I was leading this group of 11 participants (kept small group for smooth execution of Dudhsagar Trek). Everyone was supposed to gather at suggested meeting point which was Pune Station around 3:30 PM. We had to catch Goa Express which starts from Pune at 4:20 PM. So Prashant and I took Hutatma (Bhusawal – Pune ) Express from Panvel at 9:00 AM along with the two participants who were unaware of how to reach Pune alone.
So called Travel Hacks
Many people are not aware of this train. As I always travel on budget and look for smaller savings. The travellers like me spend most of the time and money in transportation; I knew we need to save on this every time if we have to travel a lot in life. I never prefer a luxury travel and stay options. So guys, if you also want to save, make a note – this Train is available on all days & reaches Pune by 12:30 PM and more important is that it will cost you only INR 55 for the window seat. So here you save 200-400 bucks just to reach Pune station from Mumbai. To know more about travel hacks, subscribe & get regular updates.
The journey started from Panvel. On Saturday morning, train took a beautiful route beside Prabalgad, Irshalgad Trek and then Karjat. When train is empty, then you don’t want a seat – Newton’s forth law. Hence, I stood on the edge of an open door looking outside. Every hill top was covered by dark clouds and the supporting green landscape was making it a perfect picture to capture. I saw a group of friends getting down at Chowk station; I assumed that they must be heading to Irshalgad fort – an easy trek near Mumbai.
Though it was tempting for a photographer like me, I didn’t click a single picture of the monsoon beauty. Many thoughts swirling at the same moment also made me to think that I have trekked and travelled these places so often that somewhere in the drive I have stored these photos. As all these pictures are now into my adventure world which makes me fall in love with this nature again and again. Such a beautiful series of scenes fills souls of a Traveller, nothing else required to be happy in life. I started jotting down the places I have visited till now and surprisingly count went up to 100+ and still counting. Apart from that, many places I have visited multiple times, I have not counted that yet. So, I decided to start writing about the places I have visited so far. Dudhsagar has to be the first and the freshest blog to start with.
Intro & Instructions
Reached Pune & everyone gathered 10 minutes before train departed. Goa express was yet to arrive on platform and I started giving instructions and was informing about the seriousness of the Dudhsagar trek. Few of them were regular participants of Small Steps Adventures and so I was confident that everyone can walk 14 km for mighty Dudhsagar view.
Typical Indian passengers
Train arrived and like typical Indian passengers we rushed to the doors and everyone was trying to get in before people getting off the train from that same door. Once whole group entered into the coach S5, I allotted the births and strictly warned them to sleep as we had to wake up early. But everyone was not in the mood of sleeping. Quickly people started playing typical Indian group games like Antakshari (people are divided into groups – each group has to sing a song starting with the end letter of the prior group’s song) was up along with the snacks to keep the energy level high throughout the trip. We played cards as well, and we had barrel of fun non-stop.
Adventures of Dudhsagar Trek
Around mid-night, we slept on respective births; I checked the alarm in my cell phone for 3 AM. Within seconds I was asleep. It looked like just after 5 minutes, Prashant (my co-lead) woke me up saying Yogi its Castle Rock and we have less time to get ready. Immediately after that, Ganesh came saying our few participants are into S4 which is beyond pantry and pantry workers have took down the shutter and top of that he said there is no network. We were supposed to get down at Sonalium station where train halts for 30 seconds and I wanted each and everyone in front of my eyes or in one compartment before Sonalium. I again checked my watch and pinched myself just to confirm that I was not in a dream.
FYI, Sonalium station is just a railway halt. In other words, a station without platform. I started planning in my mind. Suddenly engine started making a crackling sound and I came to know that Castle Rock is arriving. I told Ganesh to get off at this station and get them into S5 from S4 before train starts again.
Battlefield of Dudhsagar
With announcement of GOA express arrival, heavy rain started or might be due to the roof of platform sound was getting bold. Though it was 3 AM, early in the morning, every trekker in the train was awake. Atmosphere in the train was bit tensed if you looked at the faces of participants and more tensed if you came across a trek leader of any trekking group. At some point of time, I felt like that we were on some battlefield and there was a sudden attack by an enemy. Everyone was running here and there. Preparing themselves to face the coming situation. There was a hope in the eyes of participants that heavy rain might stop till we reach Sonalium station so that it will be easy to get down and walk on tracks.
At Castle Rock, participants from S4 joined us in S5. After sometime, we gathered on doors with full proof army plan of getting down at Sonalium within 30 seconds. And Spartans did it successfully. Every participant took a deep breath, but it was not over yet. Immediately, we walked a bit on tracks then on left a footpath took down us to the temple of Sonalium village. There was a big auditorium, must have built for visitors to rest. It’s been raining non-stop for 3 hours! Prashant and me were waiting for the dawn as we cannot start the trek in the dark and that too in this weather.
