As the South West monsoon started ‘seeing off ‘ leaving behind the wet soil and the green ecology, there came the season of field trips…and thus the ‘Curriculum prescribed’ one day field trip was planned together for the Botany students of Semester I and V of Carmel College, Goa. Mid August to end of September seems to be the right time for field studies specially with reference to plants because the floral abundance is at its peak at this time of the year in Goa .Our trip was planned for 19th of August,2014, the bus was waiting within the campus, excitement and enthusiasm filled the air….and we started off to…….Chandreshwar Hills which is otherwise called as Chandranath Hills in Gudi –Paroda of Quepem taluka.

The location is at a height of approximately 350 meteres above the sea level. One may reach there hiking through the mud path or by vehicles which reach till right below the steps made of natural black stone which leads to an ancient Shiva temple. ‘Chandreshwar’ – ‘Lord Shiva’- was the titular deity of Bhoja kings who ruled South Goa till the middle of the 8th century. Other than nature lovers, pilgrims throng the place during festive occasions. It is said that the ‘Shivlinga’ is positioned in the ‘Sanctum Sanctorum’ in such a way that on full moon days it gets bathed in moonlight! ( Incidently, there is a ‘Chandranath’ temple’ in our neighbouring country, Bangaladesh also)

The bus dropped us at the foothills from where the team walked almost for more than one and half hours during which students had a closer look at the floral components. Everywhere there was greenery and as we walked, there was the background music of the stream flowing…but we could not see the source because of the thick vegetation! Sal ( Teak) was of common occurrence which was found in association with Macaranga peltata (Chamdivado), Anacardium occidentale (Cashew), Mangifera indica (Wild mango), Garcinia(Kokum) etc. Shrubs like Mussaenda frondosa (Lavasat), Ixora coccinea(Patkali) ,orchids like Eria and climbers like Cissus, Vitis etc. were common. Herbs were maximum in number. Seasonal Wild Balsams, Sida rhombifolia, Sonerila rheedi and Melastoma malabathricum with beautiful, bright purple flowers were abundant. Perched on to the muddy and rocky slopes, grew wild Begonias, non- flowering plants like mosses and liverworts and ferns.

We sat for lunch on the steps and later visited a spring protected by the temple authorities in the form of a pond which had clear and cool water.

As the team was descending down the hills everyone was cherishing the beauty of ‘Chandranath Hills’ and as for the students, Botany was introduced in its fullness. The students were very receptive to the knowledge provided which made the trip a fulfilling experience for the stakeholders as well as we – the teachers who accompanied them.

-Dr. Mini Vijayan, Associate Professor, Department of Botany, Carmel College, Goa