Dudhsagar Trek in Monsoon

1st Jul 2020

Dudhsagar Trek in Monsoon

Photo of Dudhsagar Trek in Monsoon by shantanu baakre

‘I had a stone in my hand and I was ready for any possible strike on me or my brother. We still had 3 kms to cover barefoot on the railway track with pitch black dark night, glittering fireflies and creatures surrounding us.’

We had our bags packed and we were ready for the most exciting trip of our lives- ‘GOA’. I’ve been to this wonderful coastal state a couple of times before, but this time I was excited for the wonderful ‘Dudhsagar Trek’. Exploring the falls in the peak season of monsoon was thrilling. Heard a lot about it, saw its mesmerizing beauty in the movies and invested numerous hours researching about the same. I was ready for it and I knew it: this will be a trip of a lifetime. We reached Goa and after checking-in we planned our trek the very next day. We prepared ourselves for 25km walk, which was new to us. We had a lot of questions in mind and there were no answers to them. We inquired about Dudhsagar from almost everyone we met during our journey but all had a single answer, “Its closed during monsoon”. The question in front of us was should we plan something else, drop the plan or shall we go and see ourselves if it’s really closed. We decided to give it a try. It was a 3 hour drive from our hotel (Calangute) to Collem. I memorized the map, gathered all the essentials and started on our rented Activa towards Collem. Goa does’nt fall short of impressing you with its scenic natural beauty. You want to photograph every landscape you see. The curvy wet roads keep on testing your driving skills.

Photo of Dudhsagar Trek in Monsoon 1/11 by shantanu baakre
The tricky roads of Goa

As we were moving from Calangute to Collem and left the main city behind, the real beauty of Goa started emerging. The Wine shops started vanishing and the trees, local people & mountains started appearing more and embraced us in. The locals were innocent, the roads were tricky and the air was moist. Many a times we thought that we’re approaching a wrong destination coz of the small roads and almost nil traffic.

Photo of Dudhsagar Trek in Monsoon 2/11 by shantanu baakre
The green roads always keep you engaged

Small water streams were flowing from the corners of the roads, as if accompanying us towards the destination. We took a lot of wrong turns because we missed the small signboards. After 3 hours of our Activa ride we reached our destination. The final approach road to Collem was small and had lots of turns with no proper sign-board. We decided to have lunch once we reach Collem. So we did’nt eat and kept on driving till Collem to save some daylight for us. Once we reached the entry point of Collem village a bunch of local guides approached us and they knew by looking at our rented Activa that we came there for the famous ‘Dudhsagar Trek’. As we became sure of reaching the right destination, heavy rains welcomed us and vanished within minutes. It seemed that this small town did’nt have any proper snacks shops or restaurants and the best option available for lunch was Wada-pav. We ate, booked our guide (INR 500/person), packed some chips, water bottles and started on our journey.

Our guide asked us to pay INR 50/person for the life jacket which he said is mandatory to buy and then we started with the other 3 people in the group. Two of them were from Bengal and one was from Kerala. We approached the railway tracks going towards the fall through a small garden. The garden had elephants having their meal and we tried to capture everything we saw. Little we knew that this will turn out of great help at the end of our journey. As we started walking slowly on the railway tracks, we clicked photos, cracked jokes and we got ourselves far behind from our guide and group. We met a few groups returning from the fall and asked them how far it is. ‘’Bohot dur hai bhai, 15 kms subeh se nikle hai police bhi hai udhar’’ one of them said. We suddenly felt like reuniting with our group and paced up to meet them again. Then at one point our guide took us away from the railway track and started walking on the jungle route. The tracks we followed in the jungle were the ones used for jungle safari by local govt. We crossed various water streams, big and small on our route. Some were easy to cross while others were hard. We often felt like Bear Grylls from ‘Man vs Wild’ following trails and crossing streams. We were gaining altitude, through the dense forest without any clue of the route. All we had were visuals of the person climbing in front of us. We were moving in a line, one after the other. By any means if we got slow, there was a risk of getting lost and missing the trail. After climbing through the dense forest for half an hour we were again on the jungle safari route and now we were able to hear loud noise of water streams flowing close to the mountain.

