Goa’s often known just for the beaches has tracts of equally wonderful forest lands which are unknown to most. Kartik Kannan, explores one such tract, the extremes of Harmal Village, where he got a free facepack, and an unexpected encounter with a greedy ‘baba’ who requested a laptop as Dakshina. Read on to know what happened next.
7 am, is a time most people don’t see in Goa, and I was one of the few who got up early for a swim by one of the lakes overlooking the sea, next to our beach shack. As I wandered for a swim, I realized that the little lake meanders its way into the forest, alongside a trail that the locals use.
It was wonderful observing the foliage unravel itself from deep green to the golden color that the sun’s rays change it to.It’s an interesting forest trek that begins by the eastern end of the lake.
The path diverges beyond a point. Just like, all roads lead to Rome, both these paths lead to the Big Banyan tree, that gets your attention at one point, a few minutes into the trek.
The path has a few messages for you, if you are ‘beer-bottle’ and ‘plastics’ in hand and if you intend to dump it somewhere in the forest.
5 minutes into the trek, you are greeted by a small portion of the lake, that flows by the ‘Multani Mitti’ rock deposits. Multani mitti, better known as the Fuller’s earth is a clay substance that is hugely popular for its healing property against acne and blemishes. It is very rich in magnesium chloride which helps to reduce acne. Originally used as an absorbent in the wool industry this ingredient is now greatly used in many skin care products. You can use it as a cleanser, toner and most importantly as multani mitti facial packs, which are very popular. It’s very pocket friendly and has no side effects either. Go natural this time to have a glowing skin. It is sweat resistant and can also be used to improve your hair condition.
The locals use this place for bathing, before some of the tourists come over later in the day. The feeling of wetting your legs, and relaxing in the waters early in the morning, makes you refreshed with a beautiful setting, which selectively allows the sun, thereby keeping the environment pleasant. I also tried the wet clay of the Multani mitti, and turned into a yellowish-Green monster that camouflaged with the surroundings. I waited for the paste to dry on my body and then went over for a dunk in the lake, to wash myself off the clay. I believed I was glowing, but I guess that must have just been the light of enlightenment, that comes from patting myself for wandering upon such a beautiful place.
Further trekking, along the path, leads you to the Big Banyan tree, where you turn right and walk straight up to reach this little cove of serenity, where people come to meditate and observe peace. The place has a few regulars who just sit by the tree, and engage in conversations. They live life by depending on the forest for food and water, and have a community of travelers who fund their daily living. Finding this little calm paradise was one of the highlights of a morning trek that was abandoned after paradise was found.
I found a man in a loin cloth, who was smoking cannabis, to concentrate more on his prayers to Lord Shiva, and he was questioning me on my profession. Since I was clicking pictures, he said I should pay Guru Dakshina. I contributed a 100 rupee note, but the smoking yogi, would want more. He asked me for a minimum of 500 Rs or a mini laptop to communicate with his followers. I had to say NO to both, but I did say that I found his company interesting, and told him that I needed to leave. But for the Baba, I found this to be a beautiful place, un ruffled by the commercial demands of tourists and well hid from the traveler circuit.
Getting to Baba-land and Multani Mitti- Take your bike and park it at Arambol Beach’s parking centre near 21 Coconuts Inn. Ask for Baba in the mountains, the locals will point you on the path beside the lake, that takes you by the Multani Mitti point right to the Banyan tree. Let me know how much peace costs there, if the baba is still around J.