The extremely beautiful Dudhsagar Waterfall is alighted in the hills of western ghats and is a sight to behold especially in the monsoons when it is in full and furious flow. From a distance, the waterfall appears like streams of milk rushing down the mountainside. The exhuberent and spectacular waterfall is located in the Sanguem taluka.
About 600m from head to foot, this waterfall on the Goa-Karnataka border, attracts a steady stream of visitors from the coast into the rugged Western Ghats. After pouring across the Deccan plateau, the headwaters of the Mandovi River form a foaming torrent that splits into three streams to cascade down a near-vertical cliff face into a deep green pool.
The Konkani name for the falls, which literally translated means “sea of milk”, derives from clouds of milky foam which rises up at the bottom of the falls. Dudhsagar is set amidst breathtaking scenery overlooking a steep, crescent-shaped head of a valley carpeted with pristine tropical forest, that is only accessible on foot or by train.
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Like most places in Goa, the Dudhsagar waterfall too has a legend attached to its name. The legend tells the story of this powerful and wealthy king who ruled a kingdom in the Western Ghats. His lavish and opulent palace in the hills was surrounded by vast gardens which were full of deers and gazelles.
The King had a beautiful daughter, who used to enjoy taking a bath during the hot summers, in the picturesque lake near the forest on the edge of the King’s palace grounds. It was her habit to finish her bath and have a jugful of sugared milk in a jug made of pure gold.
One day when she was finishing her usual jug of milk she found herself being watched by a handsome prince standing amongst the trees. Embarassed by her inadequate bathing attire, the resourceful Princess poured the sugared milk in front of her to form an improvised curtain to hide her body, while one of the maids rushed to cover her with a dress.
Thus was the legend born. The sugared milk (dudh) poured down the mountainside and continued to flow in torrents as a tribute to the everlasting virtue and modesty of the Princess of the Ghats. The Dudh Sagar (Sea of Milk) continues to flow to this day and attracts thousands of visitors to one of the most popular and famous tourist spots in the state of Goa.
A number of private operators offer special trips to the Waterfalls and the tours operated by GTDC (Goa Tourism Development Corpn) also have Dudhsagar Waterfalls as one of the tour stops.
The falls can also be reached by a train journey from Vasco or Margao. At Collem, in the Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary near Mollem, there is a railway station where the train stops to pick up passengers for the journey to the waterfalls. There are two trains a day that stop at Dudhsagar Station and it’s possible to catch a morning train up and spend several hours at the falls before taking an afternoon train back.
Near the top of the falls, the railway line from Vasco to Londa crosses the mountainside, with excellent views from the train. There also a couple of pools that you can swim in, making Dudhsagar a great place for a day full of fun and frolic. The alternate way of reaching the falls is only advisable between January and May, when the level of the water in the rivers abates enough to permit jeeps to approach the base of the falls.
In the 3rd century BC Goa formed part of the Mauryan empire. Later it was ruled by the Satavahanas of Kolhapur and eventually passed to the Chalukyas of Badami from AD 580 to 750.
Goa fell to the Muslims for the first time in 1312, but they weren’t fans of the beach and eventually left in 1370 under the forceful persuasion of Harihara I of the Vijayanagar mpire. During the next 100 years Goa’s harbours were important landing places for ships carrying Arabian horses for the Vijayanagar cavalry.
Blessed as it is by natural harbours and wide rivers, Goa was the ideal base for the seafaring Portuguese, who arrived in 1510 aiming to control the spice route from the East. Jesuit missionaries led by St Francis Xavier arrived in 1542. For a while, Portuguese control was limited to a small area around Old Goa, but by the middle of the 16th century it had expanded to include the provinces of Bardez and Salcete.
The Marathas (the central Indian people who controlled much of India at various points in time) almost vanquished the Portuguese in the late 18th century, and there was a brief occupation by the British during the Napoleonic Wars in Europe. However, it was not until 1961, when the Indian army marched into Goa, that Portuguese occupation finally came to its end on the subcontinent.
In 1967, a Goan opinion poll showed that the state’s residents didn’t want to be assimilated into its neighbouring state Marharashtra, despite Maharashtra pushing for it. But it wasn’t until 1987 that Goa was officially declared India’s 25th state by Prime Minister Rajiv Ghandhi, in a landmark ruling for the state’s generations of armed supporters. Five years later, Goa’s local language, Konkani, was recognised as one of India’s 22 official regional languages.
Today, Goa has one of India’s highest per-capita incomes, with farming, fishing, tourism and iron-ore mining forming the basis of its economy.
Gokarna is a small and remote holy town, with four of India’s most secluded and pristine beaches nestled nearby. It draws both pious pilgrims and hedonistic holiday makers with equal enthusiasm. Travel to Gokarna to get a feel for what Goa was like in its heyday, although time is limited as developers are already seeing the potential of this area.
Gokarna is located in the state of Karnataka, an hour south of the Goa border. It’s around 450 kilometers (280 miles) from Bangalore, the state capital.
Gokarna experiences the southwest monsoon from June to August, following which the weather becomes dry and sunny. The best time to visit Gokarna is from October until March, when the weather is warm and pleasant with temperatures averaging 32 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit). April and May are hot summer months, and the temperature easily reaches 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit) then.
Gokarna’s main attraction is its beaches, where people come to chill and soak up the sun for months at a time. As Gokarna is one of the most sacred holy towns for Hindus in south India, there are also some important temples to see. Unfortunately, they’re off limits to non-Hindus but you can grab a glimpse inside.
The Mahabaleshwar Temple houses a hugelingam (symbol) of Lord Shiva. Make sure you check out the huge chariots near the Ganpati Temple, which carry a Shiva idol through the streets while people throw bananas at it for good luck during the Shivaratri Festival in February/March.
Gokarna town has it’s own beach that’s popular with pilgrims. However, the beaches that are of most interest to tourists are located one after another a short distance away. There are four of them called Kudle Beach, Om Beach, Halfmoon Beach, and Paradise Beach. Each has its own appeal. Om Beach is the most happening beach, and is the only one that’s reachable by car or rickshaw. The others are around a 20 minute hike away from each other through the hills and over rocks, or a short boat ride away. The last beach, Paradise Beach, is not much more than a tiny protected cove that’s a patch of hippie paradise.
Care should be taken when walking between the beaches at night in the dark, and it’s best not to go alone. Swimming can also be dangerous as some areas have strong currents.