Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A Trip to Lumbini - the holy birth place of Lord Buddha

A Trip to Lumbini - the holy birth place of Lord Buddha
Last year I tried to blog my travel story of Lumbini with an introductory teaser post- Essence of Lumbini. Somehow, I failed to respect the travel-blogging protocol and bring in the actual travel tale in due time. Well, better late than never, today yours truly shall wrap up the unfinished narration of his trip to Lumbini which dates back to January 2013. Just asking, did you check out my motorcycling travelogue of Bodh Gaya? One thing I must confess, with visit to each Buddhist pilgrimage site my urge to cover the entire Buddhist Circuit is increasing exponentially. The neat ambiance around majority of holy Buddhist sites is really therapeutic to any traveler's tired mind. A cordial thank to my Sri Lankan colleagues won’t be simply enough for the initiation and fuel they had provided me for this Trip to Lumbini! 
A Trip to Lumbini - the holy birth place of Lord Buddha
There was no public holiday this time; so at most two days were all I could spend but that doesn’t make this trip any trivial affair… after all it was a visit to the birth place of Lord Buddha, who blows off the mystery of the legendary mist of existence, who shows the trail to liberation and who is the icon of peace and compassion! On a winter Friday we boarded the bus for Butwal before the crack of the dawn and like most of the rickety bus you usually find in non-tourist-spots of Nepal our one took its own sweet time of seven hours to drop us in Butwal. I don’t think my struggle for leg-space in the bus throughout the journey holds any relevance here but I tell you it’s not a situation one can ignore. My Buddhist co-travelers were concerned that they won’t be able to reach Lumbini in proper time and pay a visit to the main temple if public transport is availed and we hired a taxi (though later we found out to be a futile decision) from Butwal Bus Park itself for Lumbini. It took exactly one hour to reach Lumbini, crossing Bhairahawa in the middle of the route.
A Trip to Lumbini - the holy birth place of Lord Buddha
As pre-decided we met, a monk of Rajakiya Buddha Vihar who was acquainted with one of our Buddhist friends. He directed us to a hotel Lumbini Village Lodge, quite near to gate no. 5. Though he had told us to get ready in an hour but our tiredness, hunger coupled with an untimely drizzle brought us back to the road only fifteen minutes before five. We almost ran to Maya Devi Temple which is the heart of all the monuments of this holy site of Lumbini. The temple area bears the evidence of several phases of construction over the centuries. Inside the temple there are remains of structures of early Maya Devi Temple that dates back to the 3rdcentury BC to 7th century AD! Inside the temple there’s the Marker Stone located deeply buried in the sanctum sanctorum indicates the exact spot of auspicious birth of Lord Buddha. Outside of the temple there’s the Pushkarini, which is believed to be the most sacred pond of Shakyas in which Maya Devi took her bathe before giving birth to the Prince, Siddhartha.
A Trip to Lumbini - the holy birth place of Lord Buddha
On another side of Maya Devi Temple there stands the Ashokan Pillar with the inscription engraved by Ashoka validating the authenticity of this birth place. We can also see the brick masonry foundations, known as the Group of Stupas and Vihars built in the period of Mauryan Gupta and Kushana which are evidence of the early devotee desire to be near the sacred birth place. Drizzle was still on and even the umbrella was not enough to protect my camera while clicking some quick snaps. The light dimmed faster than our anticipation and we had call it a day. We paid our visit to the monk and listened to his ‘Prabachan’ for an hour. Among various encouraging and appreciable topics, the concept of ‘inclusion’ (i.e. no place for caste in religion) in Buddhism impressed me. We bid him goodnight. Nothing much we could do after that than Obama-Manmohan-Global-warming chitchats in the candle lit hotel environment. The dinner we got packed from an outside restaurant was awful, so I better skip the food talk. 
A Trip to Lumbini - the holy birth place of Lord Buddha
Saturday morning greeted us with a clear sky. By half past eight we had our breakfast and turned up to the Rajakiya Buddha Vihar monastery to take blessing from the monk. He narrated us the saga of the birth of Gautam Buddha and some history-geography associated with it. It took almost an hour to leave with his blessings. We visited the adjacent Tibetan monastery Dharma Swami Maharaja Buddha Vihar and lit some oil lamps. There were no other monasteries nearby and we could stay at Lumbini only up to twelve noon, so opted for a two-hour rickshaw rush. Now it’s important to know concisely about the place which I had read from the tourist information booklet. As a global initiative to promote Lumbini as a center for world peace, many countries have constructed temples, monasteries and stupas in the International Monastic Zone. 
A Trip to Lumbini - the holy birth place of Lord Buddha
The Theravada Monastic Zone lies in the east and the Mahayana Monastic Zone lies in the west of the central link where one can see the Eternal Peace Lamp which was brought from UN (New York) in 1986 to integrate peace and harmony in the global community and set aflame to commemorate the International Year of Peace. In the Theravada Zone we visited only Sri Lankan Monastery and the Myanmar Golden Monastery. In Mahayana Zone we visited Korean monastery, Chinese monastery, German monastery, French monastery and a Nepali monastery. The clock had ticked twelve when we were not even half done, i.e. plenty of beautiful structures were yet to see! Unfortunately we couldn’t afford to resume with our rickshaw tour. We returned back to our hotel and checked out before one with the dormant desire to be back to Lumbini some other time with plentiful time in hand.
A Trip to Lumbini - the holy birth place of Lord Buddha
It took some 45 minutes to reach Bhairahawa in a local bus and another hour to reach Butwal by changing the bus. We purchased our bus tickets and settled with some fast-food lunch before the bus left. The rest of the journey was uneventful and off course I was glad to have a bit more leg-space in the seven hours return journey. Throughout the journey I kept contemplating on Buddhism and the monk’s words, “There had been birth of countless Buddhas in the past and the same will follow in future…” The concept of ‘born Buddha’ seemed to kill the optimistic possibility of ‘awakening the Buddha in us’ and saddened my mind but I preferred to choose the Buddhist ideology “feel the thing, realize the thing and leave the thing”… and my eyelids got heavy soon. 
A Trip to Lumbini - the holy birth place of Lord Buddha

