Saturday, December 14, 2013

Walk along rail tracks from Castle-Rock to Dudhsagar waterfalls - Part 2

Continued from here

This is the concluding part of our walk towards Dudhsagar waterfalls.

After few more hard walk, we reached the Dudhsagar station and we could hear the plunge of waterfalls from station itself! People who have visited during peak monsoon season describe it as sound of ocean from station :-). But we heard the normal sound of plummet. The sound  indicated that there is considerable flow of water :-). We also enjoyed the view of beautiful western ghats from Dudhsagar station.


500m later, Hurray! we made to it to the milk of ocean at 3:30PM :-). We took nearly 5:30hrs to complete the stretch including almost 90 minutes of break+photoshoots. We were really delighted to complete the 15km trudge ;-). At waterfall site, we could see considerable water plunge and as predicted not as much seen during August monsoon season.  As a consequence of walk, we were tired and sweating profusely. There was ocean of milk on the ghats while ocean of sweat on our body! Nevertheless it was delightful to watch the geography of Dudhsagar waterfalls.

The four tiered waterfall plummets from height of 310 mts before reaching the valley. The water gathers high kinetic energy due to this height coupled with multiple rocky divisions as it reaches first level of plunge. The source of water is Mandovi river which meets Arabian sea somewhere in Goa state. A dam is constructed across the Mandovi river before the waterfalls whose excess water also let out which gives more vigor to the ocean of milk during monsoon. This has been prominent tourist attraction from many years and one can see thousands of videos floating around Youtube mainly the trains passing the waterfall. As we reached waterfall site, we rested nearby the initial reach of water to ground. The camps were already setup for night stay. The pond at the first plunge is around 3 feet deep but suddenly dips to 30feet. So be careful if you wish to venture into water. Rajesh is a good swimmer and he could manage very easily. I did not knew swimming and hence only enjoyed the landscape and joy of people. One can also walk down the valley to have full view of the 4 tier waterfall alongside enjoying in water. We did not visit the valley point because of tiredness. The other reasons were lack of vigor in waterfall and excitement reduced further as we saw heavy garbage dump everywhere :-(. We also skipped view point due to same said reasons.

As dusk evolved around the region, the clouds started hovering on sky. Also there was beautiful sunlight on western ghats shimmering the Mandovi river valley. I grabbed some shots and bracketed few HDRs. We were planning to have start trail timelapse however clouds ruined our enthusiasm. I had especially taken the nifty-fifty f/1.8 to grab start trail timelapse and now everything in vain. We did not carry tripod but our Australian friend offered his tripod for few hours on request. Now with clouds covering sky, there was no point in grabbing any star trails. The region was completely dark by 7:30PM and we were getting ready to have dinner. The organizers had carried pre-cooked chapathis along with MTR ready to eat food items. We also had carry bags to collect the our garbage back. There was one more group of campers who prepared food on their own. The other group were also making merry and too much noise near the camp :D. Whenever we had to move around the place, torch was only source of light. It was also soothing to hear the sound of waterfall plunge. This was mainly due to total internal reflection at night and deep silence. At night due to TIR, the sound is reflected back to earth surface by atmosphere which echoes the sound back to earth. Please refer some physics article to know about total internal reflection ;-).


There is only small tea shop situated near waterfall site. Earlier they used to serve only tea. Now they serve bunch of other stuffs like water bottle, cool drinks, biscuits and food on demand. Everything is sophisticated now. The shopkeeper is from Kulem and has been in business from past 5 years. He also suggested us to visit during peak monsoon time. The shopkeeper said that the water plummets with tremendous amount of energy during the monsoon season that one has to cross railway bridge bending the body! Otherwise the generated wind can push you into valley :D. He also mentioned that the water sprinkles generated due to fierce plunge on the rocks can reach even beyond tracks. One can have bath just with sprinkling water itself :D. He sleeps on the platform and opens the shop shutter early next morning. Not sure if he stays here during monsoon season too. Since this is exclusive shop here, the charge is also too high. Even people have no choice! Most of his goods arrive via the trains which halt at Dudhsagar for few minutes. Eventually, something is better than nothing. There are also toilets behind the shop for urgent nature calls :-).

We had good dinner and setup a campfire for just rejoicing. Camp fire was not required since the weather was too humid. I was surprised to feel the untidy weather right in middle of dense forest despite being autumn! The sudden gathering of clouds may have increased the humidity of region. I slept early around 9:30PM. Despite the noise created by the other campers, the fatigued body provided good sleep for sometime. Later we could not sleep due to ocean of sweat flowing on our body. Midnight, despite the foggy weather, it was sweating terribly. Me and Rajesh were sleeping in one tent and we decided to open the tent zipper to have free air flow. Later on, I had very good sleep till morning and ready for next day activity.

20 Oct 2013,

Early morning we woke up around 6:30AM and had to get ready to catch the Amaravati express which briefly halts for 2-3 minutes at Dudhsagar station.After having great sleep, we were fully refreshed and ready for one more long walk but we were catching train to Castlerock to reach Bangalore as early as possible. We had to get refreshed and later pack up the tents and walk towards the station which is around 0.5-1km from waterfall site. The energy of waterfall seemed like little bit increased relative to previous day. It was time for one more photo shoot-out ;-). Captured some pictures and videos before packing our stuffs. The organizers had brought ready to eat pulav for morning breakfast but none of us were ready to eat it :-). Consequently we thought of having breakfast in Ramanagar itself. We also thought of going down the valley but did not have ample time and hence skipped it.

