Sunday, March 6, 2011

Playing Hooky in Hogenakkal

Wednesday was Shivrati, Simon had the day off work so we decided to pull the boys out of school and play hooky!! Shivrati is the great night of the Goddess Shiva. It is the night in the year when pure consciousness is most available on earth, one minute of spiritual practice on this night is worth 1,000 minutes at any other time. Translated into practicalities this means all the temples, especially those dedicated to Shiva are decorated in lights, the local Hindu's are decked out in their most colorful beautiful clothes, with garlands of flowers in their hair, there are queues outside the temples, processions and chanting all night, not to mention the fireworks, a real pooja party! Poor Karthik had a sleepless night - he lives in the middle such a village which Simon drives through on the way to work - tho' this morning, there is not a lot of driving, it is gridlocked as the processions go on!!

Hogenakkal is a 3 hour drive from Bangalore. After heading South you turn off the main highway and through several small villages to enter the jungle/forest for which you pay an entrance. We then wound our way down (Karthik felt the need to tell us that a school bus had once gone over the side, killing all 68 kids on board - not sure if this was in some way supposed to reassure us.....). On entering the village we had to pay another fee, then a parking fee and then when we were approached for another parking fee "but sir, this is for security with parking.......", I could feel Simon's hackles beginning to rise!

To see the falls you take a coracle, a small circular woven basket with tar on the underside propelled along by a guy kneeling at the front with one oar. The falls were amazing - apparently they are more both in number and force after the rains but then the waters are too high for the coracles.
In order to ensure his tip the guy decided we needed a bit of entertainment and proceeded to spin the coracle without warning at odd intervals - good job no-one gets sea sick. Kathik also managed to keep up a dead pan patter about crocodiles so I'm not sure if any of us was 100% sure if he was joking or not!
Along the way we saw fishermen and a floating shop. A guy in a coracle was selling snacks and drinks! In the streets of the village there are people on the sidewalks cooking these fresh fish to order.
In some places, due to the water level and so we could get above the waterfalls and see the view (which was most impressive) we had to walk, across streams and rocks - which saw Adam and Pranav sitting in the water more than once! And how do you carry your coracle, why on your head of course!!
We then arrived at the beach area where we stopped for picnic and play. The kids had a blast. I decided there was no point worrying whether the water was clean or not (I think definately not) - but all still seem healthy!
Apparently the crocs sleep during the day and with the boats and people splashing it is too noisy for them - did we believe this or just ignore it...but in any case returned with all our limbs!
Before we drove home we visited a Crocodile Rehab center. The crocs were plentiful but either in a deep sleep or expired. Some had definitely had some sort of mishap and were in need of rehab....the one with half a mouth was a bit too gory for me and I decided to exit...but for 1 rupee a head (45 rupee to $ ) one can't expect too much!

Well kids are back at school - I've never let them play hooky before - but there's too much to see and experience here in the school of life! Ads definitely caught the sun a touch yesterday, I've left it to him what he tells his teacher if anyone comments!

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