Adventure Destinations - India Waterfalls

Dudhsagar Falls Railway Track Trek | A Step by Step Guide

Written by Poorna & Brinda

Dudhsagar Falls – We were there in August in monsoon in 2013. We thoroughly enjoyed it. The falls is at its best in monsoon. Go now. (Incidentally this is the same waterfalls shown in Shah Rukh Khan’s blockbuster – Chennai Express)

Latest Update – The Dudhsagar Falls railway track trekking is banned by Railway Police till further notice. 

Who doesn’t remember this lovely rhyme?

Rain, rain, go away,

Come again another day.

Little Arthur wants to play;

We did not want the rain to go away. We wanted to trek in the rain. Trek to Dudhsagar falls in monsoon was always on our bucket list. Honestly speaking, trekking in rain is no fun. Then you don’t have a choice if you want to visit the falls when rain is pouring in the mountains and the falls is at its magnificent best. We decided to do Dudhsagar falls trek. On the railway track.

Our initial plan was to drive up to Hubli, stay overnight, drive next morning to Castle Rock – the start point of the trek – and return back to Hubli by evening after trekking to waterfalls. However this time around, we decided to go by train.

Getting reservations at last-minute on Indian trains is always difficult. We wanted to try our luck through Indian Railways (IRCTC) website. You know how notorious IRCTC is. Browsing early in the morning, we were lucky and could get the tickets in Tatkal after couple of tries. The last time we travelled in a train was way back in 2000.

Trains are always fun if you don’t mind smelly platforms, not so clean coaches……….and of course the toilets. We booked in three-tier AC coach. Chennai – Vasco express which passes through Bangalore is not an “Important or Star” train for railways. It is more of a fast passenger than an express.

Thus, the coach was not new, one which would possibly be discarded in couple years. As we entered our coupe and sat on the seat, we were greeted by the tiny little creatures commonly known as cockroach! Thankfully they were small ones moving around. We smashed few, shoved the luggage under the seat and settle down when a couple walks in. Our co-passengers in the same coupe.

The best part of a train journey in India is human watching. It is an amazing world out there.

Our co-passengers – a middle-aged jeweller and his wife from Bangalore – were going to Goa for a “relaxed” holiday. For our man, Goa was the ultimate destination. He said that goes there every year to just chill out. He does not want to go anywhere else and Goa is the full and final destination for him. But the couple were interesting and well-informed. They were surprised to hear that we were travelling in the train to get down at Castle Rock for Dudhsagar falls trek. They had seen the waterfalls many times on their journeys to Goa but had never heard of people trekking to waterfalls. The man was curious.

“How many KMs is the trek”

“14 Kms”

“Are you sure you guys want to do this in rain”

“Yes, we have come prepared.” I show him our trekking shoes, rain cape, backpack etc.

“How long will it take to cover the distance?”

“Five hours”

“You guys are going to walk for five hours in this rain???”

“Yes, that is the fun”

He shakes his head. The wife gives a blank look.After the checking of tickets by TC, we bid good night. Not before checking for couple of cockroaches and smashing them.

Poorna normally gets up early while travelling in train. It was 6AM and the train had just arrived in Hubli. A boy was moving around briskly on the platform selling hot tea. Behind him was another selling news paper. A chai in one hand and news paper in the other is always good day to start.

After a halt of half hour, the train starts and the journey from now till Castle Rock is lovely. Poorna had done this train journey many times while being posted in Goa in his earlier avatar in Army. He always looked forward to this stretch when he used to stand near the door and enjoy the beautiful vistas.

Today was no different. The rains had turned the landscape into lively green. The streams were full and flowing. Fortunately it was not raining. Cool breeze was caressing our face as we stood near the door holding onto the rails.  We wished the weather would hold good till we completed the trek.

(Please click on the pictures to see them in enlarged size)

Dudhsagar Falls

It is all green between Dharwad and Castle Rock

Dudhsagar Falls

Green and Green…….

At Londa, we get the pre-ordered breakfast – order taken by steward on the previous night – of Idli and Vada which was not bad. The breakfast was to be only meal for us till we reached our hotel in Goa.

The train screeched to halt at Castle rock around 10 AM, half hour behind schedule. We get down and take out our rain cape. Before starting this trek, we were warned of two things by travel bloggers – Rain and Leeches. We had come well prepared with rain cape and covers for the backpack.