Friday, April 22, 2016

A day Trip to Ramoji Film City - the World’s largest Film Studio complex

A day Trip to Ramoji Film City - the Worlds largest Film Studio complex
The excitement began as we boarded the classy open-air red vintage tour bus!
Are you looking for Hollywood experience sitting in India? Are you a movie buff? Have you ever wondered how movies are injected with such overdose emotions and mind boggling special effects? Have you planned to spend a day with your family in one of the finest amusement parks in the world? Do you want to make your honeymoon memorable and do not mind traveling to Hyderabad? If your reply to any of these questions is ‘Yes’ then the Guinness World Records certified ‘World’s largest film studio complex’, Ramoji Film City is just the right place for you! It’s not only the wonderland for filmmakers but also a dream-scape for enthusiastic holidaymakers like us.
A day Trip to Ramoji Film City - the Worlds largest Film Studio complex
I was pretty impressed by the cleanliness and abundance of road signs in the entire complex.
The guided day excursion tour package they provide in Ramoji Film City is totally fun filled and the sweet part is, there you’ll find amenities appropriate to every age group. May be I haven’t mentioned the best thing yet, yes, the full day excursion you opt for is completely ‘Value for money’! You name anything, from palace to pyramid, lake to jungle, Mustang to Angelina and everything is there just before you … everything is unreal but they all look livelier than their original counterpart! In August 2009, we made a full day excursion from Hyderabad to Ramoji Film City and trust me, it was worthy. Unfortunately I had an old 2 mega-pixel camera phone with me, so these photographs won't be able to lure shutterbugs among you, but I’m sure if you go there you’ll definitely earn some beautiful shots and memories.
A day Trip to Ramoji Film City - the Worlds largest Film Studio complex
Everything is unreal but they all look livelier than their original counterpart!
Owing to its prime location on NH-9 Hyderabad-Vijayawada road, it’s an easy less than an hour drive from Hyderabad city. As I was traveling with my family I had chosen a reserved cab but you may also think of multiple APSRTC buses plying from Mahatma Gandhi Bus Stand to make the trip more economical. You’ve to buy ticket for your entry to the guided day excursion. A general guided tour ticket should include- Guided tour of Ramoji Film City in non-AC vintage bus, Fundustan, Borasura, Spirit of Ramoji Show, Wild West Stunt Show, Variety show, Street shows, Ramoji Movie Magic and three complementary rides. If you have a fatter wallet you may opt for the pricier options, and needless to say, your experience shall be way more lavish. The excitement began as we boarded the classy open-air red vintage tour bus! 
A day Trip to Ramoji Film City - the Worlds largest Film Studio complex
Entrance to Ramoji Film City - the World’s largest Film Studio complex.
Our red bus took us for a round inside the Ramoji Film City complex to show various film sets, movie locations and give us some ‘behind the scene’ peeps. Our tour guide showed us different fake public-buildings, residential colonies, international neighborhoods, monuments, gardens and what not! It was really funny to see filmy trains mounted with rubber tyres, while the station has been partitioned in the middle to make it resemble a village station from one side and a city station from the other!
A day Trip to Ramoji Film City - the Worlds largest Film Studio complex
It was really funny to see filmy trains mounted with rubber tyres!
Funniest was the building set, which had four different identities when seen from four different sides- college, police station, municipality office and court all four in one combo! Angel’s fountain, Sun fountain, Japanese garden, Mughal garden, King’s court set etc were few other mentionable highlights of the tour. The guide also showed us the demolition framework where explosion/blast scenes are created in a movie making. Yes, the starting of our Ramoji tour was wow! 
