Zuid-India: Weekend Escapes

South India: Weekend Escapes – Friends Holiday 2023

Hogenakkal Falls: Coracle ride on the Kaveri

A mighty mass of water tumbling between rocky gorges, the beautiful Hogenakkal waterfalls are a sight to behold.

From Bengaluru, Hogenakkal is a short, convenient distance. We left by car at 6 am. By NH 7 we reached Hosur in just 45 minutes. On the way we had our breakfast at Reddy restaurant in a small town located between Hosur and Denkanikotta.

Hogenakkal Falls (Photo door ezhuttukari)

We have reached Hogenakkal in just four hours. Since we had planned for a day trip, we didn’t take up accommodation anywhere. After parking our car safely, we headed towards the Boat Club . The coracles are boats made of a weed with some black coal tar-like material on the bottom to prevent water from entering. For INR 110 per person we took a one hour ride on the Kaveri River. The ride takes you to the base of the majestic falls, an exhilarating yet intimidating experience. The water here rushes under the carcass and throws it around, raging and hissing as if it might flood and capsize the boat at any moment. This white waterfall is particularly impressive shortly after the monsoon months, when the river is roaring.

Read also: A trip to Nagarhole National Park

The sound of the Kaveri River, roaring between rocky banks, is a constant presence at most places in Hogenakkal. Here the Kaveri flows through a forested valley, splitting and joining and splitting again around rocks, and small islands of towering trees and boulder-strewn crops, covered only when the river is in motion with the rains of the monsoon.

Hogenakkal Falls (Photo door Ezhuttukari)
Hogenakkal Falls (Photo door Ezhuttukari)

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

To get there

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

By Train: The nearest railway station to Hogenakkal is Dharmapuri, about 40 km away.

By road: There are regular buses from the major cities of Karnakata and Tamil Nadu to Hogenakkal. The nearby cities are Coimbatore, Bengaluru, Salem and Morappur.

Where to stay

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

Bengaluru naar Hogenakkal

150 km

Melukote: The Temple Town

Nestled in the Sahyadri area near Mysore, Melukote is one of the most sacred places in Karnataka. Situated atop a rocky ridge in the Sahyadri ranges, the town of Melukote is famous for its temples, Iyengarpuliy-odarai (a tamarind rice dish) and the Academy of Sanskrit Research . The 12th century Cheluvarayaswami Temple here boasts a rose-colored tower and lion heads facing the four directions.

Ramanuja, the Vaishnavite saint, is said to have recovered the lost idol of the main deity here. Hence, Ramanuja is worshiped along with Vishnu at the Narayana Temple . Within walking distance of this temple is the enormous Unfinished Gate with beautiful carvings of crouching figures, striding elephants, damsels and sculpted deities.

Perched high on the top of a hill northeast of the city, lies the small Yoganarasimha Temple overlooking the Kalyani tank. It offers panoramic views of the surrounding hills and the lush Cauvery valley .

Melukote Temple (Photo door Mandayamr)
Melukote Temple (Photo door Mandayamr)

A not-to-be-missed heritage site is Dhanushkoti , a rock peak, where Ramais said he shot an arrow that struck a spring of water that quenched Sita’s thirst. Pilgrims throng to Melukote to witness the spectacular Vairamudi Festival , the temple’s annual extravaganza, when the processional deity is attracted by the legendary diamond-studded crown and other jewels belonging to the former Maharajas of Mysore and paraded. These jewels, which remain in the custody of the government treasury in Mandya , are brought under armed escort on this auspicious day.

On the way one can stop at Tonnur or Kere Tonnur, a picturesque hamlet dotted with the ancient temples. The lake here is a popular weekend getaway with boating facilities.

The Melukote Temple Wildlife Sanctuary houses wolves, jungle cats, leopards, bonnets and pangolin, and is an ornithologist’s paradise, with approximately 200 species of birds native to the area. An early morning walk in the surrounding areas will guarantee peacock sightings.

To get there

Take the Srirangapatna-Pandavapura route to Melukote. If you are traveling from Bengaluru, after Maddur, at the Mandya circle, turn right and continue for another 30 km to reach Melukote.

Location: 50 km from

Mysore; 140 km from Bengaluru.

Where to stay

Shelter options are zero.

Where to eat

Small food joints serve snacks and drinks

Shettihalli: Beauty under water

Enjoy the beautiful view of the partially submerged church and the backwaters of the Hemavathi River at Shettihalli.

Come monsoon, when the waters of the Hemavathi River rise to partially submerge the church in the hamlet of Shettihalli, it takes on the appearance of a beached ship. The spire is sometimes visible. In summer, when the water recedes, the battered building forms a striking contrast to the breathtaking landscape. The massive ruins withstood the devastation of several monsoons, but eventually the roof collapsed. Despite being submerged, the columns, the arch, a few walls, part of the altar and the nave are intact, but there are no stained glass windows, benches on 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 cane sugar and eggs.

