ஒகேனக்கல் – Tamilnadu’s Canyon

A handful of us have been planning on a day trip to some nearby place  for a month now. But it never materialized due to various reasons and suddenly last week, one of them took lead and gave us the choice of two places and since Okenakkal was much nearby and can be completed in a day without much hassles (other option was Belur and Halebidu) we opted for the same. I had ‘demanded’ that I would drive the maximum length, and this being my first long drive with friends, we all settled for it. Better to start with something simple isnt… After a really shitty friday with my running around the RTO for my LTT (to get my DL back from them. ..dont ask!!!.. short but sad story.. ) and stuff I really was looking for a break even though I wasnt too much enthused about it.. Because I was just tired.. and my friend called up on friday evening and confirmed the trip and we decided to hit the road by 7 am (they wanted 6 am but I was damn sure that I wont be awake by then and I really really want to drive..no point risking three people’s lives without good sleep.. so 7 am it was)

But when I got up on Saturday morning at 6 am (it very rarely happens…) my hormones were raging and I was back in my travel element.. Travelling or atleast the preparations for it gets me all excited… its a very strange feeling and I know it all too well.. We decided to meet @ our office as all three (which became four later) of us are from different locations. By 7.30 am we all assembled and started our journey in the all too reliable Alto.. not mine..but the other guy’s (whose brother in law also joined us). The one who arranged all these had detailed plans with him on the route map and stuff and also had his fill of eatables and did have his breakfast (drohi!!) and the rest of us were really starving by 8 am. The initial route was till Hosur and from there we had to part to take the Anchetty – Denikanikottai route. We had to take a right after the Hosur toll gate and there we stopped at a hotel for our breakfast. By 9.15 am I took the driving and we headed our way to Hogenakkal. It was a very nice drive.. No traffic in this route.. very very few cars, but had to pass through quite a few villages in between. No stopping anywhere.. Oh! I love driving.. I was rash in a few places.. but what the hell.. every one in the group could drive and if I found it tiring or I was going out of control I can ask anyone else to drive and I can relax….

At one point, I did not realize that I was climbing a hill (not too big like the ooty or thimbam sorts..) but still there were a few hairpin bends and I was really shocked that I was driving through them… which sort of sent some chills through my spine..but also got me excited…because these guys let me do it on purpose.. I was complaining to my friend once that I havent been doing the hill stuff with geard vehicles..so he was like.. “you know what.. this is your training drive through some small hills..so dont panic and keep doing what you are doing now..’ After a few turns up and then down and then again up, we decided to stop for a view point..and luckily there was a view point which we mistook at first for some shop. What a view it was from there.. but it also increased my fear and I did not feel like driving after that and I went by my instinct.. there were 3 lives @ stake, apart from mine..and I dont want to mess it up.. After enjoying the view and taking time for photos,  the other person took up the driving…and guess what… the route after that really not that great.. for some stretch.. almost 5-6 kms it was potholes and potholes…The roads were very bad..

This route was taken because we could drive along the river Cauvery for some stretch of 4-5 kms.. When we hit that spot, it was amazing. We had good weather till then. Not too hot and no rains till then (even though we had anticipated rain..and I went over-prepared for that) and this place was too good.. No crowd and the river is all yours to enjoy.

We again stopped for sometime… chilled out.. relaxed… went into the water .. it was slightly deeper even though the quantity is much lesser than the expected limit due to scanty rains this year. We saw lot of people cooking and enough crowd much beyond the place where we had stopped, because there were enough trees which allowed them to cook and rest in shade. 
After this place, its hardly 4 kms or so to the actual falls. Being a saturday and a possibly good weather for the day, the crowd was too much for that place.. We had almost no space for parking. Since it was an alto, we practically squeezed it between two tempo travellers. After that we started our way to the main falls. If only this place was maintained well enough.. The entrance to the main falls is to be done through a round about way where you are left with no choice than to cross all the shops. The main gates are actually closed…. I guess it was done on purpose.. You also have to come back the same route…I am not sure if that is even legal..but its India here.. Also you can see people washing clothes, doing oil massages, cooking .. almost everything there.. We walked about our way to the main falls, through the hanging bridge. Below is the view from the hanging bridge.
After that there are signs to take you to the ‘Cine Falls’ and by the name I guess that it is the place where most of the movie shootings take place. Almost at the end of the walk, we come to a place where we have to either go back and take a big U turn to go to the Coracle place or give Rs 5 per head to cross through the falls (which is protected for taking bath and the water is not that rough here.. and people they have made the way for people to cross safely…even though the 5 Rs ticket is too much) and then after contemplating if we should cross or go all the way round again…we decided to cross after paying the guy. Once we cross we went all the way to the place where they  went down some 50 steps or so to the coracle ride (and that was almost the end of the place.. that is where you can see the small small falls)…and they were charging Rs 190 for each person in a coracle…. When enquired others mentioned that we might have to go again to the entrance to get the tickets for the coracle.. So we decided to go back and then after reaching a point we realized that there is no way we can go to the main entrance unless we go back through the place where we cross the falls.. or else take the coracle for the short ride there.. Jeez… how confusing it was ..and it was not a well organized place for sure.. no one seems to answer anything properly.. even when asked in tamizh..But again there were some people who were ready to take us to the other side in the coracle for 20 Rs… so there we go again…and after landing there..we find no one in the counter and it seems like to we have to negotiate with the boat owners for the prices.. and I really suck in bargaining.. And guess what they charged here.. Rs 190 per head (great..!!!) the same amount as we had asked there.. and now we have paid Rs 20 extra to come this far.. and because of the rush they were in no mood to relax…they had enough customers that day… We had no other option but to go with it if we wanted to do that ride..and since we have come that far..what big deal.. if we wanted only 4 of us in the coracle, we have to pay 960Rs for it.. There it goes… money again..and as per the govt rules, each coracle entry ticket is Rs 10/- I dont know what this is called.. whatever it is , it sure isnt legal…and people talked about legal stuff when I am using my car for some time in this state and made me pay such a heft amount just the day before.. Life isnt fair.. but do I have a choice.. atleast not for now.. So we decided to go for it.. and we had to take the coracle ride for the short distance..and then from there walk to the place where the steps were there.. The boatman carried his coracle and then there we had to descend and take the coracle again. 