A day Trip to Ramoji Film City - the Worlds largest Film Studio complex
We saw fake public-buildings, residential colonies, international neighborhoods and what not!
Entry to Fundustan was also included in our modest package. It was actually kids’ paradise with toyland, video games parlor, rides, dancing fountain, Borasura’s house, parks, play zone etc to keep them joyful at least for an entire day. The half an hour Wild West Stunt Show was quite cool where they simulated a Hollywood movie fight scene on a well set stage, incorporating hero, heroine, villain, sidekicks, horse, gunfire and a lot of actions from jumping down the building to mixed martial art! It was one of those things I enjoyed most!
A day Trip to Ramoji Film City - the Worlds largest Film Studio complex
Entry to Fundustan was also included in our modest package.
In the Action Studio, they chose few volunteers from us and showed how a movie sequence is made blending special effect and soundtracks, using the volunteers as actors and backstage staffs. A sequence of the famous Bollywood movie Sholay was chosen to demonstrate where the heroine in her horse-cart was being chased by a group of wicked horsemen. The mini-train-ride in Filmi Duniya amidst colorful dolls and toys was unique and must have been pleasant for kids. Another wonderful experience was in Ramoji Towers where you get the 4-D free fall ride in a virtual disaster scenario which can give you real goose-flesh! 
A day Trip to Ramoji Film City - the Worlds largest Film Studio complex
The Wild West Stunt Show was quite cool where they simulated a Hollywood movie fight scene on a well set stage!
Whether you walk into the Mughal era sets or walk along the western filling stations populated by vintage Ford you’ll be entertained by dancers/performers with diverse performances which will keep you away from boredom in case you need to line up for some show ticket. I was pretty impressed by the cleanliness and abundance of road signs in the entire complex.
A day Trip to Ramoji Film City - the Worlds largest Film Studio complex
You can literally lose your way in these bylanes of Mughal Era sets!
There were restaurants, cafeterias, souvenir shops, toilets and of course multi star hotels to help tourists with whatever they need. Strangely the price of beverages/snacks wasn’t as steep as I expected! By late afternoon we consumed our complementary ride passes and yes, I’m not shy to admit, my heart had almost come up to my mouth… pure adrenaline rush! Our Ramoji Film City day tour ended as expected in an equally grand way with amazing performances by dancers, acrobats, jugglers and clowns… in a true spirit of Ramoji!
A day Trip to Ramoji Film City - the Worlds largest Film Studio complex
This is not an old British railway carriage but a snacks restaurant!
Personally I feel, a guided day tour is not adequate if one wants to explore the magical film city at his own pace and take fabulous photographing opportunities. But the pricey accommodations inside is certainly restrictive for most of the budget travelers. In case you've a big plan ahead, wedding services and honeymoon packages are also available in the Ramoji Film city! Though winter would be the perfect time, any day is a good day to pay visit to Ramoji film city. If you don’t go you won’t have regrets either, but in that case trust me- you’ll miss a great thing.
A day Trip to Ramoji Film City - the Worlds largest Film Studio complex
  A day excursion is not adequate if you want to exploit fabulous photographing opportunities!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Lady Bulbul hatching inside one of our Rose Shrubs

