We lived in Goa for over a decade and a half but explored probably less than half the state in that time. The truth is, when you travel as a tourist you take the time and effort to see and do as much as possible. When you live and work in a place, even a popular tourist destination, you are never a tourist there. A visit to Salaulim Dam Goa was something we kept talking about but never managed to get around to. A couple of months back, a free day in the midst of a work related trip gave us the opportunity to finally visit. Salaulim Dam is about 60km from Panaji via Curchorem and about 26km from Margao.
We were in Goa at the end of the monsoon season which is the best time to visit the dam. At this time the Salaulim River, a tributary of the larger Zuari River over which the dam is built, would be in full flow. Most dams are pretty much alike. What distinguishes them from each other is the magnitude of the dam, the amount of water that goes through it, the reservoir, and surrounding scenic landscape. Salaulim Dam Goa stands apart because of its comparatively unusual design of this dam.
Salaulim Dam is built with a Duckbill Spillway with no gates. The water from the reservoir overflows into a semi-circular opening and falls about 140ft or so into the river below. The force of the water falling from the reservoir into the area below creates a fine spray of water. This looks like steam rising up when viewed from the bridge on the dam. The over cast monsoon, the sound of the water falling through the spillway and the fine mist bring to mind a bubbling witch’s cauldron.
The wide bridge right across the dam has the reservoir on one side and the water falling down to the river on the other. The Dam is open to visitors from 9am to 6pm all days of the week. Entry to the bridge is ticketed. Private vehicles are not allowed on the dam, but one can walk right across to see the spillway at really close quarters. Salaulim Dam provides drinking water to South Goa and water for irrigation as well.
Since Salaulim is a bit of a drive from the more popular tourist spots in Goa, there rarely is a crowd there. There are two entrances to the Dam. The first one, at the bottom of the Dam, is through the extensive and beautifully laid out Botanical Gardens. One can walk up to see the Dam, but it cam prove a slightly stiff walk. We drove to the entrance from above, choosing to skip the gardens below, because of impending rain.
A few kilometers from the Dam, you might almost miss a sign pointing towards an ancient temple. We got down to discover the Mahadeva (Shiva) temple from the 10th or 11th century when the Kadamba dynasty ruled in Goa. This temple was originally located at Kurdi, one of the 20 villages that got submerged when the Salaulim Dam was built.
This particular temple was dismantled piece by piece, much like the Aswan temple in Egypt. Each stone was individually numbered and marked, then relocated a little away from the Dam and rebuilt. All that remains of this temple is a stone structure, an inner empty sanctum and an eroded statue of Nandi the bull looking in. Apparently the Sivalinga (idol) in the temple was moved to the Someswara Temple at Kurdi-Angod.