Hogenakkal in Kannada means Smoking rocks, but the name that is apt for this place is Yennekal meaning Oily rocks. This place is best avoided by one and all and it is a failure and shame on the Tamilnadu tourism department for the horrible state of affairs of this otherwise beautiful location. The bad karma of my previous birth was the reason for me to have chosen to visit this place.
I have visited many beautiful, elegant, well-maintained regions with waterfalls in Kerala and Karnataka, but none are as messy, stinky, or sleazy as Hogennakkal. It is a mockery that this place is known as Niagara Falls of India! Pier 39 of India is more apt, as the rocks are covered with scantily clad men in all shapes and sizes lying in various asanas / postures on the rocks glistening like seals and getting a stinky Castor Oil massage and bathing in the falls as though they have never and will never bathe again. The scene is repulsive.
My hope of at least walking on the Hanging Bridge to get a glimpse of the falls too was dashed against the oily rocks as it was closed. An unconvincing reason was given by the policemen guarding the bridge entrance. We were asked to take the boat to view the falls and when we queried the policemen the boating rates, they said it was all fixed, but the reality is that there is no regulation or administration regarding boating. There are no life jackets and the local boatmen quote rates according to their whims and fancies. A boatmen who engaged us into talking quoted Rs. 960 for 30 mts boating near the falls!
We saw many local people taking the boat, who could not have paid Rs. 960. We decided not to be taken for a ride and we had to endure once again the smelly, wet, and dirty open kitchens cooking fish in loads of oil and handful of Garlic as we walked back to the parking lot. It was very difficult to keep our breakfast down. If vegetarians want to experience hell, Hogenakkal is the place.
Madumalai, Ooty, Kodaikanal, and so on are also situated in Tamil Nadu and everything is regularized with tourism department taking care of issuing tickets for entry to gardens, jungle safari, or boating.
Maybe a huge accident is waiting to happen at Hogenakkal for the administration to wake up from their slumber to protect this rich ecological place and develop it into a friendly destination. This place has the potential to generate good revenue for the tourism department and could be a pride of Tamil Nadu tourism instead of an embarrassment.
The Crocodile rehabilitation center also stinks with too many Crocodiles cramped in cages with stagnant water. Some of the Crocodiles have open wounds covered with eager red ants.
The positive side of this outing was our choice of driving route from Bangalore. The route we took was Bangalore > Anekal > Dankanakottoi > Hogenakkal. The forest and ghat section was wonderful, but that story is reserved to be told for another day.
Type of place: Waterfalls
Situated: Tamil Nadu
Distance: 130 Kms from Bangalore
Transport: Well connected by road
Facilities: Many small restaurants and open restaurants are available. Rest room is available. Basic boarding facilities and youth hostel is also available