Hogenakkal Falls, the Niagara of India
The name “Hogenakkal” means “smoking rocks” in the Kannada language. The water splashing from the falls gives an illusion of smoke emanating from the rocks. This is where the Kaveri river drops from higher grounds to the lower plains cutting through the rocky terrain. The many waterfalls thus created thundered down and created scenic waterways. No other destination in Tamil Nadu is as photogenic as Hogenakkal.
It takes about seven hours of drive time to reach Hogenakkal from Chennai. Instead, one can take a train to Dharmapuri 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 time to get there.
Hogenakkal is on the border between the states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. So one could see a confluence of both cultures.
Top 6 Things to Do in Hogenakkal
- Coracle ride
- View of the falls from the hanging bridge
- Kaveri riverside picnic
- Crocodile Park
- Eat freshwater fish
- Combine nearby attractions
1. Coracle Ride
Coracles are round boats made of bamboo sticks with curved sides. It is covered with hides or plastic sheets to make it waterproof. The Tamil name for coracle is “Parisal” and is believed to exist from prehistoric times to transport. Parisal is no longer used for transport and its use is limited to tourism.
There is a park on top of the waterfalls that serves as the entrance for the coracle ride. From the upper level, the boatman would lead one through the steps carved on the rocky terrain to reach the bottom level. This is where the coracle ride would begin.
The Ride Experience
The primitive boats would take one through many waterways surrounded by shallow rocks on either side. One would be occasionally greeted by small waterfalls, birds, and many interesting rock formations. Once on the ride, we would be transported to a beautiful little world with just the river, blue sky and the surrounding rocks for company.
The ride could get bumpy if there is an increase in flow. Therefore, it is preferable to avoid a heavy meal before the ride. The coracle ride would lead one to a river island where the travelers can get down for a while. There would be many photo opportunities there.
The coracle would return to the alighting point after spending around two hours on the river. One should carry water and light snacks as there would be no access to the outside world until we complete the ride.
2. View From the Hanging Bridge
One can also view the waterfalls from a hanging bridge on top of the waterfalls. “The Hanging Bridge" is 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 without venturing on a coracle ride..
Whenever the river Kaveri is in full spate, it would become a wide sheet-type waterfalls. The resemblance to the great Niagara Falls would be clear to any observer. So it is no wonder Hogenakkal is called the Indian Niagara.
Chitrakot is one more waterfall in the state of Chhattisgarh that is also called the Niagara Falls of India. I have yet to visit Chitrakot and have seen it's beauty only through pictures.
3. Kaveri Riverside Picnic
One can go for a short drive on the road along the banks of the Kaveri river on the upper side. There would be one or two spots to park the car and enjoy spending time by the riverside. Remember to pack your lunch to make it a memorable picnic.
4. Crocodile Park
There is a small Crocodile Park well maintained by the team managing the park. Please remember to check out the organic store attached to the crocodile park selling natural products like natural oils sourced from this region. An aquarium is on the main town, but one can skip it.
5. Eat Fresh Water Fish
Fresh-water fish like the Murrel and the Butter fish is a popular attraction at Hogenakkal. It is best to dine in the TTDC restaurant itself as the ambience and food are good. Fried fish is also sold at roadside stalls leading to the waterfalls.
6. Combining Nearby Attractions
It is probably a good idea to stay in a nearby place like Salem and plan a short trip to Hogenakkal from there. Salem is known for its mango fruits and is a good shopping destination.
Yercaud and Denkanikottai
There are two travel attractions near Hogenakkal. Yercaud is a hill station near Salem with many stay options and the other is Denkanikottai, an offbeat attraction. Denkanikottai is known for its calm surroundings and pleasant weather. It has a resort by name "The Ranch". One of the two places can be clubbed with Hogenakkal.
More on Yercaud
- The 10 Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Yercaud
Yercaud is a hill station near Salem in Tamil Nadu. It is arguably the most popular among South India's offbeat hill stations and a gorgeous place to visit any time of the year.
Distance to Hogenakkal from Key Towns
A surprising aspect about Hogenakkal is the lack of many stay options. Many tourists visiting Hogenakkal view it as a picnic spot worthy of a day trip. For someone who has traveled over seven hours from a place like Chennai, a stay for a night or two would be preferable.
The only acceptable place of stay is the TTDC hotel. The rooms were basic, but they were clean and well maintained. The booking process is cumbersome and 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's play area.