Who says Goa is a no-go during the monsoon months? When the sea gets rough it’s time to head towards the western ghats to find out why the beach state is often compared to the Amazon rainforest
Yes, the universe sometimes does conspire to give you what you really desire. But aren’t there times when you feel it coming together to convert your path into an obstacle course? Quite dramatically, that was the thought that sprung into our heads when our babe-in-the-woods moment was momentarily interrupted by a river rolling out in full force.
We were in Goa and making a massive exception to the rule, we weren’t metamorphosising into beach bums, stacked up with enough chilled beer to get us through a drought. Instead we had put on our prized checkered canvas shoes (bad idea — opt for lighter trekking shoes) and were wading our way through streams and endless railway tracks to get to the relatively little-known Dudhsagar Waterfalls.
No pun, only fun
Excuse that lame title, but when we had proudly announced to all and sundry that we were off to Dudhsagar with Life Away From Life, a Mumbai-based travel group, more than a few giggles were elicited. Dudhsagar, no pun intended, quite literally means ‘the sea of milk’ and that is what the waterfall actually looks life, thanks to the froth conjured by water plummeting down massive heights and rising up a veil of mist that engulfs you in its cold hug.
Photo Courtesy: ZeHawk
Dudhsagar, one of the highest waterfalls in the country (‘arguably’ the highest according to Prateek Deo, who runs Life Away From Life), is located on the Goa-Karnataka border and is part of the Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary near the teeny town of Mollem.
Though a beautiful sight the year round, it’s during the monsoons that it takes on its powerful avatar, making the passengers on the trains that roll on the tracks laid next to the falls, all awe-struck and click-happy.
Carrying a rucksack with a change of clothes, water, some energy-boosting foods and a fallen tree branch serving as a walking stick, we rode from our hotel near Baga beach to Mollem in a cozy 16-seater bus. Since we had arrived in Goa way before the sun had come up, most of us happily dozed off on this hour-plus ride.
After breakfast at a local dhaba, we set off on the hike to the falls. Most of it included walking along the railway tracks, keeping an eye out for an approaching train and enjoying the rains that went from a torrential downpour to a mild drizzle in a matter of seconds. Passengers aboard the Vasco da Gama Express, headed to Chennai, were looking at us goggle-eyed as they flew past, and we are sure they were wondering what a bunch of hooded maniacs were doing in the middle of nowhere.
After walking for a good two hours, we took a detour that led us right into the jungle’s rich foliage. Here, we followed Prateek’s lead along a dirt track that would’ve got us to the base of the falls. We crossed several small streams, happily plunging into them for some hydro therapy. The bummer? We reached a rivulet that flowed out with a little too much force for us to cross, without being worried about swept downstream. Some of us toyed with the idea of forming a human chain to get to the other side, but ultimately gave up.
Had we been able to cross the rivulet, we would’ve ultimately reached the base of the falls where we would’ve enjoyed dipping our feet into the pool and may be even wade around a bit. But the blockage meant that we had to retract our steps and continue along the railway line that ultimately got us to the top half of the falls.
When we were still a good kilometer or more away, the shrubbery cleared up to give a spectacular view of the falls in the distance churning up a mist to make it appear as though the waterfall was flowing from heaven itself. After a few more tunnels and a back rub induced by a teeny waterfall, we reached Dudhsagar which roared in all its magnificent glory, the sound of the water happily intermingling with the chattering of the many monkeys around. A few drunken boys lay around creating a ruckus, but we needed no intoxication — the sight of Dudhsagar, just a tad muddy in the rains, proved heady enough.
After gawking at the falls for an hour, we set off on our return journey, daunted by the prospect of walking at least 10 kilometers on the railway line. The saving grace? Our thumb! After walking for over an hour, we spotted a goods train halted at a red signal. The motorman was nice enough to allow our bunch and some other famished trekkers on to the train, which then took us to the Mollem station where our bus was stationed. We said goodbye to the sweeping vistas as we massaged our tired legs and the train chugged along in slow motion. When we reached the hotel room, we realised how an arduous trek with a rewarding sight is all it takes to make the food taste yummier and the bed look cozier. Yes, we had been truly alive for that one long day.
Life Away From Life can organise a trip for you to Dudhsagar Waterfall. Call on 66096693 / 98691583561 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Cost: Rs 4,000 per person
Do sample Rassa Pav (also called as Pav Bhaji by the locals) in the dhabas around. The simple dish comes with a spicy curry made of lentils and potatoes, accompanied with a hard pav.
What to carry?
- Salt (there are lots of leeches in the jungle; salt helps a biting leech fall off)
- Trekking shoes
- Change of clothes
- Trekking stick/pole
- Waterproof sunscreen
How to get there
- If you are not a fan of trekking, the falls can be easily reached by hiring a taxi or taking a bus from Panaji or even Margao.
- The falls can also be reached by a train journey from Vasco or Margao (two-hour journey). At Collem, in the Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary, there is a railway station where the train stops to pick up passengers for the journey to the waterfalls. This gets you to the higher part of the falls. The train leaves from Vasco railway station at 6.40 am, arriving at Margaon at 7.25 am, halting at Sanvordem and Colem stations before reaching Dudhsagar at 9.15 am.
- The base of the falls can be reached through the Castle Rock railway station (14 km trek). From Bangalore, trains going to Vasco stop here. Buses stop at the Castle Rock deviation on NH 4A (Belgaum to Goa route) after the small town of Ramnagar. From here the railway station is 6 kms.
- A number of private operators tender special trips to the waterfall while the GTDC (Goa Tourism Development Corporation) tours also have Dudhsagar Waterfall as one of the tour stoppages. There is also a Dudhsagar Special tour by the GTDC from Panaji and Calangute on weekends.
- By road, the best way to get to the waterfall is by a four wheel jeep from the railway junction Colem village. But this path is recommended only between January and May when the level of the water allows the jeep to reach the base of the falls.
When to visit
It’s the monsoon, when Dudhsagar Waterfall comes alive, pouring forth in all its ferocity. But if you are trekking it up, be warned that the route might be slippery and muddy. You can choose to visit the falls after September too, which is when they are still bursting with water, without having to take the treacherous, slippery route to get there.