Yesterday I mentioned that I went on a trek to Chorla Ghat.
Strange name isn’t it? Chorla….
I always wondered what the name signifies.
Strange as it may seem all the names seem to have some reason or history around the name that they are called. It seems to have some connection to the past. Do you know that according to historians In ancient literature, Goa was known by many names, such as Gomanta, Gomanchala, Gopakapattam, Gopakapuri, Govapuri, Govem, and Gomantak.
The Indian epic Mahabharata refers to the area now known as Goa as Goparashtra or Govarashtra, which means “a nation of cowherds”. Gopakapuri or Gopakapattanam were used in some ancient Sanskrit texts, and these names were also mentioned in other sacred Hindu texts such as the Harivansa and the Skanda Purana.
So I did wonder about the name Chorla. It was very close to chor a Hindi word for a robber!
My doubts were confirmed by Prof. Rajendra Kerkar a leading authority Goan environmentalist.
He stared his talk at when we met him at the Chorla Ghat trek as,”Chorla as the name suggests was a hideout for the thieves during the Colonial Rule. “The British had passed the resolution regarding Thug Pendhari Abolition Act. So, many thugs started taking shelter here at Chorla and that could be the reason for its name,”
The reason why we have the festival ‘Chorostav’ in the village of Zharme, Chorla.
Chorla was ruled by Tipu Sultan for just 3 days when he captured the fort at Sada in this region. The fort at Sada was under Shivaji had 90 wells. Just imagine what a vibrant and busy place it must have been.
This place also has many temples dedicated to Betal, Sateri. One famous temple is the Rameshwar temple. As this Ghat is strategically located, it was the main gateway to go to Kolhapur and Bijapur during the colonial rule.
The Chorla Ghat is an ecological treasure trove. Chorla is home for around a hundred waterfalls, big cats, wild flowers and trees which are endemic and thus need our protection.
Prof. Kerkar said that, ”Chorla and its water bodies are no less than a lifeline of this place “ he also elaborated about river Haltara and two tributaries of Mhadei River – Kalsa and Bhandura, which are under threat due to the construction of dams in neighbouring state of Karnataka, “Residents of Bardez, Bicholim and Sattari get water from the Haltara river. But, now Karnataka is hell bent to start these three projects and they have already built canals and are ready to get permission from MoEF (Ministry of Environment and Forest)”.
Kankumbhi a place which was once considered as Cheranpunji of South India. However, owing to the cutting of forests and climate change, the rainfall has substantially decreased in this area.
Speaking about biodiversity of Chorla, he stated Chorla Ghat is home for at least eight Royal Bengal Tigers. “Three tigers are found here and around five tigers are found in Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary. The bones of bison are a mute testimony to the tiger’s presence. The big cats have made some people nervous with their sheer presence, check here.
They are have been photographed check here
Not only tigers but this place is also rich in other species. Three species of caecilian and recently one frog species were discovered here. Herpetologist and wildlife conservationist Romulus Whitekar, when he came here and found so many reptiles, he stated that this place should be declared as reptilian sanctuary. Chorla is also known for sloth bears”, said Kerkar.
The Karvi flowers that flowers once in 7 years also flourish here in Chorla and the month was September. Professor also spoke about some other trees like Nathapodia which has muddy coloured flowers. “These flowers have a strong smell like that of human excreta and that’s why they are called guwado in local language. But, this tree is in huge demand in Japan as its leaves and roots are being used for chemotherapy. And this tree is now under tremendous pressure,” he said. The food we had on the day of the trek was procured and cooked from the Chorla Ghat itself.
On a concluding note, Kerkar further emphasised that the different types of wild animals, trees, shrubs, flowers, water bodies are the heritage of this place and need protection.
Professor has emphasised that “As the neighbouring state of Karnataka is suffering from the problem of water shortage especially in places like Hubli and Dharwad and due to the increase in sugarcane plantation, there is a demand for dams and this will create a problem for a small state like Goa,” Kerkar said.
Can’t we just leave nature alone?
Do we in our greed, no let’s give it a more palatable name, progress need to disregard what we are doing to our world?
We may relocate the humans, the tigers but what about the countless other creatures that live here not have a right to lead life as they have been doing? The trees just because they are mute can we go no felling them?
Who does it affect most?
Is there no end to man’s need for “progress”?
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