Offbeat Goa: Dudhsagar Falls
Dudhsagar Waterfalls (Dudh – Milk, Sagar – Sea; literally Sea of Milk) is a 4-tiered waterfall located in the Indian state of Goa. While Goa is famous for splendid beaches, there are number of interesting yet unexplored offbeat places to visit in Goa. After the shooting scenes of famous Bollywood movie ‘Chennai Express’ at Dudhsagar Falls, it has become very popular and is often a part of the to-visit list of tourists willing to travel to offbeat Goa. Considered among the highest waterfalls in India, Dudhsagar waterfalls is particularly unique and spectacular due to a railway track that cuts right through the middle of the falls. In this article you will find everything you need to know about how to reach Dudhsagar waterfalls and what to expect.
Read other blogs of the series ‘Offbeat Goa’ by clicking on the link or photos below:
Dudhsagar Falls - This article
In Goa, Dudhsagar waterfalls is located in eastern side of the state in Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary amongst the Western Ghats further ahead from a town named Collem or Kulem. Dudhsagar Waterfall forms border between Karnataka and Goa states and is in the middle of dense forest area. Kulem is 66 kms from Panaji or 36 kms from Margao towards east. One can reach Kulem by road or take a train from Margao. If one is coming from Bangalore side, one can reach Castlerock which is around 500 kms from Bangalore.
The Course of Dudhsagar Falls:
Dudhsagar Falls emerges from the Braganza Ghats of the Indian State of Karnataka. In Goa it falls from a mountain cliff which is a part of Western Ghats (mountain range in South-West India). From the base of the falls, it forms Dudhsagar River which flows westwards in the state of Goa to join the Mahadayi River in Karmane district. Further westwards, it joins the Mandovi River in Ponda district and eventually pours into the Arabian Sea at Panaji, the state capital of Goa.
Few facts about Dudhsagar Falls:
Dudhsagar Falls is considered one of India’s tallest waterfalls. It falls from a height of 1020 feet and is approximately 100 feet wide.
Dudhsagar Falls is in its peak flow in the monsoon season (June to September). As the waterfall is rain fed, it forms huge force of water in monsoon. However, in summer season (March to June) the flow wanes out and the falls are not particularly spectacular.
Viewpoints around Dudhsagar falls:
There are two points to view the waterfall:
1. Dudhsagar Rail Bridge – You can go on the Dudhsagar rail bridge. Here, you will get the zoomed-in view of the fall where a part of the fall will be above you and other part will be below flowing from behind the bridge. You would also get a view of the falls for few seconds if you are onboard a train towards Madgaon in Goa. Passenger trains usually do not stop at Dudhsagar railway junction.
2. Dudhsagar Falls Base – Here, you walk to the base of the waterfall and will be able to view the whole fall from top to bottom. This is the point from where the Dudhsagar River starts. You can even swim here if the flow is not too forceful. You would have to enter a gate that says Dudhsagar waterfall and you would find a viewpoint here. After the view point, you will have to cross few water streams to reach the base of the falls.
You can offcourse do both - go on the bridge and go to the base if you have enough time and energy.
How to reach Dudhsagar waterfalls:
As we mentioned earlier, Dudhsagar Falls is located amongst dense forest hence there is no motorable road to reach the falls. You can choose one among the below mentioned ways for reaching/ viewing the waterfalls.
1. Take a train (Difficulty level – Easy)
To understand the train route, one must know the location of railway stations around Dudhsagar Falls:
Castle Rock (Karnataka) ---- Caranzol (Goa) ---- Dudhsagar (Goa) ---- DUDHSAGAR WATERFALL ---- Sonaulim (Goa) --- Kulem (Goa)
No passenger train stops at Dudhsagar railway station. All trains stop at the two railway stations – Kulem (Mumbai, Pune, Goa side) and Castle Rock (Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai side). You can easily take train to either of these two railway stations. From these Kulem or Castlerock railway stations you can hop on into the engine of slow moving goods train (if the driver is kind enough to allow you; we have even heard people bribing the driver). These trains may stop at Dudhsagar station if they get a red signal, but the stop will be short where you will have to alight the train (Not reliable)! Remember there is no platform at Dudhsagar station and you will have to jump down 2 feet from the train. If you are successful to get down here, Dudhsagar Falls rail bridge is just 1 kilometre away towards Kulem. You can easily walk on the railway track for 1 kilometre to reach the bridge from where you will get a magnificent view of the falls. (Note: Alighting the train at Dudhsagar station is officially not allowed; please weigh all the risks before selecting this way).
Another way is after reaching Kulem or Castle Rock station by taking any train, take a goods train to Sonaulim railway station. From Sonaulim station you can either trek on the railway track for 3 kilometre to reach Dudhsagar falls rail bridge (Risky – as you may be stopped by the rail vigil personnel and will be asked to go back) or trek through the mud route for 4 kilometre to reach the base of the Dudhsagar waterfall (More preferable).
2. Trek through the railway track (Difficulty level – Moderate)
Reach Kulem or Castle Rock railway station either by road or by taking a passenger train. From here, walk on the railway track to Dudhsagar Falls rail bridge. You will have to walk 11 kilometre from Kulem and 14 kilometre from Castle Rock to reach the falls. Keep your ears open for sound of train whistle. There is enough space to get down besides the rail track when the train passes. Be mindful of approaching trains especially when walking through the numerous tunnels on this route. Carrying a torch will be convenient. Please note that there are chances that you might be stopped by the forest or rail vigil personnel, mostly after Sonaulim station, and will be asked to go back. The best way to avoid this is hiring a guide from Kulem or Castle Rock. These are local villagers who know the area very well and will help you find an alternate forest mud route if they have heard of any such vigil on the railway track. The local guides might charge you INR 500 per person and will walk with you throughout the way, will alert you of approaching train, will help you get down the railway track on time and will of course guide you through alternate paths in case of rail vigil. You could also negotiate on the rates if you are a big group.
