Ten Friends and a Trip to Yelagiri & Hogenakkal

Friday, February 04, 2011

April 29, 2010: I thought of writing this post seven months ago and finally here I am, writing about one of the best trips of my life... Saying so has two reasons; firstly because I believe I had the awesome company of ten awesome friends (though we were missing few more from our group) and secondly, because one of the places we visited was exotic...

It was a long weekend as Friday was Gandhi Jayanti; and so we decided to take a break and escape the chennai heat for a change. The decision was taken in a jiffy and six of us were instantly game for the trip - Pritha, Neeraj, Aman, Gaurav, Nancy and Me. Pritha's boyfriend Susmit had come down from Mumbai and that made us seven. But when I was picked up by the 10-seater van from my place at Besant Nagar on Friday morning, there were three more additions to our group - Akarshan, Abhinav and Pavithra. So that explains half the title of this travelogue... Ten Friends...

Around 250 Kms from Chennai, Yelagiri is a secluded hill station in the state of Tamil Nadu. It took us almost six hours to cover that distance, via Sriperumbudur. Breakfast done on the way, we were finally getting impatient of the long route and the Rangeela songs played by our Driver repeatedly, when the first sight of the Yelagiri hills came into view. My first reaction was "What the heck?!". It was nothing like we expected...

But the real fun began when we reached the foothills and started on our way up. The winding road that led to the hilltop had 14 hairpin bends which were amazing and we suddenly felt the change in temparature. It was pretty chilly and we finally had to pull up whatever light winter wears we had got with us. The views of the surroundings from the bends were breathtaking.

The hilltop was not as cold as the hairpin bends. When we reached Yelagiri, we decided to first check into some resort or lodge and then go for the sight seeing. But it being a weekend, we could not get a vacancy anywhere. So after having cheap and yummy fish fries and bun omelettes at a roadside dhaba, we went to the Yelagiri lake for boating.

As the initial plan of halting that night at Yelagiri failed, we contemplated on leaving Yelagiri (as there was not much to see) and proceeding for Hogenakkal. We called up and booked a lodge there and once confirmed, we left the Yelagiri town. On the way down, we stopped for sometime at a bend and took some snaps of the panoramic view.

Half of the journey towards Hogenakkal was quite unincidental. At around 9pm, we stopped at a hotel for dinner. The journey after that was just the opposite... quite incidental in a way, as around 10pm on a quiet dark road the headlights of our vehicle failed. One more reason for this trip to be so memorable... It felt quite spooky, as our driver slowly drove the vehicle on the pitch dark road and Gaurav told us the ghostly stories of Ajabgarh-Bhangarh of Rajasthan. We travelled without the headlights for almost 45 minutes and then all of a sudden, (Thank God!!!) the headlights started working again. We reached Hogenakkal at around 11pm and checked into our lodge. As we were all so exhausted, we retired for the day.

When I woke up the next morning the first thing I did was going to the balcony of my room and looking around. What I saw was a lush green jungle, right outside the lodge across the road, with lots of monkeys here and there; and it had an earthly beauty about it.

We had breakfast at another roadside dhaba kind of shop, down the road from our lodge and parked the van at the boatyard parking lot and started bargaining with the Coracle boat operators.

My advice to anyone who plans a trip to Hogenakkal - please book the boats from the Government boat yard, if you want the price to be reasonable, which we did not as we did not have any prior idea and ended up being cheated by one of those private boat operators.

This particular Coracle operator loaded all of us in a small truck and took us to a starting point at the Kaveri river, from where we were boarded onto the two coracles, five in each.

The ride down the river was thrilling beyond imagination. The experience of riding a coracle was new to all of us and we enjoyed it a lot. The coracles were around 2.5m in diameter and quite spacious. One of us had to sit in the middle of the boat to maintain the balance. The view of the hills bordering the Kaveri was breathtaking.

He took us downstream till the initial five falls. Most of the people had got down and were enjoying the view. We too got down there and took snaps of the smoking waterfalls. It was one of the most exotic places I have been to. Unfortunately, the boatmen refused to take us till the gorges and we had to return back from there.

We left Hogenakkal on Saturday afternoon and reached back Chennai by 9pm.

In all it was an awesome trip, with a tadka of spooky night-time adventure, yummy hot fish fries and bun omelettes (the type of which we hardly get in Chennai), a cheer-leader like Nancy, who insisted on stopping the van after every few Kms to take snaps, our finance-handler Neeraj, love birds "Pritha & Susmit" and "Akarshan & Abhinav" (Just kidding guys ;-) ), Gaurav who actually voiced out the idea of this trip, Aman - whom we lovingly named as Munna, Pavithra and of course myself, SANG, without whom any trip is incomplete!!!

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