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The failed trek to Doodhsagar

The monophonic sound coming from out of the window became clearer with every step I took towards the exit. A crowded platform waited for me outside, packed with people looking forward to make the most of the long weekend ahead. Most of them carrying everything you need to camp for a couple of days. From neatly packed sleeping bags and tents in their respective bright-colored covers to bananas to a bags full of eggs and breads. Just like I said, everything you need to be on your own for a while. A little ahead, a crowd surrounded two khaki-clad men with a PAS (Public Address System).

Tracks at Castle-rock
Tracks at Castle-rock – PC-Praveen Jangira

The one on the left holding the loud-speaker as the other spoke through the microphone, trying to convey something to the impatient crowd while maintaining a stern demeanor.

I have just alighted from the Vasco Express at this idyllic station of Castlerock which falls on what is called the Braganza Ghats, a stretch of the hill-section of South-Western Railway zone not far from the Karnataka – Goa border. An eleven kilometer trek (read walk) along the train-tracks from here will take me to the Doodhsagar waterfalls in the state of Goa.

The snaking tracks - Doodhsagar Trek
The snaking tracks – Doodhsagar Trek

A four-tiered waterfall, the Doodhsagar lies in the Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary and Mollem National Park and forms the natural border between Karnataka and Goa. The onset of monsoons transforms it into a majestic sight. Roaring its way down as it diverges into multiple streams before converging again.

Abandoned building near Castlerock station - Doodhsagar Trek
Abandoned building near Castlerock station – Doodhsagar Trek

No one will be allowed to go to the falls or alight at the Doodhsagar station. The train will stop only at Kulem (the first station after the waterfall) once it starts from here.“, said the RPF Jawan through the PAS.

Deserted building at Castlerock - Doodhsagar Trekking
Deserted building at Castlerock – Doodhsagar Trekking

Access to the Doodhsagar falls has been banned, I learn after some asking around. Even though this meant that my entire trek was now in jeopardy, I was not surprised by this to be honest. With the kind of reckless activities that have been going on in and around the falls since some time now, leading to multiple deaths due to drowning, a ban here was just a matter of time. Sadly.

The tracks at Castle Rock - Doodhsagar Trek
The tracks at Castle Rock – Doodhsagar Trek

The quaint station of Castlerock hardly sees a handful of people at a time so with hundreds of people at once, the place looked very much out of capacity. Staying there was not something me and my travel-mates wanted to do. Neither did we want to go back, not that there was any option anyway. So we decided to take our chances and began our walk without any further ado.

Walking by the tracks – Doodhsagar Trek
Walking by the tracks – Doodhsagar Trek

Minutes after we had started it was calm all around. Most of the crowd seemingly did not like the idea of walking for hours and stayed behind, much to our joy. You see, fewer people means you can take-in the beauty around you without the shrieks and shouting of the over-excited ‘tourists’. Very soon walking along the tracks which snaked away into the greenery started calling for more attention. The trails on both sides of the track became narrower as we moved ahead and coupled with the slippery surface, we were just one slip away from falling in the jungle below most of the time.

Walking on the Tracks - Doodhsagar Trek
Walking on the Tracks – Doodhsagar Trek

As we trudged along mostly balancing ourselves on the tracks and rarely off it, the rains kept playing hide & seek with us. No sooner had we put-on our rain coats to save us from the unexpected heavy showers, the bright sun would come right up. Then, as soon as the perspired us were done with the painful process of unloading the back-pack, taking-off the rain-wear and putting it back in the bag, the rain gods once again used to smile mischievously. This kept on repeating until we finally decided to walk with our rain coats on, whether it rained or not.

Cloudy Western Ghats - Doodhsagar Trek
Cloudy Western Ghats – Doodhsagar Trek

Walking through the lush greenery on both sides, I couldn’t help but be amazed at the beauty of the these deep forests. The monsoon clouds kept us company as we walked past numerous milky white streams flowing below the tracks at random intervals.

