Dudhsagar: Riding through hellish roads to see heavenly beauty
It had been 2 months since I had joined my first job after MBA. The only riding I had done was in the city going to meet clients. Saturday 12th Sept was in Dharwad on some business and one of my best friends from MBA stays here, Anil aka JJ.It had been months since our last trip to Chikmagalur, Kemanna Gundi ,we had been planning to go on another trip but none of the plans had materialized .And just before we departed I said lets ride out tomorrow and Dudhsagar was decided, my cousin and his friends had been there and had recommended it.
The road taken by them was Hubli-Kittur-Bidi-Ramnagar-Anmod-Molem. I did not know any other road so we decided on the same.
We chose to go on JJís HH Karizma, since we had to cover a lot of distance and my 4 year old Discover 125 was feeling sluggish.
At 7 in the morning I left for JJ's place in Dharwad about 20 Kms from my house, as I reached JJís house I see him running towards me says please tell my mother we are going to Kalgatgi to attend a friendís marriage. Kalgatgi is 30 Kms from Dharwad and Dudhsagar is about 160. JJ's mother comes out and says gaadi Dere se chalana... Haanji Aunty Ji... Araam se chalana... Haanji Aunty Ji.. Then JJ's grandma comes out and says the same, again I go haanji haanji to every thing . My parents donít mind me riding ,but do not allow me to ride long distances. So I had told my parents that the place we are going was undecided.
JJ rolls out the ZMA out, the bike actually belongs to JJís brother who hardly uses it. The rear tyre had been kitted out with Duro HF-904 a dual purpose and I was instantly happy. JJ is not much of rider and prefers to sit pillion .PERFECT. JJ gets ready and I see he has no Helmet. I'm very strict that on trips all the riders must get a helmet ,rider and pillion. JJ starts to grumble saying helmet this and that and its you who is riding Iím just a pillion .I start to shout at him , He gives up and gets a half helmet , the type worn by traffic cops in India the white colour one, now its my time to start grumble, I ask him to get a full face helmet. I finally give up and agree to go with the half face helmet. I personally always recommended the full face helmets since the protection offered is more.
Finally we make a move towards Kittur on NH 4 towards Belgaum. Kittur is about 25 Kms from Dharwad. The ZMAís speedo and trip meter were not working , JJís dog had chewed the cable. Just before Kittur bus stand is a road which connects to Kittur. Kittur had a fort ,so we decided to check the place out. Kittur fort which is in total ruins ,once ruled by Kittur Rani Chenamma . There is not much to see here , there is also a museum but was closed. Can be skipped unless you have time ,since the place is only a Km away.
From Kittur asked for the road to Bidi ,once you have taken the diversion to Kittur , from the circle keep going straight till you reach a road on your left , take this road, Bidi is about 15 Kms from here. The road is really bad ,luckily not very heavy traffic, but the road has potholes a feet deep at places .Traffic consists of a few trucks and Force Trax taxi and few 2 wheelers.
From Bidi we headed towards Ramnagar , on the way to Ramnagar on your left is a petrol bunk fill up here there is no bunk till Ramnagar .The petrol bunk dude is a very nice guy , more about him later.
The road from Bidi to Ramnagar is good with recently repaired tarmac. The distance between the two is about 30 Kms. From Ramnagar we headed towards Anmod. The road between Ramnagar and Anmod passes through jungles and the road here is good and good speed can be maintained. From Anmod to Molem is the ghat section infested by mining trucks. This road if it can be called a road , is one of the worst I have ridden on ,the dust here is incredible , one can hardly see the road ,every time a tipper goes, the dust density increases. My helmet visor was not cleaned properly and riding without the visor was hellish , my eyes started to water because of the dust ,had a very hard time trying to see the road and the watering eyes made it only worse with dust mixing in . The vehicles which ply on this road are all mining trucks, most of them tippers ,driven at very high speeds, over taking is very difficult and risky with very little reaction time and no space to move to avoid the on coming trucks . Most of the roads ,especially in the bends were bad ,any spill in here ,risks being run over. So after a lot of asking for direction right from Kittur we finally reach Molem and from here we proceeded to Colem.
