Salaulim Dam, Goa

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.

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Salaulim Dam with it’s unusual semi-circular Duckbill Spillway.

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.

The road along the top of the Dam.

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.

A closer look at the Duckbill Spillway.

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.

The spray  created by the force with water rushes down through the spillway.

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.

The water from the dam, much calmer now, flowing down the river.Along the side is the beautifully laid out Botanical Garden.

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.

A view of the reservoir. If you stay long enough you’ll spot quite a few birds skimming the surface of the water or swimming about and diving for fish.
A view of the lower part of the Dam from the top.

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.

Scales for measuring water height at the reservoir.
Look out for official and scientific work.

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.

The 10th-11th century old Mahadeva temple that was relocated from Kurdi village which was submerged when the Dam was built.
Though a bit dark inside, one can still see the marks and numbers on each stone when the temple was dismantled.

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.

The entrance to the Mahadeva temple where the Nandi bull keeps watch.

Benaulim Beach, Goa

Goa is known as a beach destination for good reason, as the Konkan coastal part of the state is dotted with over 50 of them! While some of them are extremely popular with visiting tourists a larger number of the beaches are relatively uncrowded and free of commercial ventures because the tourists haven’t really discovered them. Many of the beaches are a part of fishing villages.

Benaulim Beach in the southern part of Goa (pronounced Benauli by the locals), not far from Colva Beach, is on the tourist map but perhaps not as crowded as some of the others. It’s a long and wide beach with a couple of resorts right on the beach and a few shacks known for the food they serve. You can also find the usual typical sort of beach tourism activities like boat rides, dolphin spotting rides, parasailing, etc.

A scene typical of less crowded Goan beaches, people and dogs taking it easy.

If you’d rather enjoy a more relaxed visit, Benaulin Beach is a great place for a leisurely stroll either in the morning or the evening. Let the sands You can always find a lounging chair enjoy the breeze and drink in the spectacular sunsets.You can also watch fishermen at work whether fishing, or working on their nets depending on which part of the day you’re there.

Benaulim also has a historical significance in the Puranas legend tells that Parashurama shot an arrow from the Sahyadri mountains and it landed at Benaulim. Benaulim is supposedly a corruption by the Portuguese of the original name of the village which was Banavalli/ Banahalli (“bana” meaning arrow and “halli” meaning place).

Another typical sight on many of Goa’s beaches, especially close to resorts or shacks – a line lounging chairs with coconut palm umbrellas for cover from the sun.
Lifeguards in on Benaulim Beach, next to the red flag that warns tourists against swimming or even venturing into the water as it’s unsafe.
A view that’s typical of many of the larger Goan beaches – local fishing boats and nets pulled up on the sand after the morning fishing expeditions against a backdrop of tourists.
A trip to the beach is not complete without a walk along the shoreline and letting the water wet one’s feet at least!
One of the less spectacular sunsets at Benaulim Beach, but beautiful never the less as the setting sun burnishes the water and the sand with gold.
Little birds, sandpipers I think, at sunset looking for tidbits in the sand.
A cat we found taking a nap on a log just off the beach. It was suspicious but seemed happy enough to pose for my camera……
One great way to spend the afternoon at the beach – find a nice chair in a shady spot and then take a nap before lunch!
There are no sharks at Benaulim beach that I’m aware of, at least not of the fishy sort, but one often finds pictures like this painted on either on sign boards, hoardings, surf board, etc on many of the beaches.

Amboli (Maharashtra) : Of Mountains & Waterfalls

Amboli, a small village and hill station (690m above sea level) in the Sahyadri Ranges in Maharashtra is probably a lot like other places in the Western Ghats. However, come monsoon and it takes on a beauty that’s next to none with lush emerald green mountain ranges and a multitude of pristine waterfalls dotting the landscape.

I had heard much of Amboli from a couple of friends and through we couldn’t make it there during the monsoons; we visited just after in late September last year. Our daughter was home on a short break from college as was my sister on a little holiday. We decided on Amboli to spend a day out and we decided on Amboli as it meant just a little over a couple of hours by road from Panaji in Goa where we lived then. The four of us and the resident pooch piled into the car early in the morning just before the sun came up and drove through Sawantwadi, which is where the climb up the Ghat road to Amboli begins.

The British apparently declared Amboli a hill station sometime in 1880 but four months of heavy rainfall during the monsoons makes it perhaps the wettest place in Maharashtra. Heavy forest cover and wild animals including tigers during the time of the British Raj in India meant that Amboli got side lined as a destination for them and later on, tourists.

That has certainly changed now, we found the road up to Amboli quite busy with cars and buses full of noisy holiday makers who unfortunately take away from the experience. I would suggest that Amboli is best avoided during the weekends in season. There are quite a few places in and around Amboli to visit whether waterfalls, fort ruins or temples. We just visited a few as a given the limited time we had we preferred to see a few places as well as we could.

Motitaal Sawantwadi

A view of the Moti Talaav/ Talao (meaning Lake of Pearls!) in Sawantwadi. It was artificially created by Wentop, a Britsh officer sometime in about 1870s.

Moti taal Sawantwadi

Another view of the Moti Talaav/ Talao, Sawantwadi.

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A view of a part of the road, somewhere near Parpoli Ghat, winding up the hills towards Amboli.

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The Dhab-Dhabba Waterfalls on the way up to Amboli. Magnificent in the monsoons, the waterfalls had already dwindled down a month after the rains. One can climb up to half way these waterfalls by a flight of steps on the side of the waterfalls.


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A closer view of the same waterfalls.

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The steps along the side of the Dhab-Dhabba waterfalls by which one can climb up a little higher up.

Coal Roasted Corn Cobs a

Fresh corn in very much in season and sold roasted on the cob over a wood fire. This is one of the pluses on this trip. There are a whole row of food stalls diagonally opposite the waterfalls selling a variety of food. The must tries are the corn of course, Sabudhana Wadas (crunchy fritters), Mirchi Pakodas/ Bhajjiya (green Bhavanagiri chillies that are batter fried and crisp) and steaming hot cups of tea.

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The wood fire for roasting the corn, just getting started.

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Monkeys, and there are many one can find near the falls. Though wild, many of them have lost their fear of people and can be quite dangerous. These two seem to be in the middle of a serious conversation…..

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And one more…..

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These unusual tea bush like wild shrubs are a particular feature in Amboli. In season they bloom with violet/ lilac coloured flowers on a yellow flower carpet for miles around, and is a sight to see.

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This side of the road had only a yellow flower carpeted expanse – on the way to Kavalshet Point.

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Part of the lookout at Kavalshet Point. The view of the mountain ranges, their sheer height, depth and numerous waterfalls is unsurpassed from here.

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A part of the lookout at Kavalshet Point. to the right (in this photograph) of this walkway is a part of a stream with a lot shallow wading pools and to the left side is a sheer drop which you can see in some of the photographs that follow.

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The portion of the walkway in the photograph above is beyond the upper right side of this photograph. One can see how sheer the drop is….

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A part of the view from Kavalshet Point.

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And the mountains and valleys beyond…..

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A temporary shelter…….

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Wild flowers at the edge of the cliffs.

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And one last view from Amboli before we returned home.