Last Sunday we went to Hogenakkal waterfall. We at 9am on Sunday morning. The journey was through pretty countryside, with the last part through wooded hills.
To get anywhere near the water you have to walk through a touristy "bazaar" of small stalls selling food (including fish from the river) and cheap t-shirts. Then to get near the waterfall itself you get in to a six-foot diameter "coracle": a wide flat boat, just a woven basket, covered with plastic sheets and then painted with black tar-like paint. The "boat-man" has a single small paddle to steer and move the boat. We had to negotiate hard on the price: we got it down by half, to Rs600, but it took 20 minutes.
Then came the exciting part: all of us (4 adults, 5 children) sitting on the floor of this little boat. After just 5 minutes we got out again to get past some shallow water, and climb the rocks up to see our first view of the waterfall itself. The boat-man carried the boat over the rocks and down the steep steps on the other side, on his head.
Then we got back in the boat and paddles near to the waterfall, in fact, underneath the spray of the waterfall. It was beautiful just sitting in the boat, calm and quiet. The boat felt wonderfully small on this big river with the woods going up the sides of the valley and no buildings in site. It didn't matter that there were plenty of other little boats around. No motors. The river was similar to the river in Periyar national park in Kerala , but that was much "better" (or more) organised: we were on a motor boat with a hundred other tourists, including Australians. Also without the deer and birds, but more dramatic scenery.
And then we headed back. Wet and exhausted.
The river here is the Cauvery and it is very important to both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, for both power generation and drinking water.