Let's Goa - to Karnataka: Part One
The story of this two-part adventure is my response to Mark Gordon Brown's call for Travel and Tourism articles. All who read my Wiknut pages will know that I just love to tell you all about my trips, whether at home or abroad. Hope you enjoy. Part Two will be out soon!
- On the Train from Goa to Hospet
- Margao and the Goa Tourist Development Corporation
- All Hail the Sacred Cow
- Green Fields and Waterfalls from the Train
- Recalling the Trek to the Top of Dudhsagar Falls
- Where Dudhsagar Gushes into the Salmon Pool
- Over the Border and Onward to Hospet
- Links and Details
On the Train from Goa to Hospet
I found a window seat in our allocated carriage, threw my hessian rucksack in careless abandon onto the torn blue plastic-covered bench above my head – and slumped onto a hot, hard seat.
It didn’t matter that the seat was too hard, or too hot and dusty – I could have slept on a clothesline.
I suppose the word ‘shattered’ described my weary plight after four hectic days doing day trips to every corner of Goa’s magnificent state.
The Bangalore train rattled into Margao station, Goa, and we clambered into dusty carriages that smelled strongly of curry and condensed milk. Our journey to the hidden city of Hampi in the neighbouring state of Karnataka had begun.
We’d toured for four consecutive days on a Goa Tourist Development Board (GTDC) package from our base - an air-conditioned residence in Margao: travelled on the bus way up north and way down south in Goa, cruised the Mandovi River and visited a spice farm.
No time to laze on the beach this trip. I was determined to see and experience as much as I could. After all this was my first time in India.
Margao and the Goa Tourist Development Corporation
We’d abandoned our sweet little ‘package’ hotel in Cavelossim to taste the delights of a four day tour of Goa, staying in one of the designated GTDC hotels. We chose to stay in Margao. (Details of how to contact GTDC can be found in the ‘details’ section of this article)
We’d watched a glorious sunrise from our east-facing bedroom balcony for four mornings running.
We’d looked up at blue skies to gaze at golden-winged eagles swooping and diving at play.
Then, at eight o’clock each morning, we’d set off for a new destination in Goa – and a new adventure on our red GTDC bus or cruise boat. We’d travelled with families hailing from the length and breadth of India, not a European tourist in sight bar me and my husband.
And in the sultry evenings, we’d trekked Margao with its bustling market-place, grand old buildings and pretty gardens. I was in awe of Goa. The Lonely Planet Guide had done us proud, pointing us in the direction of the GTDC. This was an affordable and enjoyable way of seeing all of Goa - and a little beyond.
And now, hoping my Lonely Planet researches would step up to the plate for another great adventure, we were riding this dusty, rickety train that would clank with a good-humoured jangle for nine hours or so, to get us to our destination.
I’d heard so much about Hampi, the Hidden City in Karnataka, I couldn’t wait to see it for myself.
All Hail the Sacred Cow
I yawned, stretched my arms upward to the dim yellow lights of the carriage, and listened to the shrill calls from sellers of tea and curry – yelling “chai!” – hollering “curry!”
I closed my eyes, letting the spices of the curry and the sweet, tinned-milk taste of the chai permeate pleasantly into day-dreams of our journey.
But, a dozen noisy crows shouting, “Caw!” from rusting railway lines and a collection of wayward cows at Kulem station calling “Moo!” did little to unwind me, so I gave up my trance state and joined our fellow sojourners in their excited chatter.
“Wherever I’ve been in this astonishing country,” I said, “cows roam free, undeterred by neither man nor beast, even in the city! All hail the sacred cow?”
Green Fields and Waterfalls from the Train
Taking a peek through the bars of the unglazed window I saw the milky-white waterfall of Dudhsagar.
I was spellbound at the billowing curtain of water as it plunged two thousand feet down into the valley. It roared like a hundred angry lions. I was excited to see the waterfall from a train. It was so close, I'm sure i could have reached out and touched it.
Two days ago, I’d trekked up to it from its foothills in the Bhagwana Mahivir Wildlife Sanctuary.
I settled down again on the scorching seat and squinted through half-shut eyelids as the lush green fields of the countryside glinted in the glaring sunlight.
Swaying to the monotonous drumbeat of the train, I was reminded of Robert Louis Stevenson’s, ‘From a Railway Carriage’ –
‘Faster than fairies faster than witches
Bridges and houses hedges and ditches’
Then I drifted into a day-dream of the journey we’d taken on foot just a week before, to the top of the mighty Dudhsagar Falls (translated the 'Milky Sea')
Recalling the Trek to the Top of Dudhsagar Falls
It had been a three hour, steep and arduous trek from the foothills of the jungle. Our tireless local guides had grinned good-humouredly at our amateur endeavours as we’d encountered one uphill struggle after another. They’d led us cheerfully onward and upward, agile and sure-footed, toward our grand waterfall goal.
My feet had trudged soundlessly over the leafiest dirt tracks, under the tallest trees, the calls of chattering monkeys amusing me, distracting me from the burn in my thighs.
I’d stopped to pop the parasitic buds of black pepper that stuck like mistletoe to their host. “Smell it!” my fellow trekkers urged. And they’d laughed when I’d inhaled the powder like snuff, and sneezed violently.
At the summit, I’d gazed over a huge precipice at the sparkling silver waters of Dudhsagar tumbling downward. Dudhsagar should be among the natural wonders of the world.
Where Dudhsagar Gushes into the Salmon Pool
Little did I know, as the slow train clickety-clacked its way to Hospet, that we’d visit the majestic Dudhsagar one more time.
Before this trip of Indian delights was over, we'd be visiting the foot of the falls by 4-wheel drive,.
And little did we know that we’d be able to swim in the deep pool at the foot of the falls: a pool filled with salmon jumping in a pink mist for biscuits thrown by the tourists, sold to us by an enterprising local youth with a basket full of custard creams!
But that's a trip that deserves a story in its own right. And one day I'll tell it!
Over the Border and Onward to Hospet
Nine hours of green bush and farmland swept by as endless cups of hot, sweet chai were sipped and snacks of tasty spiced marzipan were nibbled, before the train reached our destination - Hospet.
Hospet is in Goa’s neighbouring state of Karnataka and the Hotel Priyadarshini was to be our base for our visit to Hampi, the so-called hidden city. I couldn’t wait for this next Indian adventure.
Part Two will be out soon! I hope you enjoyed Part One.
Links and Details
In a move to boost Goa’s tourism economy, the Goa Tourist Development Board offers tours and cruises at extremely competitive prices on the basis that you stay at one of their many lovely residences for the duration of your tour package.
For details of GTDC tours, including the ‘Dudhsagar Special’ go to their website at:
For trips to Dudhsagar Falls (trekking, railway or by 4-wheel drive), go to: http://www.indianholiday.com/goa/tourist-attractions/waterfalls-in-goa/dudhsagar-waterfall-in-goa.html