A Peacock @ the Top of the World…

This morning we took Lady for a spin. If you’re a regular reader, you’re familiar with Lady.

A couple of months ago, I described our visit to Vagator beach. Here’s a recap for the interested.  I had mentioned then the fact that we would ‘do’ the Chapora Fort in another trip, preferably on a dry and sunny day. Today is the day.

The Fort is perched atop a hill and overlooks the confluence of the Chapora river and the Arabian Sea. A strategic location and one guaranteeing stunning vistas all around 🙂 We arrive at the base of the hill-fort and the first thing we come across, much to our delight is this chap…

Peacock on the Hill!

I try to get as close as I possibly can while trying to be as silent as I possibly can. I’m also trying to whisper to Ishaan so he doesn’t miss the sight. Hubby shushes my racket as the peacock wanders off downhill and disappears into the shrubbery. I’m convinced he’s part of a flock of 8 or 10 peacocks we saw one morning on another hill – Aguada. Hubby thinks I’m a nut, but that’s of no consequence. He’s not the naturalist in this family!

We make our way up the hill with its deceptive gradient that serves only to remind us how out of shape we are. A couple of minutes and we’re panting like thirsty dogs (No really! Not a pretty picture.). Hats off to Hubby here…he’s carrying Ishaan, who in his infinite child-like wisdom has chosen the best way up 😉 We rest ever so often on the way up, taking in the resplendent view of the Sea each time. It’s like a hike to the top of the World, figuratively speaking (And yet the way my body still feels, 3 hours after the climb, the tiny hill may as well have been Mt. Everest!).

View from the Top of the World 🙂

It takes us a good 15 or 20 minutes to get up to the Fort, with its ancient brick wall, dotted with trees and vines.

The Chapora Fort
The Chapora River...the sun was right in my face though!

We look for a way in but don’t find one and abandoning the search give ourselves up to the splendid vista. On our left stretches the Arabian Sea and far below, down the sheer cliff face is the sandy strip of Vagator Beach dotted with coconut palms and ant-people out for an early morning dip 🙂 To our right is the Chapora river, also dotted with houses that hug its banks and the ubiquitous coconut palms. There’s no sound except for the occasional buzzing of a scavenging bee and the gentle whir of dragonfly wings. Butterflies abound, staging a glorious silent symphony. This right here, I think, in this moment, is what Life is all about. Peace, nature in all her beauty and where if you listen carefully, you can hear the whispers of your soul. It’s a moment. An awesome one 🙂

We stay for a while taking it all in and resting our aching calves, catching our breath. On our way down, we spy a couple, in what looks like the middle of a tree! They obviously need privacy, but I’m thinking, who do they expect to run into here at the Top of the World…except for an adventurous couple with their inquisitive toddler? But we mean no harm nor I’m sure does the other couple we see making their way up, as we make our way down, no doubt looking for a sanctum of their own! The Fort now is obviously a hangout for lovers, although the gorgeous views are lost on them 😉

On our way down we also see this fellow…

Kingfisher...I think 😛

When we’re safely at the base, the Peacock has reappeared and left us a memento (I like to think) in the form of this…

Peacock plume

I pick it up for luck (though there are those who believe it’s unlucky!). I have never found a plume before with its source wandering nearby! And then we’re off, on our way home with Ishaan predictably falling asleep. A wonderful morning and a great beginning to what promises to be a busy weekend 🙂

Happy Weekending Folks!!

Vagator Wanderings…

Just back from a wonderful drive to Vagator beach!

We started off after lunch and made our way toward Mapusa and onward to Vagator, following our map. Again, winding roads lush with greenery and flanked by paddy fields…a Goan hallmark 🙂 We were headed to the Chapora Fort, that hubby had never been to and that I had vague recollections of from a school trip, aeons ago!

The fort sits on top of the Chapora hill and offers gorgeous views of the Arabian Sea, but although we got there, we didn’t walk the last 10 mins up to it. It was raining and the steep rocky path up to the summit, was dangerously slippery. We didn’t want to risk it with Ishaan in tow, and so that part of the trip will have to wait for dry, sunny day. We did see some wonderful birds though, blue-bellied with russet wings and lots of butterflies. Ishaan was thrilled to see a black and white spotted mongrel and was very eager to touch it! Not something I encouraged, much as I love dogs!

Just as we were ready to leave, we saw a girl, a foreigner, come walking down from the fort and we asked whether she would like a lift back down the steep slope. She acquiesced and we set off down the hill. I thought she was very brave to have gone on up to the Fort alone, given it’s isolated location! I wouldn’t have ventured there on my own and I’m a local! As we got talking, we discovered she was on a 2-month visit to India from Germany, and had already visited Rajasthan, Delhi and Bombay. She was now working her way down south – next stop – the Backwaters in Kerala. She seemed relieved that we spoke understandable, unaccented English and we decided to go to Vagator beach together and help her find a place to grab a bite on the way. It was siesta-hour, so naturally every restaurant was closed :P, and we decided to hit the beach first.

Vagator beach can be viewed from atop a craggy overhang and I had a sense of deja vu, like this was Tiracol all over again, that ‘end of the world’, remote, windswept, faraway feeling! There was a chilly breeze and a light drizzle. High tide had reduced the beach below to a slim strip of sand, the sea was rough and fishing eagles circled at eye-level looking for a meal! It was wild, wonderful and magical – there was ‘Atmosphere’ and then some, if you get what I mean! There were only a few Indian tourists, some of whom came up to our friend and requested a picture, to which she graciously assented! I found it strange, but apparently this happened to her quite often! I guess to millions of small-town Indians, seeing a foreigner and getting their picture taken, is still an exotic experience, much sought after and fondly cherished. As hubby points out to me, annoyingly at times (only ‘coz he’s right you understand ;-)), I’m hardly representative of the average Indian, with my privileged upbringing and urban lifestyle complete with frequent jaunts abroad! It’s easy for people like me to forget that the majority of Indians still live in her villages and although rapid progress is fast eroding their innocence in some ways, in others, they are still naive. Sometimes touchingly so. When she later shared that some Indian families she had requested for pictures, had asked for money in return, however – that just made me sad 😦

We sat there for a while, strangers, newly bonded by our shared experience and soaked in the ‘atmosphere’, while a couple of vendors approached our friend with beaded jewelery. They ignored us completely of course 😉 It was a memorable half hour 🙂 All to soon, the strengthening downpour signaled it was time to leave. On the way back we dropped our friend off at The Mango Tree, a bar, which seemed like a hangout for foreigners and where she would hopefully find friends and a bite to eat, after first exchanging e-mails and Facebook ids, so I could mail her the pics we took. With much waving and wishing her a safe journey ahead, we parted ways, certainly for us with fond memories of a chance encounter and I hope for her too 🙂

Another memorable addition to the Priolcar family archives!!