After much deliberations, we zeroed in on Hoganekkal Falls, touted as India's own Niagara. So early morning at about 5 AM, we were off to the redezvous point at Silk Board junction. 7 of us comfortably seated in 2 cars - a Corsa and a WagonR. The route decided after much googling was Bangalore-Hosur-Krishnagiri-Dharmapuri-Hoganekkal (though later we found that this wasn't the shortest or ideal route).
After zipping along the 4 lane highway and crossing into Tamil Nadu, we stopped for breakfast at Saravana Bhavan at the entrance to Hosur. The name sprang thoughts of yummy dosas and pongal as expected froma Saravan Bhavan chain. But sadly, this one surely did not belong to that chain as the food was just about okay.
After filling our stomachs, we were again back on the smooth road listening to cool techno musicon the Corsa. After Krishnagiri, the 4-lane heaven ended abruptly and from then on, it was a slow journey on a two lane highway lined with slow moving trucks and Schumi-competing autos. Not to forget the forlorn two-wheelrs carrying just about the whole joint families that live around Krishnagiri. Each bike easily had about 4 passengers on it balancing precariously and often getting off the road into the gravel when any huge truck passed by. The road got progressively bad till Dharmapuri but the Corsa took the potholes well. The WagonR was not that lucky and a particularly nasty pothole put a really bad dent on its alloy wheels.
Luckily, there was a Maruti garage nearby where they re-did the wheel. This put us back by an hour and by the time we reached Hoganekkal it was almost 12. That was about 5 hours of driving, almost nonstop.
Hogenakkal is on the Karnataka-TN border where the Cauvery falls almost 150 feet with such force that it gives rise to much mist! Hence the name - Hoge means smoke and Kal means rocks in Kannada.
The first thing that we realised when we landed there was the heat. It was baking hot and the rocks all around weren't helping the cause any little bit! Any spray of water coming towards us was instatly lapped up by the dry skin.
We walked around the bathing ghats where men were getting massaged all over the place and women were selling freshly caught (?) fish, fried in some deep red sauce!! Almost every local there seems to have taken up massaging as a profession and one could see people getting thumped and fisted in different ritualistic moves. Most of the sights were too funny.
We then got to know that to see the main falls, we need to get onto coracles (round boats made of cane with tar smeared all over the bottom of it). At Rs100 per head, we set off in 2 coracles. The first stop was at a place from where we could see about 5-6 falls together from the top of the rocks. The songs from Roja were supposedly shot out here.
It was a beautiful sight to see so much water gushing all round. After clicking the mandatory pics and doing some adventurous descents to the base of the rocks, we were off again to see the main falls. One the way, we saw the ultimate in selling strategy - mobile shops on coracles selling everything from biscuits to soft drinks to fried fish!
The main falls was too good though. It was worth all the deep tan that we got coracle-ing under the harsh sun. Water gushing from about 5-6 points to about 100 feet deep. It truly lived upto its name - Hogenakkal - the smoking rocks! The spray of mist was like manna from above under the intense heat of the sun. The lens of the cameras kept getting clouded by all the spray around. We found a nice vantage point to sit and take pictures right at the tip of the cliff overlooking the falls. One false step and it would have been chapter closed! Treading carefully, and continuously warned by the boatmen not to venture too close to the edge, we took lots of pics.
After that, it was back to the starting point. The boatman too us through some mini rapids in the Cauvery which was a thrilling experience. Then we decided to head back and have lunch at some big town. On the way we decided to have all the snacks that we had with us for lunch under a shady tree.
Coming back, we luckily caught sight of signboard which turned out to be a shorter route to Bangalore - almost shaving off 35-40km. We were back in Bangalore by sundown and caught the sunset view near Electronic City. The amber colored sky was a sight to behold! Got some good shots of the sunset from the car. We were back in office, all tanned and tired, but satisfied with the journey.
Since, it was Vinay's birthday as well, he treated us at a funky Italian place called Fiorano's near office. The food was extremely good, but tasted all the more so to us hungry travellers.
Here are some direction pointers to Hogenakkal if you decide to go there. There are multiple routes one can take.
Route 1: Bangalore-Hosur-Krishnagiri-Kaveripattinam-Dharmapuri-Hoganekkal ~ 170KM: The road starts off a 4 lane express highway which continues all the way to Krishnagiri. After this it turns into a single road with 2 lanes. After Kaveripattinam, the road turns pretty bad with huge potholes springing up from nowhere. From Dharmapuri, take a right and 46km onwards to Hogenakkal.
Route 2: Bangalore-Hosur-Rayakottai-Hogenakkal ~ 140KM: This is the route we can back on. At Hosur, you need to be on the flyover and take a right turn immediately onto Rayakottai. The road is 2-lane all the way, but generally good. Also, its been recently tarred in most places which made it a smoother drive altogether.
For snaps, go to my Flickr page
Also read Vinay's blog for another write-up on the same trip.