There are certain experiences in life, which transform into great memories and make for great stories.My trek to Dudhsagar was one such.

It all started with an innocent whatsapp message from my best friend displaying an enticing picture of the mighty Dudhsagar waterfall. I had not met my friends for ages, thanks to the pandemic and I was sufficiently enticed with the double bonanza of meetng them and trekking to the waterfall. This was in the middle of the stormy monsoon, scary landslides and the impending covid third wave. After days of swinging between going or cancelling, I finally decided to say yes. 

 While my friends were coming by bus from Bangalore, I started off alone with our driver, from Shimoga, to the base point of the trek at Mollem, Goa. This required me to take a different road from the one which we often frequented. Half way through, my adventure started. Thanks to the heavy rains and the dark ( which meant that the wild animals would venture on to the road), the guard at the checkpost informed us that the road to Dandeli was closed and that we had to take a detour.

The detour turned out to be the stuff of nightmares. Long stretches of deserted roads, no sign posts, and the dark, gave us the heebie jeebies. The guard had warned us that the road was not in good shape. That was an understatement of sorts. After about ten miles, there was no road. Only stretches of muck. A small luggage truck ahead of us had turned back and the driver offered us an alternative of following him into a forest road which would get us to the top of Mollem Ghat.

It was a difficult choice to make. A random picture of being murdered in the middle of the forest by the evil truck driver kept flashing in front of my eyes. Finally, my faith in humanity won over and we decided to trust the guy. Trying to be smart, I asked the driver to keep ahead of him so that we could speed up and escape if things looked bad. We started off on a single road, flanked by dense forests on both sides with no other vehicles in sight in the dead of the night. Before long, we came to a fork in the road. Now, with our guide left far behind, we decided to do an “ini meeni myni mo” and picked a road which felt logical and moved on. Finally, after a nerve racking drive, we reached the Mollem ghat. 

 We cheered and hi fied as we climbed down the ghat, before we realized that were in for the scariest ride of our lives. The road had zero traffic and thick mist, which even powerful foglights could not disperse. We could not see beyond our noses, let alone the road ahead. We could hear the gurgling of small waterfalls and the sounds of wild animals, but could see nothing. After a very very slow drive down, we finally reached the base camp and heaved a sigh of relief (prematurely, it turns out).

Little did I know that life had more adventures in store for me.

The excitement of meeting my friends and starting the trek worked to mildly erase the scare of the previous night.Walking along the train tracks and the unspolied forests was like something staright out of the movies. The terrain was lush, green and beautiful. It also demanded that we wade through the waters of many streams to reach the bottom of the falls. Thanks to the incessant rains, the streams had swollen and had  strong currents.In an attempt to cross one such, I got dunked in the water and my phone (which I had kept in pocket, handy for taking pics) died!

Oh, the tragedy! for I ended up getting pictures of the whole trek except for the main attraction!


It did not do much for my mood either, because I had loads of other important stuff stored away in my mobile which I was scared of losing. The sight of the majestic waterfall worked a bit to soothe my depressed brain.It felt good to be given the opportunity to witness something so grand that the misery of losing my phone paled in comparison. 

Tired after the trek to the waterfall, we jumped at the idea of hitching a ride on one of the many goods trains that were passing by. We trekked a further mile to reach a railway station in the hope of a ride. We waited for the train. It came. We rejoiced (We actually did a small dance). We signalled the driver. He smiled at us. And the train passed…. without stopping for us.

Now, we were twenty minutes off track, with the dusk fast approaching. We walked back the same road cursing our bad luck. This was also the time I discovered that when night falls in the jungle, it happens in a jiffy. One moment you are walking in the warm evening glow, and the the next you are engulfed by the dark. Like a switch was turned off somewhere in the skies. We were now lost in the forest, hungry, tired and frustrated. Walking back for miles with faint mobile torch lights, all the time scared of being devoured by hungry leopards is not the most pleasant of walks.

Finally at nine in the night, after twelve hours (it was officially meant to be four hours) of walking on an empty stomach we reached the base camp. 

Despite being soaked to the skin, bitten by leeches and blistered on every toe, I had never felt as grateful to be returning to civilization. I even did a victory dance in my head ( doing it for real might just have killed me).

As you can see, this was one of those trips, where everything that could go wrong actually did! But the whole exercise taught me a lot of life lessons. 

  1. I realized that when something is meant to happen, nothing can stop it. This trek was meant to happen and no matter what hurdles came my way, I finally made it! It also made me understand that no matter how big the problem seems, trudging ahead without giving up finally leads you to where you want to go.
  2. I understood that in order to gain something, you have to lose something. In the bargain of meeting my friends and being witness to the gorgeous Dudhsagar, I lost my phone ( which did not revive even after being buried under some exotic Goan rice). On a positive note, I gained a new confidence of realising that I could push my limits and boundaries without breaking down. 
  3. I realized that until we are faced with a darker alternative, we rarely realise how lucky we are. At one moment during the trek,  lost in the wild and the dark, we were really scared for our lives.Just getting back to the safety and comfort of the base camp made me realise how much I take for granted. I have now learnt to appreciate the small pleasures of life much better than I did a few weeks ago.

They say that the best thing about life is “making memories”. And this trip provided me with cartloads full of it. Hoping for more such (mis)adventures, I sign off.

About the Author

Preethi Shanbhag


My name is Preethi Shanbhag. I am a psychiatrist and a mother. In my free time I love to read, write, travel and cook.

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