India is a store house of waterfalls but not even one features in the Top 100 of a list maintained by world waterfall database – henceforth referred as WWD. Nohkalikai, Jog and Joranda are though definitely famous for their near vertical plunges and rival the best in the world. Also, many waterfalls in the Himalayas and elsewhere (including the Western Ghats) may be higher but are either undiscovered or undocumented. Nonetheless, height is not the only parameter of judgment. We have some of the most stunning waterfalls in the world – remote, voluminous and beautiful and few of them fall from a great height too.
It is very difficult to come up with a list of the ten tallest waterfalls in India due to lack of accurate data. In many countries – the USA for instance, it is considered an adventurers’ delight to cover the top ten or something of anything.
Nonetheless, of the known and documented ones and based on data collected from various reliable sources India’s ten tallest waterfalls are:
Kunchikal falls (455 m, Varahi river, Shimoga, Karnataka)
Attukal falls in Kerala’s Idukki district is often passed off as Kunchikal so a picture of Attukal is given above for clarification. Barkana falls (detailed later in the post) is also passed off as Kunchikal. There are very few pictures of Kunchikal on the internet (one given below) and since it’s not a plunge waterfall it gets very difficult to even arrive at a gross estimate.
It is allegedly India’s tallest waterfall located in the district of Shimoga, not very far from the famous town of Agumbe. It is relatively mysterious and rarely visited by tourists. Not much information is available on the internet either and as a result it remains, till date, one of the most sought after waterfalls by enthusiasts of the same.
WWD says the waterfall has a height of 183 m and if that is true this goes out of India’s top 10.
You can read more about it here
Barehipani falls (399 m, Budha Balanga river, Mayurbhanj, Odisha)
It is one of the wildest of India’s top ten waterfalls because of its location within Simlipal national park which is a hotbed of left-wing extremism (peaked in 2009). The nearby Joranda falls is equally stunning (or maybe more) if not as tall. Despite the infamy, it is comparatively easily accessible due to tracks leading right to the view-point. The nearest railway station is Balasore though a rail station also exists at Baripada. Visited the falls on 22nd April, 2011 and would recommend it to everyone. Contact me for any further details on how to visit this place.
WWD says the height of Barehipani is 217 m and if that is true this also goes out of India’s top 10. I have great trust on the above website but I am somewhat skeptical on Barehipani. I have seen it myself and I am kind of sure it falls from a height greater than 217 m.
You can read more about it here
Thoseghar falls (350 m, Satara, Maharashtra)
This huge waterfall is perhaps the ugliest fallout of a nation that doesn’t believes in maintaining records and promotion of the same. Located in the beautiful district of Satara amidst the Western Ghats which features some of India’s most amazing waterfalls, it is nowhere mentioned as one of the tallest falls in India except by certain bloggers who have an eye for records and details. As with most falls in India the height remains unverified but nonetheless the one that is doing the rounds and a general look at the height qualifies it to be between 300 to 350 m. Wikipedia quotes the height at 500 m.
It’s presently unplaced by WWD on their website but a chat with them indicates they believe it to be anywhere between 120 to 200 m. If that is true this also goes out of India’s top 10!
Langshiang falls (337 m, Kynshi river, West Khasi Hills, Meghalaya)
Located near a large fluvial island, Nongkhnum, it is yet another waterfall unknown to Indians by large and rarely visited and photographed. The nearest town is Nongstoin while the above is one rare photograph of the fall. I did reach the near-end of Nongkhnum road on 1st September, 2011 but it was already dusk and Langshiang was a further trek of almost 20 km (to and forth) or maybe even more. We had to skip the idea and return back to Shillong (our driver didn’t approve of the idea of staying at Nongstoin, the nearest town). Of all the falls I have embarked to visit this was a major miss but I will return again and this time fully prepared and with full planning. Its location is perhaps the most intriguing amongst all the major falls in India. It would be sheer delight to see it in real.
I did go there for the second time on 2nd January, 2012 but yet again reached the place a bit late. It’s a fascinating and desolate place and would require lots of walking. I did see the amazing Weinia falls but missed Langshiang all over again. Maybe I will be third time lucky. Contact me for any further details on how to visit this place.
WWD says the height of Langshiang is 85 m and if that is true this also goes out of India’s top 10.
Nohkalikai falls (335 m, East Khasi Hills, Meghalaya)
The tallest waterfall in India according to WWD is one of four in the top ten list seen by me – the others being Barehipani, Nohsngithiang and Kynrem. It is fed by a bunch of streams and is perhaps the most striking if not the most visited waterfall in the whole of east and north-east India. It’s relatively easily accessible owing to its proximity to Cherrapunji, a popular tourist destination in Meghalaya. It is named after a local Khasi woman, Ka Likai who jumped to her death from the cliffs after hearing the tragic death of her daughter who was killed by her husband. A most beautiful gift of mother nature. I have visited the waterfall twice. Contact me for any further details on how to visit this place.
WWD says the height is 340 m and ranks it the TALLEST waterfall in India.
Nohsngithiang falls (315 m, East Khasi Hills, Meghalaya)
It’s one of the four in the top ten seen by me – the others being Barehipani, Nohkalikai and Kynrem. It is located in Cherrapunji near the village of Mawsmai and is also known as the Seven Sisters falls because of the seven marked streams of water plunging down the cliff. It is easily accessible because of its proximity to Cherrapunji and quite well-known amongst tourists who venture out for Meghalaya. I have visited the waterfall twice. Contact me for any further details on how to visit this place.
