Early March is normally not considered the best season to visit Hogenakkal Falls, but then for a trip with friends such things often don't matter. Known as the Niagara of India, this popular waterfall is located around 46 Kms from the town of Dharmapuri in Tamil Nadu and around 160 Kms from Bangalore. Exactly on the border of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, it can be approached from both sides. So it was kind of funny when we ended up on the Tamil Nadu side after a good scenic drive form Bangalore. It seems the boatmen here adhere to some dressing norms, the ones on our side were dressed in blue while the ones on the opposite bank were attired in yellow.
The name of the waterfall is derived from two Kannada words, hoge which means smoke and kal meaning rocks thereby translating to Smoking Rocks. The Carbonatite rocks at this site are considered to be the oldest of its kind in South Asia. At Hogenakkal, the river Kaveri drops and creates numerous waterfalls as the water cuts through the rocky terrain. The thunderous sound of water crashing down from over 60 feet is something to experience. After this point the river spreads out over a wide area of sandy beaches. With its fame for medicinal baths and coracle boat rides, it is a great draw for tourists.
Boating is a major attraction here. Coracles, locally known as Parisal, are round boats made of bamboo with the bottoms covered by hide or plastic, with a single paddle for steering. We chose a parisal ride and the boatmen took us on a ride through the gorge right up to the waterfalls. He even got the boat under one of the falls. It was quite exhilarating despite the risk of getting my camera drenched. Sitting in the boat, looking at the water and the sky, the great rocky walls rising up on both sides, the play of light on the water surface, the wind, watching patterns, don't be surprised if the tranquility gets you doing a Rodin's The Thinker. As per the boatmen, the water in this channel can be fairly deep, up to 100 feet in places. It’s not unusual to see shops on water as hawkers move around on parisals selling snacks and soft drinks.
One unpleasant experience of the ride is the strong smell of fish that stays with you for almost the whole trip. Fishing is quite popular here and you can get tasty freshly caught river fish deep fried and smeared in all kinds of aromatic spices at reasonable prices. The river water is also considered medicinal and hence many tourists prefer taking a bath post a rejuvenating oil massage. Special bathing enclosures have been created for safety while bathing in the waterfall. Alternately, one can even head out to the sandy beaches for some fun in the moderate currents. Evening, we found ourselves busy taking pictures of the waterfall as the sun gradually sank below the horizon. Almost, lost one of my lenses to a monkey who seemed quite interested in photography.