Monsoon has been good this year. Although it arrived a bit late, it has shown no signs of relenting since then. Dark grey clouds that were a rarity last year are almost a daily phenomenon, and the sun god peeps out occasionally at noon. Many regions of India have been flooding and there is just ‘water, water everywhere’. Newspapers carry the flooded villages on one page whilst on another are beautiful photos of water being cascading majestically down waterfalls.
One cannot just keep watching from one’s couch and not be a part of this scenery. We decided to drive to Hogenakkal and witness this for ourselves. Though we were apprehensive of the potential chaos due to the rain, we took our chances and drove on.
Hogenakkal Falls is on River Kaveri in the Dharmapuri district, situated around 180 km from Bangalore. Though the route via Krishnagiri and Dharmapuri is rather easy, with good roads, we decided to take a more scenic route via Denkanikottai and Anchetty. The hot pongal at Ganesh Bhavan in Denkanikottai was a perfect starter for the trip, as we drove on a narrow road with lush green trees on either side. We stopped at a few points and enjoyed the picturesque views the route offered. Soon, we stumbled on Mallikarjuna Durga, a hillock near Anchetty.
There are no clear stairs to the top of the hillock, but one can climb pretty easily, stepping on the boulders, to reach the small temple at the top. We stopped intermittently during the easy climb, taking in the views. Some patches of land were orange whilst others were lush green. The temple at the top is dedicaetd to Shiva. There were remnants of an ancient wall on top of the hillock, but no other signs from the ASI regarding the importance of the place. The Nandi that was placed outside the sanctum sanctorum was beautifully carved and looked relatively new. The construction workers told us that they were constructing a diya on the top so that a function similar to the one in Thiruvannamalai Deepam can be performed here.
The winds were getting strong and it started to drizzle. We decided to hike down and continue onwards to Hogennakkal as the rocks become very slippery once wet. The rains played hide-and-seek, stopping soon. The narrow yet scenic roads continued for a few more miles and we soon hit a tri-junction with a Ayannar Temple on the side of the road.
Ayannars are village gods who protect the village from evil. The beautiful and large statues of the twin village gods offered a perfect photo-op. After a quick break, we hit the patchy road once again.
View from the top
We could spot River Kaveri flowing at a distance and were wondering whether we would hit the base of the falls or the top. As we drove on, we saw women selling spiced fish by the side of the road. We were yearning to hit the waters, and after a quick lunch and negotiations with boatmen, decided to do a coracle ride followed by massages and a swim.
One can go in the coracle to the base of the waterfalls, when the water levels are low, but since this year the monsoon has been phenomenally good, the boatmen informed us that reaching the bottom of the falls was not allowed, though one can have a look from the top. An auto was arranged to take us upstream, from where we would then float in the coracle before being taken to a view-point on the Karnataka side. The view from the bridge was simply spectacular, as it afforded a panoramic view of the waterfalls at its best. At a few places the waterfall wore a muddy look, though the bulk of it was like milk gushing out from the rocks. The sound of the water falling on the rocks eclipsed almost everything else; the mist formed due to the thrashing gave an enigmatic look to the whole scenery.
We soaked in the scenery and took the coracle to a ghat wherein we would get the best oil massage this place has to offer.
The weather so far had been great and we enjoyed every bit of it. While some tried their hands at the local cuisine (fish deep fried in oil and coated with spices and chilly powder), the rest of us enjoyed the gushing waters.
After this relaxing experience, we drove back, yet again, taking the scenic route to Bangalore.