Dudhsagar falls (310 m, Mandovi river, Sanguem, Goa-Karnataka)
This monster of a waterfall lies on the Goa-Karnataka border and the nearest major rail station is Kulem. It is one of the most popular of India’s waterfalls and particularly hit with foreigners. According to legends, a princess who used to bathe at the base of the waterfall had to cover her modesty by a stream of milk given by a maid when it was brought to her notice that a prince was stealing glances at her from a hiding, giving the fall its present name.
Kynrem falls (305 m, East Khasi Hills, Meghalaya)
It is amazing to note that four of the top ten waterfalls in India are from Meghalaya, three of which are from one district, East Khasi Hills, including this one. It is clearly seen from the popular Thangkharang Park located in Cherrapunji and a road takes one to the base as well. It appears to be falling from a greater height than any of the ones ranked above but that is a matter of debate. The plains of Sylhet in Bangladesh are clearly visible from the base of the fall whose waters end in that country. I had missed seeing it on my first visit of Meghalaya (November, 2008) but not during the second time (September, 2011). Contact me for any further details on how to visit this place.
Meenmutty falls (300 m, Chaliyar river, Wayand, Kerala)
It is the tallest waterfall in Kerala and located near the town of Kalpetta. It is slowly catching up with tourists who are spoiled for choices because south India is dotted with numerous big and small waterfalls and are comparatively well documented and advertised.
Thalaiyar falls (297 m, Manjalar river, Dindigul, Tamil Nadu)
It is the tallest waterfall in Tamil Nadu and located in the Palani Hills and one of the most photographed amongst the top ten probably because of the clear view from the Dum Dum viewpoint. It is one of the most beautiful falls in the country and slowly catching up with trekkers from the world across.
Since Kunchikal, Barehipani and Langshiang are perhaps out of India’s Top Ten and I am not too sure about Thoseghar’s height, for the sake of synchronization with one of the best database on waterfalls, I would also include Barkana, Jog, Khandadhar, Vantawng, Vajrai and Penchalakona. The Khayang falls of Manipur is alleged to be of the same height as Vantawng but for lack of a good source (no mention at either Wikipedia or WWD), I will not include it here. People interested about it can read here.
Barkana falls (259 m, Sita river, Shimoga, Karnataka)
Located in Shimoga district which also has the Jog falls, Barkana has been clouded over by its much popular cousin. It so far lied in relative obscurity but the recent tribe of adventurous Indians have ensured that this mighty and majestic fall gets its share of popularity.
Jog falls (253 m, Sharavathi river, Shimoga, Karnataka)
By far the most popular amongst the Indian waterfalls, the Jog falls barely makes it to the Top 10 (8th according to WWD). It is a paradoxical waterfall in that when flowing in full force (and that is rare since the construction of the Lingamakki dam in 1964) it could easily be one amongst the most magnificent waterfalls in the world but because of the reduced flow it has been stripped of its former glory. Most tourists who land at the falls at the wrong time (anytime other than Monsoon) are actually appalled at the falls. It was recently ranked by world waterfall database as the 13th best waterfall in the world. It is also India’s widest (610 m at its peak – 472 m per WWD) and the 2nd most voluminous (after Shivanasamudra falls) discharging an average of 153 cubic metre per second.
Khandadhar falls (244 m, Korapani river, Sundergarh, Odisha)
Another relatively unknown waterfall from India. Amazingly Barehipani was dropped from the list and another one from Orissa was included. Located in the naxalism affected district of Sundergarh not many outsiders know of this amazing waterfall. Of all the waterfalls in the list, after Barehipani, this is closest from my home and a visit to it would surely happen sooner or later.
Vantawng falls (229 m, Lau river, Serchhip, Mizoram)
Located near the town of Thenzwal, it’s the highest waterfall in Mizoram and largely obscure from the collective psyche of Indians.
Even though WWD mentions the height of Vantawng the same as what is mentioned at Wikipedia a chat with them indicates they believe it to have a realistic height of around 60 to 70 m. If that is true this also goes out of India’s top 10.
Vajrai falls (225 m, Urmodi river, Satara, Maharashtra)
Located near the village of Bhambavali, it will be the highest waterfall from Maharashtra if Thoseghar has a height of less than 200 m as estimated by WWD (sourced through a chat with them). Various other sources put the height up to 280 m. Since neither Thoseghar nor Vajrai is on WWD’s website, Kune with a height of 200 m is the highest according to them.
Penchalakona falls (219 m, Nellore, Andhra Pradesh)
Located near the town of Penchalakona, it’s the tallest waterfall in Andhra Pradesh.
It’s presently unplaced by WWD on their website.
I know of some unnamed waterfalls in the Himalayas which are possibly around 300 m or higher but for want of more information I have refrained from posting about them here.
This was my way of paying tribute to a form of nature I worship so dearly. Waterfalls attract me no bounds and I am sure there are few people on earth as crazy as me when it comes to waterfalls. I have tried my best to provide exact details of the falls along with their locations, features and personal experiences as relevant. I have pictures of the ones I have visited but I preferred putting pictures from Google. Kindly drop a comment or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, facebook.com/easyvivek, twitter.com/vivekbabaji if there is an anomaly you see, or if there is anything you want to discuss about this post in particular and waterfalls in general. The pleasure would be absolutely mine.