Walking from extreme to extreme

On the way to Aldona

Empty, Aldona

Ya the walk got over and it was one of those experience you can remember for a long long time. Seeing Goa on feet, a distance of 38 km, in a span of three days, an experience well absorbed due to its slower speed. We, the four walkers, Uzma, Tashi, Purna and me, Tanima could see the change in topography, vegetation, people’s occupation, their way of life, churches gave away to temples and we witnessed the extremities of Goa at both its extremes, tourism and iron ore mining. And life has morphed between these extremes.
The three important places which our walking root took us were Aldona, Bicholim and Sanquelim of which Aldona and Bicholim were our halt for the night. Aldona is a beautiful place with its Portuguese houses, some deserted and mostly inhabited by the fading generation, whose children has left for better life elsewhere. We reached there during the siesta time of our first day, 12th march, other than some scanty buses on the roads, the place was pretty much empty. We unfortunately couldn’t get a chance to meet Cecil Pinto, Rahul Srivastava here as they were out of town. Hope to catch up with them soon.

Covered by Red,
On the way to Bicholim

Next day, on 13th we walked towards the red zone, Bicholim, which is the mining heartland of Goa. Here environmentalist Mr. Ramesh Gauns, with his good nature and never say die spirit, enlightened us about the ill affect illegal mining is serving to the people staying in and around this mining zone and is posing a great threat to the future of Goa.

On 14th , it was Sanquelim which was a port town where steamers from Panjim used to come till late sixties. It has various temples and also includes the Arvalem waterfall and Arvalem caves, located near the famous temple of Rudreshwar, here Hindus goes for pind dan. Here I got the privilege to meet Shri Shivanand P. Bhat Khedekar, a mural artist, who did his B.F.A. from Bombay College back in 1977 and now is the chief priest in Rudreshwar temple. He talked about the water recourse of Goa and how mining is badly affecting it. He is taking the hint to find many other water bodies using mythology and science. He has made up his mission to save Arvalem and nearby water bodies against mining.
Water bodies and agriculture kept me interested throughout the travel. The three tributaries we found in Assonora, Bicholim and Sanquelim travels further to meet Mandovi river. From Assonora the mining starts. These tributaries have reduced considerably in size which otherwise used to be passage for the steamers. People staying, on our way to Bicholim has stopped using underground well water which has been polluted by mining and chiefly depends on supply water. Very little agriculture could be seen on the way as people in one extreme believe in building hotels than planting crops. In the other extreme the water has gone bad due to mining and the farmers have left the farms for works in mining industry. And in between little cultivation of chilies and beans could be seen. This is also considerable getting reduced due to heavy price of manual labor.
The walk has been fun for people on our way were really amused, and sometime concerned about our idea of walking. I thank all individuals who wanted to give us a ride on the way. Can’t be more great full to Santosh Mahadev Rawl & family, Ramapati & Arya Pitre, Shivanand Khedakar and family for all the good food. I also thank all the people who provided water and got into small chitchats in whatever way possible for language became a big barrier. Maximum directions we got were of nearest bus stop. People were great all in all. And yes transport has definitely improved in all areas as people have forgot the idea of walking to a nearby place, this includes me too, just that I was conditioned to walk so I kept on marching happily and amazed that I could really travel that 38 km. Thank God. 🙂

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