Once can get lost in the Matata Mountain that overlooks the Inanda Dam. Picture: Clinton Moodley.

LOCAL and international visitors are lapping up opportunities to visit townships to immerse themselves in culture and history. I decided to visit one of the most talked about routes in Inanda to find out exactly what all the hype was about, and I was besotted with its beauty.

It was three of us visiting today, guide Khetha Mkhize, my photographer Gcina Ndwalane and myself. Shortly before we reached the Inanda Heritage Route, we saw Shembe worshippers, dressed in white and singing songs of praise. As we drove, Khetha told us about how the area was named Pink, a play on the words Phoenix, Inanda and KwaMashu.

On the left was a house shaped like an aeroplane followed by a house designed as a ship. In the distance we spotted the Ntuzuma Magistrate’s Court that was built to resemble a kraal.

By the time we reached our first stop, the Mahatma Gandhi Settlement, I was in awe of this beautiful township. Known as the Phoenix settlement, this historic site was founded by Mahatma Gandhi in 1904 and was in the forefront of the struggle for justice in South Africa.

The tour was informative, providing insight into how Gandhi and his wife, Kasturba, lived. It was fascinating that Gandhi would walk 45 minutes to the Ohlange Institute, the place where the ANC’s first president, John Dube, founded the movement in the early 1900s.

The institute itself is filled with history. It was the place where Nelson Mandela cast his vote, in remembrance of Dube’s sacrifices for freedom.

The site is undergoing many changes as they build an amphitheatre and a tower of hope. The next stop was the Matata Mountain. Khetha described it as “our own Table Mountain”, and I understood what he meant when we reached the top. The almost 15-minute drive had been worth it. The scenic views included the Inanda Dam.

Khetha said he discovered the place a few months ago and could not stop talking about it.

Our next stop was the Mzinyathi Falls, a breathtaking waterfall also surrounded by rural dwellings. If you want to self-drive the Inanda Route, note that children and even some adults are not afraid to run across the road in heavy traffic. At the waterfall, the echoes of praise songs filled the air with joy as Shembe worshippers danced in praise to God. Many worshippers have been baptised at the top of the waterfall. Opposite is the Rastafarian cave, so secluded that a lengthy walk is needed to get there. Sadly, the Rastafarians were not there, but their absence was another excuse to visit the site again and hopefully I will get a chance to interact with them.

Our last stop was Under The Moon exclusive lounge, a luxury hangout. We were greeted by the owner, Gideon Phungula. As we sat around the table enjoying traditional township cuisine, he told us about his five-in-one business venue: a shisa nyama butchery, restaurant, gambling room, lounge and pub and a bed and breakfast facility.

Vegetarian, Khetha and I enjoyed the pap and chakalaka with a Greek salad. Gcina had chicken and chops.

I can’t wait to go back and see what else Inanda Heritage Route has to offer a curious traveller.

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