The tale of our Brahmagiri Trek

We a bunch of friends (travel enthusiasts) had accomplished the most popular trek in Karnataka “The Kumaraparvatha Trek” in Nov 2017 and again in Oct 2018, this time we felt we should try a new location. Despite of so many other options to trek, the name Brahmagiri came out of no where, since none of us had knew or visited Brahmagiri, we agreed to go for it. And the tale of our Brahmagiri Trek started.

After a little online research, we realized that the trek journey starts from Srimangala, we need to take prior permission from the forest office for the trek and a guide from forest department would accompany us throughout the trek. We found the contact number and spoke to the range officer. We were told, due to the rains trekking will be allowed only on weekends and no matter what the trek should be completed within a day. Which meant we need to cover the entire 22km (11km each side) at a stretch and cannot halt overnight in the forest (like we did in Kumaraparvatha). And the range officer assured us it is possible to cover it in a day. So we decided, let’s face it, let’s do it!

Bangalore to Brahmagiri Base camp

Finally, 15 of us started off from Bengaluru in a minibus (21 seater) around 12am, 20th July 2019. We reached Srimangala around 5:45am, as the vehicle stopped, we woke up realized that we reached. Most of them were still asleep, few of us stepped down from the vehicle (with our sleepy eyes). It was still dark. It was drizzling and COLD! We almost had shivering as we had come out from a packed, warm & cozy vehicle. We were thrilled by the feel. Saw each other’s face with a grin, knew this was the break we needed from our routine work life. Slowly one by one people started to get down from the vehicle. We started walking (wandering), the slow brightening of the sky, the slight drizzle, the gentle breeze of cold air were just mesmerizing!! 6:30am the sky was bright enough to look around, thought of reaching the Range office. Since it was pretty early in the morning there were no people around, so we put up the location for range office on Google maps and started the vehicle, we reached the location on the Google maps looked around, there were some buildings but none seemed like range office. So we continued on the same road ignoring Gmaps. There were no much people on the road and surprisingly few bystanders didn’t know where the range office was, one of them directed us towards Irpu falls saying that’s where the treks would start. Since we had also read online that the Bramhagiri trek is via Irpu falls we thought it was the right direction and reached Irpu falls location which was 7kms from Srimangala. There were no people here either. All shops shut. Luckily one of the shop started opening in a few minutes. We enquired with the shopkeeper, only to realize that we had to take permission from Range office which is in Srimangala and then reach the Irpu falls location to start the trek. The vehicle driver gave us a disappointing look. Instead of going all the way back to srimangala we tried contacting the range officer on phone, the mobile network coverage was bad and early in the morning (7:30am) call attempts were fruitless. There were few other groups of people arrived at the location, but all of them were there for Irpu falls, we were the only group for trek. After some time we got back a call from range officer, saying, they have received circular from DC office on a red alert warning because of heavy rains and they cannot allow us for trek! Disappointment!! Since we had come all the way from Bengaluru just for this we tried convincing, he told he might consider us to go for a short partial trek. Which he will confirm after looking at the rain conditions for some time. We were kind of disheartened, few of us even started suggesting alternate places to visit. Amidst the poor mobile network we contacted the range officer again after some time, finally he agreed for the partial trek! To be frank the range officer was quite supportive throughout our communication. After the long wait, the forest guides arrived at our location @~9:45am.

Start of the Brahmagiri Trek

After all the financial stuffs, the trek begins around 10am. The trek path is via Irpu falls which is ~750mtrs from the entrance.

On the way to Irpu falls

We have a hassle-free path made of concrete all the way till Irpu falls, walkway upto a certain distance and then steps, also we pass through a small hanging bridge. Once we are done with the 750mtrs we reached the beautiful eye catching IRPU falls, words fall short to describe the beauty, so below is an image of it.

