Walks

THE SAVLEM PILERNE WALK

This walk takes you down into a valley that is a bird watcher’s paradise and an architect’s delight.

Begin this walk at the top of the tortoise-shaped hill aptly named Green Valley. To approach it, go past Angels Resort on CHOGM Road en route to the beaches of Baga, Calangute and Candolim and then turn left on the little tarmac that goes to the village of Savlem-Pilerne. A large Gross, painted white and bearing an enormous Sacred Heart of Jesus in black granite saying Pilerne introduces you to the multicultural spirit of Goa. Catch up on the local gossip and tiatr news at the Shri Maharudra Amrekarnath Devasthan temple across the open space to your right. This open space, locally called a mand, is not there by accident. Every village in pre-Portuguese Goa had similar areas. Live performances dedicated to the gramdev or village deity were held here. It was also a good place for Village Elders to hold council. Admire the forest that clothes Green Valley and if you are an avid birdwatcher, delight your senses with the call of red-wattled lapwings, brahminy and pariah kites. Magpie robins, Indian robins, red-rumped and wire-tailed swallows provide a worm’s eye view as they whiz past you in flight. Enjoy a spectacular sunset and a view of the village pond in the West from the foot of the tower that houses the water tank that perch Green Valley. If you are taking this walk in the months of March-May, look out for a breathtaking view of Beltophorum inerme trees (native to Sri Lanka, these exotics are also called Braziletto wood or Rusty shield bearers) in flower. The cashew trees flower around February. Prepare yourself for their heady, intoxicating perfume.

As you go down the hill, take a look at the village primary school to your left. Education is imparted in the Marathi language here and if you can read the language, a blackboard will update you on sunrise and sunset timings. Modest-sized houses now surprise you with their run of activity. This is the very essence of Goan rural life seen at close quarters. Gardens called porsos in Konkani, provide shade and almost all the simple bare necessities of life needed in a Goan village. Palm fronts cover roofs and compound fences. Jackfruit, papaya, mango and breadfruit trees put food on platters. The flowers grown in these gardens function as simple hair ornaments and are also used in worship. People in this village of Savlem (literally shade) are friendly and will invite you into their homes if yon as much as give them a smile!

Take your time looking through the narrow alleyways and lanes that connect one village home to another. Little sit-outs called sopas allow residents to take the air and despite what the Euro-centric historians say, this is the genesis of the famous Goan balcao. Look around you if you have a few more minutes and you will see houses in their various stages of construction. Roofs are a mixture of hand made country tiles and the imported Mangalore tiles. Heaps of dung-cakes, India’s most popular source of cooking fuel, bake in the Goan sun against a backdrop of wattle-and-daub walls.

If you happen to be taking this walk on March 30th, the entire village will welcome you to the temple festival. The palkhi (palanquin) begins its procession from door to door in the village at about five in the evening and ends in a moving parade at about eight. This is the time of the day when all the ladies of the village emerge from their homes holding oil lamps cupped in their palms, dressed in their finest silk saris, to go over a circumambulatory path around the temple. This is a chance for a great photo opportunity and an insight into a Goan village that no tourist office can ever give you. If you are thirsty or need to make a phone call, there is Vishvanath General Stores (Fair Price Shop No.72) just around the corner from the temple. You can end your walk here if you like and call it a day but if you would like to do a hit of bird-watching, the village pond must be your next stop.