We lived in Goa for over a decade and a half but explored probably less than half the state in that time. The truth is, that when one when goes anywhere as a tourist one takes the time and effort to see and do as much as one can. When one lives and works in any place, even a popular tourist destination, the last thing one gets to do there is be a tourist.
So a visit to the Salaulim Dam in Goa was something we kept talking about but never managed to get around to. Finally, a couple of months back, a free day in the midst of a work related trip gave us the opportunity to finally visit. Salaulim Dam is about 60km from Panaji via Curchorem and about 26km from Margao.
We were quite lucky that we were in Goa at the end of the monsoon season which is the best time to visit the dam. At this time, the Salaulim River ( a tributary of the larger Zuari River) over which it is built would be in full flow.
Most dams are pretty much like one another and what really distinguishes them from each other is the overall picture created by the magnitude of the dam, the amount of water that goes through it, the reservoir, the beauty of the surrounding landscape and scenery. While these hold true for Salaulim Dam as well, what we really wanted to see was the comparatively unusual design of this dam.
Salaulim Dam is built with a Duckbill Spillway with no gates. The water from the reservoir overflows into a semi-circular opening and falls down through a total height of about 140ft or so into the river below. The force with which the water falls from the reservoir into the area below is such that it sets forth a fine spray of water which almost looks like steam rising up when viewed from the bridge on the dam.
It might be stretching one’s imagination quite a bit, but the over cast skies, very few visitors at the dam, the sound of the water falling through the spillway and the fine mist put together brought to mind the thought of a witch’s cauldron merrily bubbling away.
There is a wide bridge right across the dam, with the reservoir on one side and the water falling down to the river on the other side. The Dam is open to visitors from 9am to 6pm all days of the week. Entry to the bridge is ticketed and while private vehicles are not allowed on the dam, but one can walk right across and about halfway on it to see the spillway at really close quarters. Apart from water for irrigation, Salaulim Dam also provides drinking water to South Goa.
Since the rainy season is the best time to be there, and it is a bit of a drive from the more popular tourist spots in Goa, there are hardly ever any crowds there. There are two entrances to the Dam. The first one at the bottom of the Dam is the entry through the extensive and beautifully laid out Botanical Gardens and one can walk up to see the Dam, and it is a bit of a stiff walk. We chose to take the entrance from above which is right next to the top of the Dam and decided to skip the gardens below because of impending rain.
As we were leaving, a few kilometeres from the Dam, we saw a sign pointing towards an ancient temple. When we got down to take a look, we discovered it was a Mahadeva (Shiva) temple from the 10th or 11th century when the Kadamba dynsty ruled in Goa. This temple was originally located at Kurdi, one of the 20 villages which got submerged when the Salaulim Dam was built.
This particular temple was dismantled piece by piece, each individually numbered and marked, then relocated a little away from the Dam and rebuilt. All that exists of this temple is a stone structure with an inner empty sanctum and an eroded statue of Nandi the bull looking in. Apparently the Sivalinga (idol) was moved to the Someswara Temple at Kurdi-Angod.