Monday, 15 October 2012

The Niagara Experience

Straddling international borders between USA and Canada is a body of water well known all over as one of the natural wonders of the world. I am talking about Niagara Falls of course and the collective waters flowing down the Niagara River actually form the highest flow rate of any other such waterfall around the world. The stupendous sight with its rhythmic resonance comes in the wake of a sheer vertical drop of over 165 feet!

It is the upkeep of these renowned waterfalls that also drew my attention. Decidedly the beauty of the vertical waterscape attracts tourists by the hoards and it is the challenge of engaging the recreational crowd to remain disciplined to the surroundings that leaves me nonplussed. While maintaining the pristine sanctity of the place, it is the stark cleanliness all around that leaves me overwhelmed.

One cannot but find it equally appealing to see the spotless surroundings clear of ravages of time. Actually it was after the 18th century when tourism began gaining popularity that the Falls became the area’s main industry. And to have maintained the pristine immaculate naturalness of the surroundings is nothing short of a miracle. The New World discovered not quite far back in time had the original inhabitants also respecting nature in all its form.

As a tourist from India it all appears to be a gigantic achievement for my senses. The onus of responsibility I believe has been as much by careful stewardship of the authorities as by the public helping maintain the aquatic environment to be clean and uncontaminated. It is unbelievable that nearly 12 million annual visitors arrive here. The Maid of the Mist that was launched in 1846 first as an actual ferry service has since 1854 operated as a tourist attraction.  

We in India might gloat about our six thousand year history but when it comes to conserving our natural resources we have a lesson or two to learn. When I look back at our attempts at saving the Ganges River from contamination I am at a loss, for all our fervor. Not for them the religiosity hype that we associate with our ancient rivers. It is hands on action and discipline that has the River distinctively clean despite the huge tourist influx. Preservation efforts take care of the natural beauty and despite the regular tourist accoutrements the River and the Falls remain clean and pristine to this day. 

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