Karnataka has many splendid waterfalls hidden in its dense forests. The heavy monsoon it receives creates a variety of stunning cascades. Some can be seen by just driving right up to a viewpoint, others require hiking through a jungle to reach. Visit between October and December when the monsoon is over but its impact on the swell of the falls still lingers.
Note: Most of these falls are tucked deep inside jungles. Wherever possible, the government has constructed concrete steps leading down from the roads in the vicinity of the falls. There are usually a few buildings at the roadside entrance, where nominally priced tickets can be bought, and toilets/changing rooms provided. From the major town closest to these waterfalls, there are helpful signboards guiding visitors to the entrance points.
Sathodi is 32 kilometres from the town of Yellapur, in the Uttara Kannada district, which gets a lot of rain. The gorgeous 50-foot-high cascade is set between two steep rock faces. Vehicles can drive to the entrance from where a short mud trail leads to the waterfall.
Hanumangundi, also known as Soothanabbe, is located in Kudremukh National Park in Chikmagalur district, about 32 kilometres from the town of Kalasa. From the concrete entrance on Kalasa main road, numerous flights of tiled stairs lead down to the 72-foot-high waterfall.
Hebbe is right in the middle of a sprawling coffee estate in Kesavinamane village in Chikmagalur district. It’s possible to book a jeep through the forest department to get to the base point from the nearby popular hill station of Kemmanagundi. The spectacular falls drop over two levels known as Chikka (small) Hebbe and Dodda (big) Hebbe. Visitors can hike to the bottom of both falls. The upper one is a longer and more demanding hike compared to the 30-minute walk to the lower level.
The name Arishinagundi means “lake of turmeric,” a reference to the medicinal powers the water is believed to have. Photo: Neelima Vallangi
Arshinagudi is one of Karnataka’s most spectacular waterfalls, located in the foothills of Kodachadri, deep inside Mookambika Wildlife Sanctuary near Kollur. It can only be reached by a strenuous four-hour hike from Santosh hotel in Valur.
Hidlumane is a stunning cascade in Shimoga district, 45 kilometres from the town of Hosanagara. It is located along the trekking route to Kodachadri peak. A long hike along a jeep track, through fields and thick forest leads to a dead end where the stream drops into a pool surrounded by dense greenery. The jeep track starts next to Marakuttaka bus stop which is 2.5 kilometres beyond Nittur village on the Sampakatte-Kollur Road.
Iruppu is located in the Brahmagiri range in Kodagu district. From the Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary gate, an easy 30-minute hike through the forest leads to this beautiful waterfall. Unlike at the raging falls of Uttara Kannada, it’s possible to enjoy a cool shower under this cascade, located 48 kilometres from the town of Virajpet and 75 kilometres from Madikeri.
Jog is Karnataka’s most famous waterfall. Formed by the Sharavathi River dropping over a great height of 250 metres, it is 100 kilometres from Shimoga town. It’s a spectacular sight comprised of four falls, named Raja, Rani, Rocket, and Roarer. Vehicles can go right up to the viewpoint across the gorge from the falls. The adventurous can attempt the 1,400 steep steps that lead from here to the base.
Magod is a sight to behold, surrounded by dense lush green hills. Formed by the muddy Bedti River falling into a valley over two levels, it drops from a height of 655 feet. Magod is 17 kilometres from Yellapur. There is a well-laid footpath leading from the waterfall complex entrance to viewpoints on the opposite hill, which provide panoramic views.
Mallalli is formed by the seasonal Kumaradhara River falling from a cliff at the foothills of the Pushpagiri range. Located in Kodagu district, the falls are 25 kilometres from the town of Somwarpet. The last two kilometres of the road to the falls is a rough path, so it’s best to park your vehicle on the road at Hunchinalli village and walk to the viewpoint. From the viewpoint, stairs and then a trail lead to the base of the falls.
Part of the fun of visiting Karnataka’s many waterfalls is taking the short hikes on easy, well-marked trails that lead to them. Photo: Neelima Vallangi
Shivaganga is located in Uttara Kannada, 22 kilometres from Sirsi. It is formed by the Sonda River tumbling down a height of 240 feet, deep inside thick forest. From the entrance, stairs lead to viewpoints, from which the falls can be seen at a distance. The same stairs extend downwards and lead to a dirt trail going to the base of the falls. Only those with jungle trekking experience should attempt the trail.
Shivasamudram is 139 kilometres from Bengaluru. Formed by the River Kaveri, the spectacular Shivasamudram Falls are two falls formed by the river splitting around an island. At Barachukki, the river tumbles down less of a height but is spread over a large area. A kilometre or so away, at Gaganchukki, the river falls from a great height. Vehicles can go up to viewpoints for both falls; from the Barachukki viewpoint, steps lead down to the riverside.
Sirimane is a small but pretty waterfall, situated 15 kilometres from the pilgrim town of Sringeri in Chikmagalur district. It is fed by streams that flow through the surrounding coffee estates. A flight of stairs from the road leads to the base, where visitors can take a cool shower.
Unchalli or Lushington Falls is formed by the Aghanashini River plunging down a height of over 300 feet. When the river is in full flow, it is impossible to see through the mist that rises from the water. It is 38 kilometres from Sirsi in Uttara Kannada. From the entrance, visitors can take paths with steps to viewpoints to enjoy the sight of the falls.
Appeared in the November 2016 issue as “Waterfall Divine”.
is an itinerant freelance travel writer and photographer who enjoys purposefully getting lost in the mountains and going to faraway corners where Google Maps fail. She tweets as @i_wanderingsoul.
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