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Friday, August 26, 2011

Monsoon Ride: Bangalore to Hogenakkal Falls

It had been close to 2 months since I had travelled anywhere and I was itching to get out of the city. And this itch came to an end when I planned a monsoon motorcycle ride from Bangalore to Hogenakkal Falls a couple of Sundays back.

Hogenakkal Falls from the Tamil Nadu side - looks like a canyon with water tumbling everywhere 
It was a nippy and grey Sunday morning when four of us on three motorcycles met at Silk Board to begin our journey.The route we had in mind for our day trip was Bangalore –> Attibelle –> Anekal –> Denkanikottai –> Anchetti –> Hogenakkal Falls and back.

Silky Niagara of India 
We were just ten minutes into our journey when a steady drizzle began and gave us company for nearly half our journey. The drizzle made us cold, caused us to drop our speed, but gave the ride a true monsoon flavour.

The wide and furious Cauvery tumbles here to form the wide and massive Hogenakkal Falls 
Breakfast at Attibelle was our first pit stop. Post our breakfast, we left the four lanes behind and took the 2 lane state highways, which were not in very great condition for a distance of 20 kilometres or thereabouts.

Tumbling from all corners - Hogenakkal Falls 
Then began the winding ghat roads of the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary, which were perfect for a Sunday morning ride. This was followed by serene country roads and thinly populated villages.

Silky Smooth Hogenakkal Falls 
As we neared our destination, we could see the Cauvery flow to our right. We could see people picnicking on the river side. The traffic levels increased as we approached the city. Vehicles were parked on either side of the road for kilometres together. I guess this is a typical Sunday phenomenon. Luckily for us, there was enough space for our motorcycles to squeeze through.

Tourists admire the five falls on the Tamil Nadu side of Hogenakkal Falls - this is where the Roja movie was shot 
We parked at the edge of the river, appeased our hunger by treating us to a simple lunch at the Tamil Nadu Hotel and then got ourselves a nice coracle boat after haggling a lot. A three hour round trip for the entire boat cost us 1000 rupees.

A lengthy mass ofgushing water and waterfalls 
Thus began our journey on the Cauvery. A short trip downstream bought us to the first set of falls and we were supposed to disembark at this point. This is where we got to see the five falls and the larger Tamil Nadu falls. One can also get a stupendous view of the entire gorge by climbing up the view point tower for a measly charge of 3 rupees.

Coracles are the only things that survive in this Cauvery canyon 
This waterfall is called the Tamil Nadu falls as it comes under the purview of the Tamil Nadu state. The other speciality about it is that it has water throughout the year, though it looks best in the monsoons.

Hogenakkal in even half flow is a great sight 
While we were enjoying nature’s spectacle, our boatman had carried his coracle boat down a flight of steps to the bottom of the waterfall. This is where we embarked again and began our downstream journey again. First, in turbulent waters and then in much calmer waters.

The fast downstream Cauvery river 
It was somewhere in the calmer stretch that we got off on the right bank and began a 15 minute hike to the other side of the Hogenakkal waterfalls, which falls in Karnataka and is thus called the ‘Karnataka Falls’.

Our boatman Ramu getting the coracle ready to set sail again 
This Karnataka Falls is located in a deeper part of the Hogenakkal gorge and carries water primarily in the monsoons. During the monsoons, the Karnataka Falls beats the Tamil Nadu falls in terms of beauty, but the Tamil Nadu falls provides a more year-round show.

The green Cauvery surroundings 
At the end of our sweaty hike, we came across to a forest check post where we had to pay a entry fee of 5 rupees. Before getting inside the check post, we treated ourselves to some juicy cucumbers and sweet limes and regained some of our lost energies.

Hogenakkal Falls from the Karnataka side and hence referred to as Karnataka Falls 
Post this refreshing snack break, we took a small bridge that took us straight to the Karnataka Falls view point. There was no doubt that this waterfall looks extremely pretty in full flow and outclasses the waterfalls in the neighbouring state. Some daredevil tourists were trying to get a closer look by standing at the cliff’s edge and this grabbed our attention for a long while.  One can even see the Tamil Nadu falls from this view point.

Hogenakkal Falls - also known as the Niagara of India 
The Karnataka Falls view point offers a closer view and better infrastructure when compared to the Tamil Nadu Falls view point, but lacks in terms of height. After enjoying the view of the Karnataka Falls, we  proceeded slowly to the river bank, where our coracle boat was waiting for us.

Continuous series of waterfalls tumble down 
The return journey was through a circuitous route, partially upstream and then downstream. As we neared the boat yard, we noticed a corpse floating in the water and stuck between some rocks. I am guessing that it must have been some drunk guy who lost his head. The cops and the authorities advise caution to the tourists, but a lot of them hardly pay any heed and this can be seen by checking the death stats at Hogenakkal.

Locals told that 2 weeks back, the water was flowing over where these people are standing, which means the river was flowing above the waterfall level 
Except for this final unfortunate moment, the entire round trip was spectacular. There was so much of water in the Cauvery that each waterfall look stupendous. My boatman was telling me that two weeks back, the entire river was in flood and the waterfalls were then an amazing sight. But, he also mentioned that nobody was allowed near the river including the locals and the entire area was cordoned off.

Coracles are the only way to cross the swirling Cauvery river 
Once we were done with our boat trip, we went back to our parking lot, grabbed a small bite and sipped a hot cuppa coffee while it started to rain. We got all packed and ready and waited for the rains to ease.

One of the widest waterfall series in India 
As the rains let off, we began our return journey through Anchetti –> Denkanikottai –> Hosur –> Bangalore. Return journey was fairly uneventful as we had promised ourselves to get out of the forest and the winding ghat roads before nightfall. The only good thing was us getting treated to some chur muri (Jhal Muri in Hindi and Masalai Mandakki in Kannada) by a picnicking family at a pit stop in the forest.

 
We reached home by 9:30 pm to signal the successful completion of a brilliant Sunday Monsoon Ride from Bangalore to Hogenakkal Falls.

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