Disclaimer: It’s never really fair to create a list of “best” or “top 10s”, but the idea behind such posts is to share some of the beautiful places one sees. In this article, we are sharing what are some of On His Own Trip ‘s favourite waterfalls in the country. There are quite a few waterfalls that we haven’t added here which are stunning in their own right such as Thoseghar and Krishna waterfalls in Maharashtra, Jung Falls in Arunachal Pradesh, and Lyngshiar and Krangsuri in Meghalaya. We shall talk about them in another article!
The excitement is palpable, as you get closer to the thundering sound of hundreds of tons of water cascading down. The excitement and fear…yes, there is an element of fear in seeing the power of nature….mounts as you stand before the cascade, the spray in your face and your senses overpowered by the roaring in your ears. None of us is immune to the magic of the waterfall.
Today, I would like to acquaint you with some of my favourite falls in India.
1) KUNCHIKAL FALLS
The Varahi river flows through the Western Ghats over rocks and cliffs, and comes down at Agumbe as the Kunchikal falls, India’s highest and largest fall. It is also Asia’s second highest fall , at 455 meters. Agumbe, in Shimoga district of Karnataka state, is the wettest region in southern India, during the monsoons. For those interested, India’s only permanent rain forest research station is located here.
This waterfall, popularly known as the Kunchikal Abbe Falls, is on the Udupi-Shimoga border. The tributaries of the Varahi river give rise to several smaller falls in the monsoon season, and is a wonderful sight to behold.
A hydroelectric plant is built below the waterfall and the Mani reservoir holds and controls the water, so often the volume of water may be much reduced. Always check before starting out. The monsoons are the best time to visit, between June and September, as the waterfall will be at its fullest and best.
The whole area is very well kept, so the beauty and serenity of the surroundings is maintained. A wonderful place to spend a day, with family and friends. Remember to always carry your litter back with you. The falls are within a restricted area so you will have to get a pass from Hosagadi village, which is about 15 km away.
By Air : The nearest International Airport is at Mangalore approximately 138 km from Kunchikal Falls. It is possible to take a taxi, a bus or even a train to reach Kunchikal.
By Rail : Agumbe is about 67 km from Udupi railway station and 97 km from Shimoga. From both these places one can get a bus or a taxi to the waterfall.
By Road : Shimoga is well connected by road to the major cities of Bengaluru, Mangalore or Mysore. One can take a bus , or a taxi, or take a private vehicle. The bus will take you upto Hulikal from where you can get a taxi, or just continue onwards if you have your own vehicle .
2) JOG FALLS
Gerusoppe, Gersoppa, Jogada Gundi , call it what you will, we are talking of the amazing Jog falls. Located in the Shimoga district of Karnataka, a visit to this fall is a definite “ must see” if you are in the vicinity. Flowing through the Western Ghats on its long journey to the Arabian Sea, the Sharavathi river takes a 253 meter plunge, to create the second highest fall in India, the Jog falls. June to December is the best time to visit the falls, though like many tourists my preference would be during the monsoon , with the river in spate and the surrounding area green and lush. During this time the clouds and mist play hide and seek, so every now and then the falls disappear and then suddenly reappear , as if by magic.
The deep chasm gorged out by the river has resulted in this magnificent free fall of water , which comes down in four distinct streams- Raja, Roarer, Rocket and Rani. There is a viewing gallery where you can see the grandeur of the fall in complete safety but the adventurous can descend 1400 slippery wet steps to the bottom of the fall. Here too there is a barricade to prevent people from getting dangerously close to the pool at the base of the waterfall, as there have been accidents in previous years.
How to Reach Jog Falls:
Reach Jog by road, bus or private vehicle from Sagara, which is the closest train and bus station. Other nearby railway stations are at Shimoga and at Taluguppa. The nearest international airport is at Mangalore. Alternately, you can fly into Bengaluru or Hubli, which is the closest airport.
Interesting trivia: Sir Visvesvarayya, on seeing the fall for the first time, was deeply disturbed by the amount of water lost. Eventually the Linganmakki dam was built across the river to harness power. The famous Kannada movie, Mungaru Male was shot here.
Honnemaradu, an island a lttle over 20 km away is a lovely village where you could enjoy water sports and kayaking.
3) DOODHSAGAR FALLS
Travelling by train on the Madgaon-Belagavi rail route, one can see part of the magnificent Doodhsagar falls. Traversing the Deccan Plateau in Karnataka, the river Mandovi, winds its way through the Western Ghats, to plummet 310 meters, close to the Goa- Karnataka border, making it the fifth highest waterfall in India. Doodhsagar, literally meaning ma sea of milk, splits into three streams as it pours over a nearly vertical cliff face to descend into a quiet green pool at the base. Part of the Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in the Western Ghats, it is a very scenic place, surrounded as it is, by deciduous forests and has a rich biodiversity. Unimpressive during the dry season, the fall comes into its own during the monsoons, when the river and the fall are fed by the rains, to form a formidable white curtain of water, almost 30 meters across.
within the ambit of the Goa Forest Department. Reach Kulem either by rail or by road. You can either trek to the waterfall , from Kulem, a distance of 11 km, but we recommend the jeep safari. The walk is slightly uphill. Carry a pair of shorts or swimwear if you would like to swim in the falls.
