Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Do You Want to Trek to DoodhSagar WaterFalls?

Doodhsagar, literally meaning an ocean of milk, is an inviting waterfall in Goa-Karnataka border. Mondovi (Konkani) or Mahadayi (Kannada) river falls from over 1000 feet here, going as wide as 100 feet in some places. There are multiple drops of the fall from the top, and most people enjoy the top half from a railway track, when they take a train that runs right past the falls.




How to get there? But we had other plans. We wanted to see the entire falls from the bottom. The entire 1000+ feet falls! It does take some effort as there are only jeeps, motor bikes or a 15+ KM walk as our only options. We chose to walk.

We took an overnight mini bus journey from Bengaluru to a place called Ramanagara in Uttara Kannada district. Reached Ramanagara (don't confuse with the more famous Rama nagara near Bengaluru) early morning and freshened up. Keep at least 8 hours to get to Ramanagara.

From Ramanagara, we crossed over to Goa state and reached a place called Colem (also Kolem).

From Colem or Kolem, during monsoon you can only walk or take a motor bike ride (one bike per visitor). We preferred to walk. Jeeps are available for parts of the journey, but not throughout as the path gets flooded beyond jeep's safe driving height.

Trekking:  Start before 11 AM from Colem. You must target to reach the water falls before 3 PM. Else your luck might run out if it rains heavy or fog comes over. Remember, you will have to cross the river and streams many times. Even 30 minutes of heavy rain will raise the water level by a feet or two! We experienced over 1 feet difference within 20 minutes at the top. Carry a good first-aid box.

This is the starting point. Everyone in full josh!


The first 3 KM would be below the railway track and thick Western Ghats jungle. Remember, even if you take a jeep for a part of your return, you will have to walk back the same 3 KM stretch in the evening, so plan on coming here before sunset. Don't forget rainproof clothing, specifically for your mobile phones, wallets etc. It rains heavily in this part of Western Ghats rain forest. Torches will come handy for evening.



The path is beautiful. If you start early, you can relax next to streams, enjoy the views.. and if you are very lucky, you might catch a Bison or two from a distance! We saw one bison that was 600+ KG from a safe distance.



The track changes from rough jeep track to beautiful jungle tracks. In some places you can get lush green lawns! That's the best part of hiking during monsoon. Lots of greenery and heavy water flow making your trip worthwhile.

For those afraid of leech bites, you can carry thin plastic covers and tightly wrap around your shoe, socks and lower part of pants (see the left most person in a pic below).
If you go in a big team, you can have lot of fun. Just don't fall behind each much. Also do take a guide. Our guide was excellent. Click 100s of pictures. We had scores of good photographers!


If you don't want to walk, throughout the year you can avail motor bike facility. It would be almost the same price per person as trekking, minus all the fun of jungle trek.

The walking path is very beautiful. There would always be a small worry of a bison or leopard, but the guides will take you through safer ways. If you are nature lover, you can observe plenty of camouflaging insects, different types of birds, small reptiles and much more. 



If you give yourself enough time to hike, you can relax and take lots of pictures next to streams and river along the way. It is totally worth it, particularly during intermittent rains. If our youngest champion could trek all along, you can feel assured that this trek can be done by most people, who can walk 15 to 20KM in one day.
Our guide spotted some wild mushrooms on the way. He quickly grabbed a few and gave it on the way to a house where our food was being prepared. We had the same mushroom curry, on the way back from falls! As fresh as it gets...


 As we get closer to the falls, beyond the watch tower, the current gets tougher, and crossing becomes difficult. In one or two places, you might have to literally form human chains, or grab onto ropes put by volunteers. Be very careful with footing. One slip, and you might get washed down half a KM over rocks and boulders hurting seriously. Don't try any stunts here. If you feel unsafe, don't attempt any further. Go back to the watch tower and view from a safe distance. Water level here changes by hour.


And the view after all this effort? Priceless!
Many of our team members wished we reached an hour earlier to spend more time here. By the time we got here, it was time to pack up due to the risk of flash floods and more heavy rain. But even the 15-20 minutes we spent here were totally worth it!





This is the actual viewing tower, if you don't want to take a risk during the final stretch. It is safe to view from here in any weather.

 


And we did something we hadn't done before, after eating sumptuous lunch served by the guide's friend's family.
16 people in one jeep!! Because our second jeep to return was parked 3 to 4 KM down the road, and no one wanted to walk that much. So we had lot of fun with 16 people in one jeep :)



We decided not to travel back 600+ KM overnight as you will be damp, tired and really need a good shower and sleep. We headed to the nearest big city, Belagavi on the Karnataka side. It took us about 2.5 hours to get here from Colem. We stopped at Khanapur for a nice paav bhaji, Dosa and other dinner items.

Rest well and then the next day would be a lot of fun.

Military Mahadev temple, Belagavi. There is a beautiful park with miniatures of all of Shivaji Maharaj's forts here to see.


Belagavi's Durga temple, fort and lake opposite to the fort.

Suvarna Soudha about 15 minutes south of Belagavi. Massive structure for assembly building and you can get a great view of Belagavi from top of this hill. 
Then the historic Kittur fort and museum. You can spend hours listening to the guides explaining how India's first female freedom fighter fought the British army from here.


Overall.. Doodhsagar is in the middle of awesome attractions. Either you can head west after the falls to see the beautiful beaches of Goa, or head east to Karnataka for what all we saw, or head south again to Karnataka to more wilderness in the Western Ghats. Everything is within 2 hours of drive.

Go out there and enjoy!

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