Honnemardu Experience [Author: ]
How to Book?
Honnemaradu camp is managed by a dedicated team of nature enthusiasts called 'Adventurers'.
Contact: Mr. Swamy, Ms. Nomita
Book 2-3 weeks in advance
How to get there?
By Road. Shimoga is 274 km from Bangalore. Take a bus from B'lore to Shimoga and another bus to Talaguppa from Shimoga. Taxi service plies one from Talaguppa to Honnemaradu. Taxi and Jeeps can also be hired from Shimoga to Honnemaradu.
By Train. Take a train from B'lore to Shimoga. Travel by the famous Rail bus from Shimoga to Talaguppa takes about 3 hours. Taxi service plies one from Talaguppa to Honnemaradu. It is about 40 minutes drive between Talaguppa and Honnemaradu. Sagar is the town nearest to Talaguppa.
If one has time, one can also trek from Talaguppa to Honnemaradu.
Where to stay?
The Adventurers Base Camp at Honnemaradu
Essentials to carry
Swim-suits, Sleeping Bag, Strong Suntan Lotion, Old cotton T-shirt and trousers, a plate, spoon and tumbler
Travel - 2 Nights. Stay - 2 days, 1 Night.
Late Friday Night to Early Monday Morning
By Train: 1700 Max
A place rich in flora and fauna, lush in greenery, Honnemaradu is a nature lover's dream destination. Honnemaradu is one of the most beautiful man-made lakes in Karnataka. Honnemaradu, the village, having been engulfed in the mid-1960s by the Liganamakki dam, has been literally resurrected today. This haven for water sport enthusiasts, tucked away in the lush greenery of the Western Ghats, is in the Shimoga District in north-west Karnataka about 25 km from Sagar town on the way to Jog Falls. Numerous hills and hillocks in the region that got submerged in the waters today form the islands that stand majestically in the vast lake.
The common birds here are the European bee-eater, fairy blue bird, ruby-cheeked bulbul, orange-headed ground thrush and so on. Spectacular butterflies such as red Helens, blue Mormons, blue bottles and stripped tigers offer a visual treat. Honnemaradu is a centre for adventure, conservation oriented activity and nature study. It is also the headquarters for Western Ghats Restoration Project. Mupane, a wildlife sanctuary is another hotspot worth visiting. It is just 11 kms from Jog.
About 10 km from Honnemaradu is Gaddemane, famous for its chittara art. Other interesting places around Honnemaradu are Jog Falls (26 km), Dabbe Falls (30 km from Jog falls), Tyavarekoppa Tiger and Lion Safari (9 km out of Shimoga), Sagar (a cultural centre), Sharavathi Valley Wildlife Sanctuary and Kaanur Kote, a fort (75 km by road). Honnemaradu can be visited at any time of the year, except during the rains in July-August.
The wonderful climate, clear brisk air, and the breathtaking views attract hordes of tourists. The place is well maintained and naturists have tried to retain the eco-friendliness of this area by prohibiting smoking, boozing and use of mobile phones, other electronic gadgets, and chemicals, even in the form of soap and shampoo. One certainly does not find the need for anything at all here, even a wrist watch. It feels as if the time has taken a break here. The peace and the quiet of the surrounding area is a soothing balm to one's soul!
Our trip to Honnemaradu was most successful and left us wanting for more. We left Bangalore by train on a Friday night and reached Shimoga in the wee hours of the morning. After enquiring about the bus service, which was one of the many options to reach our dream destination, we decided to try the famous rail bus which would take us to Talaguppa Station, from where we would have to reach Honnemaradu by Taxi. The journey bestowed by the rail bus is one of the most memorable ones. Rail bus, we found to our delight, was a 2 bogie train with 36 seats in each compartment that had seen ancient times! The driver got down at every station and did a head count of the people inside. He even gave an extra 5 minute break at one of the stations. The train traveled through villages and dense forests that felt like exotic locales, giving us an opportunity to observe the sunrise, indulge in bird watching and photography along with enjoying the ride sitting on the footboard and dangling our feet, a zephyr blowing our way. Talaguppa was a pleasant surprise, a very charming and a picturesque station, with a very clean guest quarter. We got to know from the station master that there would be no phone connections after this point, so we made important phone calls from the only STD booth at this place and then took the much needed rest from the rest of the world!
