The Niagara Files

Last year, I had the privilege of attending my brother’s graduation ceremony in Canada . Thereafter, we decided to visit the Niagara Falls . It fascinated me; the thought of visiting these magnificent falls that were only familiar to me in my geography books in school. So the train journey to the Niagara Falls , Ontario , was one filled with excitement, thrill; I was then oblivious to the fact that this would become the most memorable holiday of my life.

The Niagara falls are situated on the Niagara River that separate Ontario in Canada and New York in America . It is not the height of the falls that amazed me, but its very width. Before venturing into my full-fledged tour of the Falls, I read some travel magazines regarding the history and significance of these Falls. Besides its visual beauty, it is also a major source of hydroelectric power. It is divided into the Horseshoe Falls and the American Falls . The word Niagara is said to have originated from social group called Niagagarega , which resided in this area in the 17th century and who inhabited this region. In fact, after the First World War, it became a tourist hotspot, visited all year round, by people of different nationalities, following diverse cultures.

The morning to visit the Falls finally arrived, and we were staying in close vicinity to the same. The road leading to the Falls was every child’s dream come true. On both sides of the road, flanked different cartoon characters, haunted houses, joy rides and souvenir stores. I was amazed by the enthusiasm of the tourists who ventured into every joyous experience that came their way; and also the owners of these stores, who invited people inside to take back with them, a piece of the Niagara Falls. I soon found myself absorbed in the excitement that surrounded me, and only wished I was younger to be able to enjoy some more.

The fragrance of wet mud as encountered during monsoons indicated that I was slowly approaching the Niagara Falls . Tourists were getting their photographs clicked against the beautiful Falls. There is something about nature that always startles me, the grasp that it has on one’s soul to appreciate its beauty in silence. I spent many hours just sitting and watching the Falls. The fireworks that take place beside the Falls at night will always remain a fond memory.

Any visit to the Niagara Falls is incomplete without getting a close glimpse of the Falls, via the boat tour, also known as Maid of the Mist . People of diverse nationalities patiently waited for their turn to enter the boat and venture into the Falls. Our cheerful tour guide welcomed us and gave us a wealth of knowledge regarding the Falls. The volume of the water gives it its unique green tinge. The Niagara Falls is about 52 meters in height and depth. The water from the Falls enters the Atlantic Ocean , through Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence Seaway .

The Maid of the Mist usually operates during the summer months, at intervals of every 15 minutes. A recyclable raincoat is provided to all the passengers to stay protected from the spray and the mist. Our round included a close view of all the falls, from the American as well as the Canadian side. The intensity of the falls clearly reflected the fury of nature; the roar the waterfalls highlighted its superiority in front of all the people present, but most importantly it was the aura of the beauty that surrounded us, which is unforgettable. Our 15 minute boat ride passed by in a flash, and the boat halted near the Maid of the Mist Plaza, for tourists to buy gifts and souvenirs. There also stood a photographer to click photographs of the enthusiastic tourists, against the background of the Niagara Falls .

Unique to the history of the Niagara Falls is the legend of the Daredevils. Almost a century ago, this practice began with daring people plunging into the Falls, seeking shelter in a steel barrel. With the advancement of technology, the daredevils began to huddle into wooden barrels and slide through the Falls. Some tales of the Daredevils ended in the victory of survivalism and brought them into everlasting fame; leading them to risk this adventure again. Unfortunately, the other few failed to survive due to suffocation. All said and done, the Daredevils today have an edge over the Daredevils who belonged to the past, due to various factors, ranging from changing weather conditions and technological innovations, such as safety equipments.

Just like all good things come to an end, so did my trip. I was overwhelmed by the sheer power and magnificence of the Falls; the warmth and generosity of the people who welcomed us tourists and the energy and the quest for knowledge of the tourists who united at this tourist destination, to visit the Niagara Falls . It is true that there are a number of beautiful waterfalls in India as well; the Jog Falls in Karnataka, the Dudhsagar falls in Goa , the Lingamala Falls in Maharashtra and so on. There is no paucity of destinations in India , to appreciate its natural beauty and cultural heritage. However, this is one trip that will always remain close to my heart because of the multitude of factors that made it memorable for me. I have only one wish that I am fortunate enough to visit the Niagara Falls again.

Aditi Ghosh

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