Lady Bulbul hatching inside one of our Rose Shrubs
A red-whiskered lady Bulbul, with its typical crest, red vent and whiskers had crafted a nest inside a rose shrub of our garden. The brief story dates back to 2014, roughly this time of the year which corresponds to the breeding season of Bulbuls in northern part of the subcontinent. Although I wasn’t lucky enough to witness the romantic display of courtship by the Bulbul couple, I could quite intimately observe the patient but possessive hatching of her eggs by the supposedly lady Bulbul. In the beginning I was controlled in my approach with the lens and mostly used the telephoto end of it so as to avoid scaring the nurturing mother bird. But, soon I perceived the tolerant and daring nature of the mother Bulbul, and I could approach as close as one foot from the nest! I took ample shots of Bulbul and her uniquely designed eggs without shaking the branches of the shrub or getting pricked by its thorns. This photo post is dedicated to all beautiful Bulbuls in this world with a prayer for their wellbeing. Here goes the photo tale of a mother Bulbul hatching her eggs on the finger-bowl shaped nest set up over a tough branch of garden rose...
Lady Bulbul hatching inside one of our Rose Shrubs
The lady Bulbul had engineered a tough nest inside the rose shrub! Bulbuls usually make such soup bowl shaped nests on bushes, thatched walls and small trees. Doesn’t her eye portray the great expectation of an expecting mother? 

Lady Bulbul hatching inside one of our Rose Shrubs
In the beginning it seemed my photographic enthusiasm may scare away the hatching Bulbul but soon I discovered her fearless disposition as she hardly care my careful yet close efforts with the lens.

Lady Bulbul hatching inside one of our Rose Shrubs
The eerie scientific name- Pycnonotus jocosus hardly does justice to red-whiskered Bulbul’s pristine innocence. Don’t you feel the same when you look onto her eyes?

Lady Bulbul hatching inside one of our Rose Shrubs
Get out of the hangover from her beautiful eyes and note the unique beaded pattern around the margin of her eyes.

Lady Bulbul hatching inside one of our Rose Shrubs
Whenever I was away the lady Bulbul was opening her beaks and closing them at my sight. It was quite hot then, so, I assumed it heat regulatory mechanism. Please correct me with proper facts if you’re a zoologist or a bird enthusiast. Note her fine whiskers!

Lady Bulbul hatching inside one of our Rose Shrubs
Once when the mother Bulbul took a flight I grabbed the platinum opportunity to peep how her eggs looked like. The clutch contained three eggs, all pale mauve ground colored with dotty pigmentations turning blotches towards their broad ends. I found Bulbul eggs very interesting. On a closer look no more details could be elicited as the optical stabilization failed to give me a clear shot of those Bulbul eggs on zooming farther. My bad luck! Eggs usually take 12 days to hatch and it was my 4th or 5th day.

