Tuesday, July 31, 2018




                                                          ( Rainbow Bridge )







A visit to Niagara Falls from the US side has been a wonderful experience . We had a 3 days trip to Niagara with one night halt each at Rochester and Niagara town (US side) . Rochester is close to Alexandria Bay that leads you to thousand island boat tour through  the clear blue waters of St Lawrence river. And St. Lawrence river divides Canada and the  US .From Rochester,we drove to Niagara early in the morning via Buffalo city. It is roughly 4 hours drive.


Niagara Falls are just 20 or 30 minutes drive from Buffalo city. Prior to the Falls, you can visit old Niagara Fort that was once occupied by the  French soldiers. The bygone era has been recreated for tourists with soldiers in old dress holding musket guns .They fire in Air to entertain tourists .The old barracks and kitchens have also been recreated in the fort . There used to be some French soldiers who lived with families at Niagara . Accordingly, some women attired in old French dresses can also be seen at the fort. This Fort lies on the shores of Lake Ontario.  The re-enactors and history experts  work tirelessly to bring this 18th century fort to life. The British , the French and the  English soldiers stayed at this fort . The Niagara Fort played significant part in the French and the native Indian war and ultimately falling to the British in a 19 day siege in 1759. This fort overlooks Lake Ontario , a small portion of which falls in the US while the major portion of the lake falls in Canada.


River Niagara moves along the international border between Canada and the  US. Emerging from Lake Erie that again lies along the  US and Canada border, it travels a distance of about 36 Miles before draining into lake Ontario. As a matter of fact Niagara river divides Canada from the US and acts like a water border. Just before the Falls, it divides itself into two parts creating three falls. One part moves close to the Canadian territory while the other part moves along the US territory. So you have three falls ; two falling in  the US territory and one bigger in the Canadian territory. The Canadian fall is semicircular or like a  horse shoe . Accordingly ,it is known as ‘Horse Shoe Falls’. The other two falls in the US territory are known as American Fall and Bridal Veils Fall. These two are smaller falls and the Bridal Veils is the smallest of the three falls.
The river rejoins a little downstream from the Horse Shoe Falls near the Bridal Veils Fall. The Rainbow Bridge is close by . It connects America  with Canada. Those holding Canadian visa or those who are exempted from it , can walk over to Canada by crossing the bridge on foot. Two towns with hotels , casinos, restaurants, bars and shopping malls have come up on both sides of the river. One on the Canadian soil and the other on  the US territory. Both the towns are known as Niagara. So close and just across the river lies the Canadian Niagara . I saw cabs and people moving on roads from the US side of the river Bank. Sheraton Canada , Crown Plaza hotel cum restaurant , Skylon Tower built by Canada are clearly visible from the US side of the river. You can see exposed elevators racing up and down in the Skylon Tower that has special observatory at its top for viewing  the falls.


                    ( Winter photo of the Fall )

At Niagara Falls, the frightening roar of about 680000 gallons of water falling per second from a height of 173 feet and the billowing mist making everything hazy and the joyous cries of tourist as they come closer and closer to the basin of the falls ( more particularly the Horse Shoe Falls ) is simply a breathtaking experience. In my life, i haven't seen anything like it.
The Horse Shoe Falls is 2,200 feet (670m) in width. The speed of the Niagara river at the crest of the Horse Shoe Falls is 22 miles per hour (32-35km/h) at the apex. A beautiful park ( known as State Park ) has been built sometime in late 19th century by the American authorities near the falls. It has ticketing counters, restaurants, walkways and observation decks .You come to know so many things about the Falls and the Maid Of  Mist legend by watching the Niagara story made into a grand feature film. The film is shown on payment in a special auditorium built inside the State Park . You come to know how some daredevils conquered the falls .After watching this film, I came to know how a 63-year-old school teacher Annie Edson Taylor put herself in a sealed wooden barrel along with her cat and survived after falling from the fall. She is buried at Oakwood Cemetery near Niagara Falls in an area called Stunters Rest along with   other Niagara Falls daredevils. We were also told that 90% of the fish that fall along with river water from a height of 173 feet at Horse Shoe Falls survive.


Maid Of the Mist is a native American myth. As per the most popular version in circulation , the girl lost her husband and her hope at a young age, and the beautiful girl could not find her way through the sorrow upon sorrow that was her lot in life. So she stepped one day into her canoe, singing a death song softly to herself, and paddle out into the current. Soon the canoe was caught by the rough waves and hurtled toward the falls. But as it pitched over and she fell, Heno, the god of thunder who lived in the falls, caught the maiden gently in his arms and carried her to his home beneath the thundering veil of water. The story says that spirit of the Maid of Mist lives somewhere around the falls and comes to the rescue of the people who are accidentally carried away by falling waters.There are other versions of the Maid Of Mist story .
Big motorized boats with open decks that carry visitors from the US side to the falls are known as ‘Maid of The Mist’. These white boats with “Maid Of The Mist’ written in blue colour bring tourists right up to the basin of the falls .You are given a blue coloured rain coat (free) before stepping into the ‘Maid Of The Mist’ boat. Tourists coming from the Canadian side come in white boats  with 'Horn Blower ' written prominently in red. The Canadian tourists are given red rain coats.So near the falls, it is display of red and blue colour under billowing mist. The boat journey to the falls drenches you. It is like getting drenched in rain. Obviously, you need to protect your mobile phones and cameras from water.  Simon Wang, our Chinese guide had repeatedly told us  this before boarding 'The Maid of Mist ':-

