Wednesday, September 16, 2009

DUDHSAGAR FALLS

Dudh Sagar (Konkani words, also spelt doodh sagar in Hindi) literally means sea of milk. This is the name given to a waterfalls in the tiny state of Goa, in India. Since the water rushes down the hills and sort of looks white and foamy during the monsoon, it has earned the name as such. Of course there is a legend/myth around this name as well, like many places in India. In short, the story goes as follows. There was a princess who used to bathe in the falls a long time ago. She used to drink a jug of milk right after her bath everyday it seems (don't ask me why!). one day she was startled to see a handsome prince (what did you expect) who had stumbled on to the falls and since she was in the buff, she grew red in the face and poured the jug of milk in front of her into the waterfall. This milky white water shielded her for a brief moment that it took the attendants to drape a cloth over her and protect her modesty. Anyway, I am sure it was better told in a long and romantic version than my twitter style abridged version.


(Top of falls from a distance - click on all the pictures for an expanded view)

The falls has a total fall height of 1017 feet, the ecosystem around the hills and the falls is almost pristine, the mining activity has been at a fair distance away and thank heavens for that. The falls is located in the hills of Goa off a bumpy highway NH-4A, about 45 Kms from Madgao. The destruction of the road and red mud colors of the tarmac is a result of Iron Ore mining in the area and spill over from mining trucks that speed along this highway. I went on an earlier trip during the dry season and drove all around Goa. I can safely say that these mining trucks are best avoided, they drive at breakneck speed, are rash with their turns and sometimes you can get stuck behind a convoy of them belching thick black smoke.


(Not spectacular in dry season as one can see above)

Once you get off the Highway, it’s OK though. At Collem, one needs to get into an SUV and there are several of them operated by local companies there. “Normal” cars are best left parked. The terrain is muddy, rocky and no road exists in many sections. The only way is by these SUV’s that one can hire with driver either exclusively or by sharing with other visitors. This is all easily done. The SUV will take you to the falls and after an hour and a half, bring you back to where you had parked our car (or bus if you came by bus or any other transportation from Madgao. I believe there is a train service between Madgao and Collem. I am not sure of the frequency or costs as I have not experienced it.

Bhagwan Mahavir Forest surrounds the falls and the Forest Department collects money as Entrance Fee. I think it wasn’t more than Rs. 20 (less than 50 cents US). There are additional charges for cameras like they do in many places in India and these charges are based on the type of camera one has, an ordinary still camera is cheaper than video ones. Of course I find it funny. These days a lot of people just carry their cell phones that have great cameras and video capability too. That’s not charged. So, go figure.


(View from front seat of an SUV crossing the stream)

Riding in the SUV is great fun. The vehicle goes in and out of large depressions in the ground, over rocks and also crossing shallow streams. The drivers are good and what looks like a hairy piece of road is easy for them. I guess this is the exciting part of visiting the falls because once you get there, if the crowds are low, it is mostly quiet. You’d run into lots of monkeys in the wild but not much else (because of all the human activity) unless you got great vision or staring up at trees on the hill side. Maybe you’d spot something more exotic. All I saw were monkeys and spiders, both easily seen in my home town of Mysore. We grew up with monkeys as neighbors. I mean real monkeys, I’m not calling any of my human neighbors as monkeys, they were nice people.


(British built bridge)

The falls had enough water in it, although it wasn’t the season. However, crowds were absent (lucky me) and this tranquil place is best enjoyed with a cool dip in the pool at the foot of the falls. Looking up at the top of the falls, one can see an old Railway Bridge. That was built during the British occupation of India and the trains chugs down the hills, past the falls mid way, on it’s way to Goa or Karnataka on the other end of the line. The bridge and train are still in use as regular service, some people stop coming from Karnataka get off at the Castle Rock station and trek down to the falls.


(At the foot of the falls, a large pool is formed and ideal place to chill)

In the monsoon, when the falls is at its full glory, everything is wet and slippery so be careful and wear the right type of clothing. Watch out for leaches when you trek. Enjoy the bountiful nature around, there’s nothing there that will jump out of the scrubs and eat you so go ahead and be adventurous. Leaving the falls, I came across a resort on the side of the Highway, surrounded by greenery and thickly wooded and well maintained. There was a good restaurant on site with some nice food options. I believe that there were rooms for staying also but I did not stay back and continued on my journey. For those who have been there, I'm sure you had a good time. Others, I'd say you should make a part of your trip to Goa to do things away from the Beaches. There's lots more to Goa and hopefully I'll blog more about my adopted State.

20 comments:

Swaram said...

U do visit some wonderful places Captain, don't u :P

Lovely pics :)

N the twitter-style story - gud one ;)

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Thanks Swaram. I have been plain lucky I guess to be able to travel so much. I still have a few more things on my list of places that I simply have to visit. Thanks for the compliment on the ultra short "love" story!

YOSEE said...

Informative and chatty, nice travelogue, Capt ! Never managed to include this waterfall in any of our Goa trips.Perhaps next time...Thank goodness the ecosystem is still pristine. The sight must be glorious when the falls is fully loaded....i like that twittered-down fairy tale, though it sounds ek-dum corny like our 70s movies.For all we know,Prince Charming would have had an eyefull even before the lady or her inattentive attenders cried " I Spy !"....I'm surprised how the Babus have not yet wisened up to cellphone cameras !
(BTW, i too grew up in mysore with monkeys as neighbours - both simian and human varieties.)

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Yosee: Wow, I did not know you grew up in Mysore! Hopefully I wasn't one of the monkeys in your neighborhood!