Once we arrived at the turn to Dudhsagar in Colem we saw a bunch of guys sitting on motorbikes , these guys charge 400Rs per person for the drop to Dudhsagar falls on their bikes and anybody with there own bike is not helped or given any direction to reach the spot .I asked them for direction and all they said was your bike wonít go , you need a guide to show the place. Last part is true.
As we moved forward ,we came across manned level crossing. Which is most likely will be closed all the time ,leaned the bike under the gates and pushed it across As soon as we crossed the railway tracks, we found 3 roads ,one tar on the right, one mud road in front and a mud road going up to my left. After asking the gateman at the railway crossing for direction we took the left mud road . Riding a little ahead we reached an unused railway track. We rode on the track itself for a distance till it lead next to a track which was in use. We got off the track and started riding on the trail next to the track in use. I did not know how long I had to ride or where I had to take a diversion , I kept on riding blind to the fact that ,when I reached the 49/500 or so signboard I had keep riding till I reach 46/000 and 45/900. I would find a milestone that has 51 on one side and 50 on the other and get down the trail . I stopped for a while hoping to ask some body for directions ,then I saw couple of guys riding towards me , seeing them gave me the confidence that I was on the right track or rather next to the right track ,I rode on . A little while later I stopped for the guys behind me to catch up. They never did .I turned back in search of them and they where nowhere to be seen, then I came across a small trail leading under a bridge. It looked unrideable but I walked down the trail looking for tyre marks and found a few and then got my bike down the trail and under the bridge beneath the railway track .I rode down right into a stream flowing below the bridge, continued following the trail , a few meters later I found a check post .I brought tickets for the bike 40 Rs ,20 Rs for JJ and 5 Rs for me , 5 for me because students get a discount and I showed him my 3 year old expired student Id card. From the check post it was another 5 to 6 Kms . I was doing good speed here in the jungle and the inevitable happened. I rode right into a sludge pit ,which looked like a road , the pit was about 6 inches deep and about 5 feet wide the bike skidded and me and JJ both fell with the bike on top of us, we both started to laugh .Luckily no damage to us or the bike.. After a river crossing on the bike ,we met up with the motorbike taxi guys I had initially met at the entrance. Started to chat with them and I tagged along with them for rest of the ride. Parked the bikes much before the spot ,as a log had fallen off on the trail. After parking the bikes all of us JJ ,me ,the taxi guys and their pillion started to walk to the falls about half a kilometer trek with river crossing waist deep water . And finally we reached Dudhsagar. Itís a sight to behold itís really beautiful and words wonít do justice to its beauty.
We were not able to spend much time at the falls , since I did not want to ride the Molem- Ramnagar stretch at night ,we left early at about 2pm . Rode a bit fast since it looked it was about to rain and reached Bidi at 7.15 and stopped for petrol and started to move towards Kittur at 7.30. Was cursing the road all the way till Kittur and a smiled when I saw the milestone 2 Kms to Kittur. I get a call on mobile ďsir you have left your bag at our petrol station:Frustrati. Calmly , resigned to fate I turn back and ride back to pick the bag . Saying my thanks to the petrol pump dude. I ride back to Hubli . Reaching home at 10.
On the way back we met a bunch of foreigners riding rickshaws about 8 of them riding from Goa to Katmandu:Shockked:
This ride has been one if the best rides I have had yet, it was amazing, the ride is what mattered more and the water falls is the icing on the cake and cherry too.
I would recommend everyone to make this journey ,preferably by bike. This November , Jeep taxis will be introduced to the falls and the road will be different . But will not be much fun.
About the bike
This is the first time have I had ridden a ZMA for a distance and the bike is very smooth .The bike had some issues it stalled twice and I heard knocking sound when tried to restart it, but after a while started normally , the tyre is good, gave good grip and stability even during heavy high speed braking, DESPITE THE TRYES BEING MOUNTED IN THE WRONG DIRECTION by a mechanic . I had come to know about this at a railway crossing between Molem and Ramnagar ,I was checking the thread and saw cracks on the buttons at the same place .Further investigation revealed the wrong tyre direction .