The Holy Rosary Church in Shettyhalli
The Holy Rosary Church in Shettyhalli

Built in 1860 by French missionaries for the wealthy British estate owners in the neighboring areas, the prominent Holy Rosary Church on the edge of the picturesque village of Shettihalli in the Hassan district was attributed to Father Dubois. The lower part of the church which is submerged was flooded for the first time 25 years ago when the Gorur dam , located eight kilometers away from the church site, flooded the region during monsoon. With the construction of the dam, the entire village had to evacuate. People moved on with their belongings and moved upriver, leaving the church behind.

The backwaters of Shettihalli continue to lure tourists with its spectacular sunset, excellent birding, fishing and photo opportunities. The tranquil and pristine environment forms the backdrop to many fight sequences and romantic interludes from various films. The inland waterways are also home to a multitude of waterfowl and winged visitors. Subsequently, a new church , Japa Maleya Raniya Devalaya , was built on higher ground in Jyoti Magar, part of Shettihalli village, using parts of the stained glass and other treasures salvaged from the original church.

To get there

Shettihalli is 13 km from Hassan. Just before the right exit to Belur you will pass the College of Ayurveda and the Nisarga College of Nursing on the main road from Hassan. Look for the left turn to Shankaranahalli to reach Shettyhalli.

Where to stay

Hoysala Village Resort,

Belur Road, Hassan, 573 201

Tel: +91 8172256764

Hassan naar Shettihali

13 km

Vedanthangal: A welcome fuss

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

Guided by natural instincts and regulated by biological clocks, birds of all sizes descend for their annual rendezvous in the serene environment of the Vedanthangal Lake swamp from October to March every year.

Tourists flock to the 74-acre bird sanctuary and nearby Karikili Laketo turn their eyes to the winged visitors from distant lands. By the way, it is the oldest water bird sanctuary in India and is protected more by the villagers than by law. The reserve’s Barringtonia mangroves serve as a floating habitat for an impressive variety of migratory birds. As you follow the paved path, dotted with watchtowers and benches, you can hear raucous cries along with the hustle and bustle of nesting and feeding activity. The observation tower provides a good view of open-billed storks, gray herons, pond herons, night herons, black ibises, gray pelicans, darters, spoonbills, night herons, cormorants, gray ducks, teals, snake birds and painted storks snuggling up on their nests to starting with breeding with extraordinary clock precision.

Vedanthangal Lake (Photo by Vinoth Chandar)
Vedanthangal Lake (Photo by Vinoth Chandar)

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

The residents of Vedanthangal and the five other villages bordering the sanctuary have a unique symbiotic relationship with the migratory birds that flock to the sanctuary every year. In addition to being a visual treat for naturalists, the winged visitors play an important role in enriching the lake with all the plant nutrients.

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

To get there

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

By Train: Chinglepet, 45 km away, is the nearest railway head.

By Road: The best option is to drive from Chennai along NH-45.

Where to stay

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

Chennai naar Vendanthangal

85 km

Gandikota: Grand Canyon of India

Gandikota , popularly called India’s Grand Canyon, is a beautiful gorge formed between Erramala Hills in Andhra Pradesh. It was a holiday organized by one of the tour operators in Hyderabad, and we were a group of eight foreigners who signed up for this trip. We would be living in tents in a remote area and had to plan well in advance 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 reach Gandikota

We left from Hyderabad MG Bus Stand on a Friday. After a seven-hour journey, we reached Jammalamadugu, the nearest bus stand from Gandikota. From here we boarded autorickshaws at Gandikota . It took us about an hour to get there, and the view of the road was picturesque. We stopped at a local shop for a meal, left our luggage and left soon after to visit the fort and temples of Gandikota.

Gandikota (Photo by SV Madhav)
Gandikota (Photo by SV Madhav)

The Canyon

After wandering around the fort and temples, we headed to the main attraction, the gorge. The sight was beyond our imagination – breathtakingly beautiful and serene. We joked, posed for pictures and just soaked in her beauty.

When it got dark, we decided to look for a suitable place to camp. We finally fixed our tents on the top of a hill, although in the morning we realized that the best spot is actually at the bottom of the mountains, near the Pennar River. We started the campfire, sang songs, took pictures and had a lot of fun. Then, after assigning the watch duties, we called it a night. We got up early in the morning, packed our tents and walked through the valley to see if there was an exciting climb or trek or anything interesting waiting to be captured by our camera.

After spending a few hours exploring the area we decided to move on to the village when the sun was shining brightly. We went to the nearby village and had a filling meal cooked by the locals. And boarded a bus to Jammalamadugu, and then to Hyderabad.

