Monday, 26 August 2013

Dudhsagar Waterfall Rail Trek 2013

            This was our (Me and Renuka) second visit to Dudhsagar. Nature beauty, gigantic fall and stay under open sky tempt me to plan this trek again in this year.This time, the tickets were booked 2 months in advance and we were again able to witness gigantic and beautiful waterfall.I asked few friends for this trek and our trekking group formed. It was consists of Me, Renuka (My wife), Pankaj Gupta, Pratima Kulkarni (My sister), G Ghospurkar (Father-in-law), Ishan, Mohini (Renuka’s cousins), Dilip, Shashank (Friends from my x-company) &Shailesh Kulkarni (My college time friend). I was very excited to catch the action for 2 days. We left Pune on Saturday by early morning train and came back on Monday early morning.

Click here to check my first travel blog on Dudhsagar waterfall rail trek 2012

Those who have gone through my last year blog, they might find an almost same description with some changes and with new photos.

Dudhsagar waterfall
Dudhsagar Waterfall

About Dudhsagar falls:
            Dudhsagar Falls (दुधसागर धबधबा in Marathi; English translation: Sea of Milk ) is a tiered waterfall which forms a part of River Mandovi in the state of Goa, India, on Goa's border with the state of Karnataka. It lies high up in the Mandovi River's watershed and during the monsoon season, the falls are transformed into one of the most powerful falls in India.It is a four-tiered waterfall with a total height of 310 meters (1017 feet) and an average width of 30 meters (100 feet) and is a 5th tallest waterfall in India.

Trekking in Dudhsagar is a famous tourist attraction. During Monsoon, trekkers EITHER select most famous route i.e. from Castle Rock station and start trudge through a Scenic 14 km hike to Dudhsagar Waterfalls along the railway track OR through scenic but less popular from Kulem/Collem Railway station and walk towards the falls which are about 11 km away.
          We decided route one i.e. from Castle Rock station for 14 km trek.  The options to reach Castle Rock railway station are catch train from Pune to either Londa or direct train to Castle Rock railway station. If you reach Londa Junction then there are few passenger trains that run between Londa and Castle Rock.
           We boarded the Pondicherry express from Pune and reached Londa Junction. From Londa, we took Amravati express and manage to reach Castle Rock station.

For the return journey, we came back to Pune by Goa express which takes a 2-3minute halt at Dudhsagar railway station.

Our Itinerary of the trek was:
Saturday: Pondicherry express strain from Pune at 1:10 AM
               Reach Londa Junction by 10:30 AM
               Catch next train and reach Castle Rock station by 12:15.
               14 km Trek to Dudhsagar waterfall and stay nearby waterfall.
Sunday:   Visit a waterfall and walk towards Kulem so we can see entire waterfall view.
               Either catch Goods train and go to Kulem or catch Goa express at Dudhsagar.

           Those who are not interested in trek but want to witness such a beautiful waterfall then they can board train either at Castle Rock or at Kulem. Most of the trains halt for few seconds at Dudhsagar. Just make sure about the train schedule.
There is another route from Kulem. Tourists can hire SUV vehicle and reach the foot of Dudhsagar waterfall. But this service is closed during the monsoon season.

Trek group (From L to R): Me, Shailesh, Ishan, G Ghospurkar, Pratima, Renuka, Dilip, Mohini, Pankaj and Shashank

24th August 2013: Pune – Londa – Castle Rock station – 14 km Rail track trek – Dudhsagar
              Our journey began on 24th August 2013. We all met at Pune railway station at 12.00 AM near Comesum Restaurant. The train was scheduled to leave the Pune by 1:10 AM but it left the station after a delay of 15min. After our bag arrangement, we slept soon. We all woke up at around 6 and still we were in Maharashtra. We had some snacks and tea/coffee on the train and spent our morning chatting with each other. Finally, we reach Londa Junction at 10:45 AM. We were running behind our schedule. Next train to castle rock was Amravati express (it was also running late for 30 min). We waited for around 30-40 minutes on Londa station and then boarded the train to Castle Rock. Journey time was 45 min and we reached our starting point by 12:15 PM.

