Monday, November 5, 2012

Dandeli To Goa Via Doodhsagar

(I am noticing a sudden surge in the number of blog visits particularly for this post. I would be very happy if you can leave your feedback preferably as a comment. Whatever it is.. good, bad, ugly.. it will help me improve my writing. Thank you! 14th Sept 2014 23:12 IST)

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As Sheldon explained this to Raj, some things are only valuable to a possessor because others don't have it[1]. The reason I recalled this dialogue is - only a month after my visit to Tadoba Tiger Reserve, Supreme court of India came up with a verdict by which tourist activities in the core zone of tiger reserves would be ceased completely.[2] That means whatever we saw and experienced inside the Tadoba core zone is now more important to us than ever before. Because we have it and others probably won't see it again.

Our modes of transport in Goa
Well, maybe I am being mean. But honestly, that was the first thought that came in my mind when I heard the news. As I thought deeper, I realized that my friends and family whom with I was planning to go again to see the heavenly creatures, won't be able to experience it either. I might not be able to visit other reserves again. This was a very disheartening thought. I am not sure if this law is good or bad for tigers. I could see that those animals need a peaceful environment around and tourists are big reason of disturbance for them. However, frequent tourist activities inside the jungle may be helpful in preventing poaching of tigers and other animals. In my opinion, instead of completely banning the access, they should keep limit on number of persons in the core zone in a day.

Back To The Jungle
Tadoba was a dream trip for all of us. So, we (I, Hrishikesh and Mustafa) teamed up again two and half months later to visit another jungle. This time The Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary.
Mustafa came up with idea of creating a amateur documentary on the tribes of Dandeli. He had heard about them when he visited Dandeli for the first time some 5 years ago. As per the information he got, these tribal are deliberately keeping themselves away from the civilized world because they don't want to get civilized (or corrupted?). Skeptical whether they would like someone from outside world to film them, I said yes to the plan hesitantly and Hrishikesh joined in. We knew that Dandeli was also home of many animals including Tigers and a dense forest. It is famous for it's river Kali and rafting in her turbulent flow. So, if no tribes, we still had lots of things to do at Dandeli.

We would start our journey from Pune towards Dharwad on 17 August Friday night. Mustafa already had booked tickets of NWKSRTC A/C sleeper bus. I came directly from office with all my luggage to Swargate where Hrishikesh and a friend of his - Rohit met us. Rohit was native of Dharwad and he was also interested to see Dandeli with us. After spending time asking about the bus at extremely chaotic Swargate bus stand, we came to know that KSRTC buses don't enter the bus stand and we should wait at the Satara road end of the bus stand. The bus came on time at 10 PM. It was cozy and clean. The bus conductor was well behaving and knew both Marathi and Kannada very well.
After about 30 minutes it left Pune. We slept after chit-chatting to wake up at Dharwad early in the next morning.

Rohit knew the place inside out. After we left the bus at around 6.30AM, he led us to bus stand where we waited for about 20 mins before we got a state transport bus to Dandeli. We used the time in between to go to toilet which I found okay but much better than the the one at Swargate. Rohit left for his home to meet his parents, he would join us again after a while.

In Dandeli
It took around 2-3 hours from Dharwad to reach Dandeli. We asked rates for a room in State Lodge in front of the bus stand. Mustafa already had queried about the fares and booked us a room while we were still in Pune. But the trick was not to disclose his identity till we see the room and match rent for one night in person. So, it matched and the room was also clean with three beds.. perfect. In Rs. 500 per night, we got 3 clean beds, two towels, a bottle of water, TV, attached bathroom with solar heated water. So, you see there are certain advantages of visiting a place in off-season.

