Bangalore City was all in its busyness to welcome the weekend as we drove to Yeshwantpur Railway Station that night.
We board the Vasco Express which was half an hour late. Another half an hour later, we start the journey at 22:30. The starting point of our trek wasn’t finalized then – whether it’s Castle Rock or Kulem.
FYI, when coming from Bangalore, Castle Rock comes first, Kulem the next; separated with a time span of one and a half hours when commuted by train. The former is the lengthiest (14kms one side) and most commonly used route. This route also has more tunnels (11) compared to the other. While Kulem (people coming from Goa can prefer this) offers two trekking routes – one is through the track and the other is through a mud road. The trek from Kulem is approximately 2 hours lesser compared to that from CR and offers multiple view of the falls.
We decide to hit bed deciding on to deciding our plan the next day morning.
The 14KM LONG TREK.
We had booked tickets only till Castle Rock. Hence the arrival of 3 TTEs made us finalize our starting point – heh.
We arrive at Castle Rock by 9:15, 15 minutes prior to the scheduled time. Folks from various walks of life could be seen around. Most of them had camping tents clipped to rucksacks – to camp by the falls, that was.
We started by 9:30 and proceeded steadily keeping in mind that we have to trek 14 kilometers before it gets to be late in the evening. The silence of the place was interrupted by joyful howling of other trekkers.
An hour later, we arrive at the first tunnel which had a length of 93.26 meters. People who went ahead could be seen posing for pictures at its entrance. We waited for them to empty the place so that we can easily get a handful of good shots. The tunnel was pretty small and we could see the other end as we entered it.
The second (and the longest) tunnel came after 15 minutes – 409.95 meters in length. Unlike the previous one, the entrance resembled to that of an ancient fort. With a holy cross on the right pillar and welcome engraved on the upper portion of the arch, it made me think about the man power put behind to build them. A few steps into the tunnel and it went pitch dark. LED light from mobiles could be seen shining at places. A few more steps and we heard people shouting and warning followers about the arrival of a train! Upon hearing that, we increased our pace. The siren could be heard at a close distance. I moved as fast as I can and managed to step out of the tunnel just when the train took the nearest turn and showed up; while Archana, Priyanka and Anju were still inside the tunnel. It was a goods train. I stood by the side and shot a few pics as well as videos as it howled swiftly into the tunnel emitting a large amount of fume and odor of diesel. It took one and a half minutes for the train to pass by – so you can imagine how long it was!
9 more minutes and we arrived at the 3rd tunnel which spanned over a length of 174.95 meters. As we proceeded, we got on to a bridge which offered nice view of a set of mountains which lay towards the right of us. Moving ahead, we got across the 4th tunnel.
Instead of trekking shoes (the lack of it), what I wore was a pair of sneakers. Also, my backpack, along with the camera weighed 6.7kgs. So stepping on rocks began to ache my legs. But what amused us was a woman who wore saree and trekked in a pair of sandals! From then, every time a piece of rock tried to thrust through and hurt my foot, I imagined how it would be for her. Nevertheless, she walked pretty well and maintained a momentum.
A few more trains passed by. One among them, the second one to be precise, came to our notice only when it honked a few meters behind us.
By 12:06, we reached Caranzol Railway Station. A painted board by the station master’s room made us realize that we had covered half the total distance. At the same time, to the falls, it was yet another 6.94kms – this slightly drained down our energy. We decided to take a short break and settled down under a nearby seen rusted roof to have snacks. But right when bag’s zipper was opened, we spotted a monkey staring interrogatively at it. From its very look, it was clear that if we take the eatables out, they’ll sure be grabbed. So we stealthily got up, took our bags and resumed the trek.
A couple of steps past the station, we found a place which was free from monkeys. At peace, we had biscuits/cakes which was bought from the railway station last night.
It began to drizzle and we wore raincoats.
By 12:50, we reached the 5th tunnel which had a length of 160.02 meters. While its entrance was concrete and had a small waterfall by the left side, the other end was carved out of rocks. Soon came the 6th tunnel, 255.11 meters in length. It opened up to a wide view. Upon getting out of it and looking back, we realized that it was one hell of a hill, that, when looked from a distance, even the tunnel we came through looked tiny. Towards the front of us there lied a bridge and towards the right, there was a vast view of mountains and dense woods. We stood by the banister and enjoyed the view for some time.
The 7th tunnel had a length of 52.73 meters. The 8th tunnel was of 289.56 meters and we arrived at it by 13:35. Leading ourselves through, we could hear another train somewhere near. Contrary to goods trains we saw until then, it was a passenger train.
Tunnel #9 was of 35 meters while Tunnel #10 was over a length of 108 meters. Our legs began to ache by then and as a result, we had to slow down as we moved further.
By 14:25, we reached Dudhsagar Railway Station. The weekend crowd had already booked their camping spots on the right side of the track.
From the station, it was yet another 1 kilometer walk. The last and the final tunnel in our route was over a length of 204.22 meters. A few more steps from its end, the board which read DUDHSAGAR WATERFALLS became visible. The falls could also be seen behind it – ah, at long last!
The clock showed 14:45.
The very first thing I did as we reached beneath the falls was to sit down on the track. It was one such a tiring trek. I took off my shoes as well as socks and it was much of an alleviation. Gazing the stream which made its way through the woods and rocks down there made me feel rejuvenated. After spending about 45 minutes at the falls, we returned to Dudhsagar Railway Station.
Since our start from Castle Rock, we got to see around 6 trains and as you know it, only 1 among them was a passenger train. So the only exit option we had in mind was to get on to some goods train’s engine section and traverse to Madgaon or at least till Kulem.
On our way back, we stopped by a lady who sold snacks and fried rice. Upon an inquiry about the train timings towards Madgaon, her husband replied – since it’s past 15:00, there won’t be any trains towards Kulem/Madgaon. He also extended help by offering to take us until Kulem when they return home after sales. Since he told that no more trains commute in that route for the day, we asked about his mode of transport. He told that he’ll return in a jeep and if the driver asks for money, you shall pay.
While trekking up earlier that day, upon an inquiry to laborers resting on tracks, we got to know that Amaravati Express, a passenger train that traverses via Madgaon to Vasco da Gama will reach Dudhsagar station by 17:00 and if the loco pilot is kind enough, he will slow down/stop.
Since this was in our mind and the shopkeeper’s words didn’t seemed to be genuine, we thought of making an inquiry at the station. From B J Suzare, a police officer who was seen in front of the Station Master’s office, we came to know that Amaravati Express will arrive in a few minutes.
As the train arrived past 16:00, we managed to push ourselves into a UR Coach and man, we even had the fortune of getting two window seats! For someone who thought of getting back in some goods train’s engine section, that felt heaven.
Two hours of journey took us to Madgaon. Later that day, by 21:00, Archana and Anju took their train back home while myself and Priyanka returned Kerala the next day morning.
SOME USEFUL INFO:
- You will obviously come across trains as you trek up/down, but there is nothing to worry. All along the way, even in tunnels, you’ve enough space on either sides of the track to give way for them.
- Since the Dudhsagar station doesn’t serve as a boarding point for trains, it all depends on the kindness of loco pilots.
- There is no ticket counter at Dudhsagar. So if you are boarding a passenger train, it’s better to get into a UR Coach like we did. The station even has a board that read ‘NO TRAIN ENQUIRY’.
- NH4A is the nearest highway that connects Belgaum and Panaji.