With rivers originating from the Western Ghats, myriad waterfalls are ensconced in the verdant environs of Kodagu, Chikmagalur and Uttara Kannada.

Shivanasamudra FallsShivanasamudra Falls
Features Travel Friday, September 18, 2020 - 18:55

If you want to savour the magic of the torrential monsoon rains lashing Karnataka, it’s time to pack your travel bags, monsoon gear and head to the several shimmering cascades strewn all over the state. Brace yourself for a ‘wet-n-wild holiday’ in the hilly regions and get under one of the thunderous waterfalls.

With rivers originating from the Western Ghats, myriad waterfalls are ensconced amidst the verdant environs of the districts of Kodagu, Chikmagalur and Uttara Kannada. These rivers overflow and transform even the smallest outpouring into a cascade of great grandeur, often accompanied by loud drumming sounds. The incessant music of the falls and the hush of the densely wooded forests surrounding it lend a special charm.

Uttara Kannada is punctuated with waterfalls. West-flowing rivers gush through dense forests of the coastal district, breaking into gurgling streams that meander and plummet over hilly tracts to end in a series of dramatic finales throughout the region. If you are game for some adventure, you can trek along the wooded pathways leading to Unchalli Falls, Lalguli Falls, Sathodi Falls and the mesmerising Magod Falls, that lie hidden amidst whispering woods and treacherous terrain in the district.

Jog Falls
The most spectacular is, of course, the Jog Falls of the Sharavathi river, also known locally as the Gerusoppa. It is Karnataka’s highest waterfall and Asia’s fifth largest. Located at the border of Shimoga and Uttara Kannada districts, the wild waters of the Sharavathi hurtle down a dark 810-feet precipice in four distinct cascades – known locally as Raja, Rani, Roarer and Rocket. Raja is the grandest, tumbling from atop the precipice in a raging torrent. Half-way down is Roarer, which makes up for its comparative lack of height with a sound even louder than Raja. Almost adjacent are Rocket and Rani, the former so named because it streams down like a rocket plummeting to the earth, and Rani for her grace.

Gokak Falls, located on the Ghataprabha river in Belagavi district, is equally enchanting. After snaking lazily through rugged terrain, the river takes a 52-metre leap below the tall, craggy cliffs amidst a picturesque gorge, resembling Niagara on a smaller scale.

The picturesque hill station of Kemmanagundi in Chikmagalur district is blessed with silver cascades. A trek from Kemmanagundi along a narrow and steep path leads to the sprightly Hebbe Falls. Kalhatti Falls cascades from atop Chandra Drona hill to flow in front of the Veerabhadeshwara Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Down south, the bountiful Cauvery and her tributaries overflow in a torrent of splendid cascades, some of which retain their magic. The route to Abbey or Abbi Falls (abbi in Kannada means falls), amidst a private coffee and cardamom plantation near Madikeri, is as picturesque as the waterfall. A narrow, cobbled path leads to the gushing waters. The hanging bridge, capturing a view of the falls on one side and a stream on the other, is a favourite spot for clicking photos.

Abbey Falls
Another exotic locale is the Iruppu Falls, a great picnic spot located just outside the Rajiv Gandhi National Park. The falls, which has its humble origins in the Brahmagiri range, takes a plunge of 170 feet in two distinct stages. It flows as Lakshmana Theertha (sacred river of Lakshmana). The incessant roar of the falls in the densely wooded forest is mindboggling. Rameshwara Temple is en route to Lakshmana Theertha. A forest trail leads from these falls to the Brahmagiri peak in southern Kodagu. There are also other lesser known falls in Kodagu like Chelavara.

About 65 km east of Mysore, in Malavalli taluk of Mandya district, is the island of Shivanasamudra, which abounds in scenic splendour. It is encircled by two arms of the Cauvery that plummet from a height of 75 m into a deep, rocky gorge with a deafening roar to form two picturesque falls, Barachukki and Gaganachukki. The sight of these falls post-monsoon is awe-inspiring, with the water cascading over a wide area in a series of leaps. When the Cauvery is in spate, watching the river crash into a cloud of foaming spray can be an exhilarating experience.

Chunchi Falls
What is noteworthy is that one is able to see and enjoy the beauty of the Shivanasamudra falls as the power station is located downstream, away from the falls. Harnessing the natural fall and speed of the waters, Asia’s first hydro-electric project was established here at the behest of Sir M Visvesvaraya in 1902, with the intention of feeding power to the former Kolar Gold Fields. One can go to the bottom of the Barachukki Falls and take a dip in the sylvan deep pool formed by the waterfall, or take a coracle ride down the Cauvery. Equally impressive is the horse-shoe-shaped Balamuri Falls in Mandya district.

Balamuri Falls
For those who are hard-pressed for time, there is the Muthyalamaduvu Falls on the outskirts of Bengaluru, formed by thin jets of water hurtling down 90 m, nestled in a deep valley. It is actually a small stream but beautiful, nevertheless. The bouncing and falling droplets in the backdrop of the sun appear like drops of pearls. The waterfall is hence named Pearl Valley or Muthayalamaduvu (in Kannada, muthu means pearl and madu is a small water body). Overlooking this waterfall is a small shrine dedicated to Shiva, adding a religious aura to the place.

If you head 100 km south of Bengaluru, taking a small detour off the road from Kanakapura town to Sangam, at the confluence of the Cauvery and Arkavathi rivers, you will reach the captivating Chunchi Falls. During the rainy season, the Arkavathi plunges down a yawning chasm before creating a glorious spectacle of cascading water and flying spray. Further down, the river joins the Cauvery at Sangama. The pristine environs, the roar of the raging waters, and the awesome sight combine to make this an ideal picnic spot.

All pictures by Susheela Nair

Susheela Nair is an independent food, travel and lifestyle writer, and photographer based in Bangalore. She has contributed content, articles and images on food, travel, lifestyle, photography, environment and ecotourism to several reputed national publications. Her writings constitute a wide spectrum, including guide books, brochures and coffee table books.

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