Coracle Ride in Picturesque Hogenakkal
The name "Hogenakkal" means "smoking rocks" in the Kannada language. The water splashing from the falls give an illusion of smoke emanating from the rocks. No other destination in Tamilnadu is as photogenic as Hogenakkal. You are sure to return with plenty of postcard like images and memories when you undertake a trip to this place.
This is the place where the Kaveri river drops from higher grounds to the lower plains cutting through the rocky terrain. The numerous waterfalls thus formed thunders down and creates scenic waterways.
It takes about seven hours of drive to reach Hogenakkal from Chennai. Alternately, one can take a train to Dharmapuri or Salem from Chennai and cover the balance distance by bus or taxi. It is much closer to residents of Salem and Bengaluru as they need just two or three hours of drive to reach there.
Hogenakkal is located close to the border between the states of Tamilnadu and Karnataka. So one could see a confluence of both cultures.
Coracles are round boats made of bamboo sticks with curved sides. It is covered with hides or plastic sheets to make it water proof. The Tamil name for coracle is “Parisal” and is believed to be in existence from prehistoric times as a means of transport. Parisal is no longer used as a means of transport and its use is limited to tourism.
There is a park on top of the waterfalls that serve as the entrance for coracle ride. Once we buy the tickets, the boatman would lead us through the steps carved on the rocky terrain to reach the bottom level. This is where the coracle ride would commence.
The primitive boats would take us through many waterways surrounded by shallow rocks on either side. We would be occasionally greeted by smaller waterfalls, birds and many interesting rock formations. Once on the ride, we would realize that we are in a beautiful little world with just the river, blue sky and the surrounding rocks for company.
We were warned that the ride could get bumpy at times. It is better to avoid a heavy meal before the ride. Since the water flow was moderate during our visit, we had a comfortable ride. The coracle ride would take us to a river island where the boatman would allow us to get down for a while. We would have more photo opportunities there.
The boatman would finally take us back to our alighting point to end a memorable journey lasting around two hours. We should carry some water and light snacks as we would have no access to outside world till we complete the ride.
Distance to Hogenakkal from Key Towns
Other Activities at Hogenakkal
The town also has an Aquarium and a Crocodile Park. The Aquarium is located in the main town closer to the hotel where we stayed. It is perfectly fine if you decide to give it a miss based on our average experience.
The Crocodile Park was good though it was a small one. It was well maintained by the team managing the park. Please remember to check out the organic store attached to the crocodile park selling natural products sourced from this region.
We can also go for a short drive on the road along the banks of the Kaveri river on the upper side. We would find one or two spots to park the car and enjoy spending some time by the riverside. It is a good idea to carry packed lunch to make it a memorable picnic.
One can also view the waterfalls from a hanging bridge on top of the water falls. “The Hanging Bridge" is located inside the park that also serves as the entrance for the coracle ride. This is the place to get the best view of the waterfalls even without venturing on a coracle ride.
The first image shared in this article would have a close resemblance to Niagara in shape. But when we visited, the river was not in full spate and hence the waterfalls had only a modest flow. So the Niagara feel was missing then since the flow was discontinuous.
The boating would be banned once the river is in full spate due to safety concerns. We were happy that we could enjoy the coracle ride in total comfort.
A surprising aspect about Hogenakkal is the lack of many stay options. The only acceptable place of stay was the TTDC hotel managed by Tamilnadu Tourism Development Corporation. The rooms were basic but they were clean and well maintained. Booking process is a bit cumbersome and it can be done only through the TTDC website.
This hotel has lots of open space and one can go for strolls at leisure within the resort premises. It also has a children play area. Fresh water fish is a popular attraction at Hogenakkal. It can be had at the hotel restaurant itself as the food was good there.
A Day Trip
As we have seen, this town does not have much to offer in terms of sightseeing other than the coracle ride that could get over in a couple of hours. It is probably a good idea to stay in a nearby place like Yercaud or Salem and plan a short trip to Hogenakkal from there.
The tourist town could also benefit from a better civic infrastructure. During our last visit in December 2016, we felt that there was scope to improve upon the cleanliness of this place. I wish the town planners and authorities have taken the necessary steps to improve the cleanliness of this otherwise beautiful place.