Tuesday, 27 January 2015

A visit to Dudhsagar falls

Dudhsagar falls, it was my first visit and I was very excited as I am very fond of fresh waters. Thanks to Tata Motors #DriveWithSOUL event, I got the opportunity to visit the falls by road. I was staying at the Dudhsagar Spa Resort which was considerably close to the falls. All I knew about Dudhsagar falls was that it was among India's tallest waterfalls. The falls is located in the Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary and Mollem National Park among the Western ghats. The waterfall forms the border between Karnataka and Goa states. This waterfall was picturized in the famous Hindi Blockbuster 'Chennai Express' and having watched the movie, I knew this waterfall is going to be very beautiful.

Bloggers click a selfie before the drive to the falls

We drove in our Tata Safari to the Dudhsagar falls taxi stand which is closer to Collem station. From this point, private vehicles are not allowed so you will either have to trek till the falls or hire a taxi which could cost around Rs.400 per person, max 6 people in a taxi. They also give us life jackets which we need to wear when we enter the water as the water is very deep. It is a 12 kms trek or drive from the taxi stand to the falls. The road is rough and one will have to cross 2/3 streams and a check post to reach the falls. Around 400 taxis are allowed by the forest department. On a conversation with the driver we were informed that they get one trip on an average of 2 days. Around one third of them get business on weekend and half of them get business on weekday from November to May. As the roads are closed between June to October, the drivers need to earn their bread in the operating months and hence the rule of no private vehicles allowed to the falls.

At the check post, one has to pay Rs.30 for still camera and Rs.150 for video camera. Mobile phones are not charged. The charges on video camera are unnecessary as one can always shoot a video on any of the camera's. It was a 45 mins drive from the taxi stand to the falls, often resulting in back pain. Hold yourself tight while on the route. The driver showed us a temple, a house where a family stays, a bar and refreshment store. He wanted to pick a stranger saying he is from the forest department, but the other passenger's refused on grounds of less space.

Driver also showed us the path under the railway line which would be taken by the bikers during the monsoon season as the road would be closed as the water level will be high in the streams. Due to poor road condition, no audio system in installed in the taxi said the driver. Once we reach the falls area, there is a 10-15 mins walk to the falls. Tourist are given one hour to return to the taxi which I feel is very less. It would take around 20 mins walk to the falls as everyone would be clicking pics at different scenic locations, 10 mins walk back to the taxi, 10-15 mins at the changing shed, bio toilet etc leaving with only 15-20 mins at the falls. I feel it is very less time at this beautiful falls after such a struggle to come all the way to the falls and paying a hefty amount for the taxi and other charges. The drivers always complain of people being late as they usually take more than 60 mins to return to the taxi. They should give us 2-2.5 hours at the falls as it is unlikely for the taxi driver to get another ride, the same day.

I have not seen the falls in August but Shreenidhi, another blogger from Chennai who was with us in the journey had visited the falls on rail in the month of August and he had described us the route he had taken and the flow of water in the monsoons. We had the bottom view of this magnificent falls and also got to take a dip in this fresh water which was very cold yet the feel was different. Oh how I wish I had more time to be in the water as every second was a wonderful experience. While taking a dip, I got to interact with the other SOUL members (Safari Owners United League). Srihari and Perez from SOUL Bangalore were too much fun and also the reason for me to get into the water and swim till the falls. I got to interact with many other SOUL members at the falls, though we all stayed at the same resort. We also got to see 2 trains pass by when we were at the falls. We all were talking about the Chennai Express train, Shah Rukh Khan and the movie as we looked at the train pass by (What else do you expect with a Bollywood fan around ;) ).

Beware of the monkeys around. You can also find a ladies changing room, men changing room and a bio toilet at the falls. I was also told that one can drink at the falls area but not smoke but still could see some buds and beer cans around and not in the trash bin. So when you visit, keep the place clean. While returning, I saw some students trek to the falls and not take the taxi. Also, we requested the driver to stop mid way at one of the stream so that we could get down and take some pictures and also soak our legs in some cold running water. I had a great time at the falls. Hope you find the post useful for your visit :)

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