Mumbai Memoir 84- Mumbai to Goa Getaway! Part II- Travel
My annual Goa trip is a study & fun time clubbed together. After informally studying world cinema at the 47th International Film Festival of India (Iffi), Goa, I make it a point to travel and explore Goa and its surrounding area. Besides visiting the beautifully maintained Reis Magos fort at Bardez, I visited a lot of temples and local places that fell on my way to Panjim and Sanquelim. But the highlight of this year’s Goa travel was a unique resort in the forests of Goa named- ‘The Wildernest Nature Resort’.
The Chorla Ghats in Goa is a hilly region studded with dense forest. From my homestay in Sanquelim (Sankhali), the resort is 27 kms away, which takes 45mins by car. On Sunday afternoon, after playing a good game of cricket with few local lads and having fish food lunch thereafter at the Mashelkar’s, I set out to explore the nature resort. Before starting my journey, I realized on the map that Belgaum, which is in Karnataka State, is very near Chorla Ghats. ie. approx. 60 kms. Being a travel fanatic, this fact tempted me to also visit Belgaum after exploring the resort. But before setting out I was clear that visiting Belgaum would be an impromptu decision depending on how much time would be spent at the resort.
At around 3pm I set my journey in a Maruti Wagon- R car. The drive through the winding roads of the hilly region was a very nice feeling. The thick dense forest that surrounded both sides of the road generated a calming feeling within me. Most of my drive I lowered my car window and was feeling the fresh pure forest air in my lungs, as I enjoyed good music on the car’s stereo. On reaching the foothill of the resort, I met the main security guard named Mr. Sawant. He wore a military shirt, a cowboy hat and had a rifle hung on his shoulder. I was surprised to see that we wore similar military shirt, may be just one shade away!! Later on I realized the entire staff at the forest resort moves around in military shirt that acts as a camouflage when in midst of forest animals and insects.
Since I didn’t have a booking, it was a struggle to persuade the officials at the resort. The fact was, I had emailed them prior to my visit to confirm a day’s booking or atleast a Press visit for my journalistic pursuits. But since I didn’t hear from them, I still went and proposed them an impromptu Press visit. After realizing the authenticity of my proposal I was permitted to tour the resort. Thereafter I walked uphill for 7-10 mins where the main reception area of the resort is located.
On the way up, I could feel the nature around me. The chirping of birds, the noise of the insects, the cool breeze and the rustling of leaves literally took me to another planet named ‘Wildernest’! The natural beauty of the forest and hillock, on which the resort is located, has been beautifully curated by the resort’s management. The very first thing one notices while climbing the hilly pathway is a small pond besides which a hammock is hung by the tree. As I reached the reception area of the resort, I was greeted by a woman executive who showed me around the property. The cottages are divided into 3 areas- Valley view, Waterfall view and Forest view, and are named after flowers, and birds.
The 18 cottages, which are nestled 800 meters above sea level, offers a spectacle to the Vazra valley that surrounds the property. The resort has a restaurant and bar named ‘Randhan’ which means, ‘wealth of the forest’. Outside the restaurant the resort’s day itinerary is put up on wooden planks. Daily treks, mehndi art (Henna tattoo), tribal music & dance, lunch & dinner timings are mentioned in the itinerary. For the research-minded and book lovers many books pertaining to the flora & fauna of the surrounding territory are kept for reads.
As I walked further I was mesmerized with the resort’s ‘infinity pool’! Though small in size, the location of the pool is such that one feels the pool water overflows into the valley below! It was a ‘wow’ moment. Certainly the architects of the resort have use lot of thought in constructing the place, particularly in the making of the restaurant & the pool. The eco-tel resort is managed by a team of intellectual directors with their head office located in Belgaum. Here’s a link for more information about the resort: http://www.wildernest-goa.com/
In the middle of the resort there is an open space where dance performance & get-togethers are held. Beyond that area are two semi-open air massage salons. With prior booking guests can unwind on the wooden beds, while they get pampered with the herbal oils smeared on their body by expert hands of the masseurs.
As we returned back, I climbed a ‘machan’ (tree platform to patrol the area) to overlook the entire territory. It was such a delight to know that I was standing at the convergence of 3 States of India. i.e Goa, Maharashtra & Karnataka! Here’s a video on Wildernest Forest Resort https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEGw_VXjNo4
As a gesture of hospitality, I was offered a cup of tea by the executive in their restaurant- ‘Randhan’. Sipping tea, overlooking the valley and the sun-set was one of the best tea-time I had in recent times!
It was 6pm when I bid good bye to the ‘Wildernest Nature Resort and could see a scope to visit Belgaum too. In recent years the city of Belgaum was in political controversy as the Maharashtra politicians & many Belgaum’kars still claim the city to be part of Maharashtra State instead of Karnataka. I wanted to explore the city’s geographic location and also the late evening drive through the winding roads that head to Belgaum. Thanks to the Google Maps App and the GPS system on my phone, which helped me navigate the route to Belgavi (the local name of Belgaum).
Around 8pm I reached the fort area of Belgaum, which has been converted into an Indian military base & training camp. After shopping few popular Belgaum sweets, around 8:30pm I started my return journey to Goa.
As I drove back in the pitch-dark night, I was beaming with joy as it was a Sunday well spent. When one generates positive memories, those memories act as an ‘elixir’ to pull you through the dull days of urban life.
I realized that the best moment of the day was sipping tea at ‘Wildernest Nature Resort’, overlooking the sunset and the waterfalls of the Vazra valley. It was indeed a unique moment dating ‘Mother Nature’ that evening!
Shraddha. C. Sankulkar