India is a store house of waterfalls but not even one features in the Top 100 of a list maintained by www.worldwaterfalldatabase.com. 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, undocumented, unpopular or unverified. Besides, height is not the only parameter of judgment. We have some of the most stunning waterfalls in the world because they are remote, voluminous, wild and beautiful while a 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 survey and statistics and more so when it shouldn’t actually be serving any purpose (or this is what most of us think). In western countries, it is considered an adventurers’ delight to cover the top ten or something like that of anything.
Nonetheless, of the known and documented ones and based on data collected from various reliable sources India’s ten tallest waterfalls are – in no particular order because of no definite height of most:
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 below 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. Despite being number one in India 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.
Recent updates at world waterfall database says the waterfall has a height of 183 m and if that is true Kunchikal goes out of India’s top 10. I personally think, the height mentioned at the above website is true, because such a tall waterfall, if at all falling from that great a height, must surely be popular by now and photographs must have been available aplenty. I agree on the anonymity of waterfalls from the Himalayas but the Western Ghats are surely more impregnable! And with an increasing tribe of explorers in India it couldn’t have escaped its alleged wilderness for this long. In any case, the curiosity over Kunchikal continues! Let’s see when I get to see it personally!
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 (181 m) is equally stunning (or maybe more) if not as tall. Despite the infamy, it is comparatively easily accessible due to good road leading right to its 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.
Recent updates at world waterfall database puts the height of Barehipani at 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 much greater than 217 m.
You can read more about it here
Thoseghar falls (351 m, Satara, Maharashtra)
The third tallest waterfall in India 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 the 3rd tallest fall in India except by certain bloggers who have an eye for records and detail. 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 well qualifies it to be around 300 m. Wikipedia quotes the height at 500 m.
The height of this waterfall continues to be a mystery! Presently unplaced by the world waterfall database!
Langshiang falls (337 m, Kynshi river, West Khasi Hills, Meghalaya)
Located near India’s second largest 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 (around 60 m tall) but missed Langshiang all over again. Maybe third time lucky. Contact me for any further details on how to visit this place.
Presently unplaced by the world waterfall database!
Nohkalikai falls (335 m, East Khasi Hills, Meghalaya)
The fifth tallest waterfall in India 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 of Meghalaya. It is named after a local Khasi woman, Ka Likai who had 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.
Recent updates at world waterfall database put the height at 340 m and ranks it as the TALLEST waterfall in India.
Nohsngithiang falls (315 m, East Khasi Hills, Meghalaya)
The sixth tallest waterfall in India is one of the four in the top ten list 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 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)
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, which ranks eighth in the list. 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 the fourth tallest waterfall in south India 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 and Barehipani are perhaps out of India’s Top Ten and Thoseghar continues to play hide and seek, for the sake of synchronization with one of the best database on waterfalls, I would also include Barkana, Jog and Khandadhar.
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. I could draw parallels with Meghalaya’s Byrdaw falls.
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. 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 5 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 (472 m) and the second most voluminous (after Shivanasamudra falls) discharging an average of 153 cubic metre per second.
Khandadhara 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 (if Barehipani is excluded), this one is the closest from my home and a visit to it would surely happen sooner or later.
Another waterfall from Maharashtra, Vajrai from Satara district’s Bhambavali village, is doing the rounds of being the tallest in India with an upper limit height of 560 m and a lower limit height of half as much! Moreover, I personally know of some waterfalls in the Himalayas which are possibly around 300 m or more but for want of more information I have refrained from posting it here.
This was my way of paying tribute to a form of nature which 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. I have pictures of the ones I have visited but I preferred putting in pictures from Google. Kindly contact me if there is any 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.