Destination India

8 of India's most beautiful waterfalls

Kate Springer, CNNUpdated 13th May 2019
(CNN) — From imposing mountains to deserts, jungles and beaches, India is home to more than its fair share of natural wonders.
This includes a seemingly endless collection of stop-you-in-your-tracks waterfalls -- each with its own personality.
From thunderous cascades and mile-wide torrents to cliffside chutes, India's waterfalls are in their own league.
Heading from north to south, here are eight of the most beautiful where you travel there:

Nohkalikai Falls

The unspoilt forests of Meghalaya, India are home to a marvel of human ingenuity: the living root bridges.
Where: Meghalaya
Located in eastern India, wedged between Bhutan and Bangladesh, Nohkalikai (aka "the fall of Ka Likai") is the highest waterfall in the country, rising an estimated 1,110 feet, according to the World Waterfall Database.
It's a steady, solo stream that seems to emerge out of the mouth of the jungle, as though it's tumbling out of a drainpipe.
The story behind the name is not quite so uplifting. As the sad tale goes, a woman named Ka Likai plunged into the falls after her husband murdered her daughter from a previous marriage then fed her the remains.
When she discovered her daughter's fingers in her food, Likai jumped off the cliff into the churning depths below.
While you can trek to the base of the falls to dip into a jade-green pool, most travelers trace the series of cement stairs and pathways that leads to viewing platforms.
When to visit? Though Nohkalikai seems to gush all year round, it's most powerful during the rainy season, from May to September.
Bear in mind, monsoon season in Meghalaya is no joke. The region has been named the wettest place on earth, according to Guinness World Records.

Nohsngithiang Falls

Seven Sisters Falls, India
India's Seven Sisters Waterfalls are the result of a river that's split into seven streams.
Ministry of Tourism, Government of India
Where: Meghalaya
Another showstopper in Meghalaya is Nohsngithiang (aka the Seven Sisters Waterfalls), which provides a slightly unconventional "waterfall" experience.
Flanked by green hills, the river splits into seven distinct streams (hence the nickname) that plummet 1,033 feet down a vertical limestone cliff.
And you have to time it right, too. To see the falls in their full glory, it's best to visit during the monsoon season when the entire curtain fills out.
As if to greet tourists, the falls often flaunt a rainbow, which can be spotted in the mist.

Chitrakot Falls

Chitrakot Falls
Chitrakot is India's widest waterfall.
Ministry of Tourism, Government of India
Where: Chhattisgarh
Stretching 980 feet at its fullest point, Chitrakot is considered the widest waterfall in India and, as you'd imagine, quite the sight to behold.
Bearing geometric formations on all sides, the horseshoe-shaped falls reach full volume during monsoon season.
From about July to September, the water blasts across the cliff with violent momentum.
Thanks to the breadth and shape, the site has been nicknamed "little Niagara Falls."
Considered a spiritual place, the area also draws pilgrims, who pay respects to Hindu deities such as Lord Ram and Lord Shiva, or participate in one of the many religion festivals held here.

Jog Falls

Where: Karnataka
Just off the western coast of India in Karnataka state, Jog is the country's second highest waterfall, pouring from a height of roughly 830 feet.
It's not just one fall but four: There's Raja, Rani, Roarer and Rocket -- and together they form Jog.
While the whitewater torrents will stay etched in your mind, the green scenery completes the wild and wonderful picture.
The best time to see the falls is during monsoon season when the drama kicks up a notch. Travelers can follow a rocky path down to a viewing platform, where you can swim in the river.

Dudhsagar Falls

Dudhsagar Falls Goa
Goa's Dudhsagar Falls aren't easy to get to but the effort is worth it.
Where: Goa
When it comes to dramatic scenery, it's hard to compete with Dudhsagar Falls.
Located in Goa, on the border with Karnataka in western India, this epic waterfall (the name means 'sea of milk') clocks in at a staggering 1,017 feet tall and 100 feet wide.
Like fingers reaching over the green mountainside, the cascade breaks into several streams that gush across multiple tiers of mossy rock before reconnecting again in a misty cauldron.
Adding to the allure of it all, the canopies of Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary and Mollem National Park (known for its biodiversity) hug the misty falls.
The destination is infamously poorly maintained but most agree that the effort is worth it.
Travelers can reach the base of the falls by either trekking on foot for roughly five hours or hiring a shared jeep that bumps across wet and rocky terrain for about 45 minutes.
Once the jeep can't throttle on any farther, you'll walk about a kilometer until the magnificent falls come in to view. There's also a beautiful natural pool where you can cool off before heading back.

Talakona falls

India's Talakona Waterfall is located in southeast India's Sri Venkateswara National Park.
India's Talakona Waterfall is located in southeast India's Sri Venkateswara National Park.
Shutterstock
Where: Andhra Pradesh
What Talakona's 270-foot cascade lacks in height it makes up for in beauty.
Set within Sri Venkateswara National Park in Chittoor, in southeastern India, the tumbling falls spill down tiers of mossy green rocks in a peaceful, forested environment that feels like it's been plucked from a fairytale.
The walk to the falls is particularly pleasant, thanks to a well-maintained pathway that cuts through impossibly green scenery for roughly 2 kilometers.
You'll hear the thunder of the falls before you see them peek through the trees.
To the sides of the main falls, rogue trickles make their way along the carved rock faces and adventurous types can brave the icy cold shower -- so fine and luminous, it almost looks like spiderwebs.

Hogenakkal Falls

Where: Tamil Nadu
Hogenakkal (meaning "smoke" and rocks" in the Kannada language) sits pretty in the wild terrain south of Bangalore in southern India.
The stunning waterfall gets its momentum from the Kaveri River, which winds through the rocky landscape until it spills off a craggy cliff in 14 different spouts, which range from 15 to 66 feet in height.
Though you can't access the falls on foot, travelers can bathe in the pools or take a leisurely ride in a round bamboo boat called a coracle, which provides a front-row seat to the thunderous action.
The coracles head in between remarkable ancient rock formations and into the heart of the falls -- in fact, your boatman will pass under the water with your permission. And, yes, you will get drenched so it's best to plan accordingly.
If you pay a bit extra, the boatmen are happy to give you a little extra time to wade in the water or relax on the sandy shores of the river.

Athirappilly Falls

 Athirappalli Waterfalls, Kerala
Stunning Athirappilly has starred in many a Bollywood film over the years.
Ministry of Tourism, Government of India
Where: Kerala
Down south in Kerala, the imposing Athirappilly is 80 feet tall and nearly 330 feet wide. It's fed by the Chalakudy River and is particularly powerful thanks to the region's healthy rains.
The panoramic cliff, verdant surroundings and ferocious roar have earned it the nickname "Niagara of India" -- not to mention it's starred in many a Bollywood film over the years.
It does resemble the iconic waterfall and has lots of wildlife around, too. On a guided jungle safari through the surrounding Vazhachal forest, travelers can discover Asiatic elephants, tigers, leopards, macaques and a long list of beautiful birds as well.
If time allows, many travelers enjoy taking a dip in the crystal-clear water in the pools atop the falls or take a rickshaw to see Vazhachal Falls plunge through the jungle canopies just a few kilometers away.