Around 8:30AM we were ready to leave the place and it was time to say Goodbye to the majestic waterfalls located in middle of dense western ghats. We moved towards the Dudhsagar station with our luggage as well as tent baggages. In one of the tunnels, water dripping from top directly fell down on the power button of camera. The camera failed to power on further :-(. It had faced heavy rains in past but just for little drip it broke down :-(. May be the impact was on prominent location which made it to break down instantly. My assumption was that battery power board would have gone for toss and needs replacement. Not sure, will have to diagnose once reaching Bangalore.

9:30AM, Amaravati express arrived at the station and started moving towards castle rock. I wanted to grab some videos but camera was in vain :-(. There was supply checking also but we did not have tickets. Previous day, Rajesh had inquired organizers whether they have bought return tickets and answer was yes. Unfortunately it was not. We were annoyed to hear that :-(. Rajesh got raged hearing this but kept silent. This is first time I was traveling without tickets and such small incidents makes railways to incur losses too! Fortunately, the ticket checker never returned and we safely landed in castle rock station without any fine but that was really bad experience and we were feeling guilty too :-(.

The train reached Castlerock in matter of 15 minutes. We then boarded our bus towards Ramanagar. We reached Ramanagar around 10AM to the same hotel as previous day. So did we have breakfast here? Alas no breakfast at all :-(. The hotelier said they would prepare on demand but only limited stuffs. Three of us decided to skip the breakfast and had apples with cool-drinks. The coordinator promised that bus would again stop at Kamat Hotel near Hubli for Lunch. It is obvious that places like these have feeble human movement and consequently hotel men prepare less food. On prior notice, they would have prepared something for us may be.

The bus started moving towards Hubli and reached Kamat restuarant at 2:30PM. We had good lunch here. The place was heavily crowded since 2-3 buses arrived altogether. After having lunch the bus started moving towards Bangalore. Surprisingly, Hubli-Dharwad bypass is also two laned! People in bus were having entertainment to pass time but I was happy to sleep :-). I slept in batches at times to be fresh for next day work. I also enjoyed lush green meadows and coconut plantations from Haveri to Chitradurga along with beautiful sunset. I could not grab any pics since my camera was down. Our Canadian friend had captured some good snaps of vivid patterns in sky. The bus stopped again at Tumkur for light snacks before heading to Bangalore again. We reached Bangalore around 11:30PM and thus ending our small journey.

Great experience once again. I never get bored traveling. This time I was pretty much lamenting since I had left macro lens at home. Later I realized after watching beautiful wild butterflies, I should have carried the same instead of tele lens. The other thing which annoyed us was lack of co-ordination by the organizers. People were seen scattered all along during our walk. There was never feeling of one group. Coordinators were never bothered to inspect if people of group were in comfortable position or not. Fortunately none of them broke down and everyone was fit. They were also not checking for all people in group before moving the bus. As said before, the incident of traveling without tickets was irritating :-(.

Miscellaneous stuffs [Boredom ;-)]

One has to visit the waterfalls just for fun during these days. The actual visit should be during July-August monsoon season when you really experience milk of ocean. It will be raining heavily but the glory is incredible especially from view point.

Overall happy that I am fit to walk for 15kms ;-) and spend some night in wilderness but not so much excited since could not feel the ocean of milk. Also too much garbage around the place somehow reduced the excitement about the place. After experiencing thunderous roll of Hanumangundi and Sirimane waterfalls, I am used to enjoy only waterfalls with exuberant flow. Walk during peak monsoon season will be unique experience with heavy rains and region covered with many water stream and greenery. Also water falling from tunnels will be enjoying experience too ;-). We plan to go during peak monsoon season but no plans to walk again though!

Last Note:

My prediction was near right about camera break down. The service center personnel informed that battery power board was blown out and had to be replaced. Some parts of the board were burnt due to short circuit created by water inflow. Since PCBs can't be repaired (due to molding), there was no option other than replacing entire circuit board. That would be costing bit more but I had really tough time without camera for 2 weeks :-(. Anyhow I gave them green signal to replace the PCB and decided to be bit more cautious from now onwards especially during rainy season. After repair, the camera is alive again :-) with fully serviced.

One HDR is documented here

Could have captured dusk to dark timelapse but realized only after night :D. Wanted to grab star trail timelapse at night but could not due to reasons stated in blog.

Two videos this time:

1) Vasco-Hazrat Nizamuddin express passing through Dudhsagar waterfalls

2) Small compilation of Dudhsagar waterfalls


From this blog onwards, I am including this new section to appreciate people who have helped me during travel and review my pictures and blogs. The lone credit goes to my friend +rajesh singh for his thorough review. Great thing about him is more than appreciation he provides constructive criticism which makes me to think a lot before I publish any content. He is far more experienced traveler and trekker than me and has been to many unexplored destinations in and around coastal Karnataka. I am grateful to him for sparing some time to review my work :-).

My credit also goes to beautiful open source image editors DarkTable and GIMP

Hope you enjoyed the two part blog. If you wish, leave feedback for any improvements.

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