Eccentric Goan villages
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Modernizing at a rapid pace, Goa is dominated with malls and multiplexes, Wi-Fi zones and dotted with five star hotels. But one can still experience the real Goa, the way life was lived many decades ago, in the villages in the hinterland.
1. Baradi is a hamlet of Velim village, bordering the Salcete taluka. It has a tiny hillock that one must visit, not only to pray at the miraculous cross that crowns it but also to take in some of the most spectacular views one can have of coastal Goa. To the west, one can see the restless river Sal mating with the raging Arabian Sea. If one hangs around long enough, one gets the chance to spy upon the moods of these two water bodies as the tides turn and the sun moves from east to west. The northern side offers completely different view of fields and palm trees waltzing in the winds. One can pour out one’s heart like water at the old cross crowning a tall pedestal or do a pradakshana (move around with reverence) around it. Suit yourself! Drive on to Velim and head towards Betul. As you exit Tolecanto, make inquires.
2. Kuskem village lies deep in Cotigao wildlife sanctuary, which itself lies on the border of the picturesque Canacona aluka - so the winding drive itself is a treat. Kuskem village is home to the jungle dwellers and if you snoop around, you ill notice young women weaving the mandri (mat) out of palm leaves. Shepherds wearing cammode (the woolen rain coat hich keeps them warm and dry) lead their cattle to green pastures. Green fields thrive in the shadows of the giant Western Ghats, irrigated from a mountain stream that gurgles merrily amidst the pebbles. From Kuskem, a barely motor able bridge leads one to the temple complex of Malikarjun. While the Shiv ling is revered in the sanctum Santorum other stone icons ncluding a Ganapati sculpture is worshipped inside the temple. A couple of wooden statues are also seen. A huge wooden column, intricately carved is also preserved in this temple. It formed part of the old temple and is the only architectural memento to have survived the ravages of time.
3. Verla Village lies about ten kilometres from Netrolim, ensconced deep within the Western Ghats. To reach Verla, one Has to enter the Netravali Sanctuary and therefore enter the forest gates. Thick forests and tiny waterfalls are frequent but if one is sharp, one can see the scratch marks of bears’ claws on jackfruit trees. The village is not only placed far away in Distance but also in time. Most of the cottages are built of mud and have a flooring of packed earth finished with cowdung. Drinking water is provided by the two springs. These water fountains also irrigate some fields. The enterprising villagers have even grown strawberries which fetch them good income. Of late, many locals welcome guests using the concept of home-stay and provide the visitors with stay in their rustic cottages and serve them home made food. Close by there are sacred grooves with many ageless stone icons held in reverence by the locals. In the local temple complex, many stone cons are revered.
4. The very mention of the village Surla conjures up pictures of lush green mountains and fertile valleys. That’s ecause this village in Sattari taluka is nestled on the Western Ghats and has thus earned the nickname of being Goa’s ooftop village located at a cool altitude of about 811 meters above sea level. Being at such a high altitude, the temperature always stays below irritable levels. Though Surla is a paradise all year round to the urban dweller, the monsoon turns her almost magical. The approach to the village itself fills one with thrills, what with seasonal waterfalls draining the ountains at every nook and corner. The breathtaking views of the distant valleys only heighten the pleasure. Distant mountain peaks coyly drape themselves with a veil of mist and low clouds, romanticizing the atmosphere. Just before entering the village one has to cross a rivulet flowing with crystal waters. The rocky-strewn path converts the flow into a whitewater channel. In verandas couples keep themselves warm besides the glowing embers in the three stone hearths… the list goes on. It is almost a surreal world that unravels out there…
5. Dongrim is an island village sprung around a hillock, hence the name. As one enters the village over a bridge, one omes across a junction, marked by a cross. Take both road and one land back at the same spot, as the road circumvents the hillock. The road is bounded on both sides by small country houses, with many wells along the roadside and inside the courtyards. Here the well-water is crystal clear and clean and the villagers still use it for drinking. Women draw water from a well using the dode, a pair of copper pots that are gifted to newlywed bride by her parents. Some wells have no pulley system and the water had to be drawn rather awkwardly. Wherever a gap is visible between houses, khazans and a river, thickly populated with mangroves provide a relief. Large quantities of fish are produced at the sluice gates and fish is taken to the Margao market. Crabs are available round the year and are sold by locals in the village square.
Text and Pics: Pantaleao Fernandes