- December 16, 2020
- Posted by: Planet Goa Team
- Category: Life In Goa, Wellness and Spa
IT was very sunny that day and Xanti was leaving in a week’s time. I wanted to show her a side of Goa that has not been much talked about by the guides and websites. Arambol’s sweet water lake was the first place that popped into my head. But was it secret enough? We decided to go there. Comparatively less crowded, swimming there is refreshing on a hot sunny day. We planned to explore further. At about 11, we were ready. Headed to Mapusa to grab a bite and refill the tanks. In no time, we were on the serene roads leading to Siolim towards Arambol. It was a quiet day. Not much was happening on the otherwise busy Siolim road. The bridge had just been repaired and life was just quite normal again. Riding past all the decorations made for Ganesh Chaturthi in everybody’s houses and front yards, the weather just got better. The ride to Arambol was now green and lush. I could see Xanti’s ecstatic face. She says India and Mexico are similar in many ways. Also, being from the beach town of Playa del Carmen, the similarity was to a great extent. I was enjoying the perspective she held about India and how she wasn’t overwhelmed with any kind of unusual behavior and also the fact that she was ready to explore any side that would show an “unseen” side of Goa. We parked our bikes in the narrow lanes of Arambol and the monsoon sky greeted us with stirring colors. As we walked past the ocean and started climbing the hill, we witnessed the ever increasing commercialization. We kept wondering what a wonderful view they would have, nevertheless. The sunsets, the perfect sunrise sky and all sights pretty, at your disposal, just from the room, on top of that hillock. By now, Xanti was jumping with joy. In her excitement she mentioned a “mud place” that her neighbors recommended but I was not aware of such a place so I took no notice and hence, we reached the sweet water lake. It was spread over quite a large area. And it was clean!
Xanti changed in the blink of an eye and was already doing her acrobatics underneath. While I sat there contemplating on whether to go or not, Rama came by. He was a local and like all other locals, he was very friendly and informative. He came closer to us and before I could ask him anything, he told us about the “mud place” in the forest of the hill behind. We quickly gathered our things and started walking into the forest. It was apparently a 10 minute walk but we took almost 45 minutes because every leaf, every turn, every natural formation appealed to us. We met a family with their two kids collecting ants and berries. Xanti hung to almost any branch that she could grip and happily acclaimed “I’m the queen of the forest”. The water of the stream was highly audible now. A big clearing in the forest and we saw Rama. Two other foreigners were also there all covered in mud. It was yellow, earthy mud. This place was perfectly located. Between the quite crowded sweet water lake and the not at all crowded “mud bath”, the walk is mesmerizing and as you start thinking where it is, it appears almost magically. I did not bother thinking twice before jumping into the fluent flow of water. Rama was breaking the rocks of Fuller’s Earth (multani mitti) and mixing with the water and was helping us apply it all over. Soon our hands, legs, arms and also face was covered with mud. As we waited for it to dry, both of us went walking into the smallest portion of the forest, which I believe was nothing less than paradise. An hour later, the mud on our bodies was dry. It was time to wash it off and both of us went and sat in the natural “private” pool and relaxed ourselves. This place is known as Wagh Kolum, colloquially. Many centuries ago, when animals and humans lived in harmony, lions used to often visit this area to drink water and laze around. As commercialization struck, the peace was disrupted but it became more accessible to the humans including the weak hearted.
Rama informed that all of these are volcanic rocks and over the years are naturally transforming into Fuller’s Earth. As we changed and started walking further into the forest the trees became prettier and the textures of the barks felt like we were in Pandora. Everything was so alien to us. We saw a poisonous chameleon chase a slow bug into the thickets of the bushes. As we jumped over the big rocks, we saw a big stone bowl which says, “Give if you can – Take if you have to”. It was amazing to see such art in the middle of nowhere. Rama later told us that it was called as Money Stone and was created by an American Conceptual and land artist Jacek Tylicki and that it has become a pilgrimage destination for wanderers over the years. We crossed over the beds of the stream and jumped over branches and reached the Big Banyan Tree. It was evitable that somebody had been living there. Pots and pans, plates, mats, an idol of Lord Shiva, few papers with something written in Russian completed with bells and a ready-to-burn fireplace in the middle. Tempting us to pitch our tents there. We trekked further and 200 meters ahead we were on top of the hill from where we could see a bit of the sea and the adjoining hill. The monsoon rains has nurtured the wild grass and it was very thick, blocking our view. That did not lessen even a tiny bit of elation of discovering this natural spa followed by the most relaxing trek and the most divine Big Banyan Tree. Xanti’s mission was complete to find a “secret” place and I was glad that I was the one she discovered it with.