Lady Bulbul hatching inside one of our Rose Shrubs
The lady Bulbul was back and gave me a nasty stare as if she smelled my previous actions. I tried to give her a pacifying smile and explain that everything was all right but see seemed unimpressed! Well this was my last shot of this Bulbul family. Something worse followed in my life and I couldn’t welcome those three Bulbul kids.
Well, you might have expected the photographs of newborn Bulbuls too just like I expected to capture them. But after following the watchful mother Bulbul for 3-4 days something unexpected and really very unpleasant incident happened in my family that completely blew me off. After a couple of weeks when I could remember of red-whiskered Bulbul family, I ran to their old location only to find an abandoned nest over the shrub with no sign of any bird, not even a feather! A postmortem of the left over Bulbul nest revealed that it was woven with twigs, roots, grasses, leaves and even bits of papers as well as plastics! It’s all right... everything happens for a good reason... the fault lies in us that we fail to see those reasons. Na, I’m not involving any sarcasm here... I’m simply hopeful of finding some other breeding bird to photograph in my garden very soon and I swear not to be selfish to keep them hidden in my portable storage. I have heard that Bulbuls may breed twice a year. Who knows my lens may catch up with the same lady when she hatches again! Meanwhile you might be interested in checking out the 2015's Photo Series of Birth of two Bulbuls in my Washroom.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Glimpses from my National Trekking Expedition Goa

Glimpses from my National Trekking Expedition Goa
99% of travelers visit Goa for its- luscious beaches, still lingering Indo-Portugal aura, byzantine architectures, water sports or simply boozing around to soak the Goa vibe. I belong to that remaining minority of 1% lucky wanderers who travel Goa to join some trekking expedition, and that too in Christmas eve! Before commencing my journey, with whomever I had shared my excitements, their reactions were more or less same: “Wow Goa!!!... but trekking?”, i.e. thumbs up, followed by letdown. It is only after the windup of my trip, as I left Vasco-da-gama on the last day of 2013, idling over my side lower berth of Amaravati Express I realized that I had enjoyed Goa in almost all the ways a normal tourist do, and added to that I had even experienced those pristine corners of it which are hardly napped by regular travelers landing on Goa! 

As a proud participant of the national trekking expedition Goa, I closely witnessed some remote breathtaking trails through Western Ghats, Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary, the 'Chennai express' view of mighty Dudhsagar Falls and of course few of those unspoilt golden beaches which are too glamorous for unsensitized Indian eyes (for heaven's sake don't pretend now). On 23rd Dec morning, I reached our base camp at the Sports Authority Ground (near Miramar beach), Panaji, when the breakfast was almost consumed by my fellow campers. The mere sight of more than two dozens of green tents populating the ground along with banners of National Trekking Expedition Goa welcoming trekkers at the entrance was enough to rejuvenate my momentarily low spirit shrunken by the grueling train journey I had just concluded couple of hours back at Vasco.
Glimpses from my National Trekking Expedition Goa
An enthusiastic co-trekker crossing a waterway.
Our eight days trekking program organized by the Goa state branch of Youth Hostels Association of India (YHAI) in collaboration with Sports Authority of Goa and Directorate of Sports and Youth Affairs, had the first day as reporting day, second day as orientation day and next six days of actual trekking. The itinerary of our roughly 80 kilometers trekking trail of six fun filled days of trekking can be summarized as: 

Base camp at Panaji to Mobor beach by bus – Mobor beach to Benaulim beach by trekking – Beanaulim to Velsao beach by trekking – Velsao to Collem by train – Collem to Dudhsagar by trekking – Dudhsagar to Caranzol via Dudhsagar waterfalls by trekking – Caranzol to Nandran by trekking – Nandran to Tambdi Surla by trekking – from there return to base camp by bus. 

In this post I won't go into details, rather I'll jot down highlights of my entire Goa trekking trip, so that you get an idea of how it was like and whether you should plan such trek to celebrate your Christmas.
Glimpses from my National Trekking Expedition Goa
Old Goa with her picture-perfect Churches.
As I said earlier, 23rd December was my reporting day at base camp. The reporting turned out to be a small official formality of showing my admit card (invoice of trekking package fee) and YHAI membership ID to obtain the trekking identity card, beddings, rucksack and tent allotment. There are too many things to narrate about the ambiance of the base camp but for that a separate article shall do the justice. After a brief scanning of the new biosphere and a quick breakfast I caught up with a fellow trekker from Bangalore who had contacted me few days earlier through an online travel forum. We had just that one day to explore Goa on our own. Decisions had to be made in a jiffy. Despite the scarcity of rented motorcycles/scooters I managed one rickety gearless scooter and left in hurry to explore the much hyped archaic grandeur of Old Goa.  

