A hike to the Dudhsagar Waterfalls
My bucket list was brimming. And the Dudhsagar falls was at the brim. But then, one monsoon went after the other and I just couldn’t make it there. But this time, I was letting it go off easily. I had to witness it in person. I had to walk the walks. I had to immerse myself in the aura of one of the majestic creations of the nature- roaring and thundering from the skies above and splitting the landscapes below.
And so I set off from Bangalore, switched trains at Londa and alighted at Castle Rock- a little railway station in Karnataka right in the midst of the Braganza Ghats section of the majestic Western Ghats. The new railway station wears a rustic look compared to the adjacent abandoned old station which has now transformed with layers of deep green moss on its moist yet dilapidated arches. I wanted to have a head start over a bunch of trekkers who alighted at the same station in the quest similar to mine. And so I did.
It was a long walk ahead of me through dense jungle, through tunnels aplenty, through desolate landscapes, on railway tracks laden with gravel and bearing the brunt of incessant rain. And the walk didn’t disappoint me. Castle rock to Dudhsagar falls is a 15km long walk and is probably one of the most beautiful hiking routes I have been on- away from the hustle bustle of the world, hidden within the bosoms of nature, largely untouched by man and glowing with all its glory during the monsoons.
The pitch dark tunnels made way to brighter lands and wasn’t very different as coming out of the Wardrobe into the world of Narnia! Traversing through eleven tunnels (with the longest one being about half a kilometer long), watching out for the occasional oncoming trains, maneuvering through gravel, keeping a close eye on the wild monkeys, I was gradually moving to utopia with every step in a world covered by mist, rolling green hills, dark clouds and meandering streams.
The rains don’t just infuse the larger falls with life but give birth to many little ones. I can’t forget the sight of one little silky beautiful stream that created a very mystic waterfall inside a vault. Such a ravishing sight, like a door into the woods, like a stairway into a dreamy land, like a green frame made from the moss covered arches on the wall enclosing a picture so alive that you will never get tired of staring into. A little known railway station called Caranzol came into view around 8kms after I had started my quest and I never realized it disappearing into the mist. The rains poured without relief.
I walked through some little falls which in most parts of the world would have become a major tourist attractions themselves. As I stepped out from one of the tunnels, there ran two sleek but really long falls that gently made their way down the hills into the valley below. It was quite a view to watch these falls standing on the escarpment viaducts- a small, but high rise bridge standing stop the valley, staring into the mouth of the tunnel.
There was a buzz of activity. I made it to the Dudhsagar falls in good time. 15kms in 4 hours! There was a flood of people who had alighted at the Dudhsagar railway station which is just about a kilometer from the falls. It’s usually, preferred by people who want to view the monstrous falls with their families, friends and kids without having to endure the walk from Castle Rock. [ But I do have a general request to the folks visiting the place. It’s all great that you go and visit the place but please refrain from polluting the place. Please do understand that it’s not a garbage yard that you can throw empty plastic bottles and containers and wrappers there as you go for a nice little picnic. ]
The mist sprayed into the atmosphere. The milky white waterfall roared and gushed down the rocky face. The green carpet encompassed the entire falls. And there I stood on the railway tracks made just a few feet away from the lavishing falls. It was majestic. It mighty. It was humongous. It just reminded me of the nature’s beauty and her sheer power. I am out of words at this juncture describing the awe that I experienced as I stood so tiny so powerless in front of the might and glory of the falls. Usually, hikers camp by the falls overnight, before they set out the next day on their return walk. Families walk back to the Dudhsagar Railway station to catch a return train. Hitch-hikers hop onto goods locomotives to carry them to the next closest major railway station. I had chalked out a different set of plans. I stayed put by the falls for an hour before I picked up my soaking boots and bags as I started walking towards the Goan side.
A little ahead about half a kilometer into the walk is the view that people talk about when they hear Dudhsagar. Its an incredible view of the fizzing falls taking the plunge at an incredible force into unfathomable depths. If you are lucky you could witness a locomotive dredge slowly along the track with the falls in the background.
It was pouring again and I had to cover another 11kms. This part of the trail is a lot quieter, through lesser number of tunnels and lesser number of enterprising walking stretches but the wind blew and the rains poured as I slowly made my way to Sonaulim Railway station. The walk- on the tracks, in the rains had started taking its toll on my calf muscles. Dredging along I made it to Kullem just as the dusk was creeping in. And so I there I was sitting on the bench, waiting for my train to carry me back to Bangalore with thoughts running wild in my head.
Yeah, I had a sense of accomplishment. Yeah, I had ticked off another must-do from my bucket list. Yeah, the deafening falls took me by my heels. But wise men say the journey is the most beautiful part of the travel and not the destination itself. I guess they are right after all.