How to reach Doodsagar falls
Jeep Safari -> The taxi stand is just outside the Kulem railway station. Get there early enough so you can get your tickets as there is usually a chaotic crowd waiting at the stands. A jeep would cost you 2800 rupees for a seven seater. So form your group before you reach the counter, to avoid confusion and delays. Arranging a guide before hand is really the best option as he will take charge of the ticket purchase etc. and will probably be your driver cum guide. You also need to compulsorily have a life jacket (for which a charge of 30 rupes will be levied). Entry to the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary, where the falls are, is Rs. 50. The waterfalls close by 4.30 so ticket sales are stopped by 2 p.m. There is am additional charge for the camera. Both the entry ticket and camera charge are paid for at the entry point into the Sanctuary.
start only in October after the monsoon ends. As you drive over uneven dirt tracks through lush forests, you suddenly see a river before you. With complete sang- froid , the driver goes over it. This is impossible during the rains when the swollen river is too dangerous to be driven through. The drive takes 45 minutes to reach the end of the motorable track. From this point you need to trek for about 15 minutes (wearing the life jacket which is compulsory) to reach the pool at the base of the fall. Wear appropriate footwear as the rocks are quite slippery. The pool is quite safe to swim in but the water freezingly cold. You tend to lose a sense of time in the lap of nature but you are actually allowed an hour to enjoy time at the pool.
The most adventurous trek starts from the village of Kuveshi. However this is not available in the monsoon as the trail crosses over the Mandovi river, which is too rough and swollen to cross safely.
4) CHITRAKOOT FALLS
Called the Niagara Falls of India with its wide 300 meter expanse, actually one- third of the width of the Niagara, it is the widest waterfall in India. Located 38 km west of Jagdalpur city, in the Bastar district of the State of Chattisgarh in India.Originating in Odisha, the river Indravati meanders through the dense vegetation in the plains of Chattisgarh, before it drops 29 meters at Chitrakoot. An amazing sight during the monsoon, when the waterfall is 150 meters wide, the dry season may not see that much of water. July to September would be the best months to see Chitrakoot in all its glory. Often rainbows can be seen over the falls, just after the rains. It is also possible to approach the waterfall by boat.
By Road : Jagdalpur is well connected by road to the rest of the state. Since the distance from Jagdalpur to the falls is only 48 km, it is
easy to get frequently running vehicles.
By Air: Two airports , one at Raipur, the capital city and the other at Vishakapatnam are well connected to the rest of the country.
By Rail: Jagdalpur is well connected to Vishakapatnam and frequent trains run between the two. Vishakapatnam is well connected with other major cities of India.
5) ATHIRAPPILLY FALLS
Athirappilly, in the Chalakkudy area of Trissur district in Kerala, is in fact Kerala’s largest fall. The Challakudy river originates in the Annamalai range and along with other smaller streams forms a huge river to cascade down at Athirappilly.
Surrounded by lush forests, this area is worth visiting just for its natural beauty. One of the best bio diversity areas in Kerala where one can spot rare species of birds, like the endangered Hornbill, if one is lucky. It is possible to trek down to the base of the fall.
Just a couple of kilometres away you see the Vazhachal or Charpa falls , as they are locally known. Here you get a view of the waterfall both from the top as well as from the sides.
Avery popular tourist destination, weekends are crowded with visitors from the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu.
Several films have been shot here. The falls seem to be a favourite for Mani Ratnam and he has shot many song sequences here. Raavan, Roja both have scenes from these falls. Out of the recent movies, Bahubali was shot here too!!
By Air: The closest airport is Kochi airport, less than 50 kms The other airport is Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu , bordering the state of Kerala.
By Road: There are buses plying from within the state as well as from other states.
By Train: The nearest station is Chalakudy. From here it will be necessary to take a bus or a taxi, to reach Athirappilly.
6. WEI SAWDONG WATERFALLS : Arguably, the most beautiful waterfalls in India, this is On His Own Trip ‘s favourite waterfalls in India.
Still not crowded, part of its beauty lies in the fact that it’s not visible from the road, and one needs to know their way. About 10-15 kms away from Cherrapunjee town, you have to get down from the car at a spot not well marked, where the trail begins. From here you have to follow the wooden trail. Halfway, there is a fork and if you go left, you get to a view point from where you see the whole waterfall. It is a three tiered waterfall, and when you see it for the first time, you will gasp with joy.
Walk right from the fork and down the bamboo steps trail, and you can’t help but marvel at how the Khasi people would have built that bamboo stairway, each plank exactly where you would need to hold it.
In 15 minutes, you will reach the waterfall, and its a gorgeous, gorgeous sight to behold. The fact that its surrounded on three sides will cliffs makes it appear magical and absolutely private.
You can check out our packages to Wei Sawdong here.