Exploring the grassy cliffs of Vagator, Goa

Those who flock to Goa merely for the beaches miss the amazing sidelights, like a morning walk in the grassy sea-cliffs of Vagator

The view from the grassy sea cliffs of Vagator

The view from the grassy sea cliffs of Vagator, Goa

It was early November but still very warm in Goa. Two successive morning walks in the grass-covered hillocks between Vagator and Anjuna beaches in Goa revealed a landscape that our weak southern winter was slowly burnishing. After the previous night’s downpour, the sky overslept. The ground exhaled a thick, clammy vapour, unseen but palpable. I had been to this neck of the woods before in October of 2014 but couldn’t complete my exploration then. Now, in the company of two colleagues, I reached here on a cruddy morning at almost 9 AM.

Mist lifted gently from the valleys. A few peacocks called. The sun was absent and a brisk sea breeze maintained a temperament unusual for so late in the morning. The grassland was lush and green but fast desiccating. In time it would turn auburn and pale yellow until the tussocks of grass rustled like tinder in the dry winter breeze, ready for a stray match flung by a careless smoker to turn vast stretches of it into char.

The cliffs of Vagator slope down to meagre little beaches, but the paths downhill are dense with shrubbery and are not easy to descend. Patrolled by packs of stray dogs that don’t smile or wag their tails and small bands of local men in various stages of inebriation, it can feel a little unsettling to be here alone. But there are regular walkers — a young white lady and her retriever, and an older one with two friendly Rottweilers. And then two adventurous boys who had brought their two-wheeler up the slope.

For the most part, though, we were alone. Amid birdsong, a sighing sea and the rustle of the breeze in the grass. Alone, but for the little life that flourishes unnoticed.

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