Monsoon is my favourite season. It is that time of the year when the arid landscape gives way to lush green meadows and the rivers and streams are brimming. Escaping from the din of the city even for a day is simply bliss. There were options galore from Bangalore but the panoramic Hogenakkal Falls, which is about 151 km away, beckoned.
A popular picnic spot among day trippers, Hogenakkal Falls lies on the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border in Dharmapuri district of Tamil Nadu. Interestingly, hoge and kal comes from two Kannada words, meaning smoke and rock. The water from Cauvery river hits the rocks with such great force that it seems like smoke emanating from them; therefore it has earned the name of ‘smoking rocks’. It is also known as Marikottayam by the Tamils.
We hit the road early because we wanted to be there before the place got crowded. We took the Bangalore-Hosur route via Rayakottai, Palakkodu and Pennagaram. The rain-soaked landscape was a treat for the weary eyes. After breakfast at Rayakottai, we headed straight to the town of Hogenakkal. As we drew close to the town, the sound of the gushing river welcomed us. We drove through a 4-km stretch road that ran parallel to the river. It was a peaceful sight.
What to do:
Boat ride, anyone?
The coracle boat (made of bamboo and hides) ride here is a must. Tourists haggling with boatmen is a normal sight. So, you can also go ahead and bargain for your ride. It comes to around Rs Rs. 1500 for the entire boat, which can accommodate around five people. The boat ride is exhilarating if you go underneath a few falls. As you go downstream, you will get to see the five falls, including the Tamil Nadu falls. It is known by that name because it falls under the purview of the state. There is water here all through the year, but it is a spectacle during the monsoon. However, if the river is flooded, boating is not allowed during this season.
While the Karnataka falls lies in the deeper part of the gorge and it is only during the rainy season will you find water, but in terms of beauty it is matchless. As you cruise along the bank, you can get to taste some really good fish fry and fish curry with rice at the several stalls put up by the villagers. You can sit on your boat and enjoy your lunch. If you are not up for lunch, there are several vendors selling buttermilk and other snacks.
Game for a swim?
There are some really nice diving spots from where you can enjoy a swim in the river. But in the monsoon it is best avoided as the current can be strong. You will find many local children who are game to show off their diving skills for a fee, which will be a mere Rs. 5-10.
People getting oil massages before heading to the river for a dip and a bath are plenty. The water of this falls is considered to be medicinal. If you want to rejuvenate yourself and relax your nerves, getting a massage done is one of the best options.
A little downstream, on the banks of the river you will find picnickers enjoying a day out with family and friends. If you complete your boat ride early, you can sit back and enjoy your lunch amidst the serene setting.
This is for those of you who wish to stay beyond a day. Long treks in the Melagiri Hills will take you along rocky terrain and some lush green landscape. Apart from trekking, there is also a crocodile park in the town, which you can explore.
Where to stay:
There are very few options for tourists wishing to spend the night at Hogenakkal; Tamil Nadu Hotel and the Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSRTC)-run Tourist Bungalow are some of them. However, Dharmapuri, the district headquarters, which is 49 km away, has a number of options.
If you are travelling by bus, you will have to change two buses before you reach your destination. There are buses from Kalasipalayam and Madiwala in Bangalore to Hosur. From Hosur you will get direct buses. You can check out for bus tickets to Hogenakkal at Ticket Goose.com.
Hiring a car for the entire day is also another option.
The ideal time to visit this falls would be post-monsoon. But if you need a break from your hectic routine, then heading to Hogenakkal over the weekend – whether it is monsoon or winter – will rejuvenate your visual senses.