Till late afternoon time flew swiftly as we hopped from one majestic architecture to the other in the UNESCO listed World Heritage Site of Old Goa. In our half day slot we could cover- the Basilica of Bom Jesus, Se' Cathedral, Church and Convent of St Francis of Assisi, Archaeological Museum (Archiepiscopal Palace), Chapel of St Catherine, the Tower of the Church of St Augustine and the Church of our Lady of the Rosary. Apart from the ruins of St Augustine complex, all of those monuments boasted silently of their historical glory and unparalleled combat against vindictive time! We could easily keep obliging our cameras with such unique captures for few more hours but we had a sunset river cruise to join at Panjim.
Glimpses from my National Trekking Expedition Goa
A wild spider somewhere in Mahaveer wildlife sanctuary.
The brief physical drills, artificial-rock climbing and rappelling on the morning session of orientation day (24th Dec) exposed before me my real physical standard attained through years of sedentary lifestyle! After the breakfast, as a rehearsal, we trekked with our own water supply and dummy luggage in rucksack from Miramar beach to Dona Paula. It was not so comfortable walking under the sun in late morning hours but the sight of abundant jelly fish ornamenting the beach trail and the continuous “Let's move/ Move fast” reminder of our camp leader kept us moving till we reached the famous site of Dona Paula. The camp leader conducted a short introductory session for group members and recruited a group leader and an environment leader for our trekking group (G9). 

Our physical activities for acclimatization was over for the day. After the lunch at base camp there was orientation lecture by the field director. His briefing included what we were about to see, going to do and should stick to in following six days. After the tea, weight of our rucksacks were checked by YHAI volunteers/officials to keep them optimum for carrying. Extra luggages were deposited. A snake show was organized before the dinner to acquaint us with different snakes prevalent in forest region of western ghats. The dinner and routine campfire followed before we fell asleep.
Glimpses from my National Trekking Expedition Goa
Statue at Dona Paula, sculpted in 1969 by Baroness Yrse Von Leistner.
Contrary to my intention, this article is getting lengthy in spite of my best efforts to include only essentials. Kindly bear with me. On 25th morning a bus dropped us to Mobor beach from where the real trekking commenced. The moment we caught up with the coastal trail, we came across a huge number of foreigners over the sunny beach. They were swimming, playing or sunbathing in their own ways. Unfortunately plenty of our male trekking mates who were not sensitized to such splendid panorama, lost their minds and kept staring and clicking anything on the way. If you find my tone sarcastic I must admit that I was deeply ashamed for such grossness we exhibited and by now I'm fed up of criticizing! 

Hardly did I know, 12-15 kilometers of walk over the sand can drain out all our energy for the day. It was freaking fun pulling each others' legs, pushing tired fellow trekkers off their lethargy, gulping little drink in shacks, boosting self morale by lying “we're almost there” and asking for direction from locals more frequently as the day progressed. In the late afternoon we reached Benaulim beach camp. Before the sun could take his hide down the horizon, I with my group of 7-8 friends took bird's eye view of the Benaulim beach by para-sailing. I dragged some of them for water scooter ride too. I had enjoyed the same bouncy thrill a week before in Andaman and I tell you, go for it unless you're a heart patient or have serious panic disorder. At night we enjoyed the live music by a western lady in a shack. After all it was ChirChristmas night!
Glimpses from my National Trekking Expedition Goa
Para-sailing at Benaulim Beach and it was fun!
The following day was more or less similar as it was also a pure beach trek up to Velsao beach. The mentionable part is where we opted for banana ride in the middle of the day. In banana ride, an air filled banana shaped canoe will carry 6-8 people which will be pulled by a motor boat. After entering some considerable meters into the sea, one of the boatmen will topple the banana boat with a sudden jerk. All will go down the sea (don't be scared, you'll be in life jackets!) for few seconds before the buoyancy of life-jackets pull them up at the surface. Being a non-swimmer, I drank a gallon of salt water in my first fall but later I learnt the art to survive. Oh yes, the banana ride was one of the best highlights of my Goa trek! 

