The Next Morning :
Aug 3 2013 :
A good sleep and woke up to an absolutely beautiful morning @Hubli. I had always wanted to see this place and gotta admit that I have never seen a cleaner station in IR network. The million dollar question was whether to have breakfast at the station or should I eat what I got. Finally decided to eat my own breakfast to reduce the carrying load a bit. Well, just after we left Hubli, the same questions arose as to what is it we are gonna do. The train was running around 40 mins late and trekking from CLR to DDS meant that we would reach DDS only around 4 PM in the evening. It was then that I received the call from my Pune counterparts who were waiting for us at Londa.
There were 11 of them and 16 of us. All 27 needed a place to stay for the night. We all wanted to trek to DDS from CLR,but practicality and the crowd in the train ensured that we did not fall for this. After an hour of discussion, it was settled that we will go all the way to DDS and take it forward from there. Now that the next 3 hrs have been taken care of, I decided to doorplate before someone else occupies my seat. Just as the train moved out from Dharwad, I took to the door and it was a visual treat. Lush green outdoors with ominous looking skies and the Sun peeping out every now and then, added to that the never ending curves. What more could a rail lover need. Absolutely fantastic sight with terrific weather and time just drifted aimlessly. The standout on this section was the station Mugad. One of the most picteresque stations, I have seen. This was one time I wished, I had my SLR while doorplating and not my PS, but hey convenience won this game again.
Crawled slowly into Londa. The rest of our gang from Pune boarded the train and the discussion continued. In 5 minutes, we reconfirmed our plans and decided to get down at DDS instead of CLR. Needless to say, the door seat was never compromised and I continued with my blissful experience upto CLR.
After seeing CLR in absolutely a million photos all over the web, seeing it live was absolutely fantastic. I somehow felt immediately that I knew this place inch by inch. It was a long halt of around 15-20 mins at CLR. Majority of the trekkers got down here. The station was an absolute nightmare to look at with the crowds getting ready for their long 14KM trek and hence I moved on to the other side. Feasted my eyes on a load of DG4’s , brakers attached and all clear given. Another 30 minutes and we should be right next to the majestic Dudhsagar right in the peak of the southwest monsoons.
We crawled out of CLR at a leisurely pace, saw the all too familiar board welcoming us to Braganza ghat section, saw the 2 medical relief vans seen all over the web, saw a lot of trekkers en route to DDS who were all too excited to keep waving at us, which was mutually reciprocated, entered the first tunnel, the second and the rest, saw the welcome to Goa board somewhere before Caranzol, sprinkled ourselves with fresh mineral mountain water from numerous falls and the entry and exit points of the tunnel. The train was in absolutely no hurry and took a nice relaxed 20 mins to stop at Caranzol for the brake testing. It was about time we broke from our blissful experience and get ready to de-board at DDS.
So off we all went, rain jackets worn, rain trousers worn, food and camera repacked to be made easily accesible, bags packed, sleeping bags packed, tents packed and we were all set to de-board at DDS. The train stops for a mere 40 – 60 secs and all the 27 of us have to get down with all our baggage. We entered DDS, the already crawling train showed no signs of stopping. Oh God please dont do this. The train kept on with its 15-25 kmph speed and showed no signs of testing its brakes. While we just about gave up hope, the familar squeak of the brakes being applied and bang it stopped. The steps and outside were wet and slippery. Somehow we managed to quickly get down without slipping. 40 secs later (Yes I timed it) the train left on its way towards Kulem.
So here I am at DDS station, hardly a KM away from something which I wanted to see for a long time and the excitement was overwhelming. What happens next ?
Aug 3 2013 : 11:00 AM
So here I am at DDS, minutes away from witnessing a grand spectacle from the 5th largest falls in India, but somehow did not feel like rushing towards the falls. Why hurry. I have all the time in the world. Let me a bit far from the madding crowd. Watching DDS is just a part of the agenda and not the whole exercise. I asked my colleagues to move on and spent some time just admiring the beauty surrounding me.
Steaming hot tea @ DDS seemed like a great idea. Sat down, relaxed, had a refreshing hot cup of chai which was much better than the one served in the train. Stretched my eyes as far as I can see and I could see our Vasco express gliding past Sonalium and a loaded BOXN rake awaiting clearance. So I decided to wait to capture the freight which obviously would be minimum of 2DG4’s in front and 2DG4’s at the rear.
Quickly enough, a penta came silently and waited beside me to have a glimpse of the oncoming beasts. What do I say, it was like Sachin waiting to enjoy Viru’s game (When he was at his peak). Ten minutes gone, the twin beasts emerged and scrambled past the penta beasts smoothly. Penta gets an all clear and moves on. I am left now all alone and it was a good 25 mins since I got down.
Decided it is about time or my colleagues will just dump me and move on. Just as I entered the tunnel, I realised that my flashlight was with another friend of mine. So much for an expensive flashlight. So well I walked the tunnel in the darkness. Slippery, wet and oily, it was a treacherous short walk in absolute darkness, but I had nothing to immediately worry about as there would be no trains atleast for the next 60 mins or so. After 5 mins of very careful walk with a few monkeys for company, I saw light at the end of the tunnel. I could also see a faint streak of milky white substance flowing in the distance. The sound of water was slowly getting amplified.
I could feel a smile breaking and however hard I try to suppress and act with a matter of fact attitude, that thing just could not be wiped out of my face. As I kept nearing the falls, the sound of water gushing increased, the misty sprays started falling on my face, bags and my lenses. Yes atlast I am here right in front of the majestic Dudhsagar waterfalls, spellbound,awestruck, mesmerised by the strength and beauty of this amazing natural spectacle. I have no words to describe what I saw.No pictures or videos can do any justice to what a person sees here. It is completely out of this world. I stood there right beside the tracks soaking in all the misty sprays and not caring a damn about either of my 2 cameras. This is a moment to enjoy and savor and cherish. Nothing can stop me now. So I just stood there and did nothing for almost 15 minutes. Just watching !!!
As I got out of my hypnotic state of mind, the reality bit me real hard. The place was filthy and crowded. Nobody cared a damn. It was filled with plastic bottles, beer bottles, paper plates, plastic cups, styrofoam cups and what not. There was a guy selling liquor at almost thrice the market price. Why do we do this ? Such a beautiful place completely ransacked by a despicable species called human beings. We try so hard to keep our houses clean. Does it take really that hard to take care of our surroundings as well. It is this lack of ownership which pissed me off. But hey, I came here to enjoy and soak in the beauty and not to be philosophical.
We did our bit for the surrounding. We had got garbage bags where we collected all our trash and took it all the way to our next destination Next came the photo session which lasted a good hour or so. You need to satisfy the needs of 27 folks. By now it was around 1 PM and now it is time for us to move on. The final segment of this trip is filled with lots of unplanned twists and turns. Do not miss out on that as I will take you to a couple of completely unknown treasures near Kulem. Wait for them. Oh well almost, this blog and this adventure is incomplete if I don’t get to see the one thing, I so desperately wanted to view and capture. I was all set to pack and move on to Kulem, while I heard a familiar horn of an ALCO chugging along. Hardly 2 mins and I have close to half a kilometer to reach the perfect spot. Almost reached there, but the ALCO won. This is the best I could manage from a spot 100 metres ahead of where I wanted to be