The road to Dudhsagar is flooded in the bountiful monsoons and the train track is the only accessible alternate route to see the waterfalls. Dudhsagar literally means a ‘sea of milk’. The waters fall from a great height; Dudhsagar is also one of the 100 highest waterfalls in the world. It lies in the Southern Part of Goa and is usually bereft of the crowds that throng the beaches of North Goa. It has recently become famous after being featured in the bollywood hit Chennai Express.
It was July and we were told by the forest officer in the highway town of Mollem that the waterfalls were officially closed and that we were not supposed to go there. After a brief conversation with the villagers, I understood that we could still go on our own – without a permit. Only that the risks were immense. A ride was hitched to reach the train station of Collem. It was sunny at 8 in the morning and with our backpacks, we started walking.
I desperately wanted the clouds to come and cover the sun. It was humid and the air was heavy. It was tiring business, to walk on this path strewn with rocks. The lure of the waterfalls had brought us this far. There were some locals who rode on the side perilously on motorcycles, some were headed for Dudhsagar too.
And then the heavens burst, revealing the full force of the Goan monsoon. At first, I was worried my clothes and books in the bag would get wet. The concern was quickly dissipated when everything overflowed with water and walking became difficult with the swollen weight of clothes. I danced in the rain with a singing heart, the clouds had descended and the scenery was breathtaking.
The rain was unrelenting and we had been walking for 2 hours and our drinking water was almost finished. It was a blessing when the valley opened up and the views enroute became fabulous as we were close to Dudhsagar. Crossing the long dark tunnels was a varied experience. Sometimes we worried what if a train came when we were inside the tunnel? Thankfully no such incident happened and the tunnels only served to save us from the rain whenever we crossed them.
My joy was to be short-lived. The waterfalls were besieged with people; a youth had fallen and died (a week ago) while trying to take a selfie and had met with an accident and drowned. His body was being pulled out the instant we reached there. It was a morbid moment. My mood was upset seeing this. I could only see the milky waterfalls for a bit. I just wanted to get away from the sombre proceedings.
We were told that the goods train plying on the route stops at Dudhsagar station which was only a kilometre away from the waterfalls. Drunk youth slept in a shelter there; signs of Goa’s problem with alcoholism. It was around one in the afternoon and no train came for an hour. The downpour continued unabated. We waited.
And then the sounds of a goods train made everyone stand. It chugged slowly to a stop. We all jumped in. The driver ordered everyone to get down. We persisted knowing it was our only chance of getting back to civilisation or else we would have to make the long walk for 14 kilometres. He let us into the drivers cabin after asking for 50 Rupees per person. We happily jumped inside and thought that the train controls were very cool.
The train was as slow as it could get. Various stops meant we arrived in the station of Collem around 5 in the evening. It was an unforgettable experience, for the good and the bad. Life is like that, the greatest adventures we never forget are the ones we didn’t plan.
The only thing that the locals in Collem had forgotten to tell us was there are passenger trains as well that could have carried us to Dudhsagar; we would not have to walk for 14 kilometres. But that is what travel is; sometimes unknown circumstances can create magic.
We stayed beside the river in a Goan homestay in an idyllic to have an epic time. That shall be another story for someday.