We knew it’s close but were unable to see it. We kept looking for it from every gap we got from the dense jungle but it was nowhere to be seen. All we had were loud roars of the flowing water. After walking for a good 10mins in anticipation finally we had our first visual treat. A small opening between the dense cover of leaves gave us a small visual of the mighty falls. It was huge, vivacious and was roaring loud. It appeared as if the water was falling in slow motion and as the name suggests it was all white like milk. The first sight of the falls opened our last energy boost. We started walking again with more speed and reached the official entry point of the Dudhsagar Fall. Our guide took us to the bottom of the fall, it was amazing to see the water falling from such a great height. We felt the power of the water and we were astonished by its aggression. Our guide told us not to get too near the water as the stones were very slippery and the current could’ve easily flowed us back to Goa for free. When the fall officially opens the tourists can take bath in the pond where water was falling. But in off season nobody dares to touch the water.

Photo of Dudhsagar Trek in Monsoon 3/11 by shantanu baakre
Dudhsagar Fall from the base

While looking up at the falls we noticed a bridge. Yes, the famous bridge from the movie ‘Chennai Express’. We were again not allowed to go there, as the policemen stops tourists from getting off the train on the bridge. Our guide denied going there, saying that it is forbidden for guides to take tourists there. We could see group of people exploring more colors of the fall from the top of the bridge. Three of us, the Kerala guy, me and my brother from the group of 5 decided to go further. Our guide took us to the railway tracks, we paid him, he took our life jackets back, explained us the directions to get back and said ‘Good Luck’.

Photo of Dudhsagar Trek in Monsoon 4/11 by shantanu baakre
towards unknown destination

We three started walking on the railway track, there were rough tunnels on the route. The tunnels were pouring water at us with their personal small streams. We were all wet, the raincoats didnt worked, there was water in the air, in the tunnel, on the tracks, from the mountains, everywhere as if someone is playing with rain. A goods train passed when we were in the tunnel. It was a long train, and that was the time i watched the tunnel more closely. Even the tunnel looked amazing to me, it seemed unfinished and rough but still beautiful.

Photo of Dudhsagar Trek in Monsoon 5/11 by shantanu baakre
Photo of Dudhsagar Trek in Monsoon 6/11 by shantanu baakre
showers in the cave
Photo of Dudhsagar Trek in Monsoon 7/11 by shantanu baakre
Dudhsagar Fall from the bridge

Finally, we came out of our last tunnel and saw the mighty fall again from the bridge. It took us close to 4hr completing the trek, we started at 11 am and reached our destination at 3pm. There were tourists on the track, gang-men working on the tracks and water fall entertaining everybody by simply flowing. It was huge and mighty, now we were in the middle of the falls and we could see the top and bottom end. We clicked selfies, kept staring at it, discussed the stupid thoughts of jumping into it, discussed Chennai Express, imagined SRK and Deepika being at the same spot, discussed the idea of climbing the mountain, and visually tracked a path to get more close to the water. After spending close to half an hour we started walking towards the Dudhsagar station which was 1.5 km from the falls. The idea was to catch a goods/passenger train and reach back Collem.

Photo of Dudhsagar Trek in Monsoon 8/11 by shantanu baakre

So, we started walking again to reach the Dudhsagar station. After coming out of a long tunnel, we saw the sign board of Dudhsagar station.