Trek route

             Our trek begins at 12.30 PM. The Braganza ghat rail track starts from Castle Rock. The milestones were properly marked all along the route. The Castle Rock station was marked at 25/000. Within few minutes we were walking on the tracks surrounded by dense forests. We came across first train on the track after some time.There was sufficient space to stand. It was a magical experience with the headlamps of the train piercing through the mist-filled surrounding as if a fire demon breathing fire. It took us a while to get used to walking on the planks especially since you have to take short steps all the while avoiding gravel. After some time your foot starts striking to strike the right rhythm and your eyes wander.
Soon enough our first tunnel came into the horizon. It was around 200 m long and we had fun crossing it. I had done this trek last year so I was quite confident enough while crossing. Fortunately, we didn’t come across any train when inside all 13 tunnels till waterfall. Till waterfall, you have to cross 11 tunnels and 2 tunnels if you wish to view whole waterfall view. Hiking along the tracks is not easy as it seems. One cannot continuously walk beside the track for a long time; you have to switch between sides of the tracks to in between tracks many times. The route was covered with thick mist even in the afternoon time. Heavy rain was playing hide and seek game.

Photo Trick (Train is moving away from me, Engine used to push the train in Ghat section)

           The longest tunnel which we crossed was 491 meter (or maybe 419 meter. Little bit confused about distance). The rail track went through the dense forest, with awe-striking views of mountains and valleys. Mist and clouds hovered all over creating breath-taking views. After 5 km of walking, just before 1 tunnel, we crossed over into the state of Goa. “Welcome to Goa” board welcomes us in a Goa state.
After a total 7 km walk, we reached the Caranzol railway station. From here it’s another 7 km walk to reach Dudhsagar station. We decided to have a lunch break at the station. The station was lonely. It is mainly used by railway employees and lineman. Many rooms and structures were almost ruined. Few members of the group were new for trekking but the energy level was high. 
We resumed our trudge after resting for 20 minutes in at the station. My wife Renuka had a cramp in her leg badly. Pankaj was aware of this trek and shelter so we took all members ahead. I and my sister Pratima was taking care of Renuka. We were walking at very slow speed. In spite of the injury, she did a great job. From here onwards, there were a lot of small waterfalls along the rail line and even more dense forest. Going further we entered into a tunnel and view from the other end of the tunnel was spectacular. A curvy tunnel and when you came out of it, a medium size bridge welcomes you with a breathtaking view. Our plan was to reach Dudhsagar station before dark. After crossing 10 tunnels single track splits into 2 tracks and soon we came to know that Dudhsagar station is close by now. Everybody’s legs were paining like hell as it’s not easy to walk on gravels.Pankaj and other members reached before 5 and occupied the shelter.

Tunnel, bridge and Tunnel
Tunnel, bridge and Tunnel combination 

Tunnel bridge combination 

Goa Express in Ghat

           At around 5:30 PM, finally, we reached Dudhsagar station. We were aware that waterfall was about 1km from the station. There are only 2 shelters available for trekker for an overnight stay near the waterfall. We wanted to have a safe shelter as 3 female trekkers were with us so we choose our last year shelter i.e. St Mary’s church.I and Pankajwentahead to see the waterfall and other took rest.I feel good after watching the fall. We came back to our shelter before it gets dark.
Girls quickly cleaned this place and we were ready to settle down. After 10-20 min rest, we made Tea from milk powder for other members before we cook food for dinner. We were carrying coal and lot of dry newspapers. I and Pankaj started burning coal with the help of newspaper and Kapur (used in prayer for Hindu god and very quickly it burns). We arranged stones to form a stove and our special Maggi program began. We were very hungry and desperately waiting for Maggi. The Other option was rice but it will take some time to cook so we kept Khichadi-rice menu for Sunday Lunch. Everybody was contributing for Maggi and after 20-25 minutes we were ready to eat Maggi. We bought 3 Mega Maggi packets and we ate all one after one. After our first Maggi, we were able to cook remaining packets hardly within 5-10 min.
           A pitch dark night, our church surrounded by forest and small water stream with cold weather and we were with our special coal Maggi. It is very difficult to explain this experience in the words.

After lovely dinner, it was time to sleep. We took out our sleeping bags and set our beds. It was 10:00 PM in clock and all were excited to visit a waterfall in the early morning. We were aware that will not get sound sleep as railway line was few feet away from us and this route is quite busy with the goods train.