" Sir , go careful. Many people spoil camera with water . Give camera mobile to me.  I stay here . I not go boat.  My job guide . Rest your choice."

As you approach the falls , photography turns tough and tougher. Ignoring Simon Wang's advice, I use my digital and mobile cameras as close to the falls as I could manage .



The tour to Niagara Falls is incomplete if you don't see the spectacular LED light display on falling waters at night.Come evening time and the Niagara Falls are transformed into an incredible, multi-coloured water and light show. You have colors changing at regular intervals creating something spectacular for thousands of tourists on both the sides of the river.Throughout the year, Niagara Falls are specially illuminated during holidays and significant occasions. America and Canada have jointly set up an Authority for this task known as as Niagara Falls Illumination Board (NFIB).The board was set up in 1925. Apart from daily illumination, there is a spectacular fireworks display over the falls during summer season. Fire works depend on weather conditions and wind velocity in the area.


The ‘Cave of  The Winds’ is just below the Bridal Falls . You can descend down into Niagara gorge and enjoy the thunder of the falling water . It was here that Nikola Tesla harnessed the power of the falls to create alternating current.’The Cave of The Winds’ elevator takes you 175 feet (53 meters) deep into the Niagara gorge. You are given a poncho and special footwear and taken over a series of wooden walkways to the famous “Hurricane Deck”. As you stand at the deck railing, you are just 20 feet from the billowing torrents of Bridal Veil Falls. You are sure to get a heavy spray of water as you face the thundering falls head-on. At this spot , rainbows are  usually seen. Nikola Tesla designed the first hydro-electric power plant in Niagara Falls. His statue has been erected on Goat Island near the falls on the US  side. In a homage to Nikola Tesla , Industrialist and entrepreneur Elon Musk named his electric Car as TESLA.





One can also navigate rapids in Niagara river and go close to Niagara whirlpool in jet boats. Other places worth seeing are Luna Islands, Goat Islands, Three Sister Islands, Terrapin Point, Prospect Point , New York State Observation Tower and Whirlpool State Park.

Helicopter tours are also available for ariel view of the falls , Lake Ontario , Rainbow Bridge and other places around.

You can go for fishing without any restriction. No license or fee is required to be paid. Niagara river and Lake Ontario is full of Rainbow trout. I was told that the largest fish caught on record in Lake Ontario over here weighed 31lbs.

Indian food is available at two shops inside the shopping mall (Made in America Store ) close to the State Park. I saw a Sikh gentleman selling South Indian food in a roadside restaurant  located at a street corner near Hotel Holiday Inn. At Rochester ,we had tasty Indian food at HAVELI , a restaurant on Henrietta Road. It is managed by a lady from Punjab.

On your return journey, don't forget to visit the Corning Glass Museum .It is a unique experience to know the history of glass and also see glass artist at work. You can join them. You can also see many amazing creations of glass artists of the world. There is a gift shop and a spacious restaurant on ground floor of this glass museum that serves Mexican, Chinese and Italian food.

During winters ,the temperature in Niagara hovers around 20 to 25 degrees Celsius below freezing point. The famous water falls are covered in thick layer of ice and massive icicles for several days . However, even if the falls appear frozen generally in the month of January when the temperature drops to minimum 25 degrees celsius) , a stream of water continues to flow down. The fall and the river has frozen completely in 1911.

High wire tightrope acts used to be performed across the river. Most notable  was “Blondin” who once actually carried his manager across on his back, stopping midway to rest.
As per geological  evidence , approximately 500 years ago river Niagara  encountered an obstacle that caused it to divide into two channels , thus Goat Island was formed. It is  named after John Stedman who’s   goat herds froze to death in the winter of 1780.

The flow of water was stopped completely over both falls on March 29th, 1848 due to an ice jam in the upper river for several hours. This is the only known time to have occurred. The falls did not actually freeze over, but the flow was stopped to the point where people actually walked out and recovered artifacts from the riverbed.

Man has not been able to completely control the flow of the water over the falls, even modern engineers have tried it. Much of the water today is fed through underground channels and pipes to nearby hydro electric power stations.

Niagara Falls attracts some 12 million tourists each year.

There are two hydroelectric plants which draw water into their reservoirs prior to the Falls. Their intake greatly affects the volume of water flowing over the falls.

So long so much

(Avtar Mota)


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