“…there ain’t no journey what don’t change you some.”
There are two kinds of travels. The sort of travel that is a good escape from routine life and the sort of travel which is not just travel but an experience in itself. The sort of travel that is truly mesmerizing and it takes a special place in your mind, your heart and in your life. It is not just the journey or the destination, but the entire story behind it that makes it a little bit more special. How can you not love such kind of travel? I just love it and fortunately I experienced one recently. I went to check out India’s 5th tallest and I guess the most scenic waterfall – Dudhsagar Waterfalls (which literally means sea of milk)! How was my experience? Read on.
During the last 2 months I had the fortune to travel on the weekends and check out a few places. My last blog post was about a drive to the beauteous Tamhini ghat and it was some time ago. After that, I’ve been to Lohagad fort and Kirkee War Cemetery before I went to experience Dudhsagar Waterfalls. I intend to write blog posts about them, but I am most excited to note down my trip to Dudhsagar Waterfalls. Someone has truly said “We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.” I, for one, can say that my previous travels were certainly a good distraction, which I hoped them to be and I am glad I got a chance to wander a little bit. However, I consider my travel to the legendary Dudhsagar falls an encounter with fulfillment.
So, I had a desire to visit it for some time and the month of August seemed a right time to witness the falls in its full glory. I discussed about it with my buddy (Asad) and he expressed an interest to join me. Luckily, we had a 3 day weekend at the end of August because of Ganesh chaturthi, which is a big festival in Maharashtra. Well, what do I call it? Pure coincidence or serendipity? Seemed like it was a calling!
The fall is located on the border of Goa and Karnataka and it can be reached via a train journey to the nearest station to it and some trekking from there until the fall. I decided to book train tickets in advance. I booked tickets on 11th August, but I couldn’t book return tickets as advance ticket booking was full. Damn! The only option was to book those tickets via tatkal booking. If we could book, fine else que sera sera.
The day was getting closer when we’d embark on our beloved and awaited journey. Little did I know how the events would unfold! I had booked tickets for 29th August so that we’d return by 31st August and have that day to rest. On 28th August, there was a major release of the project I and my team was working on. On the day of release a developer and a QA from the team has to provide extended support. Now, everyone had planned their holidays and no one was available except me and a teammate of mine. How lucky me :P Asad was also gonna be there in the office for extended support. I was not bothered about the support. I was concerned if any major issue occurred on live environment, then I might have to be present at the office. Luckily, things went well and I left the office at 11.45 pm. Asad told me he was there till 12.30 am!
Finally, the awaited day arrived and both of us had decided to try booking tatkal tickets from our places. We both were constantly communicating who reached at which stage of booking. Whoever reached the payment gateway first would inform the other one to hold the booking for a moment. With all the details ready I was totally geared up to book those tickets. The booking opened and within moments I reached the payment gateway. I clicked the ‘Pay’ button and those blessed words turned up on my screen “Congratulations! Your booking was successful.” What a feeling! Dudhsagar, here we come :)
We traveled via Vasco – Hazrat Nizamuddin Goa Express and it was scheduled to depart at 4.35 pm from Pune station. Before leaving for the station, I went to a place nearby for lunch and I already put on the clothes I intended to wear on my trip. I was on my way back to my room and all of a sudden it started to rain. Not just a drizzle, but it rained cats and dogs. I was completely drenched by the time I reached my room. I certainly did not anticipate that and now I’d have to put on something else. Awesome! (Sarcastically) Thank you, rain Gods! Probably, it was an omen in disguise.
We boarded the train and our journey began. There was no point in sitting on the seat and watch the scenery through the welded obstacles in the window. The best part of the journey is to stand at the door side, enjoy the view and feel the wind. I walked up to the door side and let the wind tickle my face and hair. Pretty soon Asad also came by and we stood there for a long time until we felt an urge to seat. Meanwhile, we clicked some photos too.
The fall was not visible yet, but we could definitely hear the roaring sound. I thought the top of the fall must be visible. So, I looked above and there was a white water stream falling from down. That was the first sight of the fall and it was so titillating!
We decided we’d capture a video in Asad’s cam till we’d reach the fall. None of us said anything when he captured the video. We walked towards the fall and when we reached there I was just not able to control my silence. I shouted “Dude, just look at this. It is awesome!”
I just can’t describe the feeling how it was to stand in front of Dudhsagar Waterfalls, witness thousands of gallons of water falling from 310 meters (1017 feet) and hear it roar. It truly was a mesmerizing sight. It was sublime, beautiful and intimidating at the same time. Words and pictures can do little justice. It literally lives up to its name. Dudhsagar – sea of milk. It’s better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times. The fall gushes so wildly that the water sprays to a few meters and we would’ve been completely drenched had we not put on our raincoats! It’s not just water, there’s wind force too. It is absolutely remarkable that people managed to build railway tracks near that wild white beauty.
