We all like our birthdays to be special right ? Of course, we all love it. Since my friend was turning a year older, we wanted to make it more special. And what better way of celebrating these special days than going on a road trip with your friends. Escaping from the corporate rituals of cake cutting and partying we decided to do something more exciting and planned a road trip from Pune-Mahabaleshwar-Goa-Dudhsagar-Pune.
Planning a road trip with all your friends in the group has always been challenging especially when they are from different cities and duties in India. But in no time we all were convinced,united and ready to travel to this beautiful place. Who knew, I would fall in love with this place and would be inspired to travel more.
10 friends, 2 cars, 4 days and a trip to remember of the year 2016. I was already hopping with, excitement of the plan. Monsoons and mountains in Western Ghats,India are a view to admire and the road trips become more exciting.
Before we headed to our main destination Dudhsagar, we had planned a day each to stay in Mahabaleshwar and Goa. The road trip was for 4 days and a birthday to be celebrated. Taking small breaks at these locations turned out to be whimsical and interesting. Driving amidst the Western Ghats in Monsoons is one of the most incredible travel experiences in India. Lush greenery, scenic waterfalls, tropical evergreen forests everywhere you see and soul soothing climate.
The day of the Trek to Dudhsagar
Goa was our prime location to head to Dudhsagar falls, an evening stay in Goa and early morning drive of 68 kms to Dudhsagar trek location was the plan. There are various ways to travel to the falls but our way was the Highway. One of the finest drives I have ever had was from Goa- Baga to Kullem Station, Karnataka. Beautiful highway with stunning scenic views at both sides. I was surprised to see how well maintained the roads were in the monsoons.
Dudhsagar falls are located at the border of Goa and Karnataka. The plan was to hit the trek route by morning 11:00 AM so that we could spend our evening at the beautiful falls. There are various ways to reach Dudhsagar falls. The most common are the below two:
- The first option is to begin the trek from Kulem and follow the jeep trail until the bottom of the waterfall.
- The second option is via the railway track of taking a train from the Kulem station to the midway of Londa junction and then, a rail trek of 14 kms to Dudhsagar where you walk through the tunnels to reach the falls.
We had a days time with us hence, we chose the second option of a train midway and than a rail trek of 3 hours to the falls. Little did we know that we are going to see a marvelous jungle route and experience the stories of the Southern west Railways. Looks all easy right ? Well not that easy, we took help of a tour guide near the station who would help us in the right direction. The local guide knows everything about the place he belongs to and will help you out with some good local stories. The rains were pouring heavily ,we knew it was going to be super fun and adventurous. We all geared up with our raincoats and followed the guide.
Before we took our trains we quickly grabbed some good food from the Jungle cafe near Kulem Station. Good food and rainy weathers are my favorites. The local guide had given us the details of the train and instructed us to headed to the Kulem station post our lunch. The train was a bit late and hence we grabbed some time to dance.
The train took 45-50 minutes to drop us at the Londa Junction where we had to get down for our Rail trek. Now, when we say Rail Trek that means we walk through the tracks, on the tracks besides tracks. There were number of small tunnels where we would pass through. There were only a few other travelers with us.
Passing through these beautiful Rail treks ,forests and valleys you would imagine yourself in VFX movie effect scene on a crest . They are lushy green, scenic trees, misty clouds and cool breezes. Also you could hear Cicadas and crickets making sounds.
Our local guide was a Storyteller and I love stories. I absolutely find them so energetic and full of story buffs. Sometimes they tend to add their own mixture of fiction and imagination. But they are also wise and knowledgeable with the real world and often give you great advises of travelling through Jungles, waterfalls, ifs, buts and know how. While we walked through the tunnels and Tracks, he narrated stories of Western ghats and South Western railways from the time of British era and their role of establishing these railways.
The one who dares is a ‘Traveler’, walking along these tracks and mystic forests the fog would appear as we walked and disappear suddenly in the valleys giving us goosebumps . My mind was already boggled and stunned with what I was seeing. Such beauty exists and I couldn’t stop smiling. I assume we all were mesmerized with what we were experiencing on our way and even more excited. We were all alert too , since the Guide gave us clear instruction’s and warned us about the trains passing through tunnels we were all on our toes to act. The trek is not that hard but yes the Rail tracks are surrounded by hard Pebble stones and are a pain to walk. Having a good grip shoe and travelling light helped us all. The guide knew all the schedules of the trains passing through that trek and also used his senses and experience of the incoming trains through a distance. The Tunnels we went through were dark, mobile lights and a few light torch helped us through the tunnels and lead us to light.
The weather was too perfect to be true. We experienced heavy rains however; the grey clouds would just vanish to help us to see the views, which totally overwhelmed my mind as how Universe helps you to seek of what you really want. We were drenched, wet but not tired. Now that’s the vibes of the perfect weather and the destination. When the falls were near, Guide instructed us well with the surroundings and asked us to be ready with our cameras. The first view we had was from a distant.We walked for another 30 minutes before we could get to the actual location of the huge waterfalls.
