A word of caution: This was a total unprepared and unplanned trekking, yet it was fun.
We booked Rani Chennamma Exp. train from Bangalore to Londa Junction. Some folks suggested that this train would go directly to Castle Rock station. Unfortunately its untrue at least on a weekend day. We did inquire at Majestic Railways station as well as Londa Station. Both confirmed that Rani Chennamma Exp wont go to Castle Rock.
There is a huge demand for Railways seats, so lucky we got a 3 sleeper seats reserved for departure day only (bangalore to Londa), 5 of us some how shared the sleeper berths and with great difficulty passed on the night. As always Indians railways are gifted with delays, hell lot of delays. Rani Chennamma Express is of no exception here. So 2 hours delay on us. Reached Londa junction around 7.
It’s a shame to call these trains as Express though, the speeds of these trains do not justify the word Express and it almost stops at all stations on the path. So Indian Railway guys, are you freaking kidding me? :x
Immediately we inquired about Castle Rock trains. We got to know that a Vosco Express from Chennai is our train to catch and its due to come by 8 AM. Again we were blessed with delay of 1 hour. So the vosco express reached station around 9 AM. The general coach is a mess, i must say. It’s horribly crowded. Every where you wish keep your feet, there is a human being sadly :( Oh dear god, is what i felt inside. It’s around 45 mins ride from Londa Junction to Caste Rock station. Time did pass by in this mess some how thankfully.
Landed around 10:30 at castle rock station. I must say this station was purely amazing place to just scan around. It was beautiful, surrounded by a wonderful nature. Near the station 2 old walls stands still. Hence the name Castle Rock, i guess.
Evening there is only 1 return train from Dudhsagar to Castlerock/londa. And that is Vosco Express which comes from goa. Do not bet high on this as this again will kick you in the but with 1-2 hours of delays and again already filled with people from Goa especially the general compartment. If you get a reservation in sleeper coach till londa, great. The train stops for about 5 mins in this station. During our visits there were around 150 people waiting for this train to board, yes the weekend effect. After a delay of about 1.5hours, this train reached the station and we all hurried to get on board and some how reached Londa by 730 PM. Next we bought tickets for Hubli train as Bangalore trains sleeper coach are fully booked and we were beaten up by nature badly to even think about traveling in general compartment till Bangalore which is around 9 hours timeline.
So again 8 PM Rani Chennamma Express is delayed by 1.5 hours. This news kicked us more than before and we started to inquire about other options of catching a bus to hubli from Londa. Unfortunately, no bus directly goes from Londa to Hubli. We had to travel in auto around 7Kms from londa to a place called Ramnagar and there we would get bus to hubli. So dropped the idea and started to wait at the station. Train reached station around 930PM. I started to wonder if Rani Chennamma was alive, she would be kicking herself badly in knowing trains named after her running so slow. By paying extra 50 bugs/head on top of tickets to conductor we were able to travel in Sleeper coach till Hubli. We decided to board the bus to bangalore from hubli. The bus stand is approx 2Kms away from Train station. Auto guys took 70 INR for 5 of us after a bit of bargain.
Reached bus stand around 12. We hoped for Volvos so that a comfy ride would nullify the body pain, but only 1 volvo at this time period till 9 AM next day and this bus comes from other place so all seats filled. Only left option for us was to choose Karnataka Sarige bus or a private volvo (SRS, VRL). We immediately checked for private guys, only last bus for that day was available which is SRS, but unfortunately all seats filled. Checking with station master again, we came to know that only 2 sarige buses is available to bangalore for that day till next day 9 AM and one already present and will depart in another 15 mins and next 1 will come in 1 hour time which may or may not have seats at all. Worst part to know is at this time line, no buses starts from Hubli. Heck, where are all bangalore – hubli goes go, i start to mumble :O. So either we had to wait in the bus station till morning or catch the uncomfy ride of Karnataka sarige. We decided on the latter idea and so boarded.
Bus left hubli around 1245 and reached bangalore around 8 AM with 2 stops in between. Please note that, if you are beaten up already, be ready to get beaten more with the ride in this bus. Which ever angle i turned and tossed to get a good sleep, all in vain. Shorter length seat gaps, clumsy isle space and vibrations of the whole bus with horrible suspensions you are bound to get hell ride.
We immediately left Castle Rock station after couple of snaps for the trek. We wanted to do a track trekking just like yedikumeri. I especially had the expectations and hope that this trek would be as fun and pleasant as the yedikumeri. But unfortunately to me it was not good as the earlier. Yet its OK. A few folks suggested that it’s just 1.5 hours of journey to Dudhsagar station from castle rock. Let me stress this here, the distance between Castle Rock and Dudhsagar is almost 16Kms and it takes around 7 hours to trek this path assuming you do not waste much time with breaks, lunch nor photo shoots. We finished in around 6 hours and we only took break for 10 mins twice in between. Accuweather reported that it was raining at dudhsagar, but unfortunately for past 3 days there was no rain at all there and the humidity was really high at one point. The heat was unbearable too, felt like it was summer. The population was really high as this was on a weekend.
For those who do not want to trek for 16 Kms from Castle rock, the train reaching Dudhsagar also passes and stops at a in between stop called Caranzol which is just 6.68Kms away from Dudshagar station. You can get down here and start trekking which requires almost 3 hours.
If you are traveling in a vehicle, then you can park at Castle Rock station and start your trek. I heard from a fellow trekker that they were not allowing 4×4 vehicles to reach Dudhsagar from Castle rock, hence most of them had to trek or board train. Other wise from castle rock you can hire a 4×4 vehicles to reach destination.
I guess it’s better to start this trek early morning and on a weekday (population aspect) then one would get a good view of the nature and pleasant weather to walk. But unlike Yedikumeri, most of the path is covered with bush on one side blocking the view of the mother nature. This was a bit of let down for me and hence i would rate 1 star less than yedikumeri.
Water source can be found here and there while trekking but not often. So a bit of caution is required to maintain your backup. Wherever you find a flowing stream/dropping water from a rocks or something, just grab it. It’s very pure and really fresh and its cold. Would always love stand below it for a good shower ;) Feels refreshing.
There are no stalls on the way, so always make sure you carry enough food supplies with you but also make sure you don’t over weight yourself with too much. Food source is available at Castle rock and Dudhsagar only. Caronzol doesn’t have any such.
Dudhsagar:- Falls, stay, etc.
This station is not as big as yedikumeri but still maintained good. The view of the nature from this station is as good as yedikumeri. It’s a breathtaking view. The people working there do really enjoy. The falls is half a Km away from the station. The falls is really nice to look at. Water gushes down and one can swim at its foot only “if you know good swimming”. The depth in this water starts really close to the shore (rocky), and its of 10 ft. So please be careful here. Also the rocks are everywhere so getting injured is really high, plus the water force is very high. Hence make sure you swim at safe place and if you really know it. The area available for swimming is quite small, hmm…some what about 60×40 area.
Staying/Tenting has to be planned, as there is an area constructed in front of the falls to put up tents, but the area is quite small. So you have to reach early to book your place. Again there are no stalls available at this falls for you to enjoy the life. One guy seems to sell veg-biryani and cool drinks at the station, not sure how worthy it is though.
That’s all folks, i have tried to sum up info of what i remember, if you got Q’s, please use the comment section. I shall try to answer them.
Thanks for reading,