Tamil Nadu Travel Guide: Coracle Riding in Coimbatore

Raise your hand if you know what a coracle is. Anyone?
I for one had no idea what I was getting myself into (…quite literally…) when I was whisked away for a coracle boat ride courtesy Zone by The Park when I visited them in Coimbatore earlier this year. Worry not, the story to come isn’t as ominous as I’ve made it sound. If anything, just the opposite! Let’s begin…
It was my fourth and final day in Coimbatore, back in January 2015.We had a coracle ride at Amaravathi Dam listed as our final activity planned for the trip before we headed home to Delhi the same evening. We departed from our hotel in central Coimbatore and spent the next 2 hours/90 kms admiring the varied views that Coimbatore had to offer as we drove out of the city – the industrial buildings and colourful temples slowly gave way to sprawling greens, massive wind turbines, and…colourful temples. Somethings never change. Nothing prepared me for this view when we reached our destination:

Amaravathi Dam is located inside Tamil Nadu’s sprawling Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary. In addition to its help in irrigation and flood control, the Dam also an electricity generating capability. From the top of the Dam, as captured in the picture above, visitors have a grand view of the surrounding plains and Anaimalai and Palani Hills. Truly, neither words nor pictures do the sight justice – I felt like I was on top of the world! 

Now, for all those still wondering what a coracle is, lo behold the majestic beauty below…

Right, while ‘majestic beauty’ may be a bit of a stretch, I have to say that coracles are freakin’ awesome! As you can see above, coracles are circular, basket-like boats made out of a combination of bamboo, plastic sheeting, cane (and other presumably fancy things) used to cross rivers. 

As with most other things, coracles are now a fun tourist attraction too. I mean, who wouldn’t want to get into one of those things and float around in a reservoir famed for its significant population of Mugger crocodiles??? I mean, LOOK AT THAT THING! *not worried at all*

Two coracle boats filled with the 10 of us (including our guide and two Coracle Captains) set off from the banks of the Dam into the distance. It was beautiful.

As someone who loves being in and around water, I was in coracle heaven. The cool wind felt beautiful in my hair as I basked in the gorgeous January sunshine. The gentle back and forth rocking of the coracle against the river’s current would’ve been enough to put me to sleep had it not been for the stunning views of the towering hills surrounding us on every side. 

Let it be noted that there were more than a few nervous chuckles from the coracles as our Coracle Captains (yes, I’m making that a thing now because *alliteration*) joked around with us, likening rocks jutting out from the river and floating reeds to crocs. Unfortunately (or not so unfortunately?) no croc rocked up next to us while we paddled down, though that would’ve made for a fun story.

We paused on a sandy inlet for our Coracle Captains to take a little beedi break. Commandeering a coracle is no joke and from what I could tell requires strong upper body strength. Guess I can’t quit my day job to pursue my dreams of becoming a Coracle Captain….

In the picture above you can see the Dam far in the background (and our guide! Hello!). From there to here, we were moving for about 20 – 25 minutes, even unwrapping sandwiches and juice for a mid-paddle snack. Good times!
All in all, the entire experience of being amidst the green beauty of Tamil Nadu and my new favourite mode of transportation that is the coracle, this was one of my most notable travel moments from my time in Coimbatore. If you’re ever in the city or in the South, I strongly recommend you don’t give this one a miss!
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