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All Our Waterfalls

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By GANESH SAILI

There are those who say hope springs eternal at the end of a waterfall. And there are others who say Kempty Falls is named after the firangis sipping Camp Tea there and if that were so, shouldn’t Kolti village be famed for its cold tea? For most of the villages in Jaunpur have bi- syllabic names. But Toronto is not Tuneta and Judy village is no girl. Kempty’s six hundred feet fall – a series of five falls along the Ringal Nadi – all coming together in free fall, is our largest. From 4,680 feet, the water plunges to 4,120 feet, perfect for generating hydro- electric power. That was what was planned in 1902, as it would have provided plentiful water and electricity to the hill station. The Raja of Tehri did not think so. Thus, Bhatta Falls, along the watershed of Bhatta and Kyarkuli villages became the alternative site for a power station of Galogi, where a ropeway and picnic spot has sprung. No one doubts that Hardy Falls, was named after the Principal of Maddock’s School, who on a walk with his students in tow, arrived there ‘and lest the world would not accept the students’ christening, they laboriously carved his name in rock.’ Approached from the southwestern spurs of Fifth Centenary School, it is not for the faint hearted and this hike separates the men from the boys. As does Murray Falls, but do ignore the pathetic dribble of water that it turns into during the summer months. Wait for the monsoon, when a smaller stream discharges itself over a precipice to fall a hundred and fifty feet into the decline below. This is where in the 1850s, Dr. Murray erected huts for the recuperating soldiers of Landour, hoping that their healing power would help, both their body and spirit. Sadly, the experiment came to naught and he turned to bottling its waters until that experiment too fell flat on its face. Little could rival the magical waters near the base of the hill. Were you to go down to Raipur, turn around, come back up to the hills to find the sulphur springs of Sahasradhara or the Thousand Drippings. Please don’t blame this writer for sending you there in these times, when the kiss-of-death also known as ‘development’ has turned it into a mess as greed clearly been victorious over need. ‘Progress’ is on its way to Mossy Fall too. Or so I am told by Narinder, owner of the nearby Garima Nursery. ‘They are building a road right up to the falls,’ he gushes. Another quiet spot is waiting the hangman’s noose. Sad that it will inflict a blow on generations of old Oak Grove School students, who once found solace here. For as long as they live, they shell carried with them the sound of Mossy Falls cascade chattering through rocks and moss – a music that follow them down the years in lands forlorn. The name? My Mussoorie Miscellany (1936) explains: ‘Picnicking by the water, on their own estate, the Hearsey family had as a guest Mr Moss of the Himalaya Bank, who was affectionately known as ‘Mossy’ by his associates. Scrambling over some rocks the guest slipped and fell to anchor well midstream, to a chorus of guffaws, and supplied the long elusive name – Mossy Falls! Below Maryville stands Arnigadh – probably one of the most unfortunate of garden sites in India and it used to be a part of Chamasari, until the Government turned it into a botanical garden. Two tales survive that land grab: one has the drunk headman induced into signing a sale deed and the other has the villagers, reluctant to leave their land, clinging to their hearth and homes to be evicted by force in the middle of a snow-storm. Fact remains the site is jinxed or cursed. Excellent soil. Plenty of water but the garden always failed. As as I look out of my window into the valley, I see a retinue of realtors, preening themselves for the kill, heading towards Arnigadh, licking their chops. Who’s will tell them? I’m won’t tattle. Maybe we should just let them go their way just like little waterfalls always do.