We checked for the activities available like jungle hike and water sports around. To our disappointment we came to know that because it's rainy season, Jungle hike and water rafting was not available. The best season for that was October-January. We decided to book a jeep from a forest activity organizer Mr. Rathod which would take us on Jungle ride and also to a resort where we can do kayaking. The ride costed us Rs.1400. When we mentioned to Mr.Rathod that we were from Pune, he suggested that the best river rafting we could get was near Pune in Tamhini ghat.
Kayaking is not as easy as it seems.
 He got us a commander jeep. We went to Bison River Resort where there was nice river bed for kayaking. Rs. 250 wasn't  a bad deal for kayaking for about 30 minutes. It's not that easy to pedal the kayak as it seems. In 30 minutes of pedaling one could drain all of the energy. We saw backwaters of ### Dam. We took meal at a place suggested by our driver. And walked for a while in the Jungle. Dandeli was the most dense vegetation I had ever seen. The driver also took us to a tribe village which was Gavali (Milkman) tribe. He informed that it was true that these people were living secluded life close to the nature but over last few years they were getting into normal world. As he had mentioned we saw that the cottages of these villages didn't have doors. It was evident from their appearance that they were entering the mainstream. The driver told us that there are few tribes still prefer to live the old way but they are in dense parts of forest where we couldn't go.

Mustafa was saying there were also other kind of tribes which were the black slaves brought from Africa by the Goan Portuguese sailors. Somehow they escaped from their captivity and chose to live their natural way in the forest. Fascinating. Well, there was no way we could ever spot someone from that clan wondering around the forest.

You know the stories in which they say that the forest was so dense that not even a single ray of sunlight could touch the ground? Dandeli is that forest for sure. We left the hope of spotting any animal in such a dense jungle . Guessing that there is not much to do in next two days in Dandeli we started planning for another adventure- The Doodhsagar falls.

Planning For The Unthinkable.
We stopped to have tea at a teashop near a village where the shop owner and his wife was kind enough to ask about us. They informed us that we could use our rest of two days to visit Doodhsagar. They gave us directions how to go there. I could not thank them enough for their precise information. From the below description you can imagine how lucky we were that things happened exactly as we had expected.
They suggested to start early in the next morning and follow the plan-

1. We would go to Londha train junction which was about 2 hours of journey from Dandeli by boarding the 6.45AM state transport bus from Dandeli bus stand.
2. From Londha we should board train towards Goa.
3. The train should drop us to Castle Rock station.
4. We should take a goods train (by requesting the driver) which would drop us to Doodhsagar.
5. From Doodhsagar at around 3 pm we should board another goods train to go to Culem (A station near Goa-Karnataka border) where we could get either a bus or passenger train for Vasco (Goa).
Boarding a goods train by request? The planned seemed impossible.

We came back to Dandeli after almost 5 hours. I was so tired that the hotel bed felt like heaven. Later after dinner we strolled near in the city bus stand. Also got information from the bus stand for our next destination. We Slept late though we knew that we had to get up early.

Leaving from the Castle Rock Station
Train In Heaven
Early in the morning we paid our bill and caught the 6.45 bus. Reached Londha as per plan, got the Goa train as per plan. The only change was, we didn't leave the train at Castle Rock. The same train took us to Doodhsagar. There were many tourists just like us in the train. Though there was no station near Doodhsagar, the train stopped and they let the tourists get off the train.

Londha to Doodhsagar was a scenic journey with a dense jungle and hills at one side and valley at the other. There were at least 20 tunnels of 200-300 meters of length. Doodhsagar was awesome. I could capture the iconic train in heaven pictures.
The bridge of Doodhsagar is a not less than a miracle. You cannot help but to bow to the engineers and architects who dreamed and completed the project. The bridge is fantastically built at the edge of cliff and designed so firm to hold the weight of trains carrying tonnes of weight when water is pouring from all the sides. I don't know exactly when it was built but it seems from the structure that it must have been built in the British-raj era.