We also saw a small shop setup in a coracle for the tourists to get water, cool drinks, chips etc.. Wow.. And this coracle ride was almost for 1 hour..going near one of the falls, and then taking us slowly through the gaps. It reminded me of the ride in Canyon.. The river is surrounded by naturally carved stone walls and with the sun shining high and bright, it was starting to get hot and sweaty.. But a coracle ride is always a pleasure.. Relaxing and putting your hands in the water and riding it slowly…It was a nice ride.. There was a small water mound where they stop for you to have freshly fried fish (I am not sure if it is freshly caught..even though we saw some people catching fish) along with rice and fish kozhambu..and for Veg people you can have rasam (What!!!) And I was the only veg in the group and the one other guy did not eat non veg on saturdays.. so the rest of the two went ahead and ordered fish fry with rice..and they mentioned that the food and the fish were very tasty and worth the 100Rs for both of them. It was already 2.15 or so and I was getting really hungry.. The smell of fish everywhere in that island was so strong that I (a person of very less smelling power) could smell it..Once they were done with their lunch, we headed back.  There were too many coracles and the place near the steps were very dirty.. For a place which prohibits plastics as per govt rules.. you can see hell a lot of plastics floating around.. if only..if only they regarded nature a little bit more better it would be a very very good place.. but I guess people here have nothing else to earn money from, other than this place and they are trying to make the most of it….I don’t know..whatever.. Seems like there were times when the water levels were too high to even not see the small mud mound where we had been. If the rains are enough and once the cauvery water is let out, it can be really scary to be here..and many people have lost lives earlier here due to insufficient precautionary measures..but I dont see any being implemented even now.. They gave us life jackets which I swore I wont wear because of the conditions.. I rather die in that water than wearing them.. too many insects crawling in it..And if it had been properly maintained, they could also do the river rafting here.. It would earn them well enough…but.. 
Inspite of all the above misgivings about the place and its maintenance, its natural and it has its own beauty and I really liked the place.. The coracle ride relaxed me a lot..and they also made the spin in the coracle, which I really really enjoyed.. somehow made me feel very young and carefree (especially when you are really far away from it..) It reminded me of my niece and nephew and how I used to spin them around…After the relaxing ride back, my stomach growled and we went to the TTDC hotel there and since they had only meals for lunch (almost 3 pm by then) and after that we started our journey to Krishnagiri’s Dam and I took hold of driving.. 
[I forgot to add one thing here.. There river is the no-man’s land between Karnataka and Tamilnadu state.. sort of the borderline.. And near the sand mound we saw the Karnataka side of place where people can come to take the coracle ride.. and we hardly saw a head or two. I wonder why]
This time we were going through Dharmapuri and hit the NH on to Krishnagiri. Since the road on the way belongs to the forest area, we saw two deers playing and they cross the road just before us.. Wow.. It was amazing.. Deers.. crossing us.. Unluckily we did not have our cameras with us and I, for one, was driving.. what a perfect time for these animals to cross us.. This sight boosted my energy and I was on full swing and when we hit the NH, it was only 100 kmph till Krishnagiri.. After crossing cauverypattinam, you have to take the small left which takes you to the Krishnagiri Neer Thekkam (Reservoir).. Its almost a km or two from the NH..and very quiet and nice place with a nice big garden.. which is maintained well, even though it could have been better… We paid the entrance fees (no one asked us there..but we stopped there to confirm the timings and to have a cup of tea.. it was almost around 4.35 pm or so). Its 15Rs for car and 5Rs each. We roamed around the garden, saw the dam.. Had enough water above.. My memory card was full so I couldnt take any more photos. There were some beautiful view.. it was raining somewhere down and the view from the top of the garden was awesome.. and by almost 5.15 or 5.30 pm it started drizzling and it was our cue to start back home.. I enjoyed every bit of this trip and the driving from there was taken over by the car owner… We came back to office by around 8 pm or so..thanks to the traffic from hosur all the way to our office.. Reached home by 8.30 pm…. 
As promised, here are the photos from the KRP (Krishnagiri Reservoir)

I should really thank the guy (my colleague and friend) for organizing this and taking care of the best routes and food part.. Without his efforts we wouldn’t have done this.. especially after the fiasco on Friday… and thanks for all three of them to let me drive.. even though I am not that great a driver..and I am really rash at times.. They were all such a sport.. You have no idea, the stares I got from the villagers on the way when I was driving the vehicle..It was fun 😀 and I hope to have such trips in future too…but seeing that I wont be that long in Bangalore, I am not sure if I can get like minded friends in my new place too..But I sure hope I do.. Always the optimist 🙂
 “There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

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2 thoughts on “ஒகேனக்கல் – Tamilnadu’s Canyon

  1. Good write up ,seems like you guys had great fun and it seems like you now drive the car like your bike.Enjoy the time in b'lore ,I am sure the new place will offer more challenges and excitement.

  2. 🙂 Like my bike ? I havent gone that far yet, but am getting there.. that is my final goal..
    Thanks…You are one of the few ever-optimist persons I know 🙂 and for some reason, I have the same intuition about the new place.. dont know why..

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