Thursday, January 27, 2011

Niagara Falls

                    Niagara Falls is one of the great natural wonders of the world. Over one million gallons (4 million liters) of water per second pour over a 180 feet (60 m) high cliff that is nearly 0.6 miles (1 km) wide. The incessantly pounding water forms a continuous spray that enshrouds the Niagara gorge in a perpetual mist decorated with shining rainbows. It is a spectacular sight.

Niagara Falls is located about 15 miles north of Buffalo, New York, 150 miles south of Toronto, Canada and about 350 miles northwest of New York City. Unlike other natural wonders that are in isolated inaccessible locations, the Niagara Falls are located in the center of a small city. Actually, there are two cities surrounding the falls. Niagara Falls, New York lies on the US side of the river and Niagara Falls Ontario, is on the Canadian side.

The twin cities of Niagara Falls are known as the "Honeymoon Cities" because of their  popularity as a honeymoon destination for newly wed couples The best time to visit is during the summer when all of the attractions are open During cold winters, the river below the falls freezes and the spray forms 100 feet high ice mountains that are said to be quite spectacular to behold.

 The Canadian side has the best panoramic view of the entire falls and has many commercial tourist attractions. The US side has many nice walks along the rim of the falls, great picnic areas and less commercial tourist attractions. To see them best, you need to view the falls from both sides of the border.

The best attraction at Niagara Falls is completely free. Just go to the Canadian side of the border,  across the Rainbow Bridge and walk the length of the promenade for the most spectacular views of the falls. Be sure to visit after dark when they illuminate the falls with changing colored lights.

Taking good pictures from the boat is quite tough

The landscaping is really beautiful
The "Maid of the Mist" boat is the best and the most exciting way to experience Niagara Falls. They take you right up to the base of the falls. The excursions depart from docks on the Canadian side and the US side of the river every 15 minutes from 9 a.m until about 7p.m during the summer months. Waterproof outer clothing is provided.  Also on the US side, walkways along the rim of the gorge and on Goat Island offer many scenic overlooks to view the falls from the top rim. 

The Skylon Tower is Niagara's tallest structure at 520 feet tall. It sits at the top of Murray Hill adjacent to the falls, providing a 775 foot view of the falls. The tower was constructed in 1964. It features an external elevator affectionately known as the 'Yellow Bug'. The elevator sits on the outside of the tower providing visitors with an exceptional view of the surrounding area during the 52 second ride to the top. Once at the top, visitors can go out on to the observation deck.  The tower also features an exquisite gourmet dining restaurant. The food is supposed to be incredible (but I doubt it) but a little pricey and  do not offer anything interesting for the vegetarians .  The restaurant rotates a full 360 degrees during your meal. The rotation takes 1 hour to complete, during which you can enjoy a truly unforgettable viewing experience. We didn't go for it, instead we just roamed around the city : a very artificial city, nothing worth shopping.

We had  booked the Viator Tour  by bus from New York. We started early in the morning and stayed in the Canadian side overnight, in Super 8 Hotel. We were just walking distance from the falls, the shopping centers and the restaurants. The room was large, comfortable and clean with a good view of the falls, we could see the lights from our window. Our tour guide was very good too. We returned back to New York the next day around 10 p.m
On the whole it was a good trip.

People are always curious to know whether the falls freeze in winter. Well during winter months, Niagara Falls creates a distinctive site for visitors by changing into crystallized wonderland. The mist produced by the falling water freezes almost instantly on contact with any surface. Trees. lamp posts, rocks, and railings are transformed into shimmering sculptures. The falls themselves do not freeze, but a bridge of ice forms at their base. At night they are illuminated by a rainbow of colored lights.

These  are pictures taken from the internet. I wish I could see the frozen Niagara Falls too
Until 1912, tourists 
were actually allowed to walk across the ice bridge. Local newspapers reported a booming business as shop owners would build small wooden structures to sell souvenirs, liquor, and other items. In one New York Times Article dated March 5 1882, these ice- bridge profiters are profiled. Often, tourists were convinced to pay money to be guided across the ice jam. But in a sudden turn of events, the ice bridge broke in 1912 and three people were swept downriver to their deaths. From that point on, it became illegal to walk on the ice bridge. Good thing they stopped, with the kind of crowds we have now, it would have been very dangerous.
There are naturally several legends and myths surrounding these falls.  One of which has variations in Native American culture and is the legend of the creation of the Horseshoe falls.  A young maiden fell over the Niagara falls in her canoe, either by choice or by accident the legend varies, and was caught in the arms of Heno, a god of thunder who lived in the falls, thus saving her life.  He brought into the home he had beneath the thundering water where he and his sons cared for her until she’d recovered.  By then, one of the younger sons had fallen in love with the maiden.  He and the maiden married and she made her home with the gods in the falls.  However she grew lonely for her people and wished to visit them.  Her chance came when Heno learned of an evil snake who swam down the river thus poisoning the waters.  The snake's  plan was to kill the maiden’s people with the poisoned water and eat their dead. When the maiden learned of this she begged Heno to take her out of the falls so that she could warn her people.  He agreed and thus she was able to save them by encouraging them to move from the poisoned water to Buffalo Creek.

When the maiden learned of this she begged Heno to take her out of the falls so that she could warn her people.  He agreed and thus she was able to save them by encouraging them to move from the poisoned water to Buffalo Creek.

