Visiting “The Niagara Falls” after 39 years

I had last visited Niagara Falls in 1973 and whilst on a recent trip i.e May – Jul 2011 to USA and Canada, it was only natural that me and my wife visit this place. So we boarded a train from New York for Niagara ( Canadian side) and reached there after a nine & a half hour picturesque journey on an Amtrak Train ( Approx USD 60 per ticket). The Canadian Customs took about 2 hours plus to clear the complete train load. They were nice but could not resist asking about the food stuff we might be carrying i.e. “ Sir, Any Khakras; Any Theplas; How much Currency on your person”. When told that Khakras and Theplas were the staples of Gujaratis and not ours, she just smiled and dismissed us.

Niagra - From US side to Candian Side

Niagra – From US side to Candian Side

Transport at the Railway Station / Grey Hound Bus Station
Come out of the Railway station and be prepared to see a deserted expanse. Old dilapidated buildings, No readily available Local Bus or No Taxi. Typical of MOST OF North America – No people either. Just a one room Grey Hound and other Buses Terminus across the road. You will see a sign – City Bus / Local Bus on the right side of the train station as you face it. When, where etc – anybody’s guess. The point being made is that, one must arrange transport well in advance from/ to this place or you could be stuck for hours. We were lucky to get a taxi after an hour’s wait. Transportation is available in plenty at the Falls/ Hotels since Taxis are on call all the time.

Checked into Hotel Day’s Inn Falls View ( Approx USD 70 per day). Good location ( approx 1 KM from the Falls; easy Walking distance). Spacious Room, Refrigerator, Microwave, Clean, Value for money.
About the Falls (For more informative inputs, please visit www.niagaraparks.com).
Now a bit about the Niagara Falls which are approx 12000 years old. . The word Niagara comes from the word “Onguiaahra” which means Thundering Noise. There are two falls – the American side and the Canadian side, the latter being in the shape of a Horseshoe and much much prettier than its US counterpart.

Niagra Falls - The US Side

Niagra Falls

Niagra Falls, Canada

Niagra Falls

Canadian Horseshoe Falls

Canadian Horseshoe Falls

Also called the Honeymoon Capital of the World, the horseshoe falls are 180 feet high, and discharge approx 6 Million Cubic Feet of water per minute i.e. equivalent to water in a Million Bathtubs and being discharged every minute 24x7x 365 except the winters. The Niagara River flows at about 35 miles/hour (56.3 KMs /hour) and the Falls wears its way back by approximately 1 foot/year. Hydro Electricity is also generated at the Niagara Falls.
Annie Edson Taylor (October 24, 1838 – April 29, 1921) was an American adventurer who became the first person to survive a trip over Niagara Falls in a barrel on her 63rd birthday, October 24, 1901.

Annie Taylor posing next to her barrel

Annie Taylor posing next to her barrel

We undertook the Boat Ride i.e. Maid of the Mist, Journey behind the Falls and the Skylon Tower. Also, along with the Skylon Tower ticket, we purchased tickets for a so called 3D / 4D Movie . This theatre is just behind the road side Ticket Counter which falls on the left side of the road when you are going down towards the Falls. The movie was totally avoidable and a waste of money.

Maid of the Mist (Ticket – Canadian $ 16.00 approx ) is an absolute Must. It is a Boat ride which takes you to the base of the falls so to say.

Niagra Falls, Canada

Maid of the Mist

Niagra Falls, Canada

Maid of the Mist

Niagra Falls, Canada

Maid of the the Mist

Journey behind the Falls (Ticket – Canadian $ 16.00 approx) – it takes you to see 3 view points. The first two are the ones that are behind the falls and you just see a SMALL curtain of water falling down. Not very exciting. Hold on, it does not mean you do not go there since the absolutely awesome is the third view point. It takes you to an open place which is just hugging right end of the Falls. You are in absolute proximity of the RAW Power of water being discharged @ 6 Million Cubic Feet per minute. For us, it is also a Must Visit. This is the experience one can never forget.

Journey behind the Falls

Journey behind the Falls

Behind the Falls – Just a curtain of Water is what you see

Behind the Falls – Just a curtain of Water is what you see

View Point No 3 – Next to the Falls you are

View Point No 3 – Next to the Falls you are

The Skylon Tower
It rises 775 feet above the Falls. Has a revolving restaurant on top also. The ticket for going to the Top is approx CAN $ 13.00 approx. A Yellow Buggy takes you to the top in 52 seconds. It gives a panoramic view of around Canadian / US 8000 Square Miles. The parting joke from the Yellow Buggy Lift Operator is that the Lift was commissioned in 1965 and it so reiiable that it has not been serviced to date. Best visited at night to enjoy the illuminated Falls .

