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Published: November 4th 2020
Riding an Elephant
Backwoods Camp, Surla
Hello my fellow traveller!
This is the second of three posts I'll make about my trip to India in 2005 together with my parents and my uncle Anders. The last post covered our time in Panaji while this one covers our second excursion which was a two-day guided round trip of Goa.
Together with other guests we were picked up by a bus with two friendly and engaging guides and the first stop of the tour was a market in Panaji we we walked around for a while and bought some fruits for the road ahead. I also got to see an example of the famous Indian phenomenon of a cow stopping traffic. It was just laying very casually in the street without a care in the world as the cars were gently easing around it without disturbing it. This was the first, but not last example of this as our bus got held up or slowed down by cows a few more times along the way.
After the market we drove out to a small village known as Sancordem where we were introduced to traditional basket weaving and our guide explained the process to us while we
Sharing a Moment
Backwoods Camp, Surla
watched the local craftsmen at work. These baskets were very beautiful and one of them are still in my home to this very day. This basket weaving is the livelihood of this village and it was interesting to see how they were made, as well as seeing village life in general in rural India, it's far removed from my own life in Sweden.
From there we made our way to the Backwoods Camp where we would be spending the night. Before that though it was time for the highlight of the day as we were introduced to a beautiful elephant down by a small river. We got dressed in our bathing trunks and got into the water where we were helped up on the back of the elephant whom then proceeded to douse us in water. It was a lot of fun even though it was really brief. I hope the elephant was well treated though and didn't get to stressed by such things.
After we got doused it was time to repay the favour as the elephant laid down in the water and we helped her caretakers scrub here down. She seemed to quite enjoy that.
Bathing the Elephant
Backwoods Camp, Surla
Once our bath was over we got back into our regular clothes before we was treated to a great meal in an open meadow in the jungle. There were a lot of life around us all the time, various birds, monkeys, lizards, beetles and so on. With some food in our bellies we then got to try on some traditional Indian garbs and take some photos. It was very brief and didn't really give much except for a couple of haphazard photos.
Next we went to a small farming village where we got to sit down with the villagers and talk for a moment and they gave us some small local delicacies to taste before we went to visit the beautiful Mahadeva Temple of Tambdi Surla. It's a Hindu temple which dates back to the 12th century, it's truly gorgeous and it has an architectural style I haven't really seen anywhere else before or since.
The last thing we did for that day was to go back to the camp where we were "entertained" by a local folksinger named Tulsidas. Well, it was not so much singing as it was screaming and jumping. It was fun for a
little while bit it got old rather quickly so we retired for the night.
The following day we woke up early and began the day with a small ride through the jungle on the back of the elephant we were introduced to yesterday. It was a very amazing experience, climbing onto her from a tall platform and then feel her powerful muscles moving under your legs. The ride was very short though, just up and down a small road, but it was enjoyable nonetheless with the lush greenery surrounding us.
I've since read about mistreatment of elephants in Thailand when it comes to riding them. I'm no expert in animal care, my experience only stretches to cats and spiders (and the occasional dust-rat), but as far as I could tell she did seem well-treated, I saw no sign of abuse (as I have instead seen of, i.e, camels in other countries since then).
After our short ride we all boarded a bus and made our way to the Dudhsagar Falls which is one of the tallest waterfalls in India at a height of 310 metres and an average width of 30 metres. The first thing that greeted
us as we entered the premise was two macaques mating without caring about our presence at all. The macaques were everywhere around the area and just as with macaques around the world they were completely fearless of us.
There were vendors around selling nuts and treats to us for feeding the macaques and everyone eagerly jumped in and the macaques was just waiting for us to start handing them treats. It might be touristy, but it was actually quite nice to get close to them since we don't have monkeys of any kind in Sweden.
Unfortunately we were there in the dry season so the fall was not that impressive, but from what I understand it's exceptional during the rainy season as the waters become very powerful. As much as I dislike rain it would be nice to see that.
We got dressed in our swimming trunks again and jumped into the designated swimming site at the foot of the falls and it was very nice. I'm usually not much for bathing but it was very refreshing in this heat.
Once everyone was content with swimming we got dressed again and returned to the bus to
View of the Temple
Tambdi Surla, Surla
go back to camp where we ate dinner. After our meal we went to our tents to retrieve our backpacks and prepare for our journey back.
On our way back to the hotel we had a final stop of the tour at a Cashew Nuts Factory. It was very interesting to see how they are prepared and we bought several jars of nuts to bring back home with us. They were all very delicious and I can attest that they were eaten quite quickly.
When we came back to the hotel it was time for evening meal and while eating we were treated to singing and traditional Indian dances. It was a very pleasurable evening and we all enjoyed it a lot before we retired for the night.
The next post will cover our visit to Old Goa and until then I wish you all peace and happy travels!
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