Monsoon clouds and the green forests - Dudhsagar Trek
Monsoon clouds and the green forests – Dudhsagar Trek

Except for the occasional trains which showed up from one side of the deep forests and got lost in the other in no time, the only things that broke the monotony of our walk were the age-old tunnels and bridges. They always made us excited. Their rustic nature and rickety look was like a glimpse of the olden time and we always spent sometime to take-in their beauty at such places.

One of the tunnels - Doodhsagar Trek
One of the tunnels – Doodhsagar Trek

Crossing the dark tunnels were fun and scary at the same time as well. Even more so, when a train came along while you are just half way through a 200 meter long tunnel. This is what happened to me.

A tunnel en-route - Doodhsagar Trek
A tunnel en-route – Doodhsagar Trek

I was almost 100 meters or so inside one of the tunnels when I heard the loud blare of a train entering as it entered the tunnel. Not sure about what to do and being sure about the fact that trying to race the train was not a great idea, I decided to turn around facing the wall and stick to it. Standing on whatever narrow space that existed between the wall and the track I waited until the train passed.

Greenery again after the tunnel - Doodhdagar Trek
Greenery again after the tunnel – Doodhdagar Trek

We were not allowed to walk beyond the nondescript station of Caranzol, a station where hardly any trains stopped. As we re-traced our steps back to Castlerock, I couldn’t help but notice how different the same forests which we crossed just few hours back looked under different colored clouds and even more over-cast sky. A darker shade of green with hovering gray clouds above.

Have you been on a trek in the Western Ghats or been planning to do the Doodhsagar trek? Drop me a word in the comments section below, I would love to hear from you. 

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37 thoughts on “The failed trek to Doodhsagar”

  1. hmmmm… First a fall I think this was exciting even if the Doodsagar water falls did not happen… the green trees, the freshness, the hide and seek rain playing and the dark tunnel and you having the wall sticking experience… I felt like it’s a movie with scenes introducing… by the window listening to the sounds and the two jawans the left one with walkie talkie annoucing the undelightful news… and your decision to walk the tracks while the rest stood there upset… I loved the name castle rock(: … the mossy wall looks good in photos… it’s intersting na these small stations… well I think you had a nice time… nice details too the falls in the park and a 11 km trek here one will reach Goa… anyway… I hope next time you go on the trek… I heard about the trek hear, the railway walking and how tiring it can be… but a trekker will complete the trek… this month tried 2 night hill trek climbs done by Bangalore Mountaineering Club… was ok ok… atleast got to know how it is to sit and lay down on hill rocks after a climb and how it is to sleep outside… saw some stars too… it was a gift I gave me from my this month’s birthday… anyway

    1. It’s really great to know that you have started trekking Maria. I am sure you will love it and keep doing it.
      Yes, walking on the tracks is bit tiring but nothing which is going to take all of your energy. It’s pretty much doable comfortably.

      1. Hai rajeev,
        I have heard that travelling via jeep ,,,we will reach base of the falls,,,,so can we see the falls from the base??? Or will the jeep take us to falls directly???

  2. Dear Rajiv,
    Is the ban to trek still enforced or withdrawn.
    We were planning to trek this July 31st.
    Please revert.
    Train tickets already booked both ways.

    1. Hi Joshua,

      As far as I know, trekking on the tracks still remains banned. However, from the Goa/Kulem side govt.-approved Jeeps in a limited number per day operate a 2-way service. That’s your best bet. But, expect BIG crowds.

      If you happen to visit, please leave me a comment about how it went.

      Good luck!


  3. HI Rajeev..
    We’re planning for dudhsagar falls trekking on July 29th..Is it allowed to trek n reach dudhsagar?? We’re around 10 members..

    1. Rajesh we too are heading there on 29th July . But, reading this and few other blogs I am convinced that we wont be able to trek from castle rock. Lets hope for the best. See you !

    1. Hi Deepika.. wen u had gone nd from
      Which route? Like Castle Rock to dudhsagar or Kulem to dudhsagar. We are planning on 6th August 2016.
      Thank u.

