At the extreme south of the presidency of Bombay, separating the district of Kanara from the territory of Mysore, are the too little known Falls of Gairsoppa.
Far higher than Niagara, four distinct divisions of the river Shiravatti (traditionally created by a cleft made by the arrow of the great god Rama) fall over a precipice of gneiss rock into an abyss eight hundred feet below. Each of these cataracts differs in type of flow.
The "Rajah," eight hundred and thirty feet, and at a breadth of fifty-six, shoots silent and sheer over an uplifted lip of rock in the bed of the stream, casting a dark shadow behind him when faced by the sun; the "Roarer" makes noise enough in its headlong rush to vibrate the strong, stone-built travelers' bungalow on the heights above; the "Rocket" is straight in descent, and, as a commentator has already remarked, as much like a rocket as anything else; and "La Dame Blanche," a triptych of rhythmical flow, spreads a dainty, silky, sheen of white, whispering, glistening, softly falling water over a slightly shelving width of rock, touched here and there with prismatic color and strong light.
THE FALLS OF GAIRSOPPA, BETWEEN KANARA AND MYSORE, BOMBAY PRESIDENCY, INDIA
The Falls From Below. The Falls From Above.
At the bottom of the chasm, seven hundred feet across, and stretching over a muddy, turbulent, seething cauldron of spray, a brilliantly distinct rainbow in the full light of day may be seen with its scarcely less glorious reflection, dazzlingly beautiful.
In these regions 210 inches of rain is an average downpour for the monsoon between May and October, the heaviest fall being generally in July. The cataracts then become frequently confluent, though not more picturesque. They are then too difficult of access, and the whole district is very malarious. December and January are the best months for travelers, before the dry season fairly sets in again, during which there is but little water, even insufficient to form four distinct falls.
The best route to them is from Bombay to Honaurre by sea, via Kawai, and on to Old Gairsoppa by river boat and palanquin to the "Jog," as the special points of interest (the "Falls") are called by the Kanarese.
To the enthusiastic shikari, however, the way from Hubli (on the Southern Mahratta Railway, easily reached by G.I.P. line from Bombay), taking him, as it does, through the very happiest hunting grounds of the presidency, where all game, small and large, abounds, will have attraction enough; and at Giddapur, the last stage, within twelve miles of the Falls, there is a courteous English-speaking native magistrate, willing and able to help the traveler on his way. Our engravings are from drawings by Mr. J.E. Page, C.E.--London Graphic.