Doodhsagar Falls: Monsoon Trek on the Railway Track

Tripoto
15th Aug 2014

Tunnel experience

Photo of Doodhsagar Falls: Monsoon Trek on the Railway Track by Smiti Maini

Castle Rock .. The last station on Karnataka side

Photo of Doodhsagar Falls: Monsoon Trek on the Railway Track by Smiti Maini

Sea of Milk

Photo of Doodhsagar Falls: Monsoon Trek on the Railway Track by Smiti Maini

Groupfie

Photo of Doodhsagar Falls: Monsoon Trek on the Railway Track by Smiti Maini

Mini Waterfall found during jungle wandering

Photo of Doodhsagar Falls: Monsoon Trek on the Railway Track by Smiti Maini

Goa

Photo of Doodhsagar Falls: Monsoon Trek on the Railway Track by Smiti Maini

View from the Dudhsagar Falls Railway Bridge

Photo of Doodhsagar Falls: Monsoon Trek on the Railway Track by Smiti Maini

Posing with an approaching train

Photo of Doodhsagar Falls: Monsoon Trek on the Railway Track by Smiti Maini

The river

Photo of Doodhsagar Falls: Monsoon Trek on the Railway Track by Smiti Maini

Beautiful Old Tunnels

Photo of Doodhsagar Falls: Monsoon Trek on the Railway Track by Smiti Maini

The deserted station

Photo of Doodhsagar Falls: Monsoon Trek on the Railway Track by Smiti Maini

Snack and Snap break

Photo of Doodhsagar Falls: Monsoon Trek on the Railway Track by Smiti Maini

Station

Photo of Doodhsagar Falls: Monsoon Trek on the Railway Track by Smiti Maini

Finally Reached Kulem

Photo of Doodhsagar Falls: Monsoon Trek on the Railway Track by Smiti Maini

Kulem station

Photo of Doodhsagar Falls: Monsoon Trek on the Railway Track by Smiti Maini

Lets play UNO !

Photo of Doodhsagar Falls: Monsoon Trek on the Railway Track by Smiti Maini

Green Ghats

Photo of Doodhsagar Falls: Monsoon Trek on the Railway Track by Smiti Maini

Spot the train !

Photo of Doodhsagar Falls: Monsoon Trek on the Railway Track by Smiti Maini

I haven’t watched Chennai Express. So, No, the SRK starrer didn’t motivate me to visit Doodhsagar Falls. What did motivate me to explore this gem of a place was my absolute love for travel and my undying need to not waste long weekends. While planning a family road trip to Goa in July 2014, I came across this place and as soon as I read about it and saw the pictures online, I knew I had to head there soon. I was a bit disappointed when I learnt that I wouldn’t be able to drive to this place during my Goa road trip, but the alternative approach gave me all the more reason to look forward to this journey to Doodhsagar which I undertook within a month of returning from my Goa road trip.

Situated in the Bhagwan Mahavir Sanctuary and Mollem National Park on the Karnataka Goa border, this magnificent waterfall formed by the Mandovi River can be accessed only by train during the monsoon season. I finalized the dates and wrote long descriptive mails (with pictures) to convince friends and colleagues to join me.

And then there were 4. Two of my friends boarded the train to Goa from Chennai (the famous ChennaiExpress) and my best friend (now husband) and I joined them in from Bangalore. Bangalore to Goa is an overnight journey and I anxiously waited for the morning so that I could glance outside the window while crossing the Western Ghats. Castle rock is the last station in Karnataka on this route after which the next station is Kullem in Goa. We had two options here. The first was to get off at Castle Rock and trek on the railway track for 14 km towards the waterfall. This is the popular (read crowded) route. The second option was to get off at the non-functional Doodhsagar station and trek for 12 km towards Kullem station in Goa or back to Castle Rock. We decided to go with option 2 and continued by train.

The journey from Castle Rock to Doodhsagar can really not be described by words. Imagine sitting by the window and staring at all the shades of green you can imagine. In my opinion monsoon is the best season to visit this place and I was thrilled to pass through mossy tunnels and old Portuguese ruins amidst lush greens of the Ghats. This being a long weekend, the place was all alive with uncountable tourists on the tracks headed towards the falls. After passing through the winding railway track and crossing numerous tunnels the train stopped at the Doodhsagar station. This is not a proper station and there was no platform so we had to jump off the train which made us realize the importance of platforms.

Doodhsagar Waterfall is 1 km from the station. Walking on the railway track was something new and not-so-easy and the tunnels were pitch dark with small streams of water trickling down. It rained on and off while we were there but the sound of the waterfall kept us going. And finally we got the first view of the falls and massive it was. I was flabbergasted seeing the amount of water gushing down this 4-tiered waterfall. It was a priceless moment; standing on the railway bridge with milky white water above and below and enjoying nature at its best. Everything was perfect and then the sound of the mighty waterfall was interrupted by an approaching goods train. Everyone rushed to the sides of the bridge and gave way to the chugging train because thankfully the train operators was thoughtful enough to honk as there were lots of people on the track.

