“…there ain’t no journey what don’t change you some.”
There are two kinds of travels. The sort of travel that is a good escape from routine life and the sort of travel which is not just travel but an experience in itself. The sort of travel that is truly mesmerizing and it takes a special place in your mind, your heart and in your life. It is not just the journey or the destination, but the entire story behind it that makes it a little bit more special. How can you not love such kind of travel? I just love it and fortunately I experienced one recently. I went to check out India’s 5th tallest and I guess the most scenic waterfall – Dudhsagar Waterfalls (which literally means sea of milk)! How was my experience? Read on.
During the last 2 months I had the fortune to travel on the weekends and check out a few places. My last blog post was about a drive to the beauteous Tamhini ghat and it was some time ago. After that, I’ve been to Lohagad fort and Kirkee War Cemetery before I went to experience Dudhsagar Waterfalls. I intend to write blog posts about them, but I am most excited to note down my trip to Dudhsagar Waterfalls. Someone has truly said “We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.” I, for one, can say that my previous travels were certainly a good distraction, which I hoped them to be and I am glad I got a chance to wander a little bit. However, I consider my travel to the legendary Dudhsagar falls an encounter with fulfillment.
So, I had a desire to visit it for some time and the month of August seemed a right time to witness the falls in its full glory. I discussed about it with my buddy (Asad) and he expressed an interest to join me. Luckily, we had a 3 day weekend at the end of August because of Ganesh chaturthi, which is a big festival in Maharashtra. Well, what do I call it? Pure coincidence or serendipity? Seemed like it was a calling!
The fall is located on the border of Goa and Karnataka and it can be reached via a train journey to the nearest station to it and some trekking from there until the fall. I decided to book train tickets in advance. I booked tickets on 11th August, but I couldn’t book return tickets as advance ticket booking was full. Damn! The only option was to book those tickets via tatkal booking. If we could book, fine else que sera sera.
The day was getting closer when we’d embark on our beloved and awaited journey. Little did I know how the events would unfold! I had booked tickets for 29th August so that we’d return by 31st August and have that day to rest. On 28th August, there was a major release of the project I and my team was working on. On the day of release a developer and a QA from the team has to provide extended support. Now, everyone had planned their holidays and no one was available except me and a teammate of mine. How lucky me 😛 Asad was also gonna be there in the office for extended support. I was not bothered about the support. I was concerned if any major issue occurred on live environment, then I might have to be present at the office. Luckily, things went well and I left the office at 11.45 pm. Asad told me he was there till 12.30 am!
Finally, the awaited day arrived and both of us had decided to try booking tatkal tickets from our places. We both were constantly communicating who reached at which stage of booking. Whoever reached the payment gateway first would inform the other one to hold the booking for a moment. With all the details ready I was totally geared up to book those tickets. The booking opened and within moments I reached the payment gateway. I clicked the ‘Pay’ button and those blessed words turned up on my screen “Congratulations! Your booking was successful.” What a feeling! Dudhsagar, here we come 🙂
We traveled via Vasco – Hazrat Nizamuddin Goa Express and it was scheduled to depart at 4.35 pm from Pune station. Before leaving for the station, I went to a place nearby for lunch and I already put on the clothes I intended to wear on my trip. I was on my way back to my room and all of a sudden it started to rain. Not just a drizzle, but it rained cats and dogs. I was completely drenched by the time I reached my room. I certainly did not anticipate that and now I’d have to put on something else. Awesome! (Sarcastically) Thank you, rain Gods! Probably, it was an omen in disguise.
We boarded the train and our journey began. There was no point in sitting on the seat and watch the scenery through the welded obstacles in the window. The best part of the journey is to stand at the door side, enjoy the view and feel the wind. I walked up to the door side and let the wind tickle my face and hair. Pretty soon Asad also came by and we stood there for a long time until we felt an urge to seat. Meanwhile, we clicked some photos too.
It was an overnight journey. We’d be reaching to our destination early morning a couple of hours before dawn. We thought of having dinner at Satara station where the train was supposed to halt for a few minutes. To our surprise there was no food vendor on the entire platform! Not only at Satara, but at the following stations too! Our last hope for dinner was the food sold inside the train. Somehow it was edible, so we filled our tummies and went to sleep. Word of advice: it’s better to carry your own food.
We were supposed to reach the Castle Rock station at 3 am. Whether it is a weekday or a weekend, I adore my sleep and I most certainly don’t like waking up early. But, the excitement of the trip didn’t let me sleep much and I woke up even before the alarm went off! Our reservation was till Castle Rock, from where most of the people trek to the falls. The distance from Castle Rock to the falls is approximately 11-12 kilometers. Did we do that? Absolutely not. I did some research on the Internet and I came to know that our train would make a halt (not official, but a technical halt) at Dudhsagar station, which is at 1 km distance from the falls. We wanted to skip trekking and spend maximum time at the fall. What better than that?
Most of the people in our coach got off at the Castle Rock station. A guy boarded from there and entered our compartment. We started talking and he told us that he worked for the railways. Just like us he was also going to get off at Dudhsagar station. He provided us some really useful information. He mentioned that there is a church near to the station where we could rest; he told us not to bathe in the fall as the fall is really wild and it is unsafe to do; also, there were some casualties recently. We had no plans to bathe in the fall. Glad we had that guy traveling with us!
The train halted at Dudhsagar station. We reached there around 3.30 am. It was pitch dark and it was raining. We got off and we started walking towards the church, which is like 250 meters from the station. We were walking on railway tracks and there was no visibility. Luckily, Asad was carrying a torch which was absolutely helpful at that time. Word of advice: do carry a torch because you’re gonna need it more than you think. Soon enough we saw a light and it seemed we had reached the church. Actually, it is a chapel. There is an idol of Jesus, some shelters and some burning candles. Bless the people who built that chapel next to railway tracks and keep those candles burning 🙂 Also, thank you dear Jesus!
We rested on the chapel floor under Jesus’ shelter and we decided we’d trek to the falls after dawn. We had the company of other travelers who also decided to skip trekking from Castle Rock. I noticed a guy brought newspapers, which he laid down on the floor and 2-3 people slept on those papers. What an idea, sirji! It must’ve been around 6.30 am when I woke up and noticed most of the people had left the chapel and there were only some of us inside. It sounded like it was raining. I came out of the chapel and realized there was a waterfall next to the chapel. Hence, the sound effect! Alright, enough of rest. It was time to do some trekking and embrace the destination.
Walking on railway tracks was altogether a completely different experience. Also, before reaching the fall we’d crossed tunnels too! Exciting, right? It certainly is. After all memories and experiences are the best souvenirs you take back from a journey. We were crossing a tunnel and I was clicking a pic inside from it. Meanwhile, Asad, who was walking behind me, all of a sudden captured me in his cam. How did I react?
We kept walking and crossed two tunnels. Thank god no trains entered the tunnel when we crossed! Pretty soon we reached a board that said