How to get there

By Air : The nearest airports are Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Tirupati and Chennai (all 300-400 km away). By Train: The nearest major railway station to Gandikota is Kadapa, approximately 80 km away. By road: There are regular buses from the major cities of Andhra Pradesh and Karnakata to Proddatur and Jammalamadugu. Gandikota is 45 minutes away from Jammalamadugu.

Where to stay

The best place to stay is the government province of Andhra Pradesh about three kilometers from the main location of Gandikota . They charge a very nominal amount.

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

Is the stress of modern life getting to you? Want to detox and rejuvenate to get your health back on track? If you answered yes to any of these questions, visit Indus Valley Ayurvedic Centrein Mysore. Set in the middle of 25 acres of green gardens and lush landscaping, the ambience of this place itself soothes frayed nerves. Situated slightly outside the city limits, the resort offers stunning views of the famous Chamundi Hills and the Lalitha Mahal Palace, which lend a unique charm. The resort focuses heavily on Ayurvedic treatments based on ancient wisdom in a modern environment. At this ISO-certified Ayurveda center, all treatments are traditional and indigenous according to classical Ayurveda principles. Signature treatments include Panchakarma and rejuvenation treatments such as Abhyanga, Shirodhara, Kasayaseka, Sarvnagdhara, Chandanavagaha and Raktamokshana – Panchakarma.

Accommodation at Indus Valley Ayurvedic Centreis clean, comfortable, well maintained and also Vaastu compliant. The houses are built based on certain principles and maintain an ambiance that suits the natural environment. Some cottages contain environmentally friendly local materials. Indigenous techniques such as cow dung on plastering buildings are used to prevent cosmic rays and bring harmony. While you are here, the day starts with morning Yoga, followed by Ayurvedic treatment and then breakfast. Mid-morning you will have Yoga Nidra (meditation and breathing exercises), and by noon you can have an Ayurvedic lunch as prescribed by the doctor, undergo an Ayurvedic treatment and enjoy a nature walk and yoga in the evening. The best part is that the food is healthy vegetarian fare made from fresh fruits, vegetables and grains. At Annapoorna, the hotel’s restaurant, you can enjoy luxurious dishes that convince you that good food also tastes great.Indus Valley Ayurvedic Center follows a strict no-smoking and no-alcohol policy to aid the healing and rejuvenation process. With all this under his roof, it’s just the break the doctor ordered.

How to get there:

By air: There is an airstrip in Mysore, but very few flights from here. Bengaluru Airport is 120 km away.

By Road: Mysore is about 140 km from Bengaluru and about 200 km from Coimbatore.

By Rail:Mysore Railway Station is 7 km away.

Where to stay

Indus Valley Ayurvedic Centre, Lalithadripura, PO Box 3, Ittigegud, Mysore. Tariff: villa (INR 7,084), gite (INR 6,012). For reservations, email [email protected] or call +91-821-2473437/3263.

Kumbalangi: The Fishy Village

Kumbalangi (photo by Aruna)
Kumbalangi (photo by Aruna)

The distant vanchipattu (boatman’s song) echoes over the gentle silence of waves and irregular Chinese fishing nets cast a web over the coastline in Kumbalangi, an idyllic model tourist village in the backwaters of Kochi. Still untouched by mass tourism, this coastal hamlet prides itself on its lush rice fields, mangrove forests and a tranquil stretch of inland waters. One will be overwhelmed by the simplicity of this friendly village of farmers, fishermen, vegetable pickers, coconut spinners and rowers. Kumbalangi offers a fascinating insight into the livelihood of villagers, their traditional culture, cuisine and folklore. Tourists can stroll in the rice fields, work with the farmers and picnic at the mangroves or enjoy bird watching. They can sail on a boat trip or stay adrift in a kettuvallom (traditional rice boat used as a houseboat) or travel alone on land boats on the inland waterways. The main occupation of the inhabitants is farming, crabbing and coir matting. Tourists can go out to sea with fishermen for an adventurous fishing trip at dawn. Bait fishing at the mangroves is a popular tourist activity.

A walk through the village will unravel different types of fishing such as cast nets, fixed nets and crochet. Poomeen chaattam, a group movement of fish in semi-circles, during high tide is another attraction. As part of the ecotourism concept, many houses in the village offer homestays. Here tourists live with the family, eat traditional dishes cooked by relatives, use available facilities 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 tribute to a rich culture and heritage. The holistic implementation of the initiative has delivered many benefits to local people, including income sources, better understanding of urban residents, economic value for activities,

How to get there

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

Where to stay

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

Read also:

Relive an unforgettable Dussehra in Mysore

Highly Rated Churches in Florence

Harike Wetlands- Bird on a Wire

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