Hidden Gems of Goa - Dudhsagar Waterfalls & Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary
Updated: Sep 23, 2021
During our religious visits to Goa, we always tried to explore new places in Goa. During one such visit, we learned that the Eastern region of Goa which borders Maharashtra and Karnataka has abundant vegetation and forest reserves.
Amongst the most prominent Forest Reserve in Goa is ‘The Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary which is situated near Molee (Mollem). Apart from its regular flora and fauna the Sanctuary also boasts of ‘The Dudhsagar Waterfall’ which is inside the forest. We decided to explore the Waterfall.
We were staying at Priol (Mangeshi Temple). Priol is around 21 km from Panaji. Molee (Mollem) is around 40 km from Priol and it took us around 1 ½ hours drive to reach Mollem.
On reaching Mollem, we enquired with the locals about our visit to Dudhsagar waterfall who directed us to the entrance of the Sanctuary. We were informed by the staff at the sanctuary that we have to leave our private vehicle at the gates of the sanctuary and hire SUVs (specially meant for jungle roads). The vehicle cost was around Rs. 2100/- for 6 -7 people(presently the cost is Rs. 3,500/- for the SUV).
After paying the vehicle charges, we boarded the SUV for the view of Dudhsagar. The Road to Dudhsagar was muddy, bumpy and passed through some streams and rivulets. We passed through some hamlets where tribals were staying. The Sanctuary has a good amount of trees and the wildlife authorities made efforts to cover the Road with Trees on both sides, thus beating the heat.
Goa Tourism has also permitted small roadside hotels in the sanctuary. The 9-10 km road to the base of the waterfall was a bumpy ride and we realized it was good to leave our vehicle at the sanctuary. After alighting from our SUV, we had to walk a distance of 5 minutes to reach the foot of the Waterfall. As it was February, the water was not as roaring as it is in monsoons but the small stream of water is flowing across the rocks giving a soothing effect to the surroundings. In the puddle below the waterfall, some tourists were enjoying an afternoon swim. The trees all around the puddle have a calm and cool effect. The water body always attracts me and I wish to stay there for an hour or so.
A Railway Bridge goes across the Falls and disturbs the view of the Falls from the base. It would have been great if we had visited the Dudhsagar falls in monsoons but the sanctuary is closed during the monsoons. If one has to see the Dudhsagar falls in monsoons, one needs to take the train from Vasco station to Belgaum. The Falls can be seen closely through the train.
There used to be a trek to Dudhsagar Falls. The trekkers used to get down at Braganza Station and walk towards the falls. However, we recently heard that the trek is closed as one has to walk on the railway tracks.
Our day ended with a visit to an ancient temple of the Kadamba dynasty called Tambdi Surla which is around half an hour drive from Mollem. This Basalt Rock Temple is already covered in our earlier blogs.
On our return journey to Priol, we also noticed boards for a Bird Sanctuary at Bondla. However, by the time we reached the Sanctuary, it was closed for the day.
Our next day started early, as we had to visit Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary which was located on Chorao Island. We started at around 8 a.m. and reached Ribandar near Panaji. We left our car at Raibandar and caught a ferry for Chorao island. At the jetty itself (at Chorao), one can notice the Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary board. We inquired with the Sanctuary officials and they were happy to see visitors. Apart from us 4 tourists, some foreigners had visited the Bird Sanctuary.
They informed us that the 1-hour boat ride across mangroves in the Mandavi River will cost us Rs. 3,500/-. The Boat has a capacity is of 17 people. We would be accompanied by a Guide and Boatman who would spot the different species of birds for us.
The boat ride started with our guide spotting some migratory ducks floating in Mandavi. As we ventured into the mangroves, we spotted Black Cormorant, Sand Pipers, a family of Redshanks, Small and Large Egrets, and Red-wattled Lapwing.
We also spotted the Brahmany Kite soaring high in the sky and the Common and White Chested Kingfisher patiently waiting along the Mangroves for its morning breakfast.
In the midst of Mangroves is a huge Machan constructed by the Wildlife Authorities to keep a watch on the birds visiting the sanctuary. Our guide showed us some storks who have recently visited the sanctuary.
After the boat ride we walked in the sanctuary and in the puddle we noticed a few tadpole-looking creatures floating in the water. On checking with our guide, he informed us that these are Mudskippers. We also notice some crabs crawling in the muddy water.
The Sanctuary is around 178 ha and mostly covered by mangroves. The Authorities have also planted various mangroves and is also created a greenhouse for mangroves in the sanctuary.
The time flew very fast watching the Birds and their habitat and we were hungry for some seawater fish. We headed to Ritz Classic in the Panaji Market for a sumptuous meal before going back to our temple abode at Priol.
During this Goa visit we started with some new tourist spots and in our endeavor to look for more, we planned to visit some unseen spots in Goa.
- Mohini Nabar