Dudhsagar – The Jharna Trip
What do you do when a friend’s message pops up – Dudhsagar falls tomorrow? If you are in Mumbai you will probably say yes. What if you are in 1700km away?
So this is how it went. It was around 10:30AM on Saturday morning that this message comes. I wonder what and where is Dudhsagar Waterfall? I google and find that it is the fifth biggest waterfall in India. I talk to him. Unsure how exactly it will be, I ask him again. His answer – come, it will great, worth it. I have found extremely cheap tickets to go. And it has rained heavily for a week so water flow will be at its best. It is the best time to see the waterfall. And we will be back on Sunday evening. Best time to see. I disconnected the call saying let me think. One day trip to see only a Jharna, waterfall?
I see my schedule – its 10:50am now. I need to leave for my test at 11:20AM latest. I will be free by 4:00PM to catch the only flight left after that at 6PM. Apart from this test, I had nothing to do for next one week. I contemplate, and said – book my Mumbai Goa ticket. I will stay back for three – four days and then come from Goa. Let me see how Goa is in rains.
I quickly book my tickets for Mumbai, and hotel stay in Goa, train ticket to come back to Mumbai and leave for test. Packing, I thought I will do when I am back. Due to delay in conduct of exam, my schedule rather the trip was on verge to go for a toss. Since it was only FYI exam and not on something new that I had learnt, I finished quickly and fought my way out with 15 min delay.
I book my radio cab while walking out and drove fast taking routes which are supposed to be empty and where no police can be expected to catch for over speeding. Cab reaches before I do. I quickly pick my empty but ever ready bag, put five day clothes in it and lock the house. By travelling for three years at short notices – few hours to one day, packing code is something I have de-coded I think. I typically don’t take more than 15 minutes to pack even for a three month trip.
I consider myself lucky to have decided to buy a great but expensive laptop bag. It had cost me $100 dollars then, 2008, in India but is multipurpose. It has enough room in it to carry laptop and my DSLR + three lens and documents or one week of clothes. And it is waterproof!! I have been using it every day since 2008, overloading it at times, without any issues or disappointment and can expect it to last for few more years.
Running just on time perhaps five minutes over my comfort level, I ask the cab driver to be quick. I check in and pass the security check smoothly even though I am just on time. And I board the 2hr flight.
By now my excitement had build up to the extent of making me edgy and pushy whenever I felt things were going slow. And flight was one of them if not the airplane. Plane was 5 – 10 minutes late to take off due to traffic congestion at runway. Meaning, landing will also be delayed. And Mumbai has loads of planes landing making delayed arrivals even more delayed at times. They do not tend to delay landing of on-time arrivals hence late arrivals on ATC have to wait more for clear slot. No great fan of long journeys, I wanted the plane to fly faster and reach on time or even before time. I wanted my Jharna trip to start.
I always feel that planes if wanted can be flown faster. Why? Because when you stretch an engine to its max, you can hear it. Normally, you don’t hear this stretch on airplanes, hence there is scope to fly faster. Plus normal driving / flying time are never based on maximum speeds but normal / best mileage speeds. Third – the best: When you are moving at 37,000ft there is no traffic and no traffic police to give you a speeding ticket (imagine plane getting stopped mid air for speeding ticket :P). Over speeding can be done without fear!! 😛 Due to self realization of how my brains works and what kind of ideas it produces, I did not ask the air hostess to ask the plane driver (not pilot please note) to drive the plane faster. 😀 😛
After landing in Mumbai and being picked up by my friend, we went back home to Bandra (yes, he knows where to live in Mumbai) first, kept my stuff and went for a stroll to see Bandra and ended up having dinner outside. While exploring how exactly we will reach the waterfall, I discover we can take one of the two or three trains which go in that direction. Which one? We will need to decide on our energy levels to walk and trek. Interesting! We were banking on our luck to find a direct train to avoid the trek. Also, I realized this trip will be what we call last minute / importu / unplanned and true one day backpacking trip. We left for airport after some googling and with some ideas in head. Having taken of right on time, the flight landed to an empty airport in Goa 10 mins before schedule at 3:30am, right in the middle of night. We had taken advantage of night fares and booked a super cheap ticket. Atleast for him it was super cheap fare, not for me coming from 1700km away. But I have to admit I was lucky to find normal fares even on the 12th hour booking.
We spent few hours playing stick cricket (me) and sleeping (friend) at Goa airport and at the break of dawn, we took a cab to Vasco De Gama train station. We had a quick fix breakfast in a café which was either in the process of opening for the day or maybe closing if we consider the youth on the adjacent table.
Given our love for railways, the tiredness of my friend vanished, while I suddenly became drowsy from lack of night sleep. While I went in one direction to make enquiries, he had stood in queue, enquired and bought two return tickets in the meantime, clearing any confusion that we had before leaving Mumbai except one – will it stop at waterfall? The train was already on the platform 1 then. We boarded and I slept off waking ten minutes before we stopped at – Kulem, last station before waterfall. On enquiring if we need to get down here or the train will go, spat came the reply – board this train from which you have come. This will stop at the Dudhsagar. There is no other way to go there at this time of the year. HURRY.
Dudhsagar literally means Milk (Dudh) Ocean (Sagar). And why it was named like this was understood when we first saw it from a distance. And when we actually reached there, we saw how big and white it was. Train first crosses the waterfall over a bridge, and stops about a kilometer ahead after passing through two tunnels. After discovering how random this trip of mine will be, second discovery I made was that I won’t be one of the handful of people there at falls which I was expecting. I was one in 200 – 250 or so who had come in the middle of nowhere to see the waterfalls.
Laughing, hooting and shouting as we crossed dark tunnels we finally made it to the waterfalls, seeing it up-close in its full flow, making us feel victorious and proud – our research had paid off! After all we were at the JHARNA in middle of nowhere based on some inclination and deductions.
Waterfall was amazing. Surroundings refreshing. Our tiredness from day long commute and lack of nights sleep was gone. We congratulated each other for successfully undertaking this awesome trip. We stayed there for about 20 minutes or so enjoying the nature and its beauty before walking back to the stop to catch the train back. After waiting for almost 30 – 45min a train came and halted. It did not look to be the one which we were supposed to board. But what no other option or clarity in jungle, we boarded and found less occupied part in a coach and made ourselves comfortable.
One of the advantages of India is, when you reach a place somehow, there is always a solution to go back to civilization somehow. When we finally reached back Goa, we saw that the train in which we were supposed to come back was already there. Wondering no train passed us when we were there and no train overtook the train in which we came so how come this train has reached here we decided to have vada pav and ideate then. But we ended up in comparing vada pav of Goa with those of Mumbai and we left the station wondering where to go next? Next Jharna? Absolutely. Kerala?
Time of Trip: July 2015
Landed in Mumbai: 8PM
Landed in Goa: 3:30am
Boarding Station: Vasco De Gama
Train Name: Amravati Express
Train Departure Time: 7:10am
Alternate boarding station: Madgaon Junction (7:45am)
Return Ticket Bought: Vasco De Gama to Castle Rock
Return Train: Station will guide
Return to Vasco De Gama: ~2:45pm