What is Gandikota's secret

South India: weekend trips

Hogenakkal Falls: Coracle Ride on the Kaveri

A mighty mass of water tumbling in the middle of rocky gorges, the breathtaking Hogenakkal Falls are an unforgettable sight.

Hogenakkal is a short, convenient distance from Bengaluru. We left in our car at 6 a.m. With the NH 7 we can reach Hosur in just 45 minutes. On our way we had breakfast in the Reddy Restaurant in a small town between Hosur and Denkanikotta.

Hogenakkal Falls (Photo by ezhuttukari)

We have achieved Hogenakkal in just four hours. Since we had planned a day trip, we did not take up any accommodation anywhere. After we had safely parked our car, we set off Boat club. The Coracles are boats made from a herb with some black coal tar like material on the bottom to prevent water from entering. For INR 110 per person we have a one hour ride on the River Kaveri. The drive takes you to the majestic waterfalls - an exhilarating yet intimidating experience. The water rises here under the coracle and whirls it around, rages and hisses, as if it might inundate the boat and capsize at any moment. This white waterfall is particularly impressive just after the monsoon months when the river is full.

The sound of the Kaveri River booming between rocky banks is constantly present in most places in Hogenakkal. Here the Kaveri flows through a wooded valley that splits, folds, and splits again around rocks, and islets with towering trees and scree-strewn crops that are only covered when the river is inundated by the monsoons' rain.

Hogenakkal Falls (Photo by Ezhuttukari)

Another attraction is the diving skills of the local children, who can show their skills for a small fee of INR 5. You can dive into the water from a height of about 30 feet and climb straight up onto the rocks in no time. The spot is very popular with tourists and locals, and there are plenty of vendors selling snacks and drinks. If you like fish, enjoy the fresh catch from the locals on the shore. You can also try getting a massage from the famous Hogenakkal masseurs. The local Malishkarans or the mystical masseurs are armed with oils, powders and esoteric knowledge about the massage points in the human body. There are also a couple of female massage therapists.

Get there

By Air: The nearest airport is Bengaluru, 150 km away. Chennai Airport is 350 km away.

By train: The nearest train station to Hogenakkal is Dharmapuri, approx. 40 km away.

By Car: There are regular buses from the major cities of Karnakata and Tamil Nadu to Hogenakkal. Nearby cities include Coimbatore, Bengaluru, Salem and Morappur.

Where to stay

The best place to stay is the tourist town of Tamil Nadu, 100 m from the main location in Hogenakkal. They charge INR 700 for non-AC rooms and INR 900 for AC rooms. You can also choose from many lodges and hotels.

Bangalore to Hogenakkal
150 km

Melukote: the temple city

Melukote, located in the Sahyadri region near Mysore, is one of the holiest places in Karnataka. Perched on a rocky ridge in the Sahyadri Mountains, the city of Melukote is famous for its temples, Iyengarpuliy-Odarai (a tamarind rice dish) and the Academy for Sanskrit Research. The 12th century Cheluvaraysawami Temple Here you can see a pink tower and lion heads facing the four cardinal points.

Ramanuja, the Vaishnavite saint, is said to have found the lost idol of the main deity here. Hence, Ramanuja is used together with Vishnu in the Narayana temple. Within walking distance of this temple is the massive unfinished gate with exquisite carvings of crouching figures, striding elephants, virgins and sculpted deities.

At the top of a hill in the northeast of the city is the small Yoganarasimha temple with a view of the Kalyani tank. It offers panoramic views of the surrounding hills and the lush Cauvery Valley.

Melukote Temple (Photo by Mandayamr)

A cultural site not to be missed is Dhanushkotia rocky peak on which Ramais is said to have shot an arrow that struck a source of water that quenched Sita's thirst. Pilgrims flock to Melukote to experience the spectacular Vairamudi festival, the temple's annual extravaganza, when the processional deity is dressed and paraded with the legendary diamond-set crown and other jewels belonging to the former maharajas of Mysore. These jewels, which are in the treasury in Mandya, are brought out under armed escort on this auspicious day.

