It took Nelli and Argod to come down from the US, to get us, the BTM gang, to pack up and get out on an outing - something which would remain confined to just plans on most weekends. The last time we had been out together was in October '07, when all but me, had been to Hampi.
Even this time, the plans started ambitiously - as always! :-) Munnar, Kodaikanal, Ooty, Pondicherry - there wasn't one popular picnic spot in South India that wasn't considered! But finally of them were scrapped, and we settled for a one day outing to the Hogenakal falls in Tamil Nadu, on the border between TN and Karnataka.
Hogenakal in Kannada means smoky rocks. When the water falls on the rocks it looks as if smoke is emanating from the rocks because of the force of the water. Hoge in Kannada means smoke and Kal means rock thus giving the name Hogenakal aptly to the place. The place is about 45 km from Dharmapuri in TN and 150 km from Bangalore. It is the spot where the Cauvery river, after flowing through the highlands in Karnataka, falls through a ravine, forming a multi-headed waterfall, along the border of the two states. To its credit, it also has few beautiful sequences in popular Tamil movies that have been shot there - including the "chinna chinna aasai" song from Roja.
05th Jan 2008, the first Saturday of the new year. We were ten of us - Me, manju, prajnesh and Paddy from the BTM gang with Figur, Bhupi, Achari, TG, Nelli and Argod. It was a sort of reunion for the big chunk of the NITK EBGF junta. Lobo missed out, owing to some urgent work at office, while Devu was too lazy, after a couple of games of AOE till 4 am that morning.
Bhupi had arranged for a TT for the trip. He landed at our place in BTM at 8 am and then got all of us to move our butts from infront of the TV, when we were deeply engrossed in watching the 4th day play of the now controversial Sydney test between India and Australia.
We hit the road at 9 am. Stopped near the entrance to Electronics City for some breakfast. We then continued on the NH7 through Hosur and Dharampuri, and took a right there to the Hogenakal falls. It took us 2.5 hours from Bangalore, to reach the place.
A stop about 10 km before Hogenakal, relieved the old 'cooler' moments of our EBGF days at college! :-D
One of the main attractions of Hogenakal, is the coracle ride through the ravine. Although it does seem scary for the aquaphobic non-swimmers, it is pretty safe, if the water is not in spate, and you follow all the precautions while floating in the coracle. For us, it was a good time to be there, since the water current was just right.
The most difficult part of the coracle ride, is digesting the astronomical costs that the local boatmen charge, and not succumbing to it!! While some of our friends told us that they had paid upto 500-600 bucks for each coracle, we were greeted with "normally 1000 - but for you, we'll do it for 900" kinds of offers. After letting go a dozen of them, we finally negotiated a prize of 700 per coracle with a couple of best-among-the-pack guys, and hired two coracles.
Sailing in the calm waters of the Cauvery in the coracle, was a great experience. Many of us also tried our hands on the oars of the coracle, and realized that steering the boat was much tougher than it seemed by the look of it! We sailed close to several tributaries of the water falls, and kept the camera busy.
A few interesting things we got to observe during the ride, were the mobile shops, which sold all the junk food you'd like, and a few young boys, jumping off some of the peaks on the banks, into the river, at the behest of the tourists, for a fee of two bucks.
At around 2 pm, we reached a beach on the banks, beyond the ravine. Here, there were some shack-shops which served meals with freshly caught river-fish curry. Although the food looked tempting to a few of us hungry souls, the vegetarians and hygiene-conscious had their final word, and we skipped that lunch. It would have been great, if we too would have packed some good lunch for ourselves, like more than half of the other tourists who were there.
We sat down on the sand, talked about the good old days of college, and 'debated' excitedly about the "new phase of life" Argod was about to enter into. Infact this matter about Argod ruled the roost during most of our discussions throughout the day. Dead sure, by then Argod would have cursed himself a thousand times, of having let the cat out of the bag, amongst a flock cackling geese!! :-D
On our way back, we stopped by at a small part of the waterfall, and also took a dip in the water. Despite the falls being small, it had a few good currents which we throughly enjoyed, and was worth the experience for having come that far!
We started back around 5 30 pm. On the way, our cabbie took an alternate route, which was supposedly shorter, through some reserve forest. We had to pay a bribe of 30 bucks to the watchman at the gate, to ride on rocky mountainous path they called "road". The only pacifying factor, which compensated slightly for the bad ride, was that we chanced upon a couple of elephants crossing the road in the forest.
We reached Bangalore at around 9 pm. That included a half an hour break to save our starving tummies with some snacks, till we got home to a filling dinner and a good night's sleep after a great trip!
- Ideal time to visit: October to February. Good place for a one day trip from Bangalore
- Route: Bangalore - Hosur - Dharmapuri - Hogenakal
- Distance from Bangalore: approx 150 km
- Food: Suggest carrying your own food for lunch. Some local hotels and some shacks on the shoals in the river, and river banks provide fresh fish curry meals. Not much variety, otherwise. Other than the place itself, next closest place for food is Dharmapuri 46 km away.
- Cost of one coracle (ideally): 600-700 bucks.