Sanjeev V Sardesai
It is time for the scorching summer heat to roll in. People of Goa face the onslaught of summer and beat the heat with innovative ways!
We start our journey from the village of Bogmalo. Immediately after you go ahead from the Naval Aviation Museum, about 100 metres on a descent, you come across a well-maintained old ecclesiastical structure to your right – the Church dedicated to St Cosme and St Damiao. Initially, there was another chapel existed, since March 1784, then under the Parish of Chicalim. This Bogmalo edifice built in 1890 was raised to a full parish in 1956.
As you proceed down, the roads are flanked by a stream of coconut groves. The famous Bogmalo Beach lies about 100 metres down the road. This beach is a stretch of about 200 metres and has a wide carpet of sand in the form of a cove. At both its ends, this beach stretch has tall hillocks, bracketing it in between. Bogmalo is the preferred picnic spot for many families and you can feast on a variety of culinary delights offered by the food outlets spread along the entire stretch.
The beaches earlier were not as developed as they are today. Bordered with tall coconut trees, the entire coastline was the hub of fishing activity and the along the shores had small, tiled houses, used by the fishing community. There was a concept ‘mudança’ or ‘proceeding for a holiday destination for a change of climate’. It was a temporary shift of residence with the entire family to another airy location for a short period. Goan families would hire these local houses along the beach, for those few days. It was much looked forward to period especially for those coming for their summer holiday break from erstwhile Bombay.
This mudanca had a good healthy reason – it was, and still is, an age old tradition for the elderly people, especially those with arthritis and joint problems, to go for their ‘annual salt water bath’ in the sea. Whether the effects of this traditional treatment was effective or it was a psychological placebo effect, did not matter; the happiness quotient in the entire family, was heightened.
Another important factor was a healthy social interaction amongst the visiting families and the local villagers; and due to the repeated annual visits, these families were considered as part of the village and their social activities.
These ‘mudancas’ saw the elderly at peace with their annual schedule, the youth refreshed in the traditional village tavernas, sipping the fresh ‘urrack’ – the first distillation of the fermented cashew fruit juice.
After having enjoyed this destination, let us proceed to another beach destination close-by – Hollant Beach. When you climb the slope of Bogmalo Village, and go past the Naval Aviation Museum, about 150 metres ahead, on the descent, you meet a ‘Y’ intersection in the road, going down to the right. Proceed along this route to the well hidden fishing hamlet of Hollant.
On holidays, we can see a huge crowd of picnickers at this so-near-yet-unknown beach. There is a shack where you can avail of the basic refreshments. The entire beach stretch of about 100 metres is dotted with the traditional fishing boats or ‘ramponns’.
Though many visitors traverse this route to visit Hollant, almost all are totally unaware of a heritage treasure that lies along the way. As you proceed to the beach and on the road of Hollant village, you come across a Y intersection, where the left route takes you to the beach, while the right goes to a holiday resort. Just near this intersection to the right, you can see a traditional Goan house. Just behind this house is a very unique cave. It is not carved out into a rock or in a hill side, but this ancient cave, has an approximately 2 feet, circular opening and is carved out from the ground below. If you request the owners of this house they will let you see the cave. Presently it is covered with a circular laterite stone to protect it from the forces of nature.
Now let us proceed to another jewel in the crown of Goa turning back to the main Airport-Verna highway and proceed to the right, towards Verna. After we cross the ZIOL Petrol Tank Storage Station we come across a break in the highway median; take a turn right here and then the immediate left. We are now enroute to the South Goa coastline.
This lengthy coastline starting from a point after the Hollant hillock, at Velsao Village right up to Mobor and Betul is the second longest unbroken beach stretch in India, after Kovalam. The beaches in this stretch are Velsao, Cansaulim, Arrosim, Utorda, Majorda, Betalbatim, Colva, Sernabatim, Benaulim, Vaddi, Varca, Fatrade, Carmona-Zalor, Cavellossim and Mobor Beach, with Betul Beach across the River Sal.
The Goan Coastline is a 105 kilometres stretch from North to South. One can observe as you move from north to south, the sand on the Goan coastline changes from coarse and golden towards the north, to become powdery and white as we reach Colva.