On the way you can stop at Tonnur or Kere Tonnur, a picturesque hamlet with the ancient temples. The lake here is a popular weekend getaway with boat rentals.

The Melukote Temple Wildlife Sanctuary It is home to wolves, jungle cats, leopards, motor macaques and pangolin and is a paradise for ornithologists with around 200 species of birds that are native to this area. An early morning walk in the surrounding areas guarantees peacock sightings.

Get there
Take the Srirangapatna-Pandavapura route to reach Melukote, if you are driving from Bengaluru to Maddur in Mandya County, turn right and drive another 30 km to Melukote.
Location: 50 km from
Mysore; 140 km from Bengaluru.

Where to stay

Accommodation options are zero.

Where shall we eat

Small eating joints serve snacks and refreshments

Shettihalli: beauty under water

Enjoy scenic views of the partially submerged church and the backwaters of the Hemavathi River in Shettihalli.

Come monsoon when the waters of the Hemavathi river Partly submerging the church in the hamlet of Shettihalli, it takes on the appearance of a stranded ship. The tower is sometimes visible. In summer, when the water recedes, the destroyed building forms an impressive contrast to the breathtaking landscape. The massive ruins have withstood the devastation of several monsoons, but eventually the roof collapsed. Although submerged, the columns, arch, some walls, part of the altar, and central nave are intact, but there are no stained-glass window sills to the left. There are only a few walls left to tell a story. It is said that the church was built with mortar and a mixture of jaggery and eggs.

The Holy Rosary Church in Shettyhalli

Built in 1860 by French missionaries for the wealthy British landowners in the adjoining areas, the celebrity Holy Rosary Church on the outskirts of the picturesque village of Shettihalli in the Hassan district has been attributed to Father Dubois. The underwater part of the church was first submerged 25 years ago Gorur Dam, eight kilometers from the church, flooded the region during the monsoons. With the construction of the dam, the whole village had to be evacuated. People moved on with their belongings and moved upstream to leave the church.

Shettihalli Backwaters continue to attract tourists with its spectacular sunset, excellent bird watching, fishing, and photo opportunities. The peaceful and unspoiled surroundings formed the backdrop for many fighting sequences and romantic interludes of various films. The backwaters are also home to a wide variety of waterfowl and winged visitors. Then a new church Japa Maleya Raniya Devalaya, was built on higher ground in Jyoti Magar, part of Shettihalli Village, with pieces of stained glass and other treasures salvaged from the original church.

Get there

Shettihalli is 13 km from Hassan. Just before the turn-off for Belur, you will pass the College of Ayurveda and Nisarga College of Nursing on the main street of Hassan. After Shankaranahalli, look out for Shettyhalli.

Where to stay

Hoysala Village Resort,
Belur Road, Hassan - 573 201
Tel.: +91 8172256764

Hassan to Shettihali

13 km

Vedanthangal: A welcome hullabaloo

Black ibises, painted storks, gray pelicans, cormorants, darters, in the Vedanthangal you can see them all.

Guided by natural instincts and regulated by biological clocks, birds of all sizes and hues for their annual gathering in the serene swampy environment Vedanthangal lake from October to March every year.

Tourists flock to the 74-acre bird sanctuary and the one nearby Karikili lake to watch the winged visitors from far away regions. It is the oldest water bird sanctuary in India, by the way, and is protected more by the villagers than by the law. The barringtonia mangroves in the reserve serve as a floating habitat for an impressive variety of migratory birds. If you follow the paved path littered with watchtowers and benches, you can hear noisy screams in addition to the hustle and bustle of nesting and feeding activities. The watchtower offers a good view of storks, gray herons, pond herons, night herons, black ibises, gray pelicans, dartlers, spoonbills, night herons, cormorants, gray ducks, teals, snake birds and painted storks to breed on their nests with exceptional clockwork precision.

