When we reached the Mollem forest office in Goa, we were offered two stay options. One was at the rest house next to the office, and the other in a tent smack in the middle of the forest.
Without batting an eyelid, we chose the more romantic option. But it came with a caveat. We would have to fend for ourselves without a cook, as he was away on census duty. This meant that for breakfast, lunch and dinner, we would have to walk a mile to the nearest restaurant in Collem village.
The path to the village passed through a river; and since there was no bridge on the river, we had to wade through knee-deep water every time. Regardless of these minor difficulties, we moved into the tent.
Right outside the tent was a forest clearing, a meeting place of kinds for birds. We counted 23 different species taking turns to perch on the trees. That’s about when we discovered that birds follow a hierarchy — different species perch at different heights on the tree. The basic principle being, the bigger you are, the higher you perch!
The evening was spent at the rivulet that passed through our campsite. The water was shallow enough for us to sit on the riverbed and allow the water to give us a gentle hydromassage.
Out of nowhere the crystal clear water suddenly became muddy, and dried leaves and twigs flowed past me. Looking upstream, I saw a horde of monkeys swinging on the overhanging branches, and plunging into the rivulet. Accepting their first right to the river, I retreated to my abode. The ride to the famous Dudhsagar waterfalls took us through pristine evergreen forests. The jeep crossed the river thrice and stopped at a point from where we’d have to trek. We started walking along the riverbed, which was lined with gigantic rocks.
The sight of the largest waterfall in Goa inspired mixed reactions. It was a breathtaking free fall of a thousand feet straight into an evergreen valley. But this magical fall was cruelly sliced into two by a railway line built by the British in a moment of madness.
On our way back, we stopped to visit the infamous Devil’s Canyon. Here, the water from Dudhsagar river flows through a canyon carved out of rocks. The water in the canyon is still, almost like a sheet of glass reflecting the blue sky above.
Gangadharan is a wildlife writer and photographer. He is the president of Junglelens, an NGO working for nature and wildlife conservation
How to get there
By road: Take any bus that goes from Panaji to Karnataka and alight at Mollem check post, just 60km away.
By rail: Alight at Margao. Take the bus to Ponda and then to Mollem, a total distance of 50km.
Where to stay: Aranyak Camp at Collem. For bookings, call Forest Range Officer on 0832-2612211.