A milky white waterfall roaring and gushing down a rocky surface with lush greenery around and a passenger train of the Indian Railways passing in the foreground, the first time I saw the picture of this amazing waterfall was a year back in an email forward. It was love and astonishment at first sight! The sight was enough to entice and the place was instantly on my must visit list. The wait had finally got over when a monsoon trek was being discussed and within no time the plan was ready – A trek to Dudhsagar was chalked.
We alighted at Castle Rock, a beautiful railway station nestled in the Western Ghats along the Karnataka-Goa border. Braganza Ghats, one of the well known ghat sections on the Indian rail network, began here at Castle rock. Hence most of the trains that cross over this small station make a stop here for the brake check and attachment/detachment of additional engines. The new station, though very rustic, stands opposite the old one which is completely abandoned and wears an undomesticated look with all the moss from the incessant rains adding to it. The old board along the loco shed and the tracks welcomes to the Braganza Ghats. The names here are very much Portuguese probably because this rail head was once part of the Portuguese-Indian railway and the erstwhile Portuguese settlement, Goa is just a stone’s throw away.
We began our trek at around 10.30AM and made our way along the track towards Dudhsagar waterfalls. The walk on the crossbars that lay under the railway track was not easy if not difficult. It was cloudy and made it easy for our lazy stroll. Within no time we crossed one tunnel and were at the entrance of another. The entrance of tunnel had evident Portuguese influence on it with a castle like structure and the cross symbol on it. The gang-man working his way along the tracks tightening the locks told us that it was the longest tunnel on the Braganza stretch. The tunnel of 400m plus length was not very dark since it was on a straight stretch rather another tunnel that we came across later; a much smaller one was more darker probably since it was on a curve.
The monsoon not only brings the bigger falls to life but also gives birth to a number of beautiful smaller falls. Along with intermittent rains, the lovely seasonal streams on the left side of the track and the vast landscapes on the right side kept us company all along the way and were making our lazy stroll more and more lazier. The waterfall just at the exit of the second tunnel was the first hot spot. Though not visible from the tracks, the buzz it created was sure to make its presence known. A couple of steps into the bushes and what you witness would be one of the best sights of water gushing down, if you happen to be there during the core monsoon. Most of these small waterfalls along this stretch are all rain fed and bustles with life during the monsoon months.
The next sight was of the waterfall inside a vault! Yes, the arch shaped vaults in the wall built to prevent the land slide looked like doors into the woods and at the first arch came down a silky beautiful stream that makes a ravishing sight. The moss covered arches on the wall made the perfect green frame rising up the ante.
While the left is dotted with waterfalls coming down in several tiers and beauty, the right boasts of an extravagant landscape with the huge rock being the first sight. A gigantic rock formation that looks like a hood on the green carpet of forest below looks like the dome of a castle.
Well, it wouldn’t be surprising if this rock was the reason for place to be named as Castle Rock. There are even some ruins of an old structure beside this rock that could be spotted from the tracks. This rock should definitely have had some importance during the good old days.
Breaking the monotony of the greenery on the vast landscape are the two sleek, but really long waterfalls that flow down the hill into the valley. Two waterfalls, probably seasonal are adjacent to each other and come down along the slopes of the hill amidst the forest. Its milky white waters make it distinctly visible even from a distance.
As we move ahead, we cross couple of tunnels and arrive at the scarpment viaduct, a small but high bridge built to connect the gap in the valley. The view from this point is something to cherish for some time to come and aptly makes for a pit stop. High raising rock mountain with green patches on it and a tunnel drilled right through the rock at the bottom and at the mouth of the tunnel was this bridge facing the valley. Time flies by in such company.
As the trek progresses, the welcome board at entrance of another tunnel signifies that we are crossing over the Karnataka – Goa border. Caranzol is another small station along the Braganza Ghats and marks almost half of the trek way. The entire trek way from Castle Rock to Dudhsagar is of 15kms and can be covered in 4-5 hrs by an average person unless you wait and adore all those beautiful sights along the stretch like it happened with us. It took us 4hrs only to reach Caranzol and we further had to cover the same distance to Dudhsagar. Dusk was soon approaching and we had to be quicker if it was to be made before night fell. The second leg from Caranzol to Dudhsagar of approx 9kms was done in 1 hour 45 minutes and we were at Dudhsagar railway station to watch the Nizamudhdhin express arrive at 5pm!
There were plenty of tourists awaiting the train after their visit to Dudhsagar and we walked past them into the tunnel ahead that had a ruined structure beside it. It probably was the old Dudhsagar station abandoned now, but it made an appreciable sight with the arch shaped windows of different sizes and high ceilings with bright green moss all over it.