After climbing up to the little viewing platform at the bridge and clicking loads of pictures, we proceeded on our trek towards Kullem station in Goa. The viewpoint where you get the entire waterfall in one frame was 1 km away. We waited 5 minutes and luckily got the perfect view of a train on the bridge with the majestic sea of milk in the background.

The next few hours involved a lot of walking on the railway track, dodging trains and crossing long, dark tunnels. At some point there were dirt tracks running parallel to the railway track with bike taxis plying people from Goa towards the falls. We also wandered away from the railway track to the adjacent forest for snack breaks and discovered many mini streams and waterfalls.

We walked 6 hours on the track to reach the deserted Kullem railway station. We were elated that we reached before sun-down, as planned. Here we had tea and snacks while wiaitng for our night train. The return journey to Bangalore was on the same night so we had a few hours to kill and played UNO. 

All in all, it was a super hectic day but it was a day well spent with cherished friends.

Some other things worth mentioning:

  • Although there are no officially designated camping spots but I’ve read that people bring their own tents to camp near the waterfall. Camping or not, please come prepared, as this place is right in the middle of the forest with no public convenience, no shops for food / water and no network or emergency services. Carry your own water bottles and snacks and please please please make sure NOT to dispose the waste in the forest.
  • This is not a difficult trek. It is basically just a long walk on the railway track. But as Mr. SRK puts it, “Don’t underestimate the power of a common man”, you have to dodge a lot of common-man crap (quite literally, thanks to the waste management system on Indian trains). Jokes aside, as you may have noticed, railway tracks have uneven rocks so make sure you have thick soles on your shoes as walking on pointed stones might hurt. Also make sure your shoes have a good grip as the tracks tend to be slippery when it rains.
  • There are close to 15 tunnels on the entire route from Castle Rock to Cullem, the longest one being about half a km long! The train operators honk at each tunnel or turn so try to avoid being inside a tunnel when a train passes by. But if due to some reason, you find it impossible to do so, do not panic. Just stick to the walls of the tunnel and wait patiently. 

Castle Rock to Doodhsagar is the more popular stretch to trek as compared to Doodhsagar to Kulem stretch. This being a long weekend, and seeing massive crowds at the Castle Rock Station in Karnataka, we decided to continue by train upto the Doodhsagar station and trekked from there to Kulem station in Goa.

Photo of Castle Rock, Railway Station Road, Castlerock, Karnataka, India by Smiti Maini
All trains stop at this now-defunct railway station for a few minutes to prepare for the uphill climb forward. We took this opportunity to get off here along with many other people. There is no platform at this station so we had to jump off from the train. From here we started walking on the railway track. The Doodhsagar waterfall is a 1 km walk from here.
Photo of Doodh Sagar Railway Station, Sonaulim, Karnataka, India by Smiti Maini
Finally after passing through a few tunnels we saw the first view of the falls. There is a bridge and a viewing platform at the waterfall with water both above and below.
Photo of Dudhsagar Falls Railway Bridge, DoodhSagar Waterfalls Trail, Sonaulim, Goa, India by Smiti Maini
The waterfall is so massive that one cannot get the whole thing in one frame from this bridge. We had to walk another 1 km towards Kulem to get the view of the entire waterfall. We took loads of pictures here and then continued walking on the railway track.
Photo of Dudhsagar View point, DoodhSagar Waterfalls Trail, Sonaulim, Goa, India by Smiti Maini
Photo of Dudhsagar View point, DoodhSagar Waterfalls Trail, Sonaulim, Goa, India by Smiti Maini
We continued our 12 km trek on the railway track. At some places we wandered off to the adjecent forest and found mini streams, waterfalls and river. We took snack breaks and ate the packed food that we had. Near Caranzol we also found a shop where we had tea and chips and asked for boiled water to have our Cuppa Noodles.
Photo of Dudhsagar Falls, Sonaulim, Goa, India by Smiti Maini
Photo of Dudhsagar Falls, Sonaulim, Goa, India by Smiti Maini
Photo of Dudhsagar Falls, Sonaulim, Goa, India by Smiti Maini
Photo of Dudhsagar Falls, Sonaulim, Goa, India by Smiti Maini
This was a small and empty railway station and we were probably the only people there along with some monkeys and dogs. Our return journey to Bangalore was on the same night and we had a couple of hours to kill so we played UNO. The train was at 9 PM and we reached Bangalore the next morning.
Photo of Kulem Railway Station, Kulem, Goa, India by Smiti Maini
Photo of Kulem Railway Station, Kulem, Goa, India by Smiti Maini
Photo of Kulem Railway Station, Kulem, Goa, India by Smiti Maini
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