Unchalli Falls (Lushington Falls)

Yellapur, Karnataka, India

About Unchalli Falls (Lushington Falls)

Hiking Distance: 1km round trip
Suggested Time: 30-45 minutes

Date first visited: 2009-11-15
Date last visited: 2009-11-15

Waterfall Latitude: 14.41015
Waterfall Longitude: 74.7479

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Unchalli Falls (also called Lushington Falls) was perhaps one of the most spectacular waterfalls that we’ve encountered in India‘s most spectacular waterfalls.

At least that was what Julie and I thought as we were certainly impressed with the waterfall’s practically unchecked flow, its rather unusual shape (almost reminiscent of Norway’s Vidfoss), and its dramatic scenery amongst the lush and remote forested hills of the Uttara Kannada District near Siddapur.

Unchalli_Falls_034_11142009 - Unchalli Falls and rainbow
Unchalli Falls and rainbow

I guess depending on your mood and your experience, we can see how it can be argued that this waterfall might be even more impressive than a compromised Jog Falls.

We’ve seen in the literature that sometimes this falls was referred to as Keppa Jog (further supporting the notion that Unchalli Falls might be thought of in better terms than Jog Falls).

We also happened to come to this 116m falls at around midday, which seemed to be a perfect time for seeing a rainbow appearing in the waterfall’s rising mist (see photo above).

Changes to facilitate accessing Unchalli Falls

We almost nixed the idea of coming to Unchalli Falls because we had originally thought that accessing it required a hot and sweaty 5km or 3.1-mile (each way) trek through mostly thick jungle from the village of Heggarne (some 30km south-southwest of Sirsi).

Unchalli_Falls_088_11152009 - Julie on the wide muddy path around Unchalli Falls that appeared to be a former 4wd road, which was one of the changes we suspected was done to make it easier to visit this waterfall
Julie on the wide muddy path around Unchalli Falls that appeared to be a former 4wd road, which was one of the changes we suspected was done to make it easier to visit this waterfall

In fact, we still saw some misleading signage at a turnoff just north of the town of Siddapur saying the falls’ access was barely 5km from that spot.

However, it turned out that the trek was the old access to the falls.

Indeed, it was fortunate for us that there was a longer more involved road access on what were apparently newly-built roads winding through the Western Ghats past some local villages to a humble car park by a sharp turn.

This car park was probably more like a pulloff with a gazeebo and shack nearby when we made our visit.

Unchalli_Falls_059_11142009 - View of Unchalli Falls from the lowest viewpoint that we were able to reach
View of Unchalli Falls from the lowest viewpoint that we were able to reach

In any case, this reduced the walk to a mere 0.5km each way or 1km round trip on a fairly steep and muddy foot-traffic-only 4wd track.

A lot of the infrastructure here appeared to be either new or in the process of being built so by the time you might end up visiting the falls, perhaps access would be even easier and more convenient than what we encountered!

Near the end of the 0.5km steeply sloping muddy road, there was a flat area with benches and some latrine toilets (which were very disgusting when I was there as the rooms were caked in fecal matter on the floor).

Experiencing Unchalli Falls

From this little rest area, it was just a few paces to an elevated sheltered lookout platform providing awesome views of the falls.

Unchalli_Falls_024_11142009 - The first viewing platform for Unchalli Falls
The first viewing platform for Unchalli Falls

There were stairs leading down to a second sheltered platform.

That platform was under construction during our visit, but the workers were kind enough to let me take photos from within the work zone.

Then, there were more steps leading down to an open-air third viewing spot at its end.

The second platform was my personal favorite of the viewing spots due to the nicely framed foliage below the falls as well as a glimpse of its bottom where the Aghnashini River continued.

However, the last viewpoint got us even closer to eye level with Unchalli Falls.

Unchalli_Falls_066_11142009 - Construction work going on to finish the second (and perhaps the best) viewing gazeebo for Unchalli Falls
Construction work going on to finish the second (and perhaps the best) viewing gazeebo for Unchalli Falls

We definitely had to be careful here as there was an open side without a railing, and we were well aware that the ground can be muddy with spray from the falls.

In any case, beyond this viewpoint, it didn’t seem possible to safely make it further to the bottom.

