Hogennakal: Watering the Stones
It is about my visit to Hogenakkal, the gorge of the River Cauvery on the border of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. It’s a scenic spot where water finds its way against all obstructions of ancient rocks of demonic dimensions, sometimes appearing calm as a placid lake and sometimes roaring as a hungry lion, sometimes looking turbid as a big bowl of soup and sometimes limpid as the pair of expressive eyes of the sweetheart, sometimes whirling eddies out of its unfathomable depth and sometimes flowing shallow inviting to wade it across. The cascading water sparkling against the sunshine and its deafening sounds, the droplets of cool water touching one’s skin and soothing and tickling, its rainbow refusing to stay beyond a flutter of the eyelash—all these are just a few highlights of that great spot to be seen and remembered, to be remembered and recalled…and to be recalled and relived. It is about Hogenakkal, the garden of rocks, the smoking rocks.
|Slow and Serene|
s for me, it was a repeat visit, the second trip to the spot in a matter of one year. I had gone there to refresh my memory, to have some real good photographs for my blog, to have some fun of boating in the gorge, to eat Cauvery fish and relish, and so forth. Oops! On my way I realized how pathetically I was under-equipped for the trip: I had forgotten to carry my camera as I did last year. But then I had the second best option to invoke—I just decided to rely on the capability of my mobile phone. The midday sun was trying to act the spoilsport letting all its rays concentrate on the screen of my cell phone so that I would perforce give up. But I didn’t. Rather I took a series of blind snaps. In retrospect I’m happy about the result.
|Hogenakkal: Beyond the Big Hill|
he much-touted fish of the gorge—the Cauvery fish—was just a talking point. What the hotels actually offered in the name of Cauvery fish was perhaps the ones caught from some inland ponds—it could be my guess only, an informed guess. After tasting the fish in a hotel I could not have betted on its actual provenance. Otherwise, I found people throwing fishing lines from the rocky niches were just doing that out of their hobby. And my simple inquiry gave me the information I needed: Until midday an avid indomitable gentleman fish catcher, according to his own admission, had caught only a small catfish—neither rohu nor carp. So how would the hotels feed Cauvery fish to all the tourists that crowded there? Any fish with a Cauvery prefix would pass for Cauvery fish. And this was how I guessed the secret!
|Out of the Blue|
ogenakkal is not an ordinary gorge, but a great outdoor setting for many Tamil and Hindi movies. At least that was what the boat fellow imparted us. In fact everything out there proved that he was right, for I could find many hideouts for villains, so many lonely caves for romantic trysts of the heroes and the heroines, very many inaccessible niches for the ghosts and goblins to haunt—Hogenakkal has something to offer to every hue of filmy characters. And when it comes to innovate, it is no less than Dal Lake of Srinagar. Look how the fellow is selling snacks to the tourists that are enjoying their boating on the basket boats. Even we too bought something from the floating snacks man...and left a trail of plastic!
|The Seller Sailor|
ocks were lofty and we were on our basket boat almost at the abyss. Looking at the lofty rocks from the boat was like looking at the skyscrapers, nay the sky itself. As the boatman said, children used to dive from the high rocks for the lure of backsheesh worth ten rupees each. It used to give thrill to the tourists and money to the boys. That is banned now as it is too dangerous and a kind of exploitation of poor children of the locality.
There were far too much oil spilled everywhere around. It smelt acrid and made the pathway fearfully slippery. There were masseurs with identity cards but no training in physiotherapy. Only people who were not mindful of the safety of their bones and nerves and those with no inhibitions about showing their undergarments and skin to all and sundry were getting oil-bathed in the open. I listened to the canvassing masseur but did not get convinced. This was my silent argument to myself, ‘Look, if you didn’t care about being massaged in Bangkok, the massage capital of Asia, then where is the big point in trying it out now?’
|The Buddy Shopping|
esides the oil, there were plastic and more plastic, everywhere one surveyed
. People were taking their ritual bath, washing their cloth with regular detergent and rhythmic thrashing, and I was told that a project was under way to supply drinking water from Hogenakkal to various localities around. राम तेरी गंगा मैली हो गई...
had gone to this scenic spot exactly one year ago and now I repeated it as if it were a matter of annual routine for me
. Despite that, I did not feel it to be boring: it could be repeated with relish. I could eat fish with a Cauvery prefix. Last time I had had no boating experience, and this time I supplied the omission. And about bath? Oh, this should wait till next time!
|The Whirling Eddies|
nd last time I came back from Hogenakkal I had supplied nothing to my blog...and now I have something to share, both pictures and text.
A N Nanda