Leeches, we weren’t much bothered. You can’t escape them while trekking in monsoon in tropical forests. Being Saturday, a large number of trekkers had got down at Castle rock. We all set out on the tracks. Walking on the track is definitely easier than walking on trails in the hills. You don’t have to worry about the condition of trail. You won’t get lost here.

All you need to do is to just walk. On the track. We are set for Dudhsagar falls trek.

Dudhsagar Falls

The Start point

Soon, we leave the railway station behind and get onto the track. It starts to drizzle. Before long, it turns into a steady and heavy downpour. It is not fun to walk in the rain. We swear. It is not pleasure to walk with rain cape wrapped around you. The sound of sputtering rain on the rain cape is definitely not music to ears. We continue. The boots were full of water. They had given up the will to stay dry. They were soaked and squelching at every step.

On the positive side, this is the best time to trek. The nature is at its best. Back to life streams creating lovely waterfalls. Sun playing hide and seek behind thick canopy of clouds. Mist covering the valley. Cute little waterfalls on the side of the track. Stunning valleys with waterfalls cascading from the hilltop. What else can one ask for?

Dudhsagar Falls

Beautiful valley views with clouds kissing the hills!

Dudhsagar Falls

Dudhsagar Falls
Dudhsagar Falls

Castle Rock…..

Walking on the track in rain is tricky. It is not difficult. In the rain, the sleepers become slippery and one has to be careful while moving. It is not unsafe either. Yes, when the train comes, you have to get out of the track. When you do so, you have to be careful and watch out. All along the trail there is enough place for one to stay out of the track safely when the train comes. It is easy to notice when it comes.
The drivers are aware that there will be people walking on the track – especially on weekends – and will always sound the horn. Moreover, the trains do not run fast on this ghat section which provides ample time to get off to safety when you hear the train’s horn. When you are on a bridge, do not rush if you don’t find a good place to come off the track. Walk past the bridge briskly but safely and then move to safe place. Do not wait to come off the track till the train approaches you. You will hear the sound of the train well in advance as sound reverberates in the Hills. Wait patiently till the train cross over.
You are not in a race here. Walk relaxed and enjoy the surroundings. This is not a busy route and there are very few trains including odd engine combos and freight trains. Yes, you need to watch the shit on the track. But that should not be too much to worry about. In monsoon when it is raining, it gets washed away. Safety is important and not stepping on shit.

We are in Braganza ghat now. We see the glimpse of the first tunnel. Walking in tunnel which is pitch dark means you need to have a powerful torch which we did carry. The dripping water from the top ensured that we walked under canopy of water inside the tunnel. There is enough space on the side of the track to move even if a train comes. Try and move faster to get out of the tunnel. If not choose a good spot to stay put till the train pass.

Walking in the tunnel is definitely an experience. Fortunately when we entered the first tunnel, there were no one in front of us or behind, which meant we were welcomed by an eerie silence and pitch darkness. There are no animals or bats in these tunnels and hence one can proceed without any fear. First tunnel done, we grew in confidence. Whatever initial apprehensions we had got removed and we started walking confidently.

Dudhsagar Falls

The first tunnel……

Dudhsagar Falls

Brinda inside the tunnel……

Five KMs on, we leave Karnataka behind and enter the state of Goa.The fourth tunnel is built to resemble a castle. It is a lovely setting. One has to appreciate the aesthetics of the people who built this tunnel. Why on earth did they choose the castle for this tunnel? What could be the reason when all other tunnels are bland. Is this because the tunnel is close to a rock which resemble a castle?
The track is flanked by rocky terrain, streams and waterfalls on the left side and beautiful valleys with tall peaks and waterfalls on the horizon on the right side. We could spot some lovely waterfalls cascading from the tall peaks whenever the mist lifted.
The left side of the track is a treat of small waterfalls all along. It had been raining heavily in the past week which meant all these small little waterfalls were at their glorious best. We did not venture out to walk near these falls as the water flow was heavy. But if you are trekking after monsoon, these are lovely spots to stop for a bite and break.
Dudhsagar Falls

Welcome to Goa……at Braganza Ghat

Dudhsagar Falls

The Tunnel resembling a English castle!!

Dudhsagar Falls

A waterfalls in distant hills!!