We spent some time admiring the beauty and let ourselves completely in awe of it. We clicked some photos and videos. Then, we rested in a place nearby where there was a small canteen and a shelter available. The canteen was not open when we reached there. It opens only during the weekend and that too in season. Rest of the days it is closed. Luckily, we were there on a weekend. We had reached quite early and we had a lot of time on hand. Because we were early the place was not crowded. We had nothing to do but enjoy the fall and that’s what we did :)
We noticed there were some people who had camped near the canteen and they had brought lots of stuff with them. Awesome! That was absolutely amazing. I mean what better than to camp near the fall, cook your own food, enjoy the fall whenever you want and have fun, right? I gotta plan my next trip with a tent, a sleeping bag and some crazy friends. Interested? Let me know.
The canteen opened around at 10 am and we bought some stuff to eat. It sells tea, some snack packets, bread omelette, vada pav and some biscuits. I guess there’s no other place around where you can get something to eat. Bread omelette is sold for 50 bucks, but if you haven’t brought your own food, then I think you’re out of options. The canteen was on one side of the track and there was a home like shelter on the other side of the tracks. I am not sure if they sell anything there because we didn’t go there.
I was walking on the tracks in front of the fall and I noticed something. On one side of the track there were stairs and they would lead right to the bottom of the fall and so close to it. There was no one there. I informed Asad about it and we headed that way. At one point one cannot go further because the stairs are broken so we went downstairs via an alternate way. The view from there was so surreal.
We spent quite a good amount of time fulfilling ourselves with the magnificent view and some time in the shelter when it rained. Our return journey was on the same evening and we’d be traveling via the same train which we boarded a day before. Trekking all the way back to Castle Rock was definitely on our minds. Earlier we had thought that we’d get on the train from the Dudhsagar station as it was nearer to the falls. The guy who boarded the train from Castle Rock in the morning informed us that Dudhsagar station would be heavily crowded as it was a weekend and the train doesn’t stop for much time. The better option would be to board the train from Sonalium station, which was 4 kilometers from the fall. We opted for that option.
We bid goodbye to the glorious fall and started trekking towards Sonalium station. When we left Dudhsagar falls, it was raining and a little bit cold. It’s strange how the weather changes within a short span of distance. We crossed two tunnels, walked for some time and all of a sudden it was sunny! 1 km far from the fall, there is a viewpoint from where one could see the entire fall.
We dropped our raincoats there and basked under the sun. After relaxing for some time, we started trekking again and surprisingly, it started raining heavily! So, we kept trekking in heavy rains and after walking for about 3 kilometers from the fall we were getting tired. We just wanted to reach the station and relax our feet. Trekked another kilometer and at last we reached the station. Phew! We waited at the station and the train arrived after half an hour or so. Thankfully, there were very few people on that station so we were not worried about boarding the train.
After boarding the train, a squad guy came to our seat and asked for tickets. Here comes the kicker. Our reservation was from Castle Rock and we boarded the train before that ;) I showed the tickets on my cell phone and he said that we didn’t have tickets from Sonalium to Castle Rock so we were violating the law and we’d have to pay fine. Holy shit! We payed the fine and learned a lesson. I guess we were lucky enough that no one asked for tickets when we were traveling from Castle Rock to Dudhsagar station because our reservation was till Castle Rock ;) Word of advice: book your tickets to and from Kulem. Although the train halts at a few stations between Castle Rock and Kulem, but none of them are official. So you won’t find them while booking tickets.
The train crossed the fall and this time I experienced the fall from inside the train. I gave it a flying kiss, bid au revoir and resorted to my seat. We thought of having an early dinner and call it a night. We had no other option than eating pantry food. Because it was a little bit earlier, the dinner was not available so we waited for it. Here’s a fun fact. The train halts at a station which has a very strange name. Londa. I know, right? The thing is the letter ‘D’ is pronounced just like you pronounce it in ‘dada‘ or ‘dadi‘. So it is pronounced like ‘Lon-Da‘. Just in case if you’re going to mention this to anyone ;) You’re welcome.
After dinner, I just crashed on my berth and I slept like I never did before. Asad said I slept like a dead man. Ok, I am kidding, but you know what I mean, right? We reached Pune early morning on 31st August. Whew! All journeys eventually end in the same place, home.
So glad that Dudhsagar happened :)
Originally published here.