As we walk out of the 9th tunnel from Castle Rock and walk by the curvy track, a sound could be heard that resembles a very heavy rainfall and as we cross the curve, the first view of the destination is at sight. The left segment of Dudhsagar gushing down in milky white!
Few hundreds of meters ahead and there was the famed bridge that is built across the waterfall and with it, the sight to behold! Adjectives fail to describe the amazement and awe that was running through my veins as I stood watching the Mondovi River gushing down as Dudhsagar falls. It was high, it was mighty, it was voluminous and it was taking the plunge at an incredible force while creating a view that matches no other. I admired and adored the mightiness of nature for I had never witnessed one such sight and it took time for me to sulk into the aura it created.
As it was late evening and since the last train for the day had left, the place had only very few people apart from us! We pitched our tents on the cement floor opposite to the waterfalls, right beside the railway track and made arrangements for the night. It had rained for most parts of the day and it wasn’t easy to light the fire due to the moist floor but we managed with some flames. We gorged on the food that we had carried and there were few other tents of others around. Night arrived soon and came along the rains as well. A mild drizzle as it began finally forced us to get into the confines of our tents. As the night became more darker all that we were left with were the lights from our torches and the thundering gush of river Mondovi coming down as the ocean of milk. Did I mention that she glittered even in the darkness of that night?
The night went on peacefully with the rains pouring down on our tents in huge drops making loud sounds but what woke me up was the shrill horn of the goods loco that passed by in the early hours of next day. The blaze of horn was so loud and shrill that for a moment it gave a feeling that our tent was probably on the tracks or may be the train is coming at us. Two more such locos passed by around 5AM and there was no point cuddling back into the tents after that.
I got up and took a stroll around the bridge. The visibility was not great but I could spot the white blankets of mist rising up from the valley. As the dawn broke, thin layers of mist passed in front of the waterfall making a chilly sight. There is a small shop serving tea, biscuits and light breakfast and we fed on the idly-chutney combo. There were a number of waterfalls around, small and big and since it was a Sunday, tourists had already started pouring in. We finished our morning chores and walked towards the view point.
The railway track takes a long U-turn just after Dudhsagar tunnel and almost after a kilometer it lay exactly opposite to the falls across the valley. I am not aware if it was engineered such that the view point falls at that place or if it just happened due to the geology. But what resulted was one of the best view points anyone could have asked for! The walk towards the view point takes us through few more waterfalls and as we walk ahead, the panoramic view of the majestic waterfalls opens up.
The view from the much talked about point is nothing but wonder! I have not known of any other waterfall that can be viewed in its entirety from one single point, from top to bottom, at least not this kind of a sight! River Mondovi gushing down the hills from a height of 300 plus meters into the gorge in several tiers fizzing up and churning milky mist! To add charm is the railway bridge! And the view when a train passes over that is probably unique only to Dudhsagar, trust me, there cannot be one such view anywhere in the world!
Finally, I was here witnessing the same view that I had relished and fallen for a year back! The view that cannot be matched with any other! Dudhsagar will continue to mesmerize forever!
Dudhsagar is located at the border of Karnataka and Goa. The viewpoint is another one km walk on the railway tracks from the falls.
HOW TO REACH:
By Rail: Dudhsagar has a small railway station listed as DDS in the rail network with all passing trains stopping over. The waterfall is less than a kilometer from here. Other major rail heads nearby are Castle Rock (CLR), Kulem (QLM) and Londa (LD).
By Road: Vehicles can reach only until the bottom of the falls from Kulem, Goa. Jeeps are available for hire and it’s advised to try this road only on a SUV.
You can even drive up to Castle rock station and start trekking.
By trek: It is the best and most advised route to reach Dudhsagar. Though there are couple of trek ways, the railway track trek from Castle Rock to Dudhsagar, with all those seasonal waterfalls and landscapes, can be a memorable one.
It is about 15kms and should take about 4-5hrs for an average person. If Castle Rock seems far then Caranzol station at about 8kms from Dudhsagar would be an ideal option.
If you are lucky then a goods loco would stop by when you ask for a lift! But do not risk jumping in front of it or into the running train!
If you are carrying your own tents then there is an open cement ground big enough to pitch about 25 8X8″ tents. There is a small roofed shed that can house about 25-30 people and available on first come first serve basis. Apart from these there is an abandoned house which could be used as shelter. There are no other means of stay at Dudhsagar. Kulem (15 kms) or Londa (30kms) are further options.
Two toilets are built behind the canteen and remains the only source available for daily chores.
A small canteen caters to the needs and serves tea and biscuits with limited breakfast and lunch. Early bird gets the worm!
THINGS TO REMEMBER:
Dudhsagar station does not have a ticket booking counter hence any return ticket needs to be booked at Castle Rock itself.
Castle Rock station can book you Tatkal tickets provided you carry all the documents.