Salaulim Dam – Duckbill Spillway & Botanical Gardens


Come monsoons and water bodies of Goa manifest in a different avatar. Beaches become not so inviting rather unlike the rest of the year. Water flowing down from the Western Ghats takes the shape of various seasonal waterfalls. Dams overflow and create a mesmerizing scene as they fall from great heights to fill the rivers all around. In short, Goa transforms itself to show its other side, its hinterland in monsoons. Even though Goa remains green throughout the year, during monsoons the shades of green can leave you counting the shades. One such monsoon place to see in Goa is Salaulim Dam.

Salaulim Dam & Botanical Garden

Duckbill Spillway at Salaulim Dam, Goa

Duckbill Spillway design to naturally release overflowing water at Salaulim Dam
Duckbill Spillway is designed to naturally release overflowing water

Mid-way through the monsoon season i.e. roughly towards the end of July, Salaulim Dam which lies at the Southern edge of Goa near Netravali wildlife sanctuary starts overflowing. And overflowing waterfalls steep down into the Salaulim River. At this point in time, it deserves to be the top attraction in Goa. An Earthen dam with a semi-circular groove lets directs the excess water through this groove and what a sight it is to see.

The dam is a kilometer or so long and you can take a leisurely walk on it. In the middle is this semi-circular outlet that falls at a height of some 50 ft or so at

Duckbill Spillway Design

In the middle is this semi-circular outlet that falls at a height of some 50 ft or so at the first level and then another 100 feet or so into the river below. The waterfalls with so much force that it goes up in the air like smoke and falls back on the dam like rain. From a distance, it looks like mist or maybe steam rising from the basin of the dam. With not many people around and greenery all around, this is a sight to be savored.

Backwaters scene of Salaulim dam during monsoons
Backwaters scene during monsoons
Little Cormorants take-off
Little Cormorants take-off

Walking on the Salaulim Dam

When you walk on the dam, on one side is the catchment area of the dam, full of water and a part of the forest submerged in it. You see the half-sunk trees reflecting in the water as the hills at the back look from a distance. Clouds play with the light. At certain times the grey clouds can give a silver glint to the water making it shine as sunlight sneaks in from behind the clouds. Birds like cormorants and pied kingfishers look for their food and enjoy taking a dive in the water.

Botanical garden a part of the campus of Salaulim dam
The botanical garden is a part of the campus
Rock garden
Rock garden

On the other side are manicured botanical gardens with sprawling lawns. A rock garden built around some boulders looks beautiful from the top. So does the river flow after receiving water from the dam and taking it to the main river Zuari before that merges with the Arabian Sea? There is another canal that gets water from this dam and can be both seen and heard.

Water overflow through the duckbill-spillway design
Water overflow through the duckbill-spillway design

Salaulim Dam details

Technically, it is a unique earthen dam at a height of 140 ft. The spillway is called Ungated Central Masonry Duckbill Spillway. A unique feature of this dam is that there are no gates here, which means there is no manual control of the flow of water. When the reservoir is full, the water overflows through the spillway into a gorge leading to the river. I actually went around looking for gates and any manual control on the water before realizing there is nothing like that here.

The canal on the left side leads to a network of canals, which are meant to provide water for irrigation. Drinking water for the whole of south Goa comes from this dam.

Excess water flowing into a canal flowing downstream into the river
Excess water flowing into a canal flowing downstream into the river
The unique duck-bill spillway for excess water at the dam
The unique duck-bill spillway for excess water at the dam

Botanical Gardens & Rock Garden

Botanical gardens around the dam are planned on the lines of Vrindavan Gardens with musical fountains and other entertainment activities. The vision is halfway through with lawns done, some gardens done, some gazebos to sit out and admire the surroundings done, a small stream with ducks and bridges done, and a cacti garden done but activities are yet to kick in.

There is even a small Goan home created to showcase Goan life. Nonetheless, it is a pleasure to walk on the palm-lined well-laid roads with perfectly maintained lawns all around.

Secret Monsoon Wonder of Goa – Kuskem Waterfalls

Pre-historic Rock Art, Pansoimol, Goa

The misty scene at the dam site
The misty scene at the dam site

According to Wikipedia, two ancient temples dating back to the Kadamba period were relocated from here during the construction of the project to save them from submerging. Finding them is another excursion for another day, but I did locate a beautiful Gajalakshmi sculpture from this place at Goa State Museum.

Panorama of Salaulim dam backwaters
Panorama of the dam backwaters
The palm-lined road at the site
The palm-lined road at the site

Information for Visitors

It is located 5 km from Sanguem town, which is connected by public transport. Basic canteen and washroom facilities are there. Though if you are going for a picnic, you must carry your own food. They are open to the public from 9 AM – 6 PM every day. Vehicles are not allowed inside.

Recommend you read my travel blog on places to visit in Goa.


  1. I had plans to visit Salaulim dam during my last visit to Goa in June but the whole trip didn’t work out as I planned. Pictures of this mesmerising dam is calling me since a long time.

    Your article has reminded me agin of this beautiful place, next monsoon I’ll be here!

    Thank you Anuradha

  2. u havbe made a discovery not known 2 many.
    more so as goa bcame indepwendent only on 1962 as i know.
    with regular monsoon failures in other parts of india this sight u describe in yr. writings r truly heavenly.

  3. salaulim dam duck-billed weir over-flow is generally starting by mid-july and continues upto november-end depending on rains.just for information.

  4. thanks for the wonderful pics. having seen quite a few dam sites and pics of others, i must say this one took my breath away.Keep up the good work.

  5. Hi Anuradha – we wish to visit the dam tomorrow – July 13. Will it be open? Is the spillway happening? Please advise. Thank you.



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