The taxi from Talaguppa dropped us at our destination at 9:30 in the morning. We had gathered a lot of information about Honnemaradu before embarking on a trip to the place. But we certainly were not prepared for what we found here. The 'picture perfect' lake just took our breath away!
A brief introduction later, we were asked by the caretakers of the base camp to leave our luggage at the cottage, change and get back for breakfast and Tea. The cottage, at a ten minute trek on a nearby hillock, gave us the best view of the lake. After a healthy breakfast and strong ginger tea, the adventurers gave us a brief explanation of the day's agenda. We were to be provided with an opportunity to try, learn and enjoy rowing and sailing various types of boats, giving us an amazing boating experience.
Kayaks, coracles, canoes, surf board, and sails were some that we would learn to manipulate and maneuver in the shallow waters. We were glad to know that swimming was just an option and not a pre-requisite, as life jackets were provided to one and all. It was mandatory to wear life jackets if one wanted to get into water. One could spend the entire day just floating in water and relaxing. Food and accommodation were provided by 'The Adventurers' who were in charge of running the activities of the base camp at Honnemaradu. We got to know that they were responsible for the maintenance of this place.
We stepped enthusiastically into the inviting waters. Secured in life-jackets, we spent the first half of the first day getting acclimatized to the waters. Dawal, our guide, made us float to an island. On perfecting the art of back-floating on water, we were given instructions on rowing a coracle. Coracling on certain parts of the lake was more difficult than we had anticipated, but it was sheer fun!
We coracled to another island, which was also a diving spot. It was a test of one's confidence and inner-strength as the gutsy dived, the rest encouraged looking forward to dive another time. Nearly 2:30 in the noon, it was time to head back to the main land for lunch and a short nap. At this point we had all mastered the art of rowing a coracle and had given enough exercise to our biceps.
At 4:30 pm, the guide informed us that we would row to yet another island and spend the night in the wilderness. Enjoying the evening snack of Pakodas and Ginger Tea, and packing essentials for the night stay that included a blanket and a jacket, we set out in our coracles to the island. It was time to capture the essence of the place and the beautiful sunset into the cameras along with a brief photo-session of the group members.
On reaching the top of the isle and selecting a place to pitch the tents, the group divided into two. A few stayed back to pitch the tents and the rest started gathering firewood for the night's campfire. From this island the view of Linganamakki dam was beautiful. By 7:30 in the evening we were ready with sufficient firewood to start the party. The stage was set, the campfire ready and we settled around and had immense fun indulging in a game of anthakshari and dumb charade. As usual, Ashok had us mesmerised with his actions and spellbound with his songs! ‘The Adventurers’ had a delicious dinner of pullav, roti, sabzi, Kheer and salad waiting for us. After dinner, we indulged in a star gazing session. Looking at millions of stars on a moonless night and clear sky was certainly a bonus!
The next day, we enjoyed soaking in the magnificient early morning light and a very calm sunrise. While some were glad to take a morning walk exploring the island and listening to the chirping of the native birds, others indulged in a session of aerobics and exercises at a very beautiful and picturesque cove which almost seemed hidden on one side of the island. A short while later, we rowed back in our coracles to the main land.
Breakfast, ginger tea and a change later, we were given instructions on balance and rowing techniques of the Canoe and the Kayak. The canoe, a two people boat, had many takers. By this time we were at home in the water, courtesy: confidence given by life-jackets. The canoe also gave us an opportunity to know the team members better. Balancing a kayak, which was a one person row boat, was a tough act to follow. Some mastered this art, while the others left it for the next time. Some also conoed to the diving cove and indulged in a diving spree. It was then time for learning ‘the secret’ behind wind-surfing. Dawal showed us to balance ourselves on the surf-board and maneuver the board. Though we could not master this art, it was the most enjoyable and we decided to get back to Honnemaradu sometime soon and learn wind-sailing and wind-surfing.
After lunch, we set out in our coracles and canoes to view a waterfall. We had a great time searching for the waterfall. We did find the fall but no water. Disappointed not in the least, we headed back to the main land in time for the evening tea and snack and to get ready to head back to Bangalore. The caretakers certainly took good care of us. They had our dinner packed and ready. Sincerely thanking them for one of the best holidays, we left Honnemaradu with loads of experience, lovely memories, a fresh mind and of course, new friends.