proud to be a konkani, my son speaks konkani very fluently( I am stressing this because he literally grew up in the US from when he was 2yrs to 9 yrs old).

    Phew…thanks for taking me into the zone.
    Keep writing..and let me know if you are visiting Bangalore anytime.

    Devu Barey Karo.
    Shesh

    1. Seshagiri:
      Thank you for sharing this little tit-bit into your kumta life. I can relate to all you say, though I have not Doodh Sagar Falls. One of my next big projects is to write a short account of ALL our konkani temples in Goa. I have been to Mardol so many times – and the Narayani devi temple is such a beautiful place to reconnect with our faith.

      As I reply to this, I have just arrived to Mumbai to do more travel and create more Konkani memories ~ thus the short response. And will definitely contact you if I travel to Bangalore.

      Namaskar and Kudos to keeping the Konkani language.
      Best Wishes
      Arun

  8. hi Arun,

    first of all “hats off” to your work.basically, i am also from kumta, now working in bangalore.i think it is the best work done by a person who lives somewhere else far away from kumta but has his soul in kumta.you have done a fantastic work by showing kumta in such a tremendous way. i really loved those pics and also the article.you really brushed up my days which i had spent in kumta.it would be a plesure to see some more pics(places,beaches etc) of kumta.thanks for the work. “Kumta”, it really is the ‘jewel of the konkan’

    neelesh pai
    Elcetronic Automation (p) Ltd
    Bangalore

    1. Hi Neelesh:
      Many thanks for your kind words of support. and you say it well – my soul is verily in Kumta!

      I just posted this article on the Scholarships we give to needy students in Kumta. Please see if you would like to contribute to this good cause.
      https://arunshanbhag.com/2009/12/09/scholarships-2009/

      And good point about the beaches in Kumta! I have some excellent pics and will post soon. … and they are the best beaches!

      Dev barae karo!
      Arun

  9. hi again,
    just remembered next time you visit goa visit zambaulim,near margao. there is a temple of DAMODAR (our kuldevatha),we visit it once or twice a year and stay there for 2 to 3 days.
    its very nice and peaceful there you won’t hear a single sound of vehicles.
    regards,
    gajanan kamath.
    hubli,
    +919902667402

    1. hello gajanan,
      i have been trying to contact you but you seem to have changed your cell phone number. If you read this message please contact me on my cell phone or email me your contact details

  10. hi,
    i have received the cd today will watch it and upload it as soon as possible.
    regards,
    gajanan kamath,
    hubli,
    +919902667402

  11. hi again arun,
    i will try to be there in kumta,for i had been there just last month that is for “vadya poonov”.
    i think you know about vadya poonov,
    they take out vadas out of boiling oil with bare hands.
    i will be getting the cd of the same by day after tomorrow.
    would like to share it with you but don’t know how to upload it.
    please advice.
    regards,
    gajanan kamath,
    hubli.
    +919902667402

    1. The Vada Poonov sounds impressive! have never seen it.
      If you have the video, see if you can upload it to YouTube, then send me the link.

      Appreciate it and hope you have a great time.
      Best Wishes
      Arun

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