The Skylon Tower

The Skylon Tower

The Skylon Tower

The Skylon Tower

Queen Victoria Park is another beautiful place adjacent to the Niagara Falls. Tthe annual Winter Festival of Lights is held here.

Queen Victoria Park

Queen Victoria Park

Queen Victoria Park

Queen Victoria Park

Illumination of the Niagara Falls is also a Must see.

First lighting of these Falls were attempted in 1860 with – white calcium, volcanic and torpedo light called the Bengal Lights. Illumination of the Falls using electricity first occurred in January 1879.In 1997 and 1998, new fixtures replaced the outdated lamps and fixtures.

Currently a total of twenty-one xenon lights, each with a 76-cm (30 in) diameter are used to illuminate the Falls in a rainbow of colours. Eighteen are located at the Illumination Tower, beside the Queen Victoria Place and three are located below street level in the gorge opposite the American Falls. Each of the xenon spotlights produces more than 390 million peak beam and has a brilliance of 250 million candlepower .

Illumination of the Niagara Falls

Illumination of the Niagara Falls

Illumination of the Niagara Falls

Illumination of the Niagara Falls

To conclude, all I can say is that Niagara experience is something different. You get a feel which is different from the rest of the places . To me, it gave me a feel what Venice had given. Would it be fair to call it romantic – Yes, I think so.

If you get an opportunity, do go there. Just sit by the Falls and keep sitting for a while. Soak it in. It will mesmerize you.

17 Comments

  • Sahil Sethi says:

    Mr. Sandeep , Very well narrated and mind blowing pics. Just Awesome is the word.

    Sahil

  • Sandeepjee

    Very great post. excellent pictures . Very beautifully narrated as well.
    Never knew this much about Niagara falls …..
    Thanks for taking there………………………..

  • Sandeep Gupta says:

    Dear Vishal,
    Many thanks for the thoughtful appreciation. Its most heartening for any Blogger.
    Your kiddo in the Photo is very cute and I am sure that he / she will at some point of time actually enjoy a trip to Niagara and seeing so much water in a River will be a shock since we urbanites around Delhi normally see only rivulets.
    Regards,
    Sandeep.

  • Aditya says:

    Thanks for sharing such a lovely post…

    It’s very well written with some beautifully composed shots….

    Regards

    Aditya

  • Mahesh Semwal says:

    lovely post !!!!!!!! superb pictures.

    Keep writing keep sharing.

  • Sandeep Gupta says:

    Dear Mahesh,

    Many thanks for the kind observations.

    Regards,
    Sandeep.

  • Upanshu Singhal says:

    Very nice pictures and writeup. Did you had a chance to see it in the night?

  • Sandeep Gupta says:

    Dear Upanshu,
    Thanks. We did visit Niagara at night also.

    Regards,
    Sandeep.

  • Pravin says:

    Hi Sandeep Sir,
    very informative and well narrated post , as you have re-visited this place after 39 years did you notice any striking changes? (just curious..)

  • Sandeep Gupta says:

    Dear Pravin,

    Many thanks for your kind words.

    Good question. 39 years ago, I was a young strapping lad of 23 years travelling alone. First trip abroad it was; where-in I had paid Rs 3800.00, Yes Sir , Rs 3800.00 only for the New Delhi – New York – New Delhi ticket on Alitalia with a 2 week break in Europe.

    Every-thing one saw was ” Oh my God”, ” WOW”. Hardly any money in the pocket. Did not even have a Camera – can you imagine. Did not visit any attraction – Maid of the Mist, Skylon Tower or the Journey behind the Falls on account of financial reasons.

    There were only two things on mind then. See Niagara Falls and soak in all the beauty of all the Blondes around and hope like hell that one of them gets friendly. That is all I remember of my 1973 visit.

    So, frankly, Niagara Falls was the same per se though it has moved back by 39 feet going by the current 1 feet erosion every year. I am now a Senior Citizen by the Indian Railways standards though not by the Income Tax Deptt rules; so the second part of my 1973 priority was not there this time.

