In a drunken stupor he said. "Go ahead, few more kilometers and the pilots will take you along"
|When the ride is this awesome, who cares about the destination?|
At this point we were enjoying just being there, the moment was extremely funny and totally unexpected. We were supposed to be watching wildlife in Dandeli but here we were in Goa. We were supposed to reach Dudhsagar Waterfalls and this man here says the pilots will take us. It only amused us because so far everyone has been saying it is not possible to reach Dudhsagar Falls, the streams will be swelling and no vehicle can go near it. If I forgot to mention, it was pouring cats and dogs every few hours. It was peak monsoon.
I knew it had to be true because during my Cycling Trip in Goa, I cycled along that 10km stretch to reach the base of the waterfall. It is a beautiful track passing through the dense forest of the Bhagwan Mahavir WLS and we crossed streams one too many times. It must be true. Those streams must be raging torrents now. Jeeps wouldn't go through. So when he said the pilots will take us, we had a good laugh and went towards Colem anyway. We had nothing else to do after all. We were randomly driving across the streets of Goa.
Once we reached Colem, I started explaining with great pride, how we crossed the river here and entered the sanctuary to cycle across the dirt track. Before I could finish the story, they appeared! It was actually true, they did exist, the monsoon pilots of Goa! The man was sure enough drunk in broad day light but he knew what he was saying. We had to give that to the old man.
They called themselves pilots but what they actually mean is they will drive you to Dudhsagar falls on their motorbikes. Each person sits behind each one of these so called pilots on their bikes. They said they have another way to go to the falls, the jeep track is flooded but they can take us.
Momentary lapse of judgment is what I call, the thing which happens to you when you travel. You put your trust in complete strangers hoping everything will work out fine. The bikes didn’t even have proper brakes and the route was something that would do for a good action chase sequence. After all, who in their right mind would go drive on the gravel next to the railway tracks? When I say next to railway tracks all we had for the tire to tread is about 30cms of gravel in water. Next to it, the land sloped down. Needless to say the fall will be fatal. There was no road. We were offroading in the rain, sitting behind riders whom we knew nothing about and bikes which seemed like were from another century.
I chose an elderly person assuming he wouldn’t pull off any stunts. He didn’t. But he asked me to sit still and no sudden movements as we might fall into the valley next to us. Everytime we passed between the poles next to the track I froze in fear. When I say between the poles I actually mean between the poles. You know how the poles are supported, the inverted Y kinds? We were riding through that gap. Seriously, I am not joking, the rain, the tracks, the valley next to us and the series of bikes whizzing past – it would’ve been a great thing to see on screen. But of course since I was experiencing it first hand, it all looked not so glamorous. But deep inside the adventure had me thrilled greatly.
I thought I had seen the best, but the best was yet to come. They stopped at one point and asked us to cross the tracks and wait on the other side. We did. Only to find them ride out of the tunnel below the track which had raging water flowing knee deep! Oh My God! When did I enter a movie sequence I wondered! I have seen some crazy rides but this one tops everything I have seen and been through!
It was as scary and as exciting as you imagined and more. I am not showing you any images because some things are best left to imagination. (Truth to be told, I didn't and couldn't take any pictures. ;)) Later we walked up a small hill through the slush to witness the monsoon glory of the milky white legendary DudhSagar Falls. While coming back on the same track later, the novelty had worn off and I was now smiling at the incredulous yet extremely entertaining journey we just took.
Next time around if you are there, meet the pilots. All you can do is to say your prayers and hold on to your dear life as the pilots take you on a ride of lifetime. Actually you are putting your life in their hands. But hey, there isn't a thing called a safe adventure.
|Everything about that trip was legendary, I mean how many times have you seen a rainbow like this?|
|One of the Tunnels near Dudhsagar, everyone should trek here once. No, this is not where the pilots drove through. That was another tunnel below.|
, by Neelima Vallangi