Barachukki and Gaganachukki are two waterfalls situated near the island town of Shivanasamudra in the Mandya district of Karnataka.
The waterfalls are created by river Cauvery that runs down a 75 metre gorge before it divides into two branches that flow around the island of Shivanasamudra. The two branches (eastern & western branches) flow through deep ravines on either side of the island before plunging in two different places a few kilometres apart to form the Barachukki and Gaganachukki waterfalls.
The waterfalls are located at a distance of about 139 km from Bangalore and about 60 km from Mysore.
The eastern branch of the waterfall is known as Barachukki while the western branch is known as Gaganachukki. Barachukki and Gaganachukki waterfalls are together known as the Shivanasamudra Falls.
Shivanasamudra literally means Shiva’s Sea. These two waterfalls are considered to be among the best 100 waterfalls of the world.
The area near the waterfalls is famous for being the location of Asia’s first hydro-electric power station that was set up in the year 1902 and is still functional.
The segmented Barachukki Falls are a graceful one and the more popular one among the two falls. This jagged crashing cascade of water is also the wider one among the two falls.
The waterfall has a height of about 69 metres. There is a narrow flight of about 200 concrete steps that lead down to the waterfall. The way down to the waterfall is relatively safe as it fenced with railings and there are benches to sit on and relax for a while when you get tired.
The waterfall is a vibrant sight to watch during the monsoon season when the volume of water gushing down the rocks increases substantially. The waterfall can be enjoyed from close quarters as there are shallow areas near the place where the water plunges.
Visitors can get into the shallow water. However, due caution must be exercised as there are no life guards available near the waterfall and accidents can prove to be fatal.
An interesting way to watch the beauty of the waterfall is to take a coracle ride to the mouth of the magnificent waterfall. The mist formed from the water plunging at great speed from the cliff above is a great sight.
Barachukki also has a section of waterfall where the water flows less in volume. The place is ideal for adventure seekers as they can stand and enjoy a batbh under the waterfall in this area. Reaching this section of the falls is an adventure in itself as the section can be reached only after crossing a narrow stream.
The waist deep stream has very strong water current and the river bed is full of extremely slippery rock bed. As such, it must be crossed carefully.
The Gaganachukki Falls are shaped like a huge horsetail. It is a steep waterfall that rushes down with great velocity and provides incredible views.
The Gaganachukki waterfalls are best viewed from the watch tower at Shivanasamudra. The twin waterfalls have an average height of 98 metres and can be approached from two sides. Reaching the bottom of the waterfall from the watch tower side is not possible as the area is fenced and no one is allowed to go near the water.
There are also warnings posted near the fence that caution visitors against crossing the barrier and proceeding to the water from that side of the falls. However, many visitors defy this restriction and proceed to watch the waterfall from the top. Such acts are very dangerous and have resulted in many fatal accidents.
The waterfall can also be approached by another way that passes through the Dargah of Hazrath Mardane Gaib. It presents the upstream end of the waterfall and is closer to the Barachukki Falls. The view of the upstream end is particularly fascinating during the monsoons when the volume of water swells by several degrees.
Tourist Attractions near the Barachukki and Gaganachukki Falls
There are several places of attraction near the Barachukki & Gaganachukki Falls. If one starts early in the morning to visit the waterfalls then a visit to one or two other tourist attractions are also possible in a single day. A few attractions of the surrounding areas are:
Sri Ranganathaswamy Temples
There are three Ranganathaswamy temples on the three major islands formed by river Cauvery in South India. All the three temples are dedicated to the Hindu God Ranganatha, a manifestation of Lord Vishnu. Two out of the three temples are located in the areas surrounding the waterfalls.
One of the temples is located in the historic town of Srirangapatna. It is a very ancient temple and is known as Adi Ranga or the first Ranga. The town derives its name from the temple.
The second temple of Ranganathaswamy is located in the island town of Shivanasamudra. The temple is known as Madhya Ranga or the middle Ranga. The temple is a grand structure that was constructed during the Hoysala period.
The third temple of Ranganathaswamy or the Anthya Ranga is located at Srirangam in Tamil Nadu.
Talakad is a desert-like town located on the banks of river Cauvery, at a distance of about 35 km from the waterfalls. It is a historic town and a famous pilgrimage area of the Hindus as it has several temples. The renowned Vaidyanatheswara Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is located here.
Channapatna is a small town located on the Bangalore-Mysore highway. The town is famous for well-crafted wooden toys and lacquerware that are created there. The beautiful toys are coloured with bright vegetable dyes that are non-toxic and safe for children to play with. They are also ideal as souvenirs.
Somnathpur is a small village situated on the banks of river Cauvery. It is a place that boasts of grand monuments dating back to the Hoysala period. The historic monuments exhibit rich architecture and sculpture that were prominent features of the Hoysala period.
It is a small town located near the banks of the river Kaveri . It is a great destination for eco-tourism. The town is famous for being the natural habitat of the mahseer fish found in the waters of the Cauvery River. Mahseer is one of the finest game fishes in the world. The town is a major fishing hub.
Best time to visit the Barachukki and Gaganachukki Falls
The Barachukki & Gaganachukki Falls are perennial and can be visited throughout the year. However, the best time to visit the waterfalls is during the monsoon season that extends from June to September. During this season the waterfalls are in full swing and the view is a gorgeous one.
Information for visitors
Barachukki & Gaganachukki Falls are separated by just a few kilometres of distance. This distance can be covered by a 15 or 20 minutes’ drive. Both the waterfalls are excellent picnic spots.
The waterfalls are open for public visit from 6 am to 6 pm. A security check post at Shivanasamudra prevents visitors from visiting the waterfalls after 6 pm in the evening.
The area near the waterfall is known to have wild ants and visitors must be careful to not get bitten by them. There are a few small shops offering snacks near the waterfalls. Swimming is not advisable at both the waterfalls as there are no life guards available and the water has proved to be fatal for many people till date.
How to reach the Barachukki and Gaganachukki Falls
The waterfalls are easy to reach as they are well-connected by several means of transport.
The nearest airport to reach the falls is the Bangalore International Airport. It operates several flights that connect it to many national and international destinations. From the airport visitors can hire cabs or taxis to reach the waterfalls and the surrounding areas.
The nearest railway station to reach the waterfalls is the Mysore Railway Station that is located at a distance of about 60 km from the falls. Maddur also has a railway station that is near to the waterfalls but the preferred one is the Mysore Railway Station.
There are several KSTDC buses that operate between Bangalore and Kollegal on a frequent basis. From Kollegal there are local means of transport available to reach the waterfalls. Visitors can also hire cabs, private vehicles or taxis to reach the waterfalls directly from Bangalore or Mysore.