    Regards,
    Sandeep.

  • Vibha says:

    Nice article and nice pictures Mr. Sandeep. And your thoughtful responses to all the comments are nice too.

    39 years is a long time. It is commendable that you did not observe any decline in the way the falls are being maintained. Considering that I’ve seen the Queen of Hill stations, Mussourie be completely disgraced within a span of 15 years. We need to learn and we need to take care of our tourists spots as well.

    Thanks for sharing this masterpiece.

  • Nandan says:

    That joke could kill. That lift-man definitely deserves a drink :-)

    Never been there, infact never been to East Coast. Once went to Toronto just for 3 days and then returned to Minnesota. One of my close friends is at Jersey so may be a trip might work out before I turn 39. Thanks again Sir for sharing the beautiful story and pictures, tips around what is must and what can be skipped and your resourceful responses to our comments.

    Hope to read more from your recent travel to US and Canada.

  • Sandeep Gupta says:

    Ms Vibha,

    Your observations about the lack of commitment on the part of Civic Authorities to maintain Natural Beauty and our Heritage is a painful truth. They are pathetic to say the least.
    Niagara Parks Commission was the answer to maintenance of Niagara and here are some inputs from http://www.niagaraparks.com .

    In the decades prior to the 1870s, the area next to the Horseshoe Falls became over-run with uncontrolled and unsightly commercial development. Visitors were frequently harassed and swindled by unscrupulous businessmen, making it very difficult to view or enjoy the beauty of the Falls that they had traveled so far to see.

    In 1878, Lord Dufferin, who was then Governor General of Canada, made the first public suggestion that a park be established next to the Falls. Over the next few years, support for this concept grew and in 1885 the Ontario government passed the Niagara Falls Park Act, for “the preservation of the natural scenery about Niagara Falls”. Properties around the Falls were expropriated and most of the buildings demolished. A lovely 62.2 hectare (154 acre) park, named after Queen Victoria was then developed and officially opened on May 24, 1888. Now the Ontario Niagara Parks system covers 1325 hectares (3274 acres) extending along the entire length of the Niagara River.

    The Niagara Parks Commission is a self-financed agency of the Ontario Ministry of Tourism. From its inception, The Niagara Parks Commission has been a completely self-funding agency, operating at no cost to the Ontario taxpayer.

    The Niagara Region offers an unparalleled variety of sights and sounds, from the majestic Niagara Falls to theatres, festivals and wineries. All the Niagara Falls & Great Gorge attractions, like Journey Behind the Falls and the Whirlpool Aero Car, and beautiful gardens like Oakes Garden Theatre are owned and operated by Niagara Parks.

    Niagara Parks actively partners with educational institutions (Schools and Universities) in the community. These partnerships facilitate co-op placements and job-shadowing experiences for students looking to work in the tourism industry.

    Does anybody foresee an effective Organisation like this in our Country. Possible only in case the Eco Battalions of the Army are made responsible. Just for your information, the work done by the Eco Battalions almost all over India is worthy of absolute praise.

    Sandeep.

  • Abheeruchi says:

    Hello Sir,

    Your post is wonderful and most wonderful part of this post is maid of the mist.I am anxiously waiting for the time when I can visit Niagra and Maid of the mist.

    Thanks,

  • Sandeep Gupta says:

    Ms Abheeruchi,
    How nice to hear about a post which one thought was deeply buried in the Archives of Ghumakkar. If not in the Archives, then definitely under all the Niagara Water fallen @ 6 Million Cubic Feet per minute since 30 Aug 2011 (i.e. the day I wrote the post).
    Gives me more than enough reason to believe that there is no dearth of travel enthusiasts who are avid followers of Ghumakkar. Managers of Ghumakkar are definitely doing a great job and my most sincere complements to their team especially Ms Vibha and Nandan whose unflinching enthusiasm and single-mindedness of purpose has taken it to such heights.
    And Ms Abheeruchi, when enthusiasts like you post appreciation, it gives renewed vigour to the writers. Read your Blog on your Rameshwaram trip. Transport, Places to stay, Food, Sight Seeing, Costs etc, etc you have covered it all. Exhaustive and informative, it gives most useful information to every traveler. I am sure that planning a trip to Rameshwaram would be so much easier after reading the Blog.
    Niagara you must visit only from the Canadian side though. I wish you the very best.

    Sandeep Gupta

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