Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Call of Mhadei

"We wanderers, ever seeking the lonelier way, begin no day where we have ended another day; and no sunrise finds us where sunset has left us."

To experience what it means to be a wanderer, or rather a backpacker, we decided to camp in Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary during the last weekend in January. The trip was planned mainly as an adventure, and wildlife had a secondary preference. The main aim of this trip was to imbibe the practices that are useful in camping amongst us so that it will help us in near future. I was reluctant to join the troup since I wanted to attend some other function in coming days. But the day before, while attending a seminar on biodiversity conservation by WWF-Goa, I was lucky enough to attend Rajendra Bhai's lecture on Mhadei, which changed my plans and I was on with rest members


But the trouble started from the Day 1 itself. Since I reached late on the Bus Stand, others had to miss one bus and to add on that, all the subsequent buses were canceled due the political gathering at sanquelim.. After those four hours of continuous wait and deliberations whether to go or not to go, or to change the destination, we finally boarded the Ponda-Mollem-belgaum bus and got down at Mollem and caught a bus to Valpoi from Mollem.

Getting down at Khadaki, we walked till Bhironda river bank. This was the first base site for our camp. The sun was already waving a farewell to the water of Mhadei and we were fortunate to see and capture this show. We dumped our belongings in one pothole so as to prevent them from dogs. Next move was to take a swim in the adjoining river and we felt fresh after that.

It was perfectly dark now and we lit our surroundings by the three torches that we had with ourselves. We sat and talked about our problems, future, conservation etc. Saish, Aniket and Me recited some poems of our own. I lied on Utkarsh's laps watching the sky lit with millions of stars, finding the arrangement patterns within them.

It was the time for dinner now, and they had Maggi noodles. Since, I did not like maggi, I managed myself on Bread-Jam and Cakes. Preparing the maggi was an ultimate experience and we all enjoyed it.

We sat to plan the next day. Our next destination was to reach Karanzol, a remote village in Sattari and from there walk till “Pishtyachi Kond.” Saish and me knew the route since we had been there before. Sharp at 6:30, a bus leaves to Karanzol from Khadaki and we decided to catch the same. I think we slept than under the open sky counting the stars overhead.

The next morning was not too far, and while waking up I found my sleeping bag was fully wet because of the dew drops that descended upon us. When Saish, me and Utkarsh woke up, we found Rohan and Aniket already busy preparing the tea. Even we joined them and had a nice cup of hot tea with little less sugar, but the sweetness of our spirit added to it was making it worth drinking hundred times.

It was 6:15 when we left Bhironda, and we had no hopes of catching with the bus. Still, an elderly lady on the way told that the bus comes at 7 o'clock. We hurried but atlast we came to know that the bus comes at 6:30 only and we missed it. There were no more buses going to Karanzol that day.

We tried stopping one bus of Zantye Cashew factory which takes the employees to the factory. Th driver agreed to take us but said he can drop us upto Karamali, a village 8 km before Karanzol. We got into the bus and got down at Karamali, from where we walked till Karanzol. There was no need to go to the village since the route to “Pishtyachi Kond” starts well before the Karanzol village but sometimes I cant resist my nostalgic attacks. Over my past visits to this village, I have developed a sense of affection towards this village. Saish preferred resting under a Jackfruit tree while I headed others to show around the village. I met Govind Kerkar, a resident of Karanzol and forest guard at Bhironda Soil Conservation Dept. who had accompanied us to Pishtyachi Kond last time.

We came back to Saish and after resting for sometime, started our journey towards Pishtyachi Kond. Since the time we woke up, we were walking and walking and just walking. We stopped by the way and hid our luggage ambush so as to reduce the burden to carry. After reaching deeper into the forest, we could hear the sound of water flowing adjacent by us. We badly needed water for drinking. We decided to stop here itself for lunch. Than came the three hours of splashing water sports that we all played and were back fresh for the lunch. The recipe did not change from last night and it was same, cake for me and noodles for others. Since it was late now, we canceled the plan to walk till Pishtyachi Kond since we would be reaching the village by night. We marched back calling it off for yet another memorable trip and a promise to visit again to Pishtyachi Kond next time.

At night, we slept at a temple in Karanzol after having our food in a local restaurant. Approximately, we walked about 45 odd kms that day and had no plans to continue the camp on the third day. We boarded the bus that leaves from Karanzol early morning and then were back to Ponda.

This trip to Mhadei was refreshing, but also thought provoking. The proposed dam project will surely be harmful to this place and not only Sattari, whole Goa will lose its elegance and glory. The water of Mhadei is calling out to its each son out there amongst us to protect her veil from being submerged under political wishes of neighboring states.