I am always on the lookout for interesting walking trails in any city I live in or visit. We started doing it a bit late in Goa. But then Goa kept me busy in various courses and concerts and talks. I am not complaining at all. I have been hearing about the Backwaters near the village of Moira. That is kind of becoming a hub for a lot of creative professionals like photographers, authors, architects, and artisans. So when I read about this walk recommended by Siddharth Shanghvi in CN Traveller. I decided to go there one afternoon. Thanks to clear instructions we reached the Vado of Satporia and parked the car outside its lovely church. And started walking towards what Shanghvi called carpenter’s village.
Backwaters of Moira, Goa
The path went up and down for some time and then came a steep slope that took us closer to the river. We could feel the artistically inclined population of the village through the tastefully done exteriors of many homes we passed by. There were Tibetan prayer flags lined up on one of the houses. While on the other was a large medallion with Mario Miranda style painting. We were looking for a temple and since we could see one on the left we walked to it, but kind of reached a dead end. Asked around and we were directed to another temple on the other side. We walked for a few hundred meters to reach the other temple dedicated to a local saint. Passing through many carpenter workshops, happy at our discovery of a prized skill in Goa.
Masher or a small dam
At the temple, there was Masher or a fish catching area. A small embankment had wooden gates that are used to control the flow of water – you could call it a small dam. When the water is rising it flows in one direction and when it is going down it flows in other direction. So the fishermen allow the water to collect when it is rising but put the net when it is going down and trap all the fish. They also do manual fishing using fishing rods. At the end of our walk, we sat down with the fishermen and saw them putting baits for the fishes and catching them skillfully. We were told that they catch as much as 25-30 kgs of fish every day.
Watching the river fishing closely was one of the best takeaways of this walk. Fisherman and his family will also take you for a boat ride on the backwaters. And show you some birds. If you are lucky, you can spot crocodiles too.
Birding by the backwaters
From this embankment, a mud path goes through the river. For about a kilometer or so it goes through the river, by the river treating you with lovely bird sightings. Here you see a bunch of pure white egrets occupying the branches of a tree. And then flying together to move to another almost as a sport. Small baya weaver birds camouflage themselves on the low-lying shrubs. They chirp away in pairs and small groups as if attending a party hosted by the shrub. Lonesome bright blue kingfishers sit alone on electric wires looking into the water for its next food. A Darter or snake bird plays hide and seek with us. Lapwings sat on the banks as outside observers. Purple herons, pond herons, doves, drongos, and cormorants made some guest appearances. For bird watcher this is paradise.
We came out from this path in the village of Uccasaim and to a beautiful white church with blue borders. Had a chai at a small shop, walked around the church. And we were ready to walk back. Meeting the birds once again and being thankful for the blessing that Goa is.
River by the village of Moira is caller Moira River by Google maps, but a bit of reading and asking around tells me that it is a branch of Mandovi river, at times also called the Mapusa river. To me, it looked more like the backwaters of Mandovi that go up and down with season on relatively marshy lands. Water and vegetation play with each other – playing a role in each other’s lifecycle. They become the favorite spots for birds for there is no dearth of water and food for them. And not many humans come around to disturb them.
I also got to know about Moira Bananas as a favorite variety of Goans when I was doing Utopia Dystopia Goa project. I did not see many banana plantations though there were banana plants in individual homes.
It’s a walk that introduces you to the village life of Goa – that is so linked to water, fish, church, temple, bananas and co-exists with all them in a kind of harmony that most of us desire.
Recommended read on this Travel blog.
Goa Backwaters – Stories from Boat Ride.