  • Pune to Londa ticket (Non-A/C Sleeper): INR 235/- per person
  • Londa to Castle Rock ticket (General ticket): INR 30/- per person
  • Breakfast at Londa (Idli/bhaji/vada-pav): INR 20/- each
  • Maggi packets(Pack of 4): INR 40/- per packet
  • Coal for burning: INR 20/- per kg in Pune
25th August 2013: Dudhsagar railway station – Dudhsagar waterfall – Pune
           Goods trains were crossing till3:00AM and after that me and Renuka were able to sleep properly. All took rest and only I and Renuka were spying on the train and other activity till 2.30 just for our safety. 
Our shelter (Photo taken in the year 2012)

View from our shelter

            We woke up by 6 AM. After getting fresh from all activities in nature, we had breakfast and then we were ready for our main purpose. The distance between Dudhsagar railway station and waterfall is nearly 1 km. You need to cross tunnel number 11. We all were excited to go there. We took a lot of photographs and went into the tunnel No 11. The very first thing we noticed when coming out of tunnel 11 is the roaring sound of waterfalls on the backdrop of a huge rocky mountain. Dudhsagar falls is a gigantic waterfall, roaring and thundering as water fell on the rocks. We just kept watching the beauty. Now we were in front of huge, white, roaring waterfall throwing an enormous blanket of mist all over the railway bridge and into the air. We took a lot of photographs from the bridge. It was a little bit difficult task to capture entire waterfall in 1 frame.The force of the water was too much for a human being to go near it. So, we admired the beauty of the waterfalls by standing on the track. We were aware that after 10 AM, this place becomes crowded as 2 trains took a halt at station and lot of tourist come to visit.We captured many photos and decided to go further to view the entire waterfall, let’s say waterfall viewpoint.

Train driver's Break time

Dudhsagar fall bridge

Dudhsagar Waterfall
Dudhsagar fall

            To reach to the waterfall viewpoint, you need to walk 2km from Dudhsagar Waterfall Bridge towards Kulem. On the way to this viewpoint, we came across 2 back to back tunnels. Tunnel No 12 and 13 are just a few meters apart from each other having a gap between them where a small water stream falls and sunlight lightens the spot. 
After 2 km walk, we reach to waterfall viewpoint. Dudhsagar waterfall view from this point is simply amazing and I don’t have words to explain this nature’s beauty.  From this point also, we were able to hear roaring sound of the waterfall. I clicked as many photographs as I could, with different angles, every member’s solo photographs and many more. We spent around an hour in nature and witness the beauty of nature. We got to know that a passenger express is going to cross the Dudhsagar Bridge. I didn’t want to miss the famous photograph of Train crossing waterfall. After 10-15 minutes wait, one express train passed over the bridge and I became busy to click that moment.Suddenly heavy rainfall started and I didn’t get a proper picture but that was fine as I clicked few frames last year.

Dudhsagar Waterfall
Dudhsagar fall with bridge

Dudhsagar Waterfall
Dudhsagar Waterfall

           We returned to Dudhsagar Waterfall Bridge after a lot of clicks at the viewpoint and in the tunnel no 12 and 13. We saw a massive crowd near the fall. We were lucky enough to view waterfall when there were hardly any people in the early morning. Around the falls there are many positions to get the view. The one closest to the falls is on the left side of the bridge, downstairs. This is the position where one has to lift his head 90 degrees to see the origin of falls on the edge and feel a splash of mist all over.
Now we were hungry and decided to cook a Khichadi (Type of Rice) on Coal. We went back to same St Mary’s church. It took us around 45min to cook Khichadi and hardly few min to finish that. Renuka and Pratima prepared delicious fruit salad from milk powder and fruits which we brought from home. Trek ends then very delicious note. Goa express stops at Dudhsagar railway station for only a minute so rather than going to Kulem by engine we preferred to relax there only. Our reservation was from Kulem station and station master told our wagon’s position. We waited there for 2 hours. Most of the tourists had come to station to catch this train and Dudhsagar station became over crowded. We relaxed as we had reservation but the concern was to catch the train. Finally Goa express came at 5.30 PM to station. After small struggle we manage to catch the train.

