Exploring Karnataka Through Its Coracles

Coracles are iconic boats which are a great way to understand the indigenous culture of lush Karnataka, across the state's length and breadth over rivers and backwaters
The Coracles of the Tungabhadra
The Coracles of the TungabhadraWikimedia Commons

There are boats, and then there are coracles.

Coracle rides in Karnataka offer a unique blend of cultural immersion and natural exploration. Whether it's gliding along the historic rivers of Hampi or drifting through the dense forests of Dandeli, these experiences provide an unforgettable glimpse into the beauty and heritage of this enchanting region. So, for travellers seeking a tranquil and authentic adventure in Karnataka, stepping into a coracle promises an experience like no other.


The people of Hampi
The people of Hampi Rangeet Ghosh

In Hampi, the favourite mode of crossing the Tungabhadra is the humble coracle. This round-shaped boat (it looks like one-half of a hollow coconut) can be hired for a trip to the tiny hamlet of Anegundi. If you happen to go after the rains, crossing the mighty Tungabhadra can be exciting. But for most part, the river is a shallow ford and the coracle moves with some effort. Once afloat, time comes to a stand still. And you see life as it must have existed in Hampi centuries ago. The self-imposed time travel has its drawbacks crouching in the boat and holding on to its side, as it jerks and stumbles over rocks, takes some skill. Fortunately, its a short ride to Anegundi where you can explore an ancient fort and the Anjaneya Hill, believed to be the birthplace of Lord Hanuman. In its heyday, it was one of the outposts of Hampi. If you dont want to go coracling, you can always walk back to Hampi.


Tea Plantations at Coorg, India
Tea Plantations at Coorg, IndiaShutterstock

Known as the "Scotland of India" for its misty hills and lush coffee plantations, Coorg is home to several picturesque rivers and lakes where coracle rides are a popular attraction. One such spot is the serene Chiklihole Reservoir, where visitors can glide across the water surface surrounded by verdant forests.


A coracle parked on the riverside
A coracle parked on the riversideMike Prince/Flickr

Nestled in the Western Ghats, Dandeli is a haven for adventure enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. The Kali River, which flows through this region, offers ideal conditions for thrilling coracle rides. As the boat gently bobs on the river, travelers can spot diverse wildlife along the lush riverbanks.


A view of the Kabini backwaters
A view of the Kabini backwatersWikimedia Commons

The Kabini River, which meanders through the Nagarhole National Park, provides a scenic backdrop for coracle rides. Nature enthusiasts can embark on these serene voyages to catch glimpses of elephants, deer, and a variety of bird species that frequent the riverine habitats.

Sakrebailu Elephant Camp

Coracles made an important means of local trade in ancient times
Coracles made an important means of local trade in ancient timesAshwin Kumar/Flickr

Located near the town of Shivamoga, this elephant camp offers more than just elephant interactions. Visitors can also enjoy coracle rides on the serene waters of the Tunga River, surrounded by lush greenery and the gentle giants of the forest.

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