Dudhsagar falls

Now onwards, you will be treated with myriad of waterfalls along the track

Dudhsagar Falls
Dudhsagar Falls
Dudhsagar Falls
Dudhsagar Falls
Dudhsagar Falls
We reach Caranzol, the midpoint of the trek. A small railway station, which is more for maintenance of engines than for any passengers. We trudge on even as the clouds open up and rain drench us.
Dudhsagar Falls

Caranzol railway station – the mid point

The whole valley is mist filled. We could see a glimpse of another tunnel and sort of bridge. We wait for the rain to reduce and weather to clear a bit giving us some visibility before we start again.

After heavy downpour for ten minutes, the sky clears giving us a spectacular view of a bridge with a tunnel at the end of it. We look back to see for any approaching trains and confirming there being none, we cross the bridge quickly and enter the tunnel. This one is drilled through a huge monolith. We admire the skills and guts of railway engineers who made it possible almost 100 years back.

Rain plays hide and seek. We are not bothered. The rain cape has given us good protection so far and shoes though filled with water provides excellent grip on the ground. We continue in the rain and see a yellow board at a distance.

We are overjoyed to see a railway station and are sure that it must be Dudhsagar falls. We are proved correct as we inch closer and greeted by waterfalls on the side as we walk towards the railway station.

The falls is still a KM away from the waterfalls. We do not want to carry our backpacks. We meet and request the station master if we could leave our backpacks in the railway station. He was initially reluctant. We understood why. He did not want to set a precedence by safekeeping the luggage of trekkers. Poorna tell him that we are also from Railway family – his dad had served in Indian Railways – at which he relents and ask us to leave the backpack.

Oh, it was such a relief to remove the backpack and sit for few minutes on a bench in front of Station Master cabin. Next to the cabin was a chaiwallah and we badly needed a hot cup of tea.

Energised by hot cuppa, we were now on the home run. The falls is around 1 KM from railway station and this stretch is beautiful indeed. Rains had given a temporary break and mist seemed to be clearing as well. We cross two back to back small tunnels to hear the roaring sound of the falls. But we don’t see any glimpse of it. We are excited and walk briskly. As we walk, we hear the sound of an engine and get off the track. The engines cross us and move towards Castle Rock.

What a welcome! Small streams flowing down the rocks creating a canopy of waterfalls!

Dudh Sagur – This how it was spelt by Portuguese or was it British?                   

Brinda in front of penultimate tunnel

The Engine combo on the way to Castle Rock – notice the water falls in the background     

We look up to see the first glimpse of the falls. The sight is actually deceiving as it looks like a small cascade. First glimpse of the falls…..deceiving indeed!!!

When the mist cleared we could see milk flowing over the rocks – Dudhsagar Falls!

Dudhsagar Falls is at its glorious best in Monsoon. You can see that here.

                                       

Mission accomplished! Once in a life time experience!

A small climb over the stairs take you to a view point. A closer look at the falls. 

And quiet flows Mahadayi river…

The vistas around the water falls is a treat to the eyes. 

We could spot another lovely falls in forests

We trudge back to Dudhsagar falls railways station. Poorna starts chatting with station master. The young bloke is from Orissa and is working in Dudhsagar for last three years. He is happy to be there and is enjoying being in the middle of nature. We ask him when the next train to Kulem is as we had to go to Goa.

He says that he will put us on an engine so that we reach Kulem faster. He doesn’t do that for everyone. Being part of the railway family, he is helping us out. Many trekkers get onto the freight trains or engines to return back. The engine combo – three engines at a time – arrives. He talks to the driver who allows us to hop into the engine in the middle.

We throw the backpack, climb the steps and enter the drivers cabin. Along with us two more railway employees also get in. We keep the backpack in the cabin and ask the driver whether we can go out and stand on the side. He says yes, but ask us to hold the handrails.

Travelling in a diesel engine and in the rain is a blissful experience. It moves slowly and we see myriad of small streams and waterfalls on the way. We cross a tunnel and as soon as we pass it, we are greeted by large cascade of water on us. I look back to see a mini waterfall from the top of the tunnel which fell on us! It was unexpected and thrilling.

On to the ride of a life time! On a diesel engine, in the rain

We enter into a tunnel…….

………..Only to get drenched by a canopy of waterfalls from the top!

It is a lovely ride through the rain, mist and stunning landscape of greenery.

We could see trekkers from Goa on the trail. We reach Kulem and it is 4 PM. We are wet to the core and i ask the station master when the next train to Madgaon is, the town where we were to be picked by our hotel in Goa. He says, it is at 5.30 PM.