Possible Additional Changes in the Future at Unchalli Falls

As of our visit, Julie and I realized that they didn’t yet collect any fees (especially camera fees or two-tiered fees for foreigners) as the area was still not quite on the tourist radar.

It seemed that pretty much the only people who knew about Unchalli Falls were locals as well as specific tour groups.

In fact, we happened to meet a Yoga Group from Shimoga town somewhere near Bangalore some 300km or more away from this falls.

Unchalli_Falls_083_11142009 - Last look down at the attractive Unchalli Falls and rainbow
Last look down at the attractive Unchalli Falls and rainbow

I’m sure this fee situation would eventually change as Unchalli Falls ought to get more attention along with the improving infrastructure (and associated cost for these things).

There was also the potential to help boost the economy for the neighboring rural region, which was why I think it would be only a matter of time before fees would be collected for convenient access to the falls.

Finally, the British name of the falls was in honor of J.D. Lushington who was a District Collector for the British Government during their colonial rule of India.

He just happened to “discover” the falls in 1845.


Unchalli Falls resides near Siddapur in the Uttar Kannada District of Karnataka State, India. It is administered by the Uttar Kannada District Government. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you can visit their website.

Unchalli_Falls_011_11142009 - Broad contextual look at Unchalli Falls when we first started to lay our eyes on it
Unchalli_Falls_026_11142009 - Descending to lower platforms below the first platform around Unchalli Falls
Unchalli_Falls_027_11142009 - Looking back up towards the first platform of Unchalli Falls
Unchalli_Falls_029_11142009 - Julie descending beneath the second viewing platform towards the open-air third viewing area for Unchalli Falls
Unchalli_Falls_055_11142009 - Context of the lowest viewpoint that we were able to reach in front of Unchalli Falls
Unchalli_Falls_057_11142009 - Closer look at Unchalli Falls with rainbow from the open-air side (i.e. the side without the railing) at the  third viewing area
Unchalli_Falls_077_11142009 - Last look back at the Unchalli Falls with a bold rainbow arcing across it before we headed back up
Karnataka_008_11152009 - A lorrie on the wrong side of the road as it was dodging a pothole while we were heading south to Murudeshwar from Unchalli Falls
Murudeshwar_018_11152009 - The Shiva statue fronted by cows on the beach at Murudeshwar
Murudeshwar_069_11152009 - Looking past some golden temple overlooking the ocean at Murudeshwar

I believe we could’ve gotten to Unchalli Falls directly after leaving Sirsi as I recalled seeing some signed turnoff on the way.

But to be honest, Julie and I were a little disoriented as we had been driven around this part of the Western Ghats in pursuit other waterfalls before coming here.

So all we could offer up were the driving durations based on the notes we had taken.

We reached this waterfall after visiting Jog Falls.

It took us about 80 minutes to get from there to the trailhead for Unchalli Falls via the new road mentioned in the description above.

Unchalli_Falls_001_11142009 - Haphazard parking at the trailhead for the Unchalli Falls
Haphazard parking at the trailhead for the Unchalli Falls

When we left Unchalli Falls, we drove a little over 2.5 hours to the beach town of Murudeshwar to the far south of Karnataka State.

As far as largest neighboring cities were concerned, we met a large yoga group that came from the town of Shimoga some 300km to the east of this waterfall (near Bangalore).

This might be a suitable alternate to the really small and rural towns like Sirsi, Siddapur, and Yellapur.

For some context, we flew to Panaji (the main town of Goa) from Mumbai, which took us about an hour to traverse the 579km or so (10 hours drive). The drive from Panaji to Sirsi would have taken 5 hours to go the 230km. Mumbai was a two-hour flight from Delhi.

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Closeup top down sweep of the falls ending at the ravine well downstream from the last overlook

Top down sweep of just the falls with a rainbow

Top down sweep of the falls and ending well downstream of it as seen from the first sheltered platform

Tagged with: uttara kannada, yellapur, sirsi, siddapur, western ghats, india, karnataka, waterfall, lushington, bangalore

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Thank You (Unchalli Falls) December 7, 2009 7:01 pm by Balu Hegde - I've just gone through your web page and blog. You did a wonderful job! Of course waterfalls are the most charming thing on earth for me also. I have visited Unchalli falls since I was a child. Still whenever possible, I visit Unchalli falls. I have visited about 30 waterfalls of Western Ghats of India.… ...Read More

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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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