Vedanthangal Lake (Photo by VinothChandar)

During the season, 18 species of migratory birds from around the world can be seen here. Black winged stilts, spotted bill or gray pelicans and coots are some of the native birds to visit Vedanthangal for feeding. The number of migratory birds swells to around 40,000 by mid-January. Over the years, almost 115 species have been spotted at the lake.

The residents of Vedanthangal and the five other villages that border the sanctuary enjoy a unique symbiotic relationship with the migratory birds that flock to the sanctuary each year. The winged visitors are not only a feast for the eyes for nature lovers, they also play an important role in enriching the lake with all plant nutrients.

Villagers are aware of the inherent understanding of the relationship between the winged visitors and the productivity of their crops.

Get there

By Air: The nearest airport is in Chennai, 85 km away.

By train: Chingspet, 45 km away, is the nearest train head.

By Car: The best way to travel from Chennai is to take the NH-45.

Where to stay

Forest Department Rest House in Vedanthangal (+ 91-44-24321471).

Chennai to Vendanthangal

85 km

Gandikota: India's Grand Canyon

Gandikota, popularly referred to as India's Grand Canyon, is a beautiful gorge between Erramala Hills in Andhra Pradesh. It was a vacation organized by one of the tour operators in Hyderabad and we were a group of eight strangers who signed up for the trip. We were supposed to be living in tents in a remote area and had to plan ahead for food, energy drinks, water and other necessary items - if you are adventurous enough to stay in a tent there is no better experience than this.

How to get to Gandikota

We ran away from the Hyderabad MG bus booth on a Friday. After a journey of seven hours we reached Jammalamadugu, the nearest bus stop to Gandikota. From here we got into the auto rickshaw for Gandikota. It took us about an hour to get there and the view was picturesque. We stopped at a local shop for a meal, left our luggage there, and soon afterwards left to visit the fort and temples of Gandikota.

Gandikota (Photo by SV Madhav)

The canyon

After wandering around the fortress and temples, we moved towards the main attraction, the gorge. The sight was beyond our imagination - breathtakingly beautiful and serene. We joked, posed for photos and just let its beauty drown.

When it got dark we decided to look for a suitable place to camp. Eventually we set up our tents on a hill, although in the morning we found that the best place is actually at the foot of the mountains near the Pennar River. We started the campfire, sang songs, took photos and had a lot of fun. Then after we assigned the guards, we called it a night. We got up early in the morning, packed our tents and headed down into the valley to see if there was an exciting climb or a hike or something interesting waiting to be captured by our camera.

After spending a couple of hours exploring the area, we decided to follow the village while the sun was shining brightly. We went to the nearby village and ate a meal prepared by the locals. And got on a bus to Jammalamadugu and then on to Hyderabad.

Get there

By planeThe nearest airports are Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Tirupati and Chennai (all 300-400 km away). By train: The next larger train station after Gandikota is Kadapa, about 80 km away. By Car: There are regular bus connections from the major cities of Andhra Pradesh and Karnakata to Proddatur and Jammalamadugu. Gandikota is 45 minutes from Jammalamadugu.

Where to stay

The best place to stay is at the Andhra Pradesh government residences, which are about three kilometers from the city's main townGandikota. They charge a very nominal amount.

Indus Valley Ayurvedic Center (Mysore) - Take a health break

Is the stress of modern life coming to you? Do you want to detox and rejuvenate yourself to get your health going again? If you answered yes to any of these questions, go to Indus Valley Ayurvedic Center in Mysore. Set in 25 acres of green gardens and lush countryside, the atmosphere of this place itself soothes nerves. Located a bit outside the city limits, the resort offers a breathtaking view of the famous Chamundi Hills and the Lalitha Mahal Palace, which give it a unique charm. The resort focuses heavily on Ayurvedic treatments based on ancient wisdom in a contemporary setting. In this ISO-certified Ayurveda center, all treatments are traditional and indigenous according to the classic Ayurveda principles. Unique treatments include Panchakarma and rejuvenation cures such as Abhyanga, Shirodhara, Kasayaseka, Sarvnagdhara, Chandanavagaha and Raktamokshana - Panchakarma.

