Monday, February 2, 2009

Cycling through swamps in south Goa

The flatter surface in the west of Goa breaks into hills and then into mountains towards the East. On the western stretch is Sun, Sand, Surf, Fun and Feni and on eastern stretch is Slopes, Climbs, Forests and of course Sun, Fun and Feni.

Much of my cycling is done in the Mountains surrounding my town Ponda. Recently I started venturing towards the south west where the topography is flatter.

For most parts the roads connecting Ponda to Panaji, Margao, Curtorim, Verna and Vasco pass through Khazan land – in short, Khazan land is a swamp land created by flooding waters from the estuaries, Zuari in the south and Mandovi in the north. The water on these lands periodically rise and ebb with the tides.

The locals make a very good use of this rising and ebbing. They have constructed bunds cris - crossing the Khazans. The sluice gates installed at certain points control the flooding of the area. Local people catch prawns, crabs and other sea food here and also grow paddy.

This month I did a number of ride circuits, Ponda – Verna – Ponda and Ponda - Curtorim – Ponda in South Goa, averaging to 40Kms per ride. Flatter landscape means less climbs and hence longer distances covered with ease.

On Ponda - Verna - Ponda circuit I did a couple of rides on the bunds near Lotoulim village. It’s a unique experience to ride on the narrow bunds cutting through the swamps. At high tides the water rises almost to the bund height. On the northern edge of the swamps the bund runs parallel to Zuari River and is lined with Mangroves. One can constantly hear the popping of Mangrove pods. On the ride I spotted a nest of Black kite high up on the massive electric tower erected in the middle of the swamp. I also managed to startle a Couple of Purple Herons, Lone Grey Heron, Small Blue Kingfisher, White Breasted Kingfisher, and Common Sand piper who least expected me while patiently waiting to catch tiny creatures swarming in the shallow waters.

There are less of swamps on Ponda – Curtorim – Ponda route. The road passes through open country side dotted with ponds and lakes. Numbers of white washed chapels sit in the midst of paddy fields. The tiny water canals from Zuari River feed water to these lakes and ponds. Many migratory and resident birds can be seen feeding on the Curtorim Lake.

After exhausting but thrilling mountain rides, these rides proved delightful. There are similar rides awaiting in North goa.


Anonymous said...

i am a fellow biker. recently did a trip from new delhi to kathmandu. i would love to cycle in goa. till then will be happy to read your posts :).

Myndscape said...

Hi Kaa!
It must have been a great trip to Kathmandu! You are welcome to go biking in Goa!!!!!!! looking forward......

Anonymous said...

My girlfriend and I are staying at Cavelossim in February and intend to do some birding by bike once we've thrashed the local area!

Curtorim lake looks good - do you think it's within cycling range from Cavelossim or would we be better on scooters or car?

Lotoulim bunds look excellent habitat too. Are they easily accessible?

Myndscape said...

From Cavelossim to Curtorim lake should be approximately 25 Kms one way, the Lotoilim bunds are same distance from Cavlossim.

En route (from Cavelossim...) there are many marshes and Ponds, so it will be a good Biking + Birding ride......

Anonymous said...

I'll let you know how we get on.