Hogenakkal or Smoke Rock (Hog-Kal) Falls, are breath-taking falls on the border of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. 150 kms from Bangalore, they make for a good day trip from the city. Bound between cities since April, I was craving for some road (and non-urban beauty), therefore our little day sojourn to Hogenakkal on a recent trip to Bangalore.
We started in the morning at 7 – taking the route from Hosur to Krishnagiri (Denkanikuttai) and then to Dharmapuri where Hogenakkal lies. Part of the route is beautiful – it passes through forests, and at this time of the year was beautifully green. There are some ghats along the way, which make for a winding drive which is thoroughly enjoyable. In the rest of the route, there are villages and small towns – not very alluring and at small stretches, the road gets rugged. There are hardly any good restaurants along the way, so we carried our own breakfast. To have your breakfast under a tree, surrounded by lush green scenery makes the food more appetizing. To us, the trip could have ended there and still been a perfect one, but I am glad we kept on moving ahead to the falls.
It took us about 4 hours to reach – tad long for the distance, but we had kept a leisure pace, stopping at places to admire the views. There are some nice places to stop around the Kaveri banks and you may find a few local picnics being enjoyed there.
On getting down from the car at Hogenakkal, we were at first taken aback by the heat and the crowd – there were so many sight-seers. Not surprising, but yet a little daunting. However, once we entered the river complex, the shade of the trees and the effect of the river cooled us down a bit. We began to enjoy the activity – people haggling with boatsmen for a coracle ride along the falls, coracles gently swaying in the placid river, and the unmistakable music of the falls. After a bit of haggling, we too found a coracle and geared up for our ride.
A coracle ride is very gentle, unlike some shaky boat rides I have been on. Boatsmen have a trick of giving the coracle a little spin in the middle of water, and that gives the otherwise calm ride a little action. Our ride involved a bit of walking both onwards and coming back, more while coming back. As we cruised through the falls, the boatsman put us under a few streams of water so that by the end of the journey we were soaked. Apparently in the summers, coracles can go even under the falls shown above, and as monsoons take over, the boating area is heavily reduced. However, while the boatsman claimed that summers were the best time to visit, given the heat I had my doubts.
In the middle of the ride, during one of the walking parts, you come across a viewing post (charged) from where you can see a good view of the falls. Some people climbed down from here and went close to the falls – we did not, as the place looked crowded a little unclean. On the side, a few people were getting oil massages – apparently hogenakkal has some famous oil massages, though frankly, the people lying on uneven grounds and rocks hardly looked very comfortable to me.
After getting out of the falls, we had lunch at the Tamil Nadu Tourism property, and the little I say about it the better – there was nothing delectable about the lunch or about the hygiene of the place. Sadly though, there are very few options available at hogenakkal and each of them looked worse than the others. The place attracts little high value tourism and no good restaurant owner has seemed to spot a potential.
The falls themselves are breathtaking (you may remember them from the movie Roja – the song Dil hai chhota sa is shot here, or from the movie Raavan which has a free-fall scene shot here). I just wished that the area was maintained better – a few dustbins would help, as would imposing strict fines on those who litter. I have never been very enthused with tourism in South India, primarily because no effort is expended in making the places comfortable.