The snake finding that the people were gone went to follow them by swimming up the river.  This angered Heno and he sent a thunderbolt to kill it.  The snake died and its body became caught on the cliff in a horseshoe shape creating the falls.  The water now forced into a new direction spilled into Heno’s home and he and his family, including the maiden had to move to the clouds in the sky where to this day the thunder god resided. There are many such Indian American stories.
Also you will find the list of people, who  tried to do daring things, some survived, whereas many perished. There are also many interesting  videos about how people have risked their lives to save some crazy people who were at the edge of the falls

By the way, the word "Niagara" is derived from the Iroquois Indian word
meaning "the strait". It also means the "Thunder of Waters". Also
 Niagara Falls is not the biggest falls in the world.
The Victoria Falls is considered to be the largest waterfall in the world.
They are not the widest waterfall or the highest waterfall but with all dimensions taken into account, including almost the largest flow rate, they are considered to be the biggest curtain of falling water in the world surpassing the magnificent Niagara Falls and Iguacu Falls.
But Niagara is more famous because it is easier to reach  by any mode of transport, unlike other famous falls which would need lot of planning and would also cost lot of money and time to reach them.

Even Abraham Lincoln was fascinated by Niagara Falls, and this what he said,

"Niagara --Falls! By what mysterious power is it, that millions and millions, are drawn from all parts of the world, to gaze upon Niagara Falls? There is no mystery about the thing itself-- Every effect is just such as any inteligent man knowing the causes, would anticipate, without it-- If the water moving onward in a great river, reaches a point when there is a perpendicular jog, of a hundred feet in descent, in the bottom of the river, -- it is plain the water will have a violent and continuous plunge at that point-- It is also plain the water, thus plunging, will foam, and roar, and send up a mist, continuously, in which last, during sunshine, there will be perpetual rain-bows-- The mere physical of Niagara Falls, is only this-- Yet this is really a very small part of that world's wonder-- It's power to excite reflection, and emotion, is it's great charm....."

I wish we could see these places without the crowd, and really enjoy every bit of nature's beauty. I still remember seeing the Taj Mahal at different times of the day, as we lived in Agra for a few years when I was in school, it used to be so good watching the Taj in all its splendour, but now all these places have become so crowded, and commercial. Take for example Hogenakkal Falls, it is a real pain to go there now. But it is so beautiful.
Thanks once again for travelling with me to some of the best places in the US.


  1. did not know so many things about it the walk over winter bridge is a very interesting fact,
    pretty pics :)

  2. Ah, amazing pictures and such detailed description as always.

  3. Hi Rama, I almost hooted when I saw the Niagara pix. Reminded me of my own trip. Amazing natural wonder, aren't they.

  4. what an information here Rama :)

    Lovely pictures as usual :)

  5. Rama my thanks for sharing the journey. I enjoy your travelogue and feel as if I am there with you. It is amazing!
    You have such a beautiful smile.
    Where to from here?

  6. Very beautiful post you really lured me to read each and every word. I Really want to see Niagara Falls after reading your post. :-D

  7. Hi rama ,very well written .saw Niagara through your eyes.:)The yellow bug ride must have been awesome.The frozen niagara ,wow it would be so different!.I even heard Niagara went dry in the eraly 60 's ,imagine that!

  8. I love the maid of the mist ride ;i treasure that 'heavenly experience' as the best experience of my life time.:)

  9. I loved Niagra falls. Your pictures are awesome.

  10. What a wonderful tour you took us on, Rama, well told and nice photos! Who is the always smiling woman in your photos? A famous model, no doubt and she is always happy!

  11. Hello!
    Wonderful post!
    Thank You very much for sharing!

  12. I hope you enjoyed your stay. I live in Niagara on the Canadian side...

    If you come back you will have to let me know and I would love to show you around.....

    all the best...Alli....

  13. Your perception of this great wonder coincides with mine a lot and I enjoyed going back to my memories of this place through your post! Yet to bring this beauty on to my canvas, which has been pending for a while!

  14. I like not only cats.
    I am nature lover!

  15. Oh.. time .. time to go around and see the world.. enjoy.. Happy New year... though belated...

  16. Gorgeous pics. I recollected most of the place through your photos and your write up.

    The first two pics are my most fav ones.

  17. Thanks everybody. I am happy that for some people, this blog was like revisiting the place they most loved and enjoyed, and for some it is a trip that they might consider during one of their visits to the US.
    From here we travel to Ann Arbor Michigan, to spend 2 days with our son who is studying there. Since we planned to visit all the important places, in US in 21 days it was tough to linger anywhere longer than necessary.
    What we did in 21 days can be seen by all of you in just a few seconds, through my blogs, and would also give you an idea whether to see the places or not.
    I always read every travel stories, for that is how you can decide what is worth seeing.
    Writing about my travels is just my way of remembering everything, because when we see so many places we can easily forget.
    There are still so many places to visit, I don't know whether I will be able to visit them. Lets see as the future unfolds, there is no hurry.

  18. Hello!
    Thank You very much for Your beautiful comments in my blog!

  19. That cat is Lada.,Sovet car.

  20. beautiful place.. wish i could be there sometime.

  21. Surely you would be there sometime, you are still young and you would have lots of opportunities to plan a trip to anywhere you want to be.

  22. i said it to my sis when she sent me pics of niagra falls and i am saying it to you as well...M JEALOUS OF U ..