We boarded a passenger train at Sankval (railway station near our camp at Velsao beach) and reached Collem (the station read 'Kulem') in less than two hours. Soon, we entered the reserved area of Bhagwan Mahaveer National Park. Apart from its rich biodiversity, this 240 square kilometers of protected area in Western ghats has few more possessions to be called a perfect tourist magnet. Few attractions inside the Mahaveer wildlife sanctuary are- Dudhsagar falls, Tambdi Surla Temple, Tambdi falls, Devils canyon, sunset point etc. Other than the usual entry fee there was separate fee for the camera.
Glimpses from my National Trekking Expedition Goa
If you need the adrenaline rush go for the Banana Ride!
A gang of monkeys greeted us at the entrance. A forest department staff escorted us up to a certain point from where we were on our own. At least 30-40 jeeps and MUVs packed with tourists (predominantly Russians!) passed by us now and then, throughout our forest trail. Their destination was colossal Dudhsagar Falls. Apart from resistive roots on the path, plenty of unpredictable waterways challenged us on our way to Dudhsagar camp. They were quite fun to cross on barefoot unless you have tender flat foot issues like me. On our first day trekking in the woods there was no steep slope to ascend. So, by mid afternoon we accommodated ourselves in our respective tents at Dudhsagar camp. Yes, it's the next day, on our way to Carazol we sighted the famous waterfalls in all its glory.

Dudhsagar Falls, located on Mandovi River in the state boundary between Goa and Karnataka is a four-tiered waterfall and boasts of being the fifth tallest waterfall of India! Being around 60 kilometers away from Panaji it is easily accessible by road. Or, you may take the real fun of forest cum rail route trekking by getting down at Collem station or Castle Rock station and then taking the path to Dudhsagar. At first we trekked to its base where tourists usually flock around. By morning eight the place becomes so crowded by foreigners that you'll struggle to walk your way in or out of the site, leave aside photographic opportunities.
Glimpses from my National Trekking Expedition Goa
It's difficult to capture the entire Dudhsagar falls in one frame!
As the tourist influx intensified we left the base of the Dudhsagar Falls and climbed some steep slopes to reach the Konkan railway line passing by the breast height of charismatic Dudhsagar. If you've watched the awful movie Chennai Express, you'll surely remember that scene where the train passes by the mighty waterfall. The rail line was really at a commendable height. From there, the huge population of tourists gathered at the base looked like colorful ants! After passing through a tunnel we left the rail route and entered forest area again. In our mind we all knew that the climax of our trek was just over. 

For next two days similar trek inside the jungle continued. Sometimes the terrain was too irregular, sometimes too bushy, but all together those mild to moderate challenges posed by nature gave us immense joy and reasons to push on. Flora and fauna throughout our forest trail was precious treat to our eyes and camera sensors. Spending nights inside tents at jungle camps of Dudhsagar, caranzol or Nandran were all unique experiences and worthy to preserve for sweet travel nostalgia.
Glimpses from my National Trekking Expedition Goa
13th Century AD old Mahadeva Temple at Tambdi Surla.
On the last day we trekked from Nandran camp to the Mahadeva Temple (a 13th century AD old religious structure!) at Tambdi Surla. From there, we were received by a bus to drop us at our base camp at Panaji. Our trek although ended, official conclusion was due till post dinner campfire time when we're awarded with our trek completion certificates by YHAI. At that very evening I had bought some feni and red wine as Goa souvenirs for my friends. 

I must mention I made few friends from Gujarat with whom I wish to plan treks or biking events in near future. My return train was scheduled from Vasco-da-gama station at morning seven of 31st Dec. It was almost impossible to invite sleep with so many excitatory stimuli, so, I called for a taxi at late midnight and left the base camp when others were blissfully asleep. Oh yes, I express my sincere gratitude for being a part of my trekking tale!