In my search for the best weekend gateways near Bengaluru for a quick enthralling bike ride. Among the likes of Nandi hills, Anthargangae, Ramnagara, Lepakshi, BR hills, there was this giant waterfall with rapid water gushing downhill creating a smoke of water sprinkles. Amazing isn’t it? This very view of Hongeakkal Falls made my mind and hence started “The Saturday Ride”. Well surprisingly, what nobody talked about or post the pics, was the very road that led to the falls.
More enthralling than the waterfall itself was the path to the falls we rode. All through the well laid and narrow village roads, passing along the green boundaries, forest regions and scarcely populated locations. All, being away from usual pollution and honking while driving through the pleasant climate and yeah, an amazing 60 km stretch of blinding curvy road. As I write, the moments of joy, thrill and amazement still flash in the sparkles of my eyes for “one more time”.
“Destinations are undoubtedly spectacular in one word but its the journey which recites the story resonating long and forever.”
Movie by Misbah Rahman
We started off from Whitefield, Bengaluru at 4:00 AM on 2nd June, a 120 km ride via Varathur – Attibele – Denkanikottai – Anchetty to our destination, Hogenakkal Waterfalls. The starting time was perfect to say, on any early start we would have cruised faster but would have disappointingly missed out on the spectacular visual of the beautiful path we traveled by in darkness. We were able to exit Bengaluru and be on the route, post right turn from Hosur RTO Office (57 km from Bengaluru), just when the first light of the day started to spread itself, illuminating the pleasant surroundings we were cutting through. This is where the real pleasantness of the trip began, with narrow paths passing through the canopy formed by the tree line, villages setting itself into morning activities, radios tuning into melodies at tea shops and the early morning breeze touching the soul, the calmness and temperature was just like meditation on the move.
In June, this year it was raining almost daily in Bengaluru for the past 20 days. We thought this would be the good time to visit the falls where the falls won’t be dry and at the same it wouldn’t be too risky to drive as in monsoon. However, the best time would be post monsoon when the waterfall would be in full force, scenic views at its best and driving not so riskier without rain.
Caution: Don’t plan a ride during monsoons, as the path would be too risky to ride through and the entry to the falls would be restricted when the waterfall will be full force.
60 km of blinding curve road
We were continuously riding across the villages, completely cut off from the city flyovers, concrete, traffic and signals. With every few km’s we traveled, we were penetrating deeper and deeper into the village surroundings. These untouched lands and lives were an enhancement to the romantic and meditating experience within, as we rode to the sound of the wind. With concretes disappearing and surrounding adorning more and more of green fields, mud shelters. invisible city livestock, road passing through the dense tree lines and not so packed neighborhoods, all, with the sun rising in the backdrop, was no less than a spectacle to stop the time and adorn the moment. Come may all the developments to better off their lives, but not consume the beauty they posses in and out of them.
The route was, if not entirely, but near to the kind of riders emotion felt on trips to Coorg and Waynard, the curvy sections surrounded by green hue. If one simply does cherish the curvy section of last 8 km uphill of Nandi Hills then imagine about the 60 km of blinding curves to Hogenakkal falls.
As we neared Hogenakkal the path crossed through Manchi-Ponnai Reserve forecast. Though the sign boards did say about the elephants but we didn’t encounter any of them. These sections stretched over 30 km and the kind of isolation and silence one could feel all the while the breeze and curvy green stretch soothing the eyes and soul is an amazing experience for any riders.
Delight at Hogenakkal Falls
Over the hill, the place is spread across a big area populated with food and fancy shops selling garments and toys. The parking is charged Rs 5. and the vehicles can be parked any place available. Of the couple of things to see, the hanging bridge would be the first thing.
The Hanging Bridge
It is a small bridge connecting two hills with water flowing between them and passing underneath the bridge. However, one end of the bridge is completely blocked with other end serving as both entry and exit way at ticket price of Rs 5/person and Rs 10 for camera. It is basically a view point from where a section of falls can be seen from far and photographed. It felt ok, if not impressive.
As one of the boat men employed with Tamil Nadu government said “there are only two things to do here, one is boat ride and other is oil massage”. As said. one can find a lot of so called masseur’s and semi naked people spread across the entire place, some sitting and some lying on the rocks near the water stream and cherishing the thumping of masseur’s hands all over their oil coated body while they close eyes and relax in relief. This was something we wanted to try, well, the water quality and the fact that all the fluids from everybody’s body was flowing to the same water we let is pass from our list of things to do.
Coracle ride (Boat Ride)
The ride costs Rs. 750 per boat which can accommodate upto 6 people and it is regulated by Tamil Nadu government and all the people captaining the boat are employed under the government. It is an amazing 1 hr of relaxant apart from the oil massage at Hogenakkal Falls. The ride takes one through the gorge with slow flowing water for moat of the time, apart from the area just under the falls where the water falls directly on the boat leaving everything wet, even for a few minutes this was a really fun, drenching under the falls being in a boat. One of the other best part is where the captain stirs the boat into a fast rotation, making the travelers realize the true meaning for coracle and, yes, he does real fast. One can also find floating shops midway in the water selling snacks, water and also cigarettes. However, the water quality is not so delighting to place hands in the water or play with it as the coracle stirs. The water is green in color and one can see the froth at the edges very clearly.
A 3 hrs. of time spent at Hogenakkal Falls will certainly leave a good experience for anyone planning a weekend ride to this giant waterfall, it certainly did for us. The place is well equipped with food and has a very lively feel with people all around. Its an experience very different from sunrise and sunset points where peace of isolated surrounding and colors of sunrise would enthrall one. However, Hogenakkal falls does the best magic in its own style.