The sight of the huge milk like white waters falling down was spellbound and we all ran towards it at once. Dudhsagar – Sea of milk is a beauty of waterfalls. Falling from 1017 feet makes it one of the largest waterfalls of India. It is a sight to see. The weather turned rainy again while we were at the Falls and hence I couldn’t capture much here. To save our gadgets from getting wet , we had to quickly wrap them in dry cover. We spent an hour at the falls, hopping all over and making the best of the time. Rains are never a problem for me, but a little clear sky would have made the best. I cant really complain, it has been one of the most memorable and beautiful experiences of my life till the date. I still dream of those green lushy forests and valleys and would love to go here again and again and again.
Goodbyes are hard for me especially when you have such incredible experiences of your life, but we couldn’t spend more time since it was getting dark and our trip was about to get over.
It was getting dark at 7:00 PM and we were rambling around at an unknown station to go back to Kulem. This place had it all. Cozy station, fuddled weather, cool breezes and a Station Master staying in his small hut. His room had a small kitchen to cook and a cotton mattress on the floor to sleep. I saw his uniforms hanging on the hooks of the wall. Quite a nostalgia from the episodes of Malgudi days. We all waited there for our next train to come and the guide would load us. Yes, that’s how we retreat to our homes now. It was already dark and we could not walk and go back from the Rail tracks. The only way we could go back is via Maal Gaadi. We had another group of boys joining us at the station to get back home in the ‘Maal-Gaadi with the guide. It started raining heavily and a bit cold too. We all stood in a crowd discussing how more exciting would this get now. ‘Sab idhar aajao’ instructed the guide and we all gathered in the small hut of the Station Master. He gave a few instructions and explained how do we go back to Kulem at that hour in the Maal Gaadi which would only stop for 2 minutes and will have to take this opportunity to climb up the compartment which had no steps but a broad horizontal iron gate.
This is where we got more curious now. 15-17 people to climb up the compartment and 2 minutes. To add more anticipation the guide kept a chair ready with him; as soon as the Maal Gaadi would stop he would keep a chair and Open the lock of the gate so we could enter. The plan was not to get hurt or not to be panicked since there would be less time for everyone to climb safely.
The adrenaline was already rushing since we were all wondering how would this be, sounds easy but no way! We all waited inside the hut. As soon as the Station Master signaled about The Maal gaadi arriving, we all rushed and stood patiently while the guide used the hammer to pull the hook from the lever. The iron gate slammed down and now we had to enter. I volunteered to step first (always the excited pup). It was raining and I could hear my friends yelling ‘chadh ja’, and I leaped at my first attempt rolling on the floor of the compartment. As soon as I caught any sight, I saw my friends climbing and helping each other to climb up safely. It was dark inside but an open Maal gaadi. All our phones were almost dead and the camera batteries too. Since the train would move fast and we had no seats to sit we all gathered in groups and stood in corners of the compartment.
I felt few stone crumbles on my hands and a couple of them in my mouth too, and oh Boy ! The compartment was of the charcoal carriers and I swept the floor while I rolled to get inside. My face and body was covered with the charcoal pebbles and dusts. I looked like the labor of the coal mines. No wonder why everyone gave a big laugh when they saw my face in the tiniest ray of the light.
We could feel the drizzles on our faces and the loud rush sound of the falls from the hills. What a splendid and extraordinary experience we had that evening. As soon as the train entered into the narrow valley of the forests, we saw star like twinkling objects of the light and we realized that – they were ‘Jugnoo’ – Glow-worms. We all were stunned and amazed by looking at the twinkling glow-worms. In few minutes, everyone in the compartment was hushed and all I heard was the sound of waterfall, all I could see was shining worms on the trees and all I could feel was – sheer Happiness. This continued for few more minutes. There was a moment where we could see the glow-worms coming close to us. They were so intriguing that I lifted my hand to touch them as if lifting my hand to reach for the stars. They were so Magical, as if the forests were covered with the glow-worms sheets, so beautiful to see but difficult to reach, extraordinary but so fragile.
This is very little that I could describe about the sight that evening. An evening with the glow-worms was so magical.
I still remember that evening and perhaps has been one of my favorite evenings till date.
I never get tired of reciting my experience of this place to everyone I know.
“Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen” – Benjamin Disraeli
Since our camera batteries were dead and we could not capture more of this beauty, I wish I could capture atleast one memory of that evening with me of the glow worms but, deep in my travel journeys, I will remember them forever and would love to see them again.
I had an extraordinary and unbelievable experience in Dudhsagar . When are you having yours ?
Photo credits and Travel Facts:
The Photo credits goes to my dear friend Utkarsh Gupta who ensured we made memories to see.
No one was hurt in the Mall Gaadi train, we all traveled back safely to Goa that night and took some good sleep before our drive next day. The Local guide with us knew pretty awesome stuffs about the local area and the Rail tracks were safe for our journey.
Travel experiences are a must, they not only make you see the beauty of the other world but also leave you with deep thoughts.