Heavy rain & wind
One villager confirmed us that we got caught in a downpour. It was taking forever for dawn to come and we had no choice but to wait patiently. Everyone relaxed, few participants started taking selfies as if the trek started & mid way we have taken a halt at scenic location. But they were unaware of the beauty lying ahead. There was a lot more ahead that Bhagwan Mahavir sanctuary offers to every trekker apart from the view of mighty Dudhsagar waterfalls.
Forest Walk of Dudhsagar
With the first ray of light, we started walking towards the tower built by forest officials for visitors of Dudhsagar. River was flowing with the speed running across the forest, making thumping noise through the rocks it passed. Hills were covered with clouds. We were crossing small and medium water streams one by one just to get more close to the waterfall. Few smart trekkers taking strong hold on slippery patches taking lead ahead of all & were so excited that I always had to tell them to walk with everyone. We are a group and it’s a group activity, I shouted all the time till we reached the main stream.
And that stream
Stream was in full swing due to continuous rain in forest hill region, said a villager. (Should be avoided crossing it during monsoon) But not to worry, I knew there is a rope tied between two strong trees to hold while crossing the flow. As I had come earlier, I saw the force for the first time so strong. It is difficult for a person below 45 kg weight to withstand exact in the middle where force get tripled as you start crossing with the rope from one side.
We three volunteers gave instruction and took positions around middle spot making ourselves safe just to support every participant to cross the stream seamlessly. One by one we started crossing, few of them fell down but got up immediately, and some of them did it exceptionally. Those who reached to the other side started capturing videos as if they are the responsible person to shoot. It was thrilling but at the same time it was a deadly spot. After crossing, everyone started marching again towards the Tower. It is four pillared structure with steps to reach the first floor to get more beautiful glimpses of the bridge and gushing down water of the renowned falls. The whole scene takes you on ride of a Goan heaven.
First View of Dudhsagar
Everyone was pleased. It was complete silence at that point, and then few questions like height of the waterfall, rank of the waterfall in the world, followed.
No one can capture the real beauty of nature in the camera, to feel it one has to be there. As rightly said by John Muir – “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks”.
Next we went to scenic location of another small stream with fresh cold water. Place was similar to Liril soap advertisement scene. We enjoyed up that small stream taking snaps during the drizzle. No one was ready to go back. everyone wanted to freeze the time and mouth of trek leader who kept saying – come on! Move now.
Everyone relaxed a bit more, was taking a dip again & again in that stream, knowing that return journey will start within sometime and there was hardly anytime to enjoy in the water. Stream was completely safe but to which it was joining and making it a river was totally dangerous.
Sonalium – breakfast halt
It was 8 AM and we decided to follow our schedule, while returning back the morning light gave us the idea about how dense is the Bhagvan Mahavir Sanctuary forest of GOA. Tall trees were actually entering into the sky. On both the sides of road, it was dark vegetation. Forest department was taking good care of the forest.
We returned back to Sonalium and our breakfast was ready. We had a hot cup of tea and delicious Poha. Before leaving, forest officials came with the card swipe machine to collect the entry fees of Rs. 50 per person. It felt good while making the payment; I was clearly able to see future Digital India.
Trek on Tracks
Quickly we left for Kulem – a small hamlet on bank of river, crossing many small streams, splashing water on others. We took track route to reach Kulem which is the most preferable. I never went through the forest. A returning trek on Tracks was fun, taking pictures, singing group songs. Few goods train passed by honking loudly, making us aware to get out of the track. We were just walking and walking. Hoping to see Kulem, but with every turn there was long path ahead. Slowly with gupshup we reached Kulem.
We had booked our lunch one day before with local cafe. They served us both veg/N-veg. We took two changing rooms, one for girls and one for boys. I was into making everyone hurry up so that we can reach Kulem station to catch delayed Poorna Express. Luckily we got the train and we reached Madgaon. Straight we hit the Colva beach by booking prepaid taxi. There was a smile on everyone’s face for completing Dudhsagar trek after so many hurdles.
Goa, Beaches & much more
Goa is always special to me; we spent four hours on beach relaxing after a long tiring Dudhsagar trek. Later, we went to the nearby budget restaurant. The Kentucky restaurant is bit costly just because it’s very close to the beach. I have been to it, they play live music. But, we had Goan curries for dinner at some other restaurant. Then time came to return to Madgaon and head back to Mumbai. No one was in real mood to think of next day’s office. We together spent time as if we were friends from decades.
Mumbai express was bit delayed, but that was expected. We reached Panvel by next day morning. Bid adieu to everyone and city life started which I hate the most.