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.