Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A day trip to Hogenakkal Falls

Dec 27th, 2009, Sunday.

Rajesh and I finally managed to keep up with our proposed one day outing to Hogenakkal falls. The plan was to visit Hogenakkal falls which is about 180 KMS from Bangalore. The Innova car got confirmed from our travel agent and so we were up and running for the trip. Pooja, Soujanya and myself were the first pickup at 7:30 AM and got in from our apartments and picked up Sanjana, Vishal, Pushpa and Rajesh on the way. As usual, the driver started late by an hour and so Rajesh had gotten the breakfast packed instead. In an hour's time we had already crossed into Tamil Nadu via Hossur and found a huge petrol station where we stopped for fueling our car. The place was really huge, had a small little lawn at the back where all of us decided to fuel ourselves with Idli and Vada. The roads were very nice and journey was effortlessly smooth.

By 10:45 AM we reached the Parking lot of Hogennakal falls and walked towards the falls. The small road leading towards the falls was littered everywhere, small road-side shops selling unclean food, pathetic sights of lambs being slaughtered in the open road and other non-veggie delights were not what we were expecting, but had to be contended with the fact that things might get better as we get closer to the falls.

The road suddenly steered us into an opening to the river side where a 'Theppa' (Coracle) agent latched on to us and assured a good package and we bought his plan. By 11:30 all of us jumped into the Theppa - a bamboo stick/straw skeleton covered with sheaths of plastic cement bags smeared with Tar on the outside. The next 3~4 hours of our trip really transformed our day into one of the best trips I have had this year.

The water for once was clean and clear inspite of the maddening crowd dirtying it everywhere. Our Theppa 'captain' crossed the shore and landed us into an Island'ish area from where we were able to view the beautiful Hogenakkal falls from over the top. The sight was awesome with the full view of all the falls together from one location. The exploding sound from the falls crashing onto the rocks underneath generating tons of fine mist around the falls really makes up the for the apt name 'Hogenakkal' falls. A few snaps here and there, we moved back onto the longer version of our ride and this time, our captain took us around huge rocky gorges as high as 60 feet and got us pretty close to the bottom of the falls. The ride was really enchanting and worth every second. Nothing could be missed. We must have seen atleast 50 other 'Theppas' moving in and around and the river was looking like a highway for the Theppas.

A few funny things that we came across was the mobile Theppa market. Couldn't believe my eyes when a couple of Theppas came around selling Chips, cool drinks and water. What a smart idea! Right on top of the 60 foot cliffs, we could see young local kids bidding and bargaining with the folks on the Theppa. Once the deal was struck, we could see these kids jumping 60 feet from the cliff tops into the river below! Man, that was some stunt to behold.

We reached the foot of the falls and could see the beauty in all its splendor. The view was quite breathtaking. Our captain then drove downstream passing jagged rocky cliffs of granite and drove till we found a little less crowded sandy island. He anchored his 'no-brakes and 2-hands-powered' gizmo while all of us got down and let the kids enjoy the shallow river. Vishal, Sanjana and Pooja had a whale of a time in the crystal clear water. The not-so-sunny weather was not so chill either and was just perfect for a good dip. We spent the next couple of hours watching the kids enjoy themselves playing merrily, collecting stones and shells. After a quick grub of high-engery Nutri-bars, we jumped back into our ship and started our journey back to the main land. Most of the journey was upstream and our hero captain had to really sweat it out for the next 20 odd minutes to steer the ship till we docked back to the main land. By 3:30 PM we were all set to leave the place and bade good-bye to one of the most beautiful falls that I have ever seen. Our captain earned the much deserved 1400 bucks for filling our day with beautiful sights of splendor and the lovely playtime in the river.

Interesting co-incidence was that the last time we both (Rajesh and I) were on a picnic together was to the same Hogenakkal falls which we visited in the summer of 1986, (23 years back!) along with a whole lot of other families. We got back to our car and left Hogenakkal falls at roughly 4 in the evening. By 4:30 PM we were in Dharmapuri and took an hour's break for lunch at 'Saravanna Bhavan'. The rubberized Idlies didn't quite soak in the tasty sambar, but the Chutney and Dosa's managed to slip down the throat quite easily. The coffee was really good though. With our tummy-meters indicating full, we started the longer segment of our journey back to Bangalore. The journey was filled exchanging a lot of puzzles and solving a few of those. It was amazing to see Vishal solve many of those puzzles. I must say, 'Like-father-like-son' in this case.

We touched Rajesh's house by 7:45 PM, and then by 8 PM I signed off our car rental services from my place.

Apart from the good time we spent at Hogenakkal, the only thing that left me sad was the fact that the government had provided absolutely no facilities for the visitors. The word 'Cleanliness' and 'Hygiene' does not seem to exist. No toilet facilities, Not a single good-clean restaurant. Vegetarians like us will have to depend on packed food or survive till we reach Dharmapuri, the nearby town about 46 KMS from Hogenakkal to get anything close to being vegetarian. There is no police protection, no hospitals / medical care and most importantly no emergency response teams in case of any accidents on water, no nothing. May be these facilities are there, but there were no information, directions or sign-boards anywhere and I am sure that this place that attracts so many people is a disaster waiting to happen and I hope I am absolutely wrong about this. If the same kind of natural treasure were to exist in developed countries, it would have been advertised and marketed as a wonder of the world with a place on the global map with Resorts, Airports, Package Tours, and all facilities to ensure that everyone atleast can enjoy this place without any worries. I do hope that one day, this place will have atleast the basic amenties that ensures the traveler a worry-free outing.

Overall, the day was spent quite well and these cherished memories will definitely go into our books for a long time to come. Rajesh and Pushpa's company was just perfect and thanks to Sanjana and Vishal for keeping Pooja entertained right through the day.

Here are a few pictures and videos taken during the picnic.

A Trip To Hogenakkal Falls

Videos: A Trip To Hogenakkal Falls

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