If the beauty of Dudhsagar Falls is a sight to behold, the journey to reach it is an experience in itself
Do you remember that scene from Chennai Express where Shah Rukh Khan meets Deepika Padukone’s ‘Don’ dad for the first time? Despite being a movie buff this one scene always took my attention away from the foreground. A gorgeous Deepika, Shah Rukh with his comic timing and a horde of scary-looking goons, yet the eye travelled to the lush green backdrop with waterfalls, making me wonder if it was real or all graphics. It was such a sight to behold — the lead pair disembarking from a train with the waterfall in full flow behind them — that it immediately made it to the top my bucket list.
Perched on the high peaks of the Western Ghats, Dudhsagar Falls (deriving its name from the clouds of foam that form at the waterfalls; literally meaning sea of milk) is a three-streamed waterfall on the Goa- Karnataka border. Cascading down good 1,000 feet in what appears to be milky-white sheets, these falls are made when Mahadayi River in Karnataka falls as the Mandovi River in Sonaulim on the Goan side. One of the most beautiful in the world, these waterfalls have featured in many South Indian films too.
One fine Friday, an impromptu plan took us to the place we had been intent on visiting since we saw Chennai Express. A quick homework told us that from Bangalore, all we needed was a weekend to see the mighty and pristine falls from up close. As they say, spontaneous plans are the best you ever make. High on energy and excitement, we booked train tickets from Bangalore to Londa Junction in Rani Chenamma Express for the next day. Around 8 in the morning, we got down at Londa Junction and as the lungs inhaled the fresh air, the eyes feasted merrily on the recently-washed greenery around. For people coming from the hustle-bustle of a city, even a small station like Londa can surprise with its beautiful and freshening view.
While taking in the view, we spotted a vendor selling hot vada-pav — a perfect way to start the beautiful day. After having our fill of fresh vada-pavs, we boarded an autorickshaw for Ramnagar bus stand which is around 4km from Londa Junction. Once there, we hired a cab for `2,500 (including life jacket fee and a meal) to take us to Dudhsagar and drop us back at Ramnagar. Dudhsagar also boasts of a station. However, it does not have any passenger amenities as the trains stop at the station only for technical reasons and not for passengers. The Railways have clarified that it is highly unsafe for the public to access Dudhsagar through rail route.
The cab driver took us into Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary, to a parking lot in the forest area. It took us around 45 minutes to reach the place. The drive, however, was unlike any other. The breathtaking view, tiny waterfalls sprouting from here and there and the clear air had already started to work its magic; we were blissfully energised and feeling alive. From there, it’s a 15-minute walk through the forest, along a stream, to reach impression of having created fog or clouds. We had never seen such beauty of nature in such an untouched, pure and enchanting form.
Standing below the falls, the water droplets falling on our faces, we had never felt more relaxed. No rejuvenation or relaxation plan in a spa or anywhere could come even close to this. No matter how tired we were after that overnight journey or how tensed our body muscles might have been after months of sitting in a chair in office, we were instantly refreshed the moment we entered the pool where the water from the falls collected. (In case you don’t know how to swim, do remember to carry life jacket with you else life guards might not let you in.) Also, its better to avoid the rainy season as you will not be able to enter into the falls due to gushing water, although during monsoon the beauty of Dudhsagar is at its height. Such is the strength of the falls during monsoons that the water flowing from the top completely drenches the passengers of any train passing by.
After completely drenching ourselves and satisfying our souls in the cool water for more than a couple of hours, we finally realised it was time to head back. As we packed our bags, a little story from the life guard gave our trip’s script the end we could have never thought of. We didn’t know that like many places in India, the Dudhsagar Falls also had a legend attached to it.
As per the young guard, there was once a powerful and wealthy king who ruled a kingdom in the Western Ghats. Apart from the opulent palace in the hills which was surrounded by vast gardens full of deers and pretty animals, the king also had a beautiful daughter. She used to enjoy her baths in the picturesque lake on the edge of the palace. She would have sugared milk after the bath in a jug made of gold.
One of the days, when the princess was finishing her jug of milk after the bath she saw a handsome prince watching her from behind the trees. Embarrassed, she poured the milk in front of her to make a kind of curtain while one of the maids rushed to get her dress.
It is believed, since then the milk poured by the princess continues to flow down the mountainside as a mark of tribute to the everlasting virtue and modesty of the Princess of the Ghats; thus named Dudhsagar – a place which I would always look forward to visiting again and again.
Words: Yogendar Singh