Sunday, September 13, 2009
Hogenakkal Falls - The smoking Rocks at Niagara of India
Hogenakkal Falls or Hogenakal Falls is a waterfall in South India on the Kaveri (or Cauvery) River. It is located in the Dharmapuri district of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu] about 180 km from Bangalore and 46 km from Dharmapuri town. It is sometimes referred to as the "Niagara of India". With its fame for medicinal baths and hide boat rides, it is a major site of tourist attraction. Carbonatite rocks in this site are considered to be the oldest of its kind in South Asia and one of the oldest in the world.This is also the site of a proposed project to generate drinking water.
You need to take Hosur road and drive through Hosur and Krishnagiri, turn left after Krishnagiri and reach Dharmapuri. Drive into Dharmapuri and ask for directions to the fall. Another 30km drive takes you to Hogenakal. Roads are pretty good till Dharmapuri and then will slow you down a bit. Expect a two and a half hour journey. No food or accommodation available at the location and it is good to pack your lunch before you start. Starting early from Bangalore helps, as it can get really sunny as the day goes.
You get the feel of the river running nearby when you enter the sanctuary enclosing Hogenakal waterfall. Suddenly, there is plenty of vegetation and little habitation, the road keeps going down and down into the valley indicating the probability of finding a river. A 15 minute of quite drive into the forest leads you to a busy and noisy village(or call it a marketplace) or Hogenakkal.
The real action begins with the boatmen, even before you get to see the waterfall. You realize that you need a coracle to go there, and approach the boatmen expecting to pay may be a 20, 30 or 50 rupees. You would be in for a big surprised when they ask you for a 500! Heavy bargaining can bring it down considerably but they are pretty smart businessmen and they know you wont go back easily after coming this far! Boating in Hogenakkal is allowed during the dry-season as the water falls are not strong to disrupt the passage of the boats. Local coracles operate from the banks of both Tamil Nadu andKarnataka banks of the gorge.
This is the main source of income for these boat operators. The coracles are about 2.24m in diameter, but still can take a load of eight persons at a time. These coracles are made of bamboo, and with all materials available takes about a day to build. The bottom of the boats are made water proof by the use of hides, but sometimes with sheets of plastic. Use of plastics in the Hogenakkal vicinity, not just for boats, has been criticised due to problems with pollution. These boats are steered and propelled using a single paddle, making them unique. The coracles are locally called as parisal in Tamil and either teppa or harigolu in Kannada.
This is another big waterfall on the Kaveri river after Shivanasamudra. Though not as high as the earlier one, it is equally magnificent, with the river falling into a narrow gorge in several bursts of water. There is no wide open space where you can stand and watch the fall; you need to hire a coracle and get right into the gorge to be able to see it. The boatmen can take you really close to the falling water, sometimes to make the water splash into you if you wish. River here is only a little wider than Mekedatu but much mellow, flows through a narrow channel surrounded by rocks on both sides which are carved into strange shapes by the river. Boatmen say water is probably a 100 feet deep here. The channel looks lovely and the rocks look as if they were carved by an artist!
Another attraction are local kids who can show you their diving skills, for a fee. They can dive for you from a height of around 30 feet into the water and climb straight up back on the rocks in no time, all for mere Rs.5 from the spectator. There is competition within them and you may be offered a discount! A little downstream to the river is a wide plane where day trippers and picnic crowd spend most of their time, but you don’t really find a good shelter anywhere there. Men can attempt a massage offered by the local masseur but is best avoided.
When the water falls on the rocks it appears as if hoge (smoke in Kannada) is emanating from the top of the kal ( means rock )because of the force of the water, hence Hogenakkal(smoking rocks). It is also called as Marikottayam by the people of Tamil Nadu.
The Kaveri River is considered to form at Talakaveri in the Brahmagiri hills in Kodagu district in Karnataka and gathers momentum as the land drops in elevation. It becomes larger as various tributaries feed into it on the way down. At Hogenakkal, the Kaveri, now a large river, drops and creates numerous waterfalls as the water cuts through the rocky terrain. In places the water falls as much as 20 m and is said to sound like continual thunder. Soon after the falls the river takes a Southerly course and enters the Mettur reservoir. The river carriessediment which makes the "down-river" land fertile.
At Hogenakkal the river spreads out over a wide area of sandy beaches, then flows through to the Mettur Dam and creates a 60 sq mi. lake called Stanley Reservoir. Built in 1934, this project improved irrigation and provided hydropower.
Freshly caught fish are sold by the gorge and also various vendors selling water and snacks up and down the gorge rowing their parisals is not uncommon. The fish caught include katla,robu, kendai, keluthi, valai, mirgal, aranjan and jilaby. After leaving the gorge, on the left shore
one can find improvised stalls set up on the sand. There, one can let the fresh fishes be prepared in one of the many kitchens. Also, many people can be found swimming or bathing around there.
Posted by Ujjal Mahanti