All of us love fairy tales, don’t we?
It was the enchanting tale of a princess that had brought me to Goa, on my way to the Dudhsagar Falls.
First, the tale. Once upon a time, there lived a princess on the edge of the woods. She was so beautiful that even the birds sang her praise and even the sun blushed and hid behind the clouds on her approach. The Princess followed a daily morning ritual. She would bathe in a serene and lovely pool in the woods, and after her bath would partake of sweetened milk from a golden jug. One day, it so transpired that she spotted a handsome prince watching her from behind some trees. Embarrassed at the invasion of her privacy and feeling vulnerable in her nudity, the Princess immediately flung the milk from the golden jug, in front of her, creating a sheet of flowing milk, that acted as a curtain, protecting her from the gaze of the Prince. Legend has it that the sheet of milk cascades down the slopes of the mountain to this day in the form of the gushing, milk like waters of the Dudhsagar falls. Dudhsagar in Hindi literally means “Ocean of milk”.
I was fascinated by this legend of the Dudhsagar falls. My interest was fuelled further by the enticing visual imagery of the falls in a Bollywood movie. So much so, one summer morning found me hopping into a cab at Bogomolla beach, Goa, where I had been camping for a couple of days. My destination, Dudhsagar Falls.
Where is Dudhsagar Falls
The Dudhsagar waterfalls, which is among the 100 highest waterfalls in the world is situated in the Indian state of Goa. The waterfall has a height of about 310 metres and an average width of about 30 metres. The falls assume spectacular proportions during the rainy season when they are fed abundantly by the monsoons, and the water cascades down in a silver avalanche, adding to the beauty of the Western Ghats.
The majesty of the Dudhsagar falls can be best viewed from a train as it passes the small Railway station of Dudhsagar. But our plans were different, we intended to travel to the base of the waterfalls.
As mentioned earlier we had been camping in Bogmalo, a small beachside village in the south of Goa, where the beach was virtually empty in the mornings. Inquiries revealed that Dudhsagar Falls was at a distance of about 76 kilometers from here.
How we got to Dudhsagar Falls
We hired a cab that would take us to Dudhsagar Falls and drop us back. The driver explained that it would take about 5 hours to and from the falls, plus another couple of hours to reach the base of the falls and spend some time there. So it was a full day outing. We set off immediately after breakfast, with the sun just making its presence felt in the eastern horizon. We made a good time as the cab made its way through a winding road, dotted on both sides by swaying coconut palms. The vegetation was lush and it seemed that trees were crying out in joy after welcoming the first monsoon showers.
We soon reached a small town called Collem where the gateway to reach Dudhsagar Falls is located. The village is on the border of the Bhagwan Mahavir Sanctuary and Mollem National park. To reach Dudhsagar Falls we would need to either trek or hire a jeep that would take us 10 kilometres inside the National Park. Private vehicles are not allowed inside the Park. We hired a jeep and also had to hire mandatory life jackets for all of us.
We got into the jeep, the excitement rising within us as we entered and passed the gates and entered the National Park. The landscape dramatically changed as we drove over a dirt trail fringed by a canopy of trees. The jeep trembled and shuddered as we drove through uneven tracks into the wilderness. Very soon we came to a small stream of water and the jeep drove right into it. The driver informed us that sometimes the streams water would almost reach the windows of the closed jeep. Of course, the route we were taking would be closed in the rainy season, during the months of June, July, and August.
The jeep slithered through another stream as we looked out into the woods beyond the side of the road, willing some wild animals to make an appearance. The driver informed us that the forest was the home for wild animals like the Black Panther, Leopard, Bengal Tiger and their ilk. A chill did go throughs our spine as we involuntarily rolled up the windows. However, the driver assured us that the animals would be deep inside the forest and never ventured till the track that we were on.
Soon we reached the point where we needed to leave the jeep behind and trek to the base of the waterfalls. After viewing some acrobatic antics by a few monkeys who lay siege to this place we started our the trek on our final leg of the journey to reach the base of the Dudhsagar Waterfalls.
The Final Trek to the base of the Dudhsagar Falls
We took in deep gulps of the fresh mountain air as we began the trek towards the base of the falls. The area was heavily wooded and sunlight barely pierced through the green cover.
We crossed a small wooden bridge with a rivulet meandering seductively below. We clambered over some rocks for a few photo ops and generally enjoyed the trek revelling in the wilderness and the beauty of nature at its best.
After a couple of kilometres, we reached a spot where we could behold the falls. A railway bridge spawned across the falls, giving it a unique, romantic charm. As if on cue, we heard the siren of an approaching train and soon a train rumbled across the bridge against the backdrop of the waterfalls. The scene before our eyes was straight out of a Hollywood or Bollywood movie.
Here is our video of Dudhsagar falls:
We were now almost near the base and came across a scattering of rocks of different shapes and sizes, we needed to climb over these rocks and then descend over to reach the pool at the base of the falls. The rocks were slippery, so we carefully negotiated the rocky path and were soon slipping into the cool waters.
The water was not more than 6 or 7 feet as the monsoons had not set in, we were informed that the water in the monsoons was as deep as 25-30 feet and not safe for swimming.
However, we had our life jackets on as a mandatory requirement and we swam towards the rocks where the falls plummetted and crashed from a height of 310 metres. After all, not every day do you get the opportunity to stand under such a natural shower.
The water of the pool was so cool and refreshing that the heat of Goa in summer was relegated to the inner recesses of our minds. We frolicked and played in the water like babies, to our heart’s content, before reluctantly stepping out of the pool.
We retraced the same route to find our jeep waiting for us and sank into it gratefully after some tiring activity. We were soon on our way back to Collem. I looked back as the jeep raised a cloud of red dust behind us to watch a lone monkey looking wistfully at us. “A penny for your thoughts”, I thought.
We were back in Collem and returned our life jackets and thanked the jeep driver for a great trip. We went in search of our cab, that would take us back to our digs in Bogmalo, but not before we downed a couple of glasses of fresh sugarcane juice, which tasted like manna from heaven to our thirsty palates. We settled ourselves into the cab and decided we would have lunch at one of the Spice Gardens on the way. It would be a lunch combined with a tour of the Spice garden, and we looked forward to the experience.
Do watch this video shot during monsoon when Dudhsagar falls is at full glory. Though the video is bit lengthy, it is worth a watch to get a complete view. Must watch full screen in HD mode.
Video Credit: daintellekt
Some tips if you plan to visit Dudhsagar Waterfalls
- If you plan to visit the base of the falls, then May would be the best month, the place would be closed between June, July and August owing to heavy rains and flooding
- One can view the falls from a train as well, but of course, this is a different experience
- From Collem you need to take the official jeep that will ferry you to and from from the falls and is available on a shareable basis. You also need to hire the life jackets which your Jeep driver will assist you in getting
- The rocky path near the base of the falls is quite slippery and steep in places and may not be suitable for the elderly and infirm
We sat on the sands of Bogmola beach,the waves gently caressing our feet as we thought about the story of a Princess and a Prince and a jug of milk.
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