Photo of Dudhsagar Trek in Monsoon 9/11 by shantanu baakre
Dudhsagar Station

The railway station looked isolated. Not a single person to ask for help. We looked for the Station Master and he was sleeping in his room. We asked him when the next train is scheduled, and he shocked us. ‘‘Tomorrow, morning’’, he said. We again asked him if there’re any goods train scheduled to arrive, and he denied. “No trains before 6 am tomorrow.” So, our plan of getting back on a goods train failed. May be the station master didn’t wanted us to board a goods train illegally, so we asked few more people and got the same answer from everyone. He advised to reach a station 4km down the line and spend the night at the Dudhsagar Devi temple and catch the train tomorrow. It sounded good to us, so we prepared ourselves and started back walking by the railway track towards that station. We reached the falls again and took our last selfies with it. We kept walking on the tracks and were now discussing the dangers of the jungle. Our walking speed increased when we came to know about Panther, Tigers and king cobras residing in the same jungle. The Kerala guy was ahead of us as he was walking way faster. We lost track of him after some time, he did’nt stopped for us and went ahead alone. After walking for 2 hours straight we reached this station called Sonalium, time was 6 pm and it started getting dark. Plan was to reach the ‘Dudhsagar Devi Temple’ and spend the night there. But at the station a railway employee told us the temple is closed u can’t go there and Collem is not far, its hardly one hour walk and u’ll reach there. This place is not safe to rest for the whole night better reach Collem, and there will be light till 7pm. We asked few more people, and everybody advised us to do the same. There was no energy left in our body. Our legs were shaking after the whole trek and we just wanted to rest. But the things were not in our favour, we had to walk, no option other that. We decided to cover the remaining ghat section with the energy we had left in us. The railway employee explained the marking poles to us. These poles were installed on both side of the track every 100m with some numbers on them. We were explained those, the above number tells the number of kms we’ve covered and the number below it has the tenth part of km mentioned on it. So if its 152/1, on the left pole it means the junction you are walking from is 152 km & 100 m away from that point. Similar rules follow for the markings on the right side. We were told that we just have 4 kms more to cover so basically at pole no 156/1 we should reach our destination.

Photo of Dudhsagar Trek in Monsoon 10/11 by shantanu baakre
Sonalium 4km from Dudhsagar Station

We started walking, i was walking faster than Nikhil, and now I was facing trouble in walking on the uneven railway tracks. Sometimes the sleepers(cement blocks) were clear with no stones but majority of the times the sleepers were covered in stones, and it made walking tough. We did’nt had shoes for the whole trek, coz the shoes would have caused us more trouble in this season, so we were in our chappals. The on/off of rain was still going on, and the jungle noises were becoming louder. All we wanted was to reach the destination as soon as possible, we were trying to think random things so that we are not scared. Nikhil was humming tunes, and I was in my dreamy world, imagining things. I again started thinking like Bear Grylls and was continuously recalling his lessons. How to deal with a panther, a tiger or a python. The light was getting low, and now the Railway signal lights were becoming more brighter, the poles still read 155/1. Every 100m was taking more time & felt tough to cover. We were walking very slowly, we had no energy left in us, we were on the Vada Paav we ate in the morning and Nikhil lost our Chips bag somewhere between the approach trail. We were trying to cover our last km with more speed but were not able to walk. Pole no 156/1 arrived finally and with it came the darkness. Our destination didn’t come, we were supposed to reach Collem by now, but we haven’t. So where are we, did we took a wrong turn, is it far more to cover, what to do now?

I did a quick analysis we didn’t crossed any junctions in between, so we were on track. Only station after Sonaulim is Collem so may be the station is few kms more. With no energy in us, complete darkness and low hopes we started again. Pole number 156/6 is now the starting point and what is the ending point, do we know, no we don’t know. Pitch black darkness, no source of lights at all, we couldn’t see ourselves, not the track, not the poles, everything was black. Our phones had no network, and less battery. With battery percentage at 12% Nikhil started his flashlight. We kept walking slowly, chasing our destination, looking for lights, there were fireflies glittering around. It looked beautiful but we were very scared. I had stones in my hand, and I was ready to hit anything attacking me from behind. What if a Panther/tiger has got his eyes set on us, imagine the situation in the image without light. Nobody will know our last location and will our bodies be found?

Photo of Dudhsagar Trek in Monsoon 11/11 by shantanu baakre

Nikhil’s legs were getting heavy, he was not able to walk properly. There were different sounds coming from the jungle, the air was still wet and in that darkness we could’ve easily stepped on a python or cobra. Things were becoming risky. We reached pole number 161/1 and saw lights coming from a distance, we thought now we might get saved, may be the city arrived. We reached the light and it was the start of the city. We realized the value of light that day after being in darkness without hope for more than 3 hrs. We finally sat by the side of the track, smiled at each other and finally completed the craziest adventures. Was it worth it, yes it was totally. Were we alive? Yes! We were. We realized that we should have listened to our guide, and should have come back with him safely. Now we had 3 hrs of drive ahead of us to reach our hotel. Now the question was who will drive?