We had tea and muffins there at the local stall and started our journey towards Salem which we thought would take 1-2 hours of walk. That was my idea to walk towards the station instead of sitting duck waiting for the next goods train. After we walked for about more than 1 hour along the railway track towards Goa, we reached at the Sonolium station at around 2.30 PM. We were tired and was running low on drinking water. I found a small waterfall and filled one of the bottle just in case we couldn't get any clean drinking water in rest of the journey. It proved a sensible thing as after some time we did have to drink that seemingly clean  water which might have contained numerous bacterium. But as they tell on Discovery channel, it's better to drink the dirty water than to take chance with dehydration.

The Goods Train
The goods train which took us from Sonolium to Culem
Mustafa and I lied on the railway sleepers which were piled on next to track while Hrishikesh was busy capturing photos for us. At 3.30 the good train arrived on the station but to our dismay it didn't stop there. It was our only hope to reach to Goa. As the train were passing slowly Mustafa decided that we should grab ladder of each bogey and go along. I tried first but quickly realized that it was too risky to hang on. I shouted that no one should try it and jumped back on the ground. We let the train pass completely and saw that the last bogey was pulling a trolley where there were people on it. We ran after the train like those fugitives in movies and hopped on the trolly one by one. A sigh of relief. Finally we were going to make it to Goa that day.

Towards The Land Of Sun and Sand
View from Agvada fort.
We reached Culem - a station 6 Kms from the point we boarded the goods train. Some good men told us that we should get a passenger train to Vasco if we are going towards Panaji. We waited till 6 got the passenger train which was almost empty as if it was there only for us. We came to Madgaon and decided to go to Colangute beach- North Goa.

It wasn't easy to get rooms on the long weekend in Colangute. We managed to get a room which was not better than the one at Dandeli but was twice as costly as it. At the dinner we had chicken curry and some fenny with it. The aroma of fenny was incredible. It was all over the place as the waiter brought it to our table. We reviewed our day and planned for the next. I called that we would get up early in the morning so that we can play/swim in the tides and could return back early to check out. This would give us entire day to see the north Goa without paying extra room charges for the day.

I woke up early and asked the boys to get ready. We went to beach and played a lot. It was my second time in two years to swim into the sea. I was relaxed without the fear of water and went far deep. There was also lifeguards around which made it easy for us to enjoy carelessly. Mustafa was bit hesitant to enter the deep water against the high tides. But seeing Hrishikesh and me fooling around comfortably, he gradually joined us.
After spending more than 2 hours in the water, we came to our room and prepared ourselves for the next part. Mustafa called a cab so that we can see most of the places around. We spent our day traveling around beaches of north Goa. In the evening, before taking ST bus back home we went for the famous Panjim cruise safari. It was a nice experience.[3]
_*_
1. The exact dialogue-
Sheldon: Actually, he might have to. There’s an economic concept known as a positional good in which an object is only valued by the possessor because it’s not possessed by others. The term was coined in 1976 by economist Fred Hirsch to replace the more colloquial, but less precise neener-neener.
courtesy -http://bigbangtrans.wordpress.com/series-3-episode-15-the-large-hadron-collision/
2. By the time I finished this post, the order has been revoked and reserves are open again for tourists.
3. This part may sound boring and this post has been holding up my next ones. So, wrapping it up.


5 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. I read the entire episode of the Dandeli trip with great interest. It made for very captivating reading, esp since I am planning a trip to that region end of coming June. Thanks a lot. The accidental discovery of this post was lucky for me. BTW, could I connect with you over email to ask a few questions about my upcoming trip? I would be highly obliged. I can be reached at pramodkjoshi@gmail.com. Please drop me a line and I shall write/call back. Thanks! :)

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  3. Very nice post. Surrounded by dense forests, this small town of Dandeli is bestowed with a plethora of unexplored and uncharted spots. Check out some popular places to visit in Dandeli such as The Kavala Caves, Ulavi Channabasappa Temple, and Anshi National Park etc.

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    1. Dear Anjali,
      Thanks for sharing the link. We couldn't explore Dandli to the fullest. Next time I will surely spend some more time in this scenic region.

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  4. Excellent Post! Rejoice life during holidays through Dandeli Resorts; located in Uttara Kannada, Karnataka state.

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