We are not inclined to wait and ask him if we can get any taxis. He says yes and ask us to go out of the station to get one. We climb and cross over the bridge. We negotiate with a taxi driver who is willing to take us to Madgaon. We agree on a price and hop into Xylo.

It was a day well spent. A day to remember and cherish. There is a great charm in trekking in monsoon on the railway track. You won’t regret and all fatigue will vanish when you see the beauty of nature – Dudhsagar falls in full glory!

Arun Bhat, a friend of us did the trek to the falls a week back and has done is amazing stop motion video – 3 Minutes – of the complete trek from Castle rock. Please take a look by clicking the link below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SONXtLR58VA

Travel Information

Getting there

If you plan a trek, you can either start from Castle Rock or Kulem. It is 14 KMs from castle Rock and 11 KMs from Kulem. All trains on Goa – Londa sector stop at both places.

If coming from Castle rock –

  • It would be better to catch Chennai – Vasco express at Castle Rock at 9.30 AM, get down at Dudhsagar falls station around 10.30 AM. A small trek from railway station will take you to the falls.
  • If you are planning to go to Goa after visit, you have to catch Amravati Express which will reach Dudhsagar falls station around 1 PM. (Please check the latest timings from station master at Dudhsagar falls station).
  • If you are planning to return to Castle rock then you can catch Vasco-Chennai express around 3.30 PM or Goa express/Vasco-Bangalore express around 4.30 PM ((Please check the latest timings from station master at Dudhsagar falls )

b) If coming from Goa side

  • The good train is Amravati Express which starts from Vasco at 7.10 AM and should reach Dudhsagar falls station around 8.15 AM.
  • If you are planning to return back to Goa, you can catch either Chennai-Vasco express arriving at Dudhsagar around 10.30 AM or Amravati/Kacheguda express arriving at Dudhsagar falls around 1 PM. (Please check the latest timings from station masters at Dudhsagar falls station)
  • If you are planning to return to Castle rock then you can catch Vasco-Chennai express around 3.30 PM or Goa express/Vasco-Bangalore express around 4.30 PM ((Please check the latest timings from station master at Dudhsagar falls )

Time to trek – 5 – 6 Hours

Travel Tips

a) It is good to wear a good trekking shoes. We have seen many walking in normal chappals or sports shoes on the trail. But we don’t advise. A good trekking shoe like Forclaz 500 or Forclaz 600 or Woodlands will give you excellent grip on the slippery track.

b) Always walk on the track and beware of shit spots. Walking on the trail next to track may not be a great option.

c) A high power torch is a must as many tunnels – which are dark – have to be crossed.

d) Take a good rain gear. Walking with an umbrella may not work as it will be windy.

e) Don’t worry about leeches. It is part and parcel of the trek. We were lucky. None came near us!

f) Don’t be in a hurry. Walk safely. At the same time stop and enjoy the surroundings. It is just lovely.

g) All trains stop at Dudhsagar falls station though there is no authorised stop as such. No tickets will be issued at this station. Try and get the return ticket either at Castle Rock or Kulem.

h) There are no cloak rooms to keep your luggage or toilets in Dudhsagar falls railway station.

i) Except on weekends, you may not find anyone selling eatables or tea/coffee. Make sure you carry eatables with you.

j) Don’t venture into the interior of waterfalls or try to climb the rocks or trek down stream. Rocks are slippery and every year there are numerous stories of people falling to death while attempting to climb.

k) If you are planning to camp during monsoon then there is one shelter near the small church near the station. If you are camping make sure you have all the items which campers generally take along.

l) Always check out with station master when is the last train. You can always hop on to a freight train/engine by requesting the guard/driver.

m) Dudhsagar falls is still a safe place to camp at night if going in a group. Same may not be told for independent women travellers though no untoward incidents have been reported so far.

n) If you are looking for a quiet walk in the woods during this trek, you may be disappointed. Weekend trekkers can be raucous on the track. More so in tunnels and near waterfalls. If you are looking for solitude in the woods, then plan trek on a weekday. Not on a weekend.

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About the author

Poorna & Brinda

We are Brinda and Poorna from Bengaluru, the “Silicon city” or “Garden city” of India.

We travel together. We caught the travel bug 20 years back. On our honey moon, we traveled over the sea, in the train, by bus and in an aircraft! Our adventures probably started in that year. It continues, ever since.

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