The rocks around the pool’s edge are slippery. I sit down, slide into the cool water and swim over to the waterfall. At the height of its rage, the torrent races down the mountainside in an overpowering, deluge. Despite it now being the end of Goa’s dry season when the water is much reduced, it is still an impressive sight – a four tier waterfall which flows beneath a train line on a 603 metre journey tumbling towards the pool I’m now swimming in beneath the Dudhsagar Falls.
Earlier that morning our driver, Arun, picks us up in southern Goa and we head inland to Mollem, near the border with Karnataka, stopping off briefly at the Jungle Cafe (pictured above). The streets are hectic compared to the laid-back Goa I had as yet seen. Ladies are selling nuts to feed the monkeys and I’m sad to see elephant rides are being advertised. While I won’t be feeding monkeys or riding elephants – both big no-goes when it comes to responsible tourism – I’m more than happy to buy a glass of freshly squeezed sugar cane from a roadside stall. It looks a little odd but tastes just fine.
Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary
The entrance to the reserve is not far and, having changed cars and drivers, we make our way through the jungle, along a bumpy, dusty track, fording rivers that are impassable when the rains come and snatching glimpses through the trees of the lush green scenery of the largest nature reserve in Goa.
Parking up we walk the rest of the way through the jungle, passing streams and dense foliage. We are in the part of the reserve that is the Mollem National Park, reputedly home to giant squirrels, bison, leopards, deer, pythons and cobras but the only wildlife we spot are the monkeys (Indian macaques) which are so used to being fed by the tourists that they are quite habituated to humans. Personally, I would much prefer wildlife to remain just that but my guide has come prepared and, despite my protestations, eagerly hands out slices of white bread to every greedy little hand we pass. Not the healthiest of meals a monkey could have and feeding them like this can cause malnutrition, especially for expectant mothers.
The Dudhasgar Falls
Climbing over some rocks we catch our first sight of the Dudhasgar waterfalls. Literally, the name translates from the local language of Konkani as ‘ocean of milk’. Legend tells us of a beautiful princess who used to bathe in a lake here, after which she would refresh herself with a jug of sweetened milk. One day, realising that she was being watched by a handsome stranger, she poured the milk in front of her to form a curtain to protect her modesty while her maids rushed to fetch her clothing. The milk has flowed down the hillside ever since.
I’ve often dreamed of visiting a place like this and in my mind’s eye there’s barely a soul in sight – just me, a companion or two perhaps, the pool and a waterfall. Reality is somewhat different. The Dudhsagar Falls are at their driest, it being just before the rainy season, yet the rocks around the pool are thronged with people. The swim is never-the-less a joy and all too soon our guide is beckoning us to return and we make our way back to the now full to bursting car park. Our car is completely hemmed in but, while it looked to be impossible, with various vehicles nudging this way and that we somehow manage to squeeze out. Driving back along the bumpy track we head towards Mollem, passing more and more cars on their way to the falls. The earlier in the day you can possibly get here, the better.
Tips on visiting the Dudhsagar Falls
Where is the Dudhsagar Falls?
This waterfall is in the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary in the Sanguem Taluka region of Goa and is governed by the Goa Forest departments. You can catch a train to the Kulem railway station, or drive there, followed by a 7.5-mile hike to the waterfall. Alternatively, you can head to Mollem by car or bus and hire a jeep with a driver. This will bring you much closer to the falls but you will still need to take a relatively short walk through the jungle to reach them.
When to visit the Dudhsagar Falls?
The best time of year to visit is in November after the monsoons, when the waterfall is flowing strongly but peak season hasn’t yet started. Go as early in the day as you can before it gets too busy.
Facilities at the Dudhsagar Falls
There are toilets at the car park if you are coming from Mollem but there are no other facilities.
Don’t feed the monkeys
Even if your guide encourages you to feed the monkeys, most probably some bread, please don’t. It causes malnutrition and encourages aggressive behaviour and there’s a whole host of other reasons which you can read about here, Ten Reasons Not to Feed Monkeys.
Are the Dudhsagar Falls worth seeing?
Despite the number of visitors, the trip to see the Dudhsagar Falls is well worth making, from the bumpy ride through the jungle, followed by the short but beautiful hike and the falls themselves are lovely to see, even at this time of year.
The tourists’ entrance fees to the park no doubt provide useful income to maintain the reserve but I do hope the numbers don’t get out of hand thereby damaging the eco-system here,
Check out this post by IMVoyager if you are looking for more adventure activities in Goa.
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Disclaimer: I was visiting Goa while working for The Goa Experience part of the Serenity Holidays group.
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I went during the monsoons to Dudhsagar, so there were no jeeps. I had to sit behind a stranger on a motorbike through slippery sand and then walk through the forests. The experience was great though, Great post!:)
Hi I went awesome but too many people . I know it’s a tourist attraction , should limit people at one time. Love goa love the people love every experience I have had . Xxx
Kathryn, I wish I’d have had a chance to show this post to my folks before they went to Goa earlier this year as these waterfalls look beautiful but I think they missed out on them! I’m with you on the wildlife being wild and am never one to feed a monkey but I must say, I’m impressed you tried the sugar cane juice. I’m always so intrigued when I’m in India but get so cautions(perhaps overly so) about the risk of tummy bugs etc but I’m guessing you didn’t fall ill after it?
No, my tummy was fine but I did generally err on the side of caution. In this case our guide, who I trusted completley, gave us the OK, although two of the four of us still declined.
STUNNING!!! I so want to go there right now… you transported me outta my office for a short time there!
And reading your comment put a big grin on my face. That’s great to know, thank you (and I hope you get to go there one day for real).
Have to say I am quite surprised by your images. I never pictured India like this at all. It’s almost reminds me of Sri Lanka. How beautiful !
I’ve not yet made it to Sri Lanka but would love to go, even more so now you’ve said that! And yes, Goa is beautiful, especially in the interior and south where tourism has had less of a visible impact.
I remember swimming in a pool like that when I was in Borneo many years ago but there was literally no-one there. Much closer to the dream that you had. I guess in India there are a few more people around especially so close to Goa
Borneo here I come! (I hope it hasn’t changed)
What stunning photos and what an interesting place. You make a very compelling case to visit Goa and I would love a freshly squeezed sugar cane.
Thank you Paula. I hope you get to visit one day.
This looks amazing! So refreshing to see another side of India!
When I used to think of Goa, I only thought of beaches but there is so much more besides 🙂
Oh Kat you have to stop tempting me with all these wonderful Goa posts! The falls look blissful despite being busy and I could almost imagine myself swimming there from your vivid description and gorgeous photos.
Sorry! I’d love to go back and see the view from the train when the water is in full flow.