Regarding the beautiful princess, you may be right, a version of the story says that Prince Charming alias peeping Tom, was watching her from a hidden place and when she finished her bath and was about to drink the milk (had not dressed up yet) she spotted peeping Tom and that's when she poured out the contents into the falls. So, if that was the case, our friend got more than an eyeful!

Kamini said...

Nice story about the name behind the falls! Many years ago I traveled by train from Bangalore to Goa, through the most spectacular scenery, complete with several breathtaking waterfalls. Perhaps one of them was Dudhsagar.

Thanks for sharing the lovely pictures.

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Kamini: Glad you enjoyed it. If you went by train on the Dharwad-Londa-Madgao line, you'd have gone by Dudhsagar falls. I guess the Bangalore train goes on the same line. I'm sure you had a glimpse of the falls.

Although I did not blog about it in this piece, my first glimpse of Dudhsagar was December 1983, 26 years ago nearly, and it was on this train from Londa that literally crept down the mountains. At some stages of the journey down, one could get off the slow moving train and walk along side. The views were spectacular and the falls had water though it was December. I was a part of a trekking expedition then. This blog is based on a rather recent trip in dry season though.

avdi said...

That is a sweet story. I adore all the little stories around lakes and mountains in Himachal Pradesh too. A by-product of no-TV, no-Books era I guess. Trying to figure out why the water is so milky, its nicer to cook up a story about a princess trying to sheild her honour rather than some scientific explanation.

I liked the monkey-neighbor quip as well. I am glad I am not your neighbor.

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Avdi: Yes, interesting that such tales abound all over India and even here in many parts of SE Asia. My blog about Koh Samui in Thailand had old stories to tell. In Langkawi Island group in Malaysia I went to one of the Islands that has a sheltered fresh water lake in the middle and that had a story about the origin on=f that lake and so on. Such stories abound all over Indonesia as well. In India, there are many locations with stories connected with the Ramayana and Mahabharatha as you know. Then there are all these side stories made from local legends.

LOL about me as your neighbor, I wasn't that bad, my parents say I was a quiet little monkey growing up, I turned into a nasty monkey only in my late teens!

avdi said...

Yes, these stories and legends were the product of the imagination of people.

Your neighbors as monkeys reference (gulp - I hope your neighbors dont read blogs) reminds me of that wonderful book by Gerald Durrell, My family and other Animals.

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Avdi: I stop myself from writing more about local legends because after all many of these are well known legends, especially the ones related to Mahabharata and Ramayana. This one I was sure not many people know about, so I thought I'd mention this story.

Dudhsagar is not much talked about by visitors to Goa. Normally people stick to the beaches and do some "culture" trips by visiting the famous Mangueshi and Shanta Durga Temples. Of course everyone visits Old Goa, The Church of Bom Jesus where the body of St. Francis Xavier is kept and so on. I'd also suggest, with the above, a visit to Dudhsagar falls, Bhagwan Mahavir National Park visit and the not so famous (yet) Stone Age rock carvings/rock art in Pirla Village, Sanguem Taluka. I'd also suggest visiting a spice plantation in the Ponda area. There are old Kadamba period (12th Century) temples all around. Last but not least and I need to go there first, is the Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary. I believe it is on an island/mangrove setting with lots of bird species and also home to other creatures such as the crocodiles. Goa is not just about beaches..it's just been packaged as such.

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Avdi: Forgot to mention, in my long reply above, my ex-neighbors in Mysore have all disappeared somewhere and I don't think they have read my blogs ever. Good info about Gerald Durrel, I have not read his works. You are really very well read indeed.

avdi said...

Believe me, this book by Gerald Durrell rocks absolutely. It was also on the must read book list of all times.

If I do visit Goa, I would need to loiter on the beaches for a long time. Its been ages !!! I am in a landlocked region right now.

Good thing your neighbours have gone to other habitats.. hehe.

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Avdi: One more to add on my list of books to read. Thanks again! wrt to my ex neighbors, maybe they have evolved! hehehe...so rude of me!
I hear you on being land locked. Loitering around beaches, feeling the soft sand under my feet, letting wavelets pass over them...oh i love that feeling. That's why I adopted Goa as home!

Kamini said...

I did go on the Londa - Margaon line! So I must have seen the Dudhsagar falls! It was January, and my memory tells me that there was a lot of water in those falls.

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Kamini: Yes indeed, that was Dudhsagar. Good there was much water then because the dry season would have set in by then, when I took the pictures it was dry season too but there was water. Unlike Jog falls that almost completely dries up in dry season, there is always some water in Dudhsagar. I am sure this is because of the ghats and trees trapping the moisture and percolating the same slowly. Dudhsagar feeds Mandovi, our major river in Goa as you know. That's why I keep on harping about protecting trees and our eco system even if it means I sound like a broken record.

JJ said...

Interesting and informative........!!! am impressed :)

Paresh said...

hi Capt...
Your blog is very helpful even after 2 yrs.. I am planning for a drive from Mumbai to Palolem and wanted to visit Dudhsagar. Came across your post while searching for information on the falls (specially whether it is worth visiting during summer).
I am a avid traveller myself and have taken to blogging only recently.. have not been able to write much, but your blog does inspire me to pen down my drives and ride..

Keep blogging. thanks.
Paresh

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Thanks Paresh, I wrote this towards the end of 2009 I think. I have been there once more since but not as close to it..all the best with your travels, enjoy and do blog about it..I used to write much more than I do now..cheers!

Martha Jos said...

Dear sir , thanks for the informative story, i 'm planning to go to duddhsagar, so can you please tel me which is the best season to visit the place

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Martha, anytime is fine but post monsoon time is best as there's obviously more water down the falls. We went in September and it was very nice then.