27-Aug-2010: One more weekend and one more outing. This time, it was to Yercaud and Hogenakkal. Every friday evening I got used to watching one or the other first day show of some movie. That friday since there was not any interesting release, felt the better thing is to go for one more outing. Since it was a last minute decision I did not have too many options. All buses, trains starting from Chennai to any tourist location were running full. The only way was to go on bike. The options with me were Pondy, Yelagiri and Yercaud. I rounded off on Yercaud.
I started from my house at around 10.30 pm. Noted the meter reading and started my drive. Since it was a crazy idea to go biking for close to 400 kms, none of my friends (except one) were interested to accompany me. We expected the drive to last for 8 to 9 hrs. I took the longest route to the destination (Chennai - Vellore - Krishnagiri - Dharmapuri - Salem - Yercaud). Thanks to my previous driving experience in the Delhi-Chandigarh highways, I found it easy to negotiate the speeding lorries and moffusil buses. Halting on a couple of occasions to give break to my back, to our surprise we managed to reach Salem in 5 1/2 hrs (360 kms). It was 4 in the morning. From Salem, Yercaud is an uphill drive for close to 25kms. It was pitch dark and the route was eerie with no soul in sight. To add to the spooky effect it was pretty cold also. With only the brightly shining moon as our company we started our ascent. My brother used to say that 'Unlike what most people think, driving in the hills during night time is actually very easy and safe than compared to day time drive because easily you will get to know the oncoming vechicles (in the hairpin bends and turns) because of their light beams". I realised the truthness in that statement while driving up. Whatever little traffic was descending, I could easily sight them well ahead. There were totally 20 hairpin bends. We managed to reach Yercaud in less than an hour. After seeking the help of the locals we found the hotel with whom I had arranged for accomodation. It was by the side of the lake. Tired of the long drive we fell asleep.
28-Aug-2010: We woke up at afternoon, had a sick-tasted meal in their restaurant and started off in my bike to roam around in the nearby area. There is literally nothing much to see in Yercaud except the lake, a few view points and a falls. Lake and view points were boring stuff. So we discounted them and started driving towards the Kiliyur falls.
After a 4kms drive from the hotel we had to park the vehicle at a place and trek down for half-a-kilometere. It was pretty steep, but interesting. We finally managed to reach the falls area. The falls, has nothing to boast about. Infact, is not pretty much worth the climb down. Despite the heavy monsoon, still it was a relatively small falls. That whole day we wasted by just driving around the hills. The only solace was the good climate.
Me fiddling with my SLR
29-Aug-2010 : Next day early morning we started off to Hogenakkal hoping that the place will not disappoint us. I had been to Hogenakkal almost 15 yrs back. Yercaud to Hogenakkal was 145 kms. We started at morning 8.30 and reached the place at 12 noon. The place was pretty crowded. We booked a 'parisal' and told him that we want to spend the whole day there. There is a small watch-tower from where one catch a glimpse of the main waterfall. Hogenakkal, unlike most places is not a single falls. Its a series of waterfalls. From every crevice of the rock you can find a waterfall. Thanks to the monsoon and the heavy rains, the main waterfalls was frighteningly huge. During dry season, one can actually boat all the way to the main falls region. However, now since there was a heavy inflow of water, the parisal boating had to be done only at the upper region.
The starting point of 'Parisal'
The falls view from the top of the watch tower
In the upper region, we walked through boulders to reach the top of the falls. From there one can see the main falls at a closer proximity. Infact one slight miss and you will end up going down in the falls and reach Karnataka in the next minute. We had a series of photo session there. Both of us taking turns to stand at precariously dangerous positions in the edge of the cliff to get a good photoshot. I infact went all the way to sit on a tree branch which was hanging on the edge of the falls. One false step and that would have been the end of me. The central governement would have had to add one more day to the list of national holdays. All flags would have got hoisted half-way-up. In DD1 there would have been mourning music played by some string instrument player. However, since I was alert enough to hang-on to the tree branch, all the above have been avoided :-)
Now you know why its called the "Indian version of Niagara"
In Kannada 'Hogenakkal' means 'Smoking Rocks'. The gushing force of water hitting the rocks creates a smoky picture (as below)
The two sides of God's creation. The good in the background and the bad in the foreground ;-)
This is the clinging branch that I was referring to. The photo does not evidence the real danger of that spot
The whole area was like a nature's water theme park. Everywhere you find nothing but waterfalls. Few wherein you can take bath, few which you cant even dare to venture near. Our man took us to a place where the water flow was pretty good enough to have a dip. Upon reaching the place, I happily jumped in. I realised that the force of the water is strong enough to sweep a 6 feet-78kg man (me of course).
I had a tough time in keeping my feet firm in the ground against the water current
After a refreshing dip we resumed our boat ride. By then we had spent almost 4 hrs. Just when we were grazing around to have a look at the other side of the main falls, the sky opened up and it started drizzling. A walk around the place and I was in a confusion on which other falls should I choose to have my second session of dip. There were so many options, each one equally tempting. Finally, I rounded off on one small falls. This was more of an open shower. After a quick nature-shower, we started back to Yercaud. We planned to start to Chennai the next day early morning.
This is what I was focussing at (in the previous snap)
30-Aug-2010: Early morning we checked out from the room at 6. This time we decided to take the ghat road which passes through the Dharmapuri forest. The route wasYercaud > Harur > Thirupattur > Vaniyambadi > Chennai. The entire route, upto few kms before vaniyambadi was a picture of lush green vegetation or forest area, occasionally cutting across villages and towns. For someone who is used to a routine back-breaking drive in the city roads, full of potholes, constant honking of horns and traffic snarls, a bike ride in the hillside was rejuvenating. The early morning mist and chill breeze prompted me to remove my helmet and enjoy the ride. Since the route was completely isolated, I utilised the opportunity to have one more round of photo session
The picturesque Ghat road !!!!!
On the move......
Don't ask me how many takes it took to finally get this shot successful !!!
As the saying goes "All good things must come to an end" the moment we neared vaniyambadi junction, bad roads started to takeover (infact they dont even deserve to be called roads). Although it was just a stretch of about 10 kms, still it had bumps enough to break your spinal chord. After passing through the irritating stretch, we touched the NH4. By now I had already started feeling the toll that my body had taken due to constant driving. I still had 200 kms to cover, to reach Chennai. It was the most miserable bike drive I've ever had in my life. The pain was unbearable. Frequently stopping by the road side to give rest to the aching neck, back and hip bones, the going became tougher. Not bothering the highway traffic, I infact lied down on the roadside platform at few places to subside my body pain. I regretted my decision of taking the bike to Yercaud. I was wondering how I had managed the drive effortlessly during my onward journey and struggling to this extent during my return. The torrid time ended when I finally reached my home at around 5 in the evening. Straight I hit the bed and went into deep slumber.
It was a weekend with mixed feelings. Few good and few forgettable. However, looking back at the moments spent in Hogenakkal, the bike ride in the Ghat road and the snaps, I feel 'it was a worthy trip indeed'