For those who are looking for a relaxed holiday with adventure Honnemaradu is the answer. An ideal place in the midst of serenity for adventure enthusiasts which offers everything like trekking, canoeing, boating, swimming in open waters, kayaking, camping and bonfire is Honnemaradu. A small village near Sagar town of Shimoga District, Honnemaradu is perched on the hills overlooking Linganamakki Dam. It is about 15 kms away from the most popular waterfall of India Jog Falls.
The place is also popular amongst Bird watchers and often referred as Bird Watchers Heaven. The name of Honnemaradu is derived from Honne tree with literal meaning Golden Lake and is situated at the back waters of river Sharavathi. The serenity of place provides a perfect getaway for all age groups specially heaven for water sports which has most spectacular view of sunset and sunrise.
Number of hills and hillocks in the region submerged years ago in the waters form the beautiful islands in the vast lake ideal for camping. The grace the Western Ghats of Karnataka provides to the attraction of Kayaking in Honnemaradu. A place rich in flora and fauna, lush in greenery, it is one of the most beautiful man-made lakes in Karnataka.
Though the area is not developed by tourism department as a tourist attraction one can go and visit the backwaters and camp over night at the banks of backwaters at their own risk. However, the only habitat available in the area is an eco tourism unit run by a couple known as The Adventurers who offer packages for various adventure activities, corporate trips with team building exercises along with local grown cooked food.
They promote and organise activities like trekking, camping, kayaking, canoeing, coracle water rides and many more under all possible safety measures. When it is said eco tourism unit, it actually means it is a gadget free zone with no mobile network, no smoking, no alcohol, no chemicals not even soaps and shampoos. Actually the clean air, pure water body, good food and the calm and peaceful surroundings will not make you miss all these not even a wrist watch. Time just flies there.
The list of adventure activities is endless. Ideally, one can plan 2 days trip by booking in advance with The Adventurers who has a booking office in Bangalore. You can travel by your own vehicle or can take a night train or bus which takes about 8 hours to reach the place by early morning. The holiday starts with welcome tea or coffee and briefing about the activities and stay. You are then into the water, the pure and divine back waters of River Sharavathi which is drinkable. Yes! You read it right, the water is indeed drinkable.
Whether one knows swimming or not, with life jackets you can just float into open waters and relax all your muscles and mind.
After enjoying the swim you come back for lunch to the base. I would call this as food for soul and not just for your tummy. The basic rice sambhar with locally grown vegetables and refreshing buttermilk is good enough for the body after swim. After the soulful food we didn’t want to go anywhere so we relaxed for a while to know each other more and stories about the local region.
After a while we again went into the water but this time it was kayaking and coracle boating. One must paddle a kayak to have a lifetime experience.
Bonfire and Gazing at the stars
After coming back and after having evening tea we started to trek at the nearest point for bonfire and camping. The option of camping at the island was also available but we chose to camp at a hill so that we can go trekking and running next day early morning.
It was so much fun to have a bonfire and camping. While few members were busy setting up tents others went in jungle to get wood for bonfire. We got to hear some wonderful and inspirational stories during bonfire and again good locally grown food which was carried by all the members.
Gazing at the stars and the moon on a clear sky night away from polluted and smoggy city was something which we couldn’t have asked for more. Sleeping in tents on mats on soft grassy floor was so comfortable to believe.
Next day early morning around 6 am we straight went for trekking while we could see the beautiful morning and hear chirping birds. The trek is a small one say about 4 kms both ways but the trail for a first timer like me was so much thrilling. On the hilltop there is Bheemana Hejje, footprints of Bheema. Lots of stories are told by locals saying that Bheema came here and they believe and worship the footprints.
After the trek we came down to have breakfast and again left for more water sports. This time it was coracle boating and jumping into the middle of deep water. For those who jumped into the water came swimming and floating near the banks.
All good things come to an end. After having tea and some experience sharing we left the place to go back again. To catch the night bus from Sagar we left place a little early so that we can also visit India’s second highest plunge waterfalls, Jog Falls. Away from the city hassle, Honnemaradu is indeed a perfect getaway! !