Trek ends with Fruit Salad

Following day we returned to Pune at 3:30 AM, ending one of the most pleasurable rail trek.Now next year, I will visit this place again with some new members.
  • Water bottle at Dudhsagar waterfall: INR 20/-
  • Cold drink (500ml bottle): INR 40/-
  • Tea at Dudhsagar: INR 10/- per cup
  • Kulem to Pune ticket (Non A/C Sleeper): INR 300/- per person
  • Water bottle in train: INR 20/- per bottle
Tips / Suggestions / My observations:
  1. For trekking, Castle Rock to Dudhsagar is the best option to trek (14 km trek on rail line). You need to cross 10 tunnels till Dudhsagar station and 1 more to reach at the fall.
  2. Walk towards Kulem from the fall for 2 km to see the full view of waterfall.
  3. There is enough space in tunnel to hide if train comes in. Try to sit down on knees in tunnel b'cos you can not expect all doors are locked properly for goods trains.
  4. Train/Engine makes much noise while passing through valley so you get enough time to complete tunnel walk or at least to take design about it.
  5. Stations from castle Rock to Kulem are as Castle Rock – Caranzol – Dudhsagar – Sonalium – Kulem.
  6. Carry extra dry cloth sets for monsoon trek. It is a typical forest rain.
  7. Things to carry for trek are: Torch, basic medical kit, dry cloths packed in plastic bag, mosquito repellent in case of night stay, dry snacks, Coal or other burning material in case of cooking, rainy jacket and most important is camera!
  8. On weekend, try to avoid boarding Goa express from Dudhsagar station. As it is last train for Castle rock and most of tourist target this train to board it became difficult to catch. Better to walk towards Kulem and board at Sonalium station after 4 km walk from waterfall. Goa expresses stops for 30-40 sec here.
Thanks for reading this Travel Blog. Happy traveling.
Pritesh Kulkarni

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Trip Pandurang Kshetra Hadshi Temple, Sathya Sai Trust

After few treks and trip plan, we got some free half daytime and then we thought to visit Pandurang Kshetra temple located in Hadshi village near Pune. This trip can be done easily with few hours’ time. Travellers for this short trip were me and my wife Renuka.

About Pandurang Kshetra, Hadshi Temple:
            Pandurang Kshetra temple popularly known as Hadshi Temple is around 45km away from Pune city. It is run by the Sathya Sai trust and has idols of Pandurang (Krishna) and both the Sai Baba.Hadshi temple and surrounding area is known for cleanness, greenery and scenery.
            To reach temple from Pune is Pune – ChadaniChowk – Pirangut – Paud – Take a right at Paud after Bus stand – Hadashi. You can see the welcome arch on the left side of the road. From this point, you need to drive on a small hill for hardly 1 km to reach Temple parking. It is very difficult to miss the temple arch and signboard. It is a must visit place for monsoon if you are in Pune city.

Welcome Arch

11th Aug 2013: Short trip to Hadshi temple (Total Distance travelled: 90 km):
           We had no plans for the weekend and weather was simply beautiful on Sunday. It tempts me to go for a short drive and we thought to visit Hadshi temple. This was my third visit and Renuka’s first visit to the temple. We left home after our lunch. Drive till Temple was pleasant and made us feel fresh. After an hour drive, we reach the temple. The surrounding area is full of lush green and a lot of plantation. Temple is a heavenly place for both the young and the aged alike. There is enough space for parking.

Temple entry

             At the entrance gate of the temple, you can see small Ganesh Temple. Walkway path approaching the temple have small artificial pool along with fountains. On both the side of the temple, there is a huge garden area where children can enjoy their time. Temple is mainly divided into 2 floors. For aged people, there is an elevated lift and wheelchairs. The first floor of the temple has the Pandurang Shrine while the ground floor has both the Sai Baba. late Sathya Sai Baba visited this place in 2009 and Photos on the wall tell the story of this temple.Temple is very clean which is not often that you can find.

Hadshi Temple
Hadshi Temple

View from Temple

             Small pons near temple stairs have lots of Lotus flowers in it. These are in very beautiful colour and shape which cannot be ignored by your camera. You can find out the seat out area in the garden. An added attraction is the good canteen. They had poha, sabudana kichdi, pakodas, bhel and lots more. I have tried almost all dishes on my past trips but this time as we came here after our lunch, we skipped Canteen visit. After spending a couple of hours we left the temple and came home before sunset. If you have a few hours and need a place to go, this would make an excellent destination.

Garden view

Our Expenses:

  • Car petrol: INR 500/- (approx. 6.2 lit at INR 79/lit)
  • Car toll at Bhavdhan: INR 30/- (Return toll)

Thanks for reading this Travel Blog. Happy travelling.

Pritesh Kulkarni