Irpu falls

We didn’t spend much time at the Irpu falls since we knew we will anyway find it after our trek. Just after savoring the beauty for a couple of minutes we continued our journey. The concrete path ends at the falls. Now the actual trek begins. We walked for just a few minutes maybe about 150mtrs or so, each and every 15 individual’s hands were busy getting the blood suckers off their shoes!! Since this was monsoon we had anticipated leeches, but not to this intense level. From our past experience we knew mixture of dettol and water would repel the leeches, so we had already sprayed the solution on our shoes and ankles at the start of the trek itself. But unfortunately this didn’t work the way we thought, maybe because of the rain.

ನಮ್ಮ ಬ್ರಹ್ಮಗಿರಿ ಟ್ರೆಕ್‌ ಎಂಬ ಪುಸ್ತಕದಲ್ಲಿ ಜಿಗಣೆಗಳದ್ದೇ ಒಂದು ದೊಡ್ಡ ಅಧ್ಯಾಯ!

Laying off the leeches we continued our journey into the lush green thick forest on the trail with our guide leading the way. Before the trek we actually underestimated the difficulty/inclination of the path. To be honest, on a different day it would be quite tiresome, maybe because there was frequent rain which was cooling down our body, we didn’t feel much tired, which helped us to keep going with minimal stops for rest.

Another reason to not stop or stand in a single position were the leeches, the chances of leeches getting on was more, it doesn’t mean they don’t get on when we are moving. Any given moment of time (in the forest), we had at least 2-3 leeches on each shoes one can imagine how intensely the leeches were infested in the forest. After about 3-3.5kms of trek we exit the forest and find grassy edge of the hill with an awesome view of a valley like structure. Since we were completely surrounded by mist we couldn’t get the far sight, but whatever we could see was more than enough to fill our eyes, heart and soul with joy. As per the guide’s words, this is where our trek had to end, that’s what he was instructed. It was around 11:20am. Since our group were quick and catching pace with the guide he favored us to take a little further, if possible till the forest guest house which was 5kms from the starting point. Continuing the journey we reached a point where we got a beautiful panoramic view of the surrounding hills and greenery. The combination of this view, the wind and the rain left us awestruck. We stayed there for a few minutes relaxed a bit and continued towards the guest house which was less than a km away. Finally we reached our destination at around 12:30pm The Guest House! We should be thankful to the guide who made his mind to get us till here (instead of turning around somewhere in the middle), guest house was a major landmark in the brahmagiri trek, reaching it gave us a sense of accomplishment. Since we didn’t have the permission to come to guest house, the guide didn’t have the keys. We took shelter in the veranda. We started having the eatables like biscuits, candies, fruit juices, etc., which we had carried with us.

The guest house

After relaxing for sometime we began our return journey. As expected, the return journey was relatively easier and quicker. Since we were continuously walking in rain, our legs got used to the slippery surface, to be on safer side we were a bit cautious during the descend. During our way back, in a few places, guide warned us stay quite and stick together as a pack without much gaps because of elephants, but we neither saw the elephants nor heard them. We did saw elephant poops on the way. With steady pace, without much stops for rest, we reached back to Irpu falls at around 2:30pm. Practically we were done with the trek! The guide left us there. There was a decent crowd at the falls. We spent some time for the photoshoot, then few got down into the waterfalls, played for some time. The feel of cold & hefty water falling on our back & shoulders was nothing less than a massage. After all the fun, we began our last 750mtrs journey of the trek. The best part was, most of us didn’t feel any form of tiredness, but were hungry like hell! As they say, All Good Things Must Come To An End. The Brahmagiri trek also ended. With this we carry loads of memories to cherish.

Things to Know for Brahmagiri Trek

Trek details

Total distance : 22 kms ( 2 way )

Forest permission required ?: Yes

Guide required : Yes. Forest department will arrange for it.

Forest fee : INR 350

Guide fee : INR 500 total. Divide by number of people for per head

Dudhsagar Waterfalls

Dudhsagar Waterfalls: Here’s everything about Dudhsagar

Dudhsagar literally translates to ‘Sea of Milk’ . Once you visit the Dudhsagar waterfalls and look at the mesmerizing beauty of the falls, you would agree that Dudhsagar is an apt word and there cannot be a better word to describe the waterfalls.

