ARTI DAS | NT BUZZ
Trekking is mainly associated with adventure, fun and exploration. It is the ideal weekend activity that many Goans are now waking up to. And sometimes this activity can also educate you about our ecology and also our history to an extent. This was seen during the trek to Chrola Ghat, organised by Mapusa based Eco Treks Goa.
The trek which commenced from the Goa region of Chorla Ghat culminated at the Government Primary School situated in the Khanapur taluka of Karnataka. During the trek 90-odd trekkers explored the green open spaces and also a small but wonderful waterfall to cool their heels, literally. It was then followed by a scrumptious lunch prepared by the locals, full of local delicacies and flavours, and helped in rejuvenating the trekkers. After this feast it was the time for some food for thought during an interaction with environmentalist, Rajendra Kerkar, from Keri, Sattari who is no less than an expert on this area of the Chorla region.
During the talk he tapped on many issues right from conservation of trees to the act of the neighbouring states exploiting our rivers. His insight on this region made trekkers aware about the natural heritage we inherit.
History of Chorla
Chorla as the name suggests was a hideout for the thieves during the Colonial Rule. “The British had passed the resolution regarding Thug Pendhari Abolition Act. So, many thugs started taking shelter here at Chorla and that could be the reason for its name,” said Rajendra Kerkar.
This theory is then supported by a festival called ‘Chorostav’ which is held in the village of Zharme, Chorla.
Kerkar also informed that Chorla was under the reign of Tipu Sultan for just three days, when he captured the Sada fort in the region. This place also has a fort which was under Shivaji and it had 90 wells. “This figure of 90 wells will give you enough idea of how many people must have been residing here at that time,” said Kerkar. This place also has many temples dedicated to Betal, Sateri. One famous temple is the Rameshwar temple. As this Ghat is strategically located, it was the main gateway to go to Kolhapur and Bijapur during the colonial rule.
According to Kerkar, Chorla is home for around a hundred waterfalls, big cats, wild flowers and trees which are endemic and thus need our protection. Kerkar elaborated about river Haltara and two tributaries of Mhadei River – Kalsa and Bhandura, which are under threat due to the construction of dams in neighbouring state of Karnataka. “Residents of Bardez, Bicholim and Sattari get water from the Haltara river. But, now Karnataka is hell bent to start these three projects and they have already built canals and are ready to get permission from MoEF (Ministry of Environment and Forest)”, said Kerkar.
Chorla and its water bodies are no less than a lifeline of this place. Kerkar further spoke about Kankumbhi a place which was once considered as Cheranpunji of South India. However, owing to the cutting of forests and climate change, the rainfall has substantially decreased in this area.
Speaking about biodiversity of Chorla, he stated that this place is a home for at least eight Royal Bengal Tigers. “Three tigers are found here and around five tigers are found in Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary. To witness these tigers one can visit any plateaus here and you will find bones of bison, which are killed by the big cat. Not only tigers but this place is also rich in other species. Three species of caecilian and recently one frog species were discovered here. Herpetologist and wildlife conservationist Romulus Whitekar, when he came here and found so many reptiles, he stated that this place should be declared as reptilian sanctuary. Chorla is also known for sloth bears”, said Kerkar.
Chorla is a home for Karvi flowers which blossoms once in seven years. Kerkar informed that this year in this month of September, these flowers would be in full bloom. He further spoke about some other trees like Nathapodia which has muddy coloured flowers. “These flowers have a strong smell like that of human excreta and that’s why they are called guwado in local language. But, this tree is in huge demand in Japan as its leaves and roots are being used for chemotherapy. And this tree is now under tremendous pressure,” he said.
On a concluding note, Kerkar further emphasised that the different types of wild animals, trees, shrubs, flowers, water bodies are the heritage of this place and need protection. “As the neighbouring state of Karnataka is suffering from the problem of water shortage especially in places like Hubli and Dharwad and due to the increase in sugarcane plantation, there is a demand for dams and this will create a problem for a small state like Goa,” Kerkar said.