If you wish to view Dudhsagar falls from the base, trek on the railway track till Sonaulim railway station and then take the mud route through the forest for 4 kilometre to reach the base of the waterfall. Taking the mud route is not advisable in peak monsoon as many streams pass through the route which are difficult to cross.
3. Trek through forest (Difficulty level – Moderate to High)
It is a must to hire a guide if you choose to reach Dudhsagar Falls by trekking through the forest. For taking this route, you will have to reach Kulem village. Several local guides are available here who will take you through the forest route for a small fee mentioned earlier. If you find none, be patient and ask around. Many are generally wandering around to find customers. Trekking through jungle is not advisable in peak monsoon as it becomes difficult to cross the several streams that come in the way. Wear your most comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to walk through the muddy and slushy pathways for 12 kilometre one way. This route is the most beautiful path that takes you to the base of the waterfall.
4. Taking a jeep safari (Difficulty level – Easy; View: Dudhsagar Falls base)
If you opt for this route, you will have to reach the Dudhsagar jeep taxi stand in Kulem village which is very close to Kulem railway station. Jeep safari is a government initiated service and is highly reliable. However, the jeep route is shut down in monsoon (From Mid-May to October) as the jeep tracks are too slushy and streams difficult to cross in heavy rains. Please note that you cannot take your personal vehicle on the jeep track. 7 passengers are allowed in each jeep and if you are less than 7, you will have to form group of 7 with other nuclear groups before going to the jeep counter. The jeep charges are INR 2800 for 7 passengers. Make sure you reach the stand early in the morning, for as the day progresses heavy crowds line up near the stand, especially during weekends. The jeep takes 45 minutes one way to reach the end of the motorable road. From there, you have to trek for 15-20 minutes to reach the base of Dudhsagar Falls. You will be given one and half hour of time to view the waterfall and to return back to the same jeep for onward journey. The jeep ticket counter closes by 2 PM and everyone present at the base of the waterfall are asked to return back by 4:30 PM.
What route did we take? – Multiple
We visited Dudhsagar Falls in first week of September when the jeep safaris were not in operation. We hired a local guide who guided us to the railway track for the first couple of kilometres. Post that we trekked through the jungle of Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary for 5 kilometres and walked on the jeep track for the rest of the time. The trek on railway track was by no means an easy one – walking on the pointed stones and gravel was painful for the feet. The walk through the jungle was however easy with hardly any ascent or descent and the tree cover provided us coverage from the sun. The very first view of the mighty waterfall from a distance made us scream with joy.
Since we were in Goa during off season, and were covering Dudhsagar on a weekday, we did not encounter any other group throughout our trek. We halted for lunch at Sonaulim village where the villagers were kind enough to prepare us simple lunch (dal, rice and papad) for INR 120 per person. We were even lucky to capture a photograph of the falls with a moving train passing by on the rail bridge. The numerous streams in the jungle near the base of the falls was another delight for photography. After spending an hour at the falls, we took the railway track route for our return journey.
Entry to national park – INR 50 per person
Life jacket – INR 30 per jacket (Compulsory to carry for everyone)
Guide fee – INR 500 per person
Jeep fee – INR 2800 for a group of 7 passengers
Things to remember:
No restaurants or food stalls are present near Dudhsagar Falls. Make sure you carry your own food items. You would get local village food at the only house in Sonaulim.
If you go to the base of the falls, remember to keep any eatables inside your bags the moment you enter Dudhsagar gate. There will be fearless monkeys all around who would snatch any colourful wrapper they see.
If you wish to swim in the Dudhsagar River at the base of the falls, do so only with the life jacket on. It is not advisable to swim in monsoon when the water flows with a lot of force.
There are no cloak rooms/ lockers to keep your luggage near the falls.
Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary is a plastic free zone. Please do not litter the place.
Toilets are available near the falls but their cleanliness is another question.
If you do the forest trek, you may come across snakes in certain sections. These are usually small and harmless unless you disturb them. But having a guide helps as they tend to easily spot these and are not afraid of one.
Recommended stay near Dudhsagar falls:
The most important piece of advice that we can give to you all is stay closer to Kulem. While some camping options crop up near the falls during tourist season, it is difficult to carry all your luggage to these sites. Plus they come with their own inconveniences. We know some travelers prefer to drive from their beachside accommodations to Kulem, do a day trip and go back. Trust us this is not advisable as you would be too tired after a long day's trek to travel all the way to beach side western end of Goa. Staying around Kulem not only gives you the luxury of time, it would also be easier to cover few other nearby attractions like Tambdi Surla temple and waterfalls. We had a wonderful and peaceful stay at Dudhsagar Plantation which is very close to Kulem.
Our host Ashok arranged conveyance and guide to Dudhsagar falls which made everything so easy for us. Also other guests at Dudhsagar plantation grouped in giving us wonderful company through the day. And it felt so good to have a good hot bath after the arduous Dudhsagar trek. You can read more about our experience of staying at Dudhsagar Plantation. You can also club another waterfall in Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary - Tambdi Surla waterfall along with Dudhsagar falls. Tamdi Surla waterfalls is a shorter trek spanning a total of around 5 hours in forest. There is also a temple here which is supposedly the oldest temple in Goa. You can read more about Tamdi Surla waterfall and Temple.
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Have you been to Dudhsagar Falls yet or are you planning a trip? Did this article help you plan a trip to Dudhsagar? Or did we miss out any detail? Which route do you felt was best to reach Dudhsagar falls? We would be happy to know. Please let us know in the comment section below.