Story Behind The Name Dudhsagar:

There was a beautiful princess. She lived in the palace which was bordering the forest. Daily, she used to take bath in a lake which was near to the castle and after finishing the bath, she used to drink the sweetened milk in a golden jug. One day, when she was bathing, she saw a prince watching her taking bath standing. She felt embarrassed and in order to hide herself from him, she started pouring the jug of milk in front of her so that it can form a curtain. It is said that till date the sweetened milk cascades down the mountain slope and flows in the waterfalls as a tribute towards the modesty of the princess.

Where is Dudhsagar Waterfalls Located?

Dudhsagar waterfalls is located in the state of Goa bordering Karnataka. While the top of the falls in the region of Karnataka, the bottom where the water falls lies in the Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary which is part of Goa. Located on the Mandovi river, Dudhsagar waterfalls is the highest waterfalls in the South India and third highest in India. Falling from a height of 310m (1017 feet) into 4 layered falls, Dudhsagar waterfalls is one of the top destinations.

How to Reach Dudhsagar Waterfalls?

There are 4 options to reach Dudhsagar.

Option 1: Trek From Castle Rock :

The nearest railway station for the Dudhsagar waterfalls is Dudhsagar railway station. However, many trains do not have an official stop here. Hence, you need to get down at the Castel rock and walk on the railway track to reach the Dudhsagar waterfalls. The total trek distance is around 12 to 14 Kms and one has to pass through 11 tunnels which is a different kind of experience. Unfortunately, the sad news is that, the Karnataka government has banned this option. Hence this is no more an option.

Option 2: Train Travel :

All the trains travelling from Londa Junction to Kulem Station go via Dudhsagar falls. The trains slow down here allowing the passengers to get a picturesque view of the waterfalls. However, the very drawback of this option is you will get few seconds to enjoy the beauty. The luxury of spending ample amount of time gazing at the beautiful falls isn’t available. This option also gives you the expeirence of travelling through the tunnel. There are total of 16 tunnels. Dudhsagar falls is between the tunnel 11 and 12. So, make sure you are glued your eyes to the left side of the train (if you are travelling from Londa to Kulem).

Option 3: Trek From Kulem:

The most popular way to reach the Dudhsagar waterfalls is to trek from Kulem. The trek trail starts within few meters outside the Kulem station. The trail takes you through the dense forest before you reach the falls. The total distance is around 12 KMS and it would take around 4 to 5 hours to reach. The difficulty level is easy as there is not much to ascend or descend. All you need to do is travel on the wide mud road to reach the place. However, you cannot explore on your own and need to hire a local guide. The charges are Rs 2000 for a minimum of 4 people and then changes based on the number of people. They take care of the forest permission, life jacket as well.

Option 4: Jeep Safari from Kulem:

If you are not fit enough to travel 12 KMS one way, you can as well opt for jeep safari. The safari charges are approximately 500 Rs per person. Before you are excited too much, this option is allowed only from October during the waterfalls is not even to half of the fullest. Earlier, own vehicles were allowed but now this is been stopped and you are forced to choose the jeep safari.

Accommodation:

There is no accommodation near Dudhsagar falls. The nearest accommodation options are available in Kulem. The options aren’t plenty. After a lot of research, I have found couple of options

  1. Dudhsagar Spa Resort :
  2. Jungle Book

If you are planning to trek on yourself, you can choose the above accommodation options. However, there is a forest department required and the permission is provided only with a local guide. The resorts can arrange the guide upon request and the charges are 2000 Rs for 4 people.

Best Option to Trek Dudhsagar?

I have explored many options to trek to Dudhsagar waterfalls. Since the option through Castel Rock is banned now, the best option is to travel through trekking clubs. Few trek clubs provide a stay in the jungle which is an amazing experience.

Best time to Visit?

Undoubtedly, best time to visit the falls is in the monsoon, when the rain is at its peak. The picture in this article is taken in the 3rd week of September. Hence any visit after monsoon is likely to disappoint you.

Other details

Total trek distance : 12kms one way

Nearest railway station : Kulem

Forest charges : Applicable. Local guide will take care . You might have to pay extra for camera

Trek on Railway Track allowed ?: No