The Sublime and the Beautiful of Trümmelbach Falls

Our first outing after we reached Interlaken, Switzerland, was to the Trümmelbach Falls. We needed to go to Lauterbrunnen, by train, and then via a bus to the Trümmelbach Falls. One of the advantages of procuring the Swiss pass is that it saves up time queuing up for train and bus tickets, and what is most convenient, is that one can go anywhere in Switzerland, during one’s time of stay in that country. The Swiss pass is slightly expensive, but it covers a lot of risks – taking the wrong route and wrong transport and paying exorbitant fines for such glitches, is just a small fraction of that!

Us …

The Trümmelbach Falls are located on the Lauterbrunnen Valley along with 72 other such falls which add to the picturesque beauty of the place. Trümmelbach is famed to be the largest subterranean waterfall in the whole of Europe. It is deep within the cliff gorge of the Alps, and its origins are the glaciers of the Alps, one among them being the Jungfrau peak. The falls could be viewed from very close quarters thundering down the cliff. There is superb arrangement by the concerned authorities to either, climb through the various levels on foot witnessing all the terror and noise of the speeding and gurgling waters, or, of straightaway taking the elevator to the top. As the latter looked more scary and steep, up along the ravine, we decided to walk and also breathe in the beauty of the scenery of the valley. But, as we climbed up, we realized that we were entering narrow corridors cut into the cliff, and we could hear the roar of the waters!

The Cliff
The way upwards …

Soon enough, we saw the narrow gorges and the gushing and foaming falls, falling in tremendous speed. It was awe-inspiring and breathtaking, all at once.

The force …
The vigour …
The height …

The corridors narrowed down and became very slippery: they were dark enough to be lit by artificial lights. The sound of the waters made talking very difficult. We were thankful that we could turn back through the same route as we were feeling frightened of the heights now. The experience was truly of the sublime, in the Burkean sense of the term.

The fear …

Now, when I sit down to write about the Falls, I am, perhaps, quite rightly reminded of Coleridge’s poem Kubla Khan (1797). There is the same force and fervour of the Falls in Coleridge’s Alph and down there, where the Trümmelbach flows as a devastatingly beautiful and calm rivulet, the idyllic landscape of Xanadu may be, once again, re-created in one’s imagination:

… Where Alph, the sacred river, ran

Through caverns measureless to man …

… that deep romantic chasm which slanted

Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!

A savage place! as holy and enchanted

As e’er beneath a waning moon was haunted …

… And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,

As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,

A mighty fountain momently was forced:

Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst

Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,

Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail:

And mid these dancing rocks at once and ever

It flung up momently the sacred river.

And here is the peaceful rivulet flowing.

The brook …
The Sublime …
The Beautiful …

If beauty and tranquillity need metaphors, it is perhaps here. The pictures capture only a fraction. The emancipation of the mind from the cloisters of habit and convention was immense in the middle of this splendour. Dwarfed by the immensity of nature, I stood mesmerized and stupefied, unable to contain myself in the midst of its enormity and largeness. The cup of joy had overbrimmed!

View from above atop a Cable Car …
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