My riding gear
I have a Volga helmet ,has served me very well .I donít have a riding jacket ,I use a waterproof textile jacket. My shoes ,I had bought these from my PG mate in Bangalore for 500 bucks ,brand is Arapaho, itís a replica I think ,its leather and rubber , has a very hard toe fiber insert. Heavy but very comfortable. Riding pants is a Flying Machine denim jeans.
Nice pictures. Remind me of my honeymoon visit to these falls. Imagine taking your newly wedded wife on a Bullet through those treacherous track on Valentines Day after having ridden from Dauna Paula. If you can then bro either you are not married at all or she has been with you for very long.
Amazing falls- a definite on my places-to-go list!!
@wandernomad: that must have been really some trip,The trail riding is what i enjoyed most then the waterfalls itself.
@pho3n!x: By November jeeps will be starting to the spot, for now one can trek to the spot or ride.But do go
Nice pics and write up motorpsycho, I have only been able to see the falls from the train which passes by below the falls on the route from Bangalore to Vasco !
The view from the train will be fantastic. If you are a rail fan, the Braganza ghat is the best place to travel. You can see the most powerful diesel locos of IR, the WDG4s rule this line. Most often the freight trains will have 4 to 5 locos (two in the front & 3 banking in the rear totaling 20,000+ hp ) and deafening roar of the locos and beautiful scenery , a heady combination
There is a train which goes there, but it doesn't stop ,is what i have been told,u need to jump off the train!!! but the train slows down at the station to walking pace for people to get off
Lovely writeup and excellent pictures.Loved the shot of the locos with the waterfall in the background.The Londa-Molem stretch is like driving on the moon.I just took that stretch a couple of days back and it would rank as the scariest drive of my life.The bad stretch just does not seem to end.
@ ranjitp1 I agree with you completely ,could not have put it any better ,it was like riding on the moon,it was very tough negotiating this stretch, its infested with tippers and I recall seeing only one other rider taking this route and very few cars.
I had planned to go to Dudhsagar on my way from Goa this July. But could not make it due to the lack of time. Also, we were 7 guys, so it would not have been feasible to hire as many bikes from Collem. We enquired at Molem and then decided to move on and visit the falls some other time. (your photos make me regret my decision:Frustrati)
How long did you take to ride from Molem to Dudh Sagar? How many guys will the bike taxis take at a time? I have seen bike taxis carrying upto 4 people (including the rider) in Madgaon, Goa a few years back. Is the rate you specified per person or per trip?
Didn't you find any leeches during your ride??
Oh... brings back memories. We used to camp right next to Castle Rock Railway station. We have ridden on the rail tracks to get to that railway bridge right below the falls. It was so much fun. Since i used to study in Margao, this was our weekend getaway.
And there are Jeep taxis available since eternity. They take you right uptil a path that leads to the base of the falls. This is from Collem side.
From Molem you need to proceed to Colem ,its not very far since just after the check post on the Molem-Colem road you need to take a right turn ,and from that cross its about another 3-4 Kms, I'm not very sure about the distance since the speedo was broken. But the road is very good and hardly a 15 min ride.
The bike riders will carry only one guy, it will be difficult to carry more then one person as pillion on the trails. These guys ferry exclusively to Dudhsagar falls nowhere else. The charge was 400 Rs per person. I never asked the taxi guys the rate, but some guys from Delhi who had availed the service.
Yes we did find some leeches , one had tagged on to a fellow traveler with us. But leeches is not a problem ,I saw only one.
yes it was mentioned to me that jeep taxis are available, but the road for the jeep passes through a river and is not passable at times.
Spitfire sir camping in Goa must be a dream, I just fell in love with the greenery and the jungles there.Its so peaceful.Will be riding to Goa again some times.
Its one of the things we miss a lot. We used to trek inside the Bondla reserve. Camp below some trees and fall asleep with the sounds of the jungle in the background. It was sheer bliss. Actually its quite safe too.
You should try and stay at the government lodges at Dudhsagar. Its so splendid in the nights. Since you are so close try and make it sometime.
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