The majestic cascade of white water, gushing over the steep, nearly vertical face of the mountain from a spectacular height of 1017ft; is both breath taking and awe inspiring, making one aware that there are many forces in nature much more powerful that the human mind and body.
The name ‘Dudhsagar’ literally translates to ‘sea of milk’ which many believe is an allusion to the white spray and foam that the great waterfall creates as it cascades into the waters of the lake. The falls are at their zenith during the monsoon season, although they are a popular attraction all year round.
This waterfall is located in the Sanguem Taluka of Goa, and falls into the jurisdiction of the Goa Forest departments since it is a part of the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary. One can go by road or rail to Kulem railway station and then trek to the waterfall or hire a jeep with a driver to get closer in; however, there will still be a walk to reach the base of the falls.
Myth and Legend
There is an old legend that centres round the name of the falls. The tale goes that there was once a princess who was the daughter of the King of the Ghats. This young lady was as modest as she was beautiful and believed in purity of heart, mind and body. The legend goes on that she used to bathe in the lake near her father’s castle every day.
After her bath she and her handmaidens would congregate on the shores of the lake whilst the princess consumed a jug of milk. The jug, it is said was wrought of pure gold and inlaid with sparkling diamonds.
One day, as the princess was drinking her milk, a young and handsome prince was making his way through the nearby woods. On hearing the laughter and chatter of the ladies, he stopped to have a look. The princess was much abashed by her scanty bathing attire and her handmaidens poured the milk in a cascade in front of her, thus creating a curtain behind which she could don her clothes.
This cascade of milk, which preserved the modesty of the princess, is the namesake of the Dudhsagar falls.
The river Mandovi, which is the main river of Goa, begins on the Deccan plateau in the state of Karnataka. Winding its way through the Western Ghats, this river plummets over the highest peaks on the border of Goa and Karnataka, thus forming the Dudhsagar falls. The waters form a deep green pool at the base of the falls, before continuing westward to join the Arabian Sea.
The Dudhsagar waterfall measures an impressive 310m (1017ft) in height and about 100ft in width. The waterfall splits into three streams as it pours over the near-vertical cliff face, thus forming a truly magnificent sight. This water fall is also known as Tambdi Surla to some of the local peoples.
The area around the falls is forested and falls into the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife sanctuary. There are a number of animals and birds that call this place home; and the keen observer may even be lucky enough to spot some. The roads to the falls are maintained by the Goa Forest Department, who charge visitors a nominal fee for entry and higher one for photography (Rs. 300 for a still camera and upto Rs. 5000* for professional equipment).
Reaching the falls
To reach this wondrous site, one must either go on foot or by rail. There is also a rather bumpy track that is suitable only for four wheel drive vehicles, but this track still requires visitors to trek about 1km to reach the base of the falls. There are jeeps available for hire which cost about Rs. 1200* and can carry 6 people at a time, the driver then waits at the drop off point for an hour and a half before bringing the visitors back.
The most adventurous trek starts from the village of Kuveshi. However, this trek is not available during the monsoon season as the trail crosses over the Mandovi itself, which is too rough and swollen during the monsoon months. There is also a trek that begins at the Kulhem/Collem railway station which is 11km long and offers tourists a picturesque view of the Ghats and valleys.
One of the preferred tourist treks is the one that begins at Castle Rock station in Karnataka. This trek spans about 14km of rough terrain and one should go prepared. There are also no places around the falls where food or water is available, making it advisable for visitors to carry their own.
From September to May, the tours often suggest making the trip an all-day affair with a picnic lunch surrounded by the natural beauty of the falls. There are even some tours which offer a one night stay at the base of the falls, camping in the open in tents.
During the monsoon season treks are the only way to access the waterfall since they are burgeoning with run off from the hills and can make the passage of a vehicle near impassable. Although reaching the falls in the monsoon season is difficult the sheer majesty and splendour of this natural wonder makes it worthwhile.