Accommodation in Indus Valley Ayurvedic Center is clean, comfortable, well maintained and also Vaastu compliant. Based on certain principles that adapt the ambience to the natural conditions, some of the cottages are equipped with environmentally friendly local materials. Native techniques such as cow dung on the plaster of buildings are used to prevent cosmic rays and bring harmony. While you are here, the day begins with morning yoga, followed by Ayurvedic treatment, followed by breakfast. In the morning you have Yoga Nidra (meditation and breathing exercises), then in the afternoon you have an Ayurveda lunch as prescribed by the doctor, Ayurvedic treatment and in the evening nature walk and yoga. The best part is that the food is healthy vegetarian cuisine made from fresh fruits, vegetables, and grains. In Annapoorna, the in-house restaurant, you can enjoy sumptuous fare that will convince you that good food also tastes good. Indus Valley Ayurvedic Center follows a strict no-smoking and non-alcohol policy to aid the healing and rejuvenation process. With all of this under the roof, it's just the break the doctor ordered.

Get there:

By Air: There is a runway in Mysore but few flights from here. Bengaluru Airport is 120 km away.

By Car: Mysore is approximately 140 km from Bengaluru and approximately 200 km from Coimbatore.

By Train: Mysore Railway Station is 7 km away.

Where to stay

Indus Valley Ayurvedic Center, Lalithadripura, Post Box No. 3, Ittigegud, Mysore. Tariff: Villa (INR7.084), Hut (INR 6.012). For reservations, email [email protected] or call + 91-821-2473437 / 3263.

Kumbalangi:The fishy village

Kumbalangi (Photo by Aruna)

The distant vanchipattu (boatswain's song) echoes through the gentle stillness of the waves and tiny Chinese fishing nets cast a net over the coast in Kumbalangi, an idyllic, model tourist spot in the Kochi backwaters. Still untouched by mass tourism, this coastal town is proud of its lush rice fields, mangrove forests and calm backwaters. You will be overwhelmed by the simplicity of this friendly village of farmers, fishermen, toddy tappers, coir spinners and boat people.Kumbalangi offers a fascinating insight into the livelihood of the villagers, their traditional culture, cuisine and folklore. Tourists can walk in the rice fields, toil with the farmers, picnic in the mangroves or indulge in bird watching. You can sail on a boat trip or float in a ketuvallom (traditional rice boat used as a houseboat), or set out on land boats on the backwaters alone. The main occupation of the residents is agriculture, shrimp growing and coconut mats. At dawn, tourists can take the fishermen into the sea for adventurous fishing. Bait fishing near the mangroves is a popular tourist activity.

A stroll through the village reveals different types of fishing, such as cast nets, nets and hooks. Poomeen Chaattam, a group movement of fish in semicircles, at high tide is another attraction. As part of the ecotourism concept, many houses in the village offer homestays. Here tourists live with families, eat traditional food cooked by family members, take advantage of available amenities, and see village life in its real, raw form. The secret of Kumbalangi's success is that it not only preserves nature and the environment, but also pays homage to a rich culture and heritage. The holistic implementation of the initiative has brought many benefits to the population, including forms of income, better understanding of city dwellers, economic value for activities, better respect for the environment and improved water and sanitation facilities.

Get there

By Air: Kochi International Airport is 40 km away. By car: 25 km from Kochi by road.

Where to stay

Bolgatty Palace (KTDC) Mulavukadu, Kochi - 682504 (Tel: 0484 2750500, 2750600; Fax: 0484 2750457; Email: [email protected])

From Supreet Cheema