The awesomeness of Doodhsagar waterfalls
Trip Start Aug 10, 2012
4Trip End Aug 15, 2012
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The next morning, we set off for the Doodhsagar waterfalls in the Vasco-Kulem passenger train. The map we had bought, turned out to be useful on this journey. Just before Kulem, is another station called Kalem, and without knowing the fact that these are two different, one could be forgiven for thinking that one is indeed the other. Since we had seen both Kulem and Kalem on the map, we were not confused. But some European girls, who were also on the train,were. They got off the train and had to jump on it again, making the train ride a great adventure for them !
From Kulem there are a couple of ways to the Doodhsagar falls. One is to through the forest, to the foot of the falls. The forest department has 4WD jeeps that take you there. Local guys also operate bikes to take you there. Another route is to reach the middle of the Doodhsagar waterfalls through Braganza ghat, along the railway track. You can either trek up to there or you can convince the motorman of a goods train to take you on board and hope you get a signal at Doodhsagar, so you can hop off the goods train. Passenger trains do not stop at Doodhsagar.
In the monsoon, the forest department doesn't operate the 4WD. However, that morning a huge tree had fallen off enroute the waterfall, so that road was closed down. The local guys there who operate the bikes agreed to be our guides and fixed up with the motorman of the train that was going to leave soon.
The European girls backed off because they were not sure of how it would be "through the tropical rainforest in the torrential rains". We had two Slovenian guys for company, though. So Chetan and I, the two Slovenain guys and a father-son(kid) pair from Mumbai, along with the two guides, perched ourselves outside the engine of the goods trains, and set off to visit the Doodhsagar waterfalls.
As the train gathered speed, we stood there at the edge holding on to the railing, with our cameras ready. With the wind in our face, climbing up the steep Braganza ghat on the seamless tracks fringed with lush green forest in a rhythmic motion...it was a liberating feeling !
The railways tracks actually trace a U over a valley approaching the Doodhsagar waterfalls. So the first glimpse of the falls is from across the valley. Our guide knew the exact point at which we would see the waterfalls, and he started shouting"camera ready, view point, view point". We got the cameras all ready....The train slowly(and extremely steadily) approached the view point....and i literally froze.
It was as if the Doodhsagar had hypnotised me. At that moment, I couldn't care about the camera, photograph, view point or anything else. I just couldn't get my eyes off it. Such is its spell from even so far off.
As the train approached the Doodhsagar station, we saw groups of people already there. There was one big group which had even pitched a tent on a platform there. We jumped off the train at the signal, and started approaching the falls. On the other side, we could see the lower end of the waterfall.
From afar, it looks like a misty cloud covered area around the waterfall. Its actually just the water splashing off the waterfall. Its momentum is strong enough for it to cross over the railways tracks onto the other side. The railway tracks were all wet around here and we had to put the cameras back in the bag.
By then, our guide told us it was time for the next goods train to pass, so we had to leave. We had not yet had our heart's fill, so we decided to chuck the train. We told them we wanted to spend more time there and didn't mind walking back all the way.
We reached the falls, and walked down the steps to get a closer look. Standing there on the steps, we were drenched with just the water splashing off the actual waterfall. Needless to say, you cant actually step under or into the waterfall.
We spent some more time around the waterfalls, seeing it in awe from every angle possible. After spending a couple of hours there, we started on our way back.
We crossed numerous tunnels, pausing to read the details about each one, mindful the whole while of the sound of any approaching train.
At several points, we saw people working on the tracks, mostly fixing the slipped out plates. It's a lot of hard work they put in, to ensure the safety of our trains on these tracks.
Initially it was fun walking along the railway tracks, taking in the forest and several smaller falls around. But after a while, it got hurtful. Some stretches didn't have enough spaces to walk next to the railway track, so you had to walk through it. And walking through the pointed stones starts hurting after a while. Besides, there was nothing really exciting about that to walk the whole 11 km.
One of the workers told us that a train would be coming soon and we could board it at the next station, Sonalium. We paced further and reached Sonalium just in time. Its one of those stations, where station means just a board saying Sonalium. It does not have a platform, they don't even issue tickets here. It was the Amravati Express and we climbed up through the staircase on the train.
Dudhsagar waterfalls are a popular weekend getaway from people along the Goa-Karnatak border. On weekends, especially Sundays, there are hoards of people from all age groups visiting this place. This is the first time I saw, that the goods train was a common mode of transport for the people to get to some place. The railway staff is very well aware of this, and are very co operative.
The lack of easy access and infrequent trains also gives rise to some dare devils here.