  4. Hello Rajiv,

    I have the same question. Which route for those coming from Hospet train – get off in Kulem and hire a jeep, or walk from Castlerock? We have 2 kids and I am not sure I want to risk them dealing with a train in the tunnel. Will it be possible to cover this in a day? Are there places to stay near Kulem station to catch the early morning train to Hospet?
    Thanks in advance

    1. Hi Nashu,

      Irrespective of where you are alighting, Kulem or Castlerock, you will not be able to walk on the railway tracks. Trekking on that stretch has been banned since a while now.

      You can only get yourself and your family in one of the Jeeps to go see the falls and then come back in the same vehicle.


      1. Thanks Rajiv for your prompt response. I got started on this idea only after reading a travelogue this Sunday in the Deccan Herald where the writer gushed about her experience walking along the track. Also, how long would the whole travel time by jeep take? Thank you

        1. You are welcome. I have not taken the Jeep so not really sure how long it takes but I have hear that the jeeps take somewhere around an hour to reach the Doodhsagar falls.


  5. Hi Rajiv,

    Nice post, sad to hear you could not visit the falls. We did manage to visit the mighty Dudhsagar falls before the ban was imposed(We visited in September 2014). We trekked from Castlerock side to Dudhsagar and returned via train to castlerock again.It was an amazing experience. Even we faced the situation which you have described about being in the tunnel halfway and train came and did the exact same thing.:) . I think the only possible way way to visit the falls now is from Kolem(Goa side).


    1. Hi Sanjay,

      Thanks for sharing your experience. I guess you are right when you say that the falls can only be approached from Kulem side. But I guess even then, you can only approach the waterfall in jeeps and cannot trek.


  6. Hi Rajiv firstly i would like to thank u for ur patience to reply everyones questions. Actually we 16 members group have already booked trainson 15th August 2016 TO & FRO to Goa. our prior plan was Dudhsagar Trek but later as we heard that trek was banned we lost our hopes and totally frustrated. but now to regain our hopes will u pls suggest us regarding the trek, that can we trek from kulem or can we tresspass the guards however. or do we get any jeeps from kulem on August 15 2016 to visit dudhsagar falls.
    pls pls help us…. waiting for your precious Reply……

    1. Hi Arun,

      As told earlier by Rajiv, there is no way to trek to Dudhsagar either from Castlerock or from Kulem. I think you can hire jeeps and visit the falls. Also, my suggestion is there are Dudhsagar resorts nearby and you can find their contact and call them up and get some latest info on how it is now.
      Hope this helps


    2. Thanks Arun for your kind words. It has always been my endeavor to encourage and help people travel more and more.

      Now to answer your questions, Doodhsagar trek is banned from both sides, Castlerock as well as Kulem. So NO, you cannot trek to the waterfall from Kulem either. You only bet is to try the jeeps. BUT, that weekend being a long qweekend, expect big crowds and longer wait times.

      I will strongly suggest against tresspassing. The ban exists because of a reason, respect that.


      1. Thank you Rajiv
        Can we get jeeps from kulem, I heard that even jeeps are not available in rainy seasons, Is that true or do we get jeeps.

        1. Hi Arun,

          In case of heavy rains, the jeeps going to Doodhsagar do stop operating but that’s temporary as far as I can say.


  7. Hi Rajiv

    We are planning to do the trek on 2nd September, let us know about the current update on ban.
    Appreciate your blog on the trek.

    1. Hi Aditya,

      From what I know, trekking on the railway tracks still remains out of bounds.

      Your best bet would be the jeeps that start from Kulem side.


  8. Hi Rajiv,

    We are planning to go for it on August 27th. Through Instagram, we came to know that people are trekking to Dhood sagar by another route but not through railway track with the help of local people guidance. But i heard that they are charging little high to come as a guide (approx Rs.500 per head).

    Is it possible to trek through jeep road and reach Dhood sagar ? by any chance you know the route ? So many trekking clubs from mumbai are going to this and they are mentioning like they will be going through railway track. How ???

    1. It seems they are not authorised people and hence would not suggest to go with them. There are jeeps that take tourists to the falls & bring them back, you should target them.

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