Dandeli - Where to stay

Monday, October 08, 2007

How to reach:
One way is to take a train to Dharwad/Alnavar/Londa and catch a bus from there towards Dandeli. There are also quite a few buses from Bangalore to Dharwad on a daily basis. But it is better to arrange for own transporation from Dharwad because places in and around Dandeli tend to be remote and means of commutation infrequent. From Dharwad, take the road to Dandeli through Haliyal. It lies around 65kms away and needs little over an hour to reach.

Options to stay:

- An excellent option is to stay in the Jungle Lodges Kali river lodge (http://www.junglelodges.com).

- Another little known option is the JLR camp at Ganeshgudi as well.

- For the budget travelers and for people who love to stay closer to the forests, there is the Kulgi nature camp (Rs. 250-500 per tent on twin sharing basis). This camp run by the karnataka forest department is very well maintained and strategically located around 11km from Dandeli at the edge of the wildlife sanctuary. For the Kulgi nature camp, one needs to book the tents in advance with the DFC (deputy forest conservator) office in Dandeli as they are well sought after and generally not available at a short notice.

- For those preferring to stay within Dandeli town, the "State Lodge" (Rs.350 per double bed) opposite the bus stand is convenient.

- The guest house within the West coast paper mill factory (Rs.200 for 4 beds) is another option but I suppose one needs to know someone working in the mill to be accommodated there.

- There are resorts on the high end as well like the Hornbill resort and Bison river resort.


Dandeli - adventure/sightseeing

One activity that Dandeli has become synonymous in recent years is the white-water rafting. This adventure sport is organised by a private group on the river Kali. The power of this mighty river has been harnessed like few others. In a journey of a 100 odd kms, it has 4 major dams across it. This has resulted in it being tamed to a large extent. But there still are stretches of the river where it gushes along in its former glory creating breathtaking rapids and here is where the rafting activity takes place. One can contact the Kali river lodge taking part in the rafting. It costs around Rs.1200 and takes place both in the morning and post noon. There are various other adventure activities that one can participate in. Many are seasonal and the best place to get current information about them is at the Kali river lodge reception.

One interesting place to visit is Ulavi. It is about 58km from Dandeli on the Anshi-Karwar road. While the town is popular for the Channabasaveshwara tomb/temple that has historical significance for veerashaivas, for adventure seekers, the cave formations are the added attractions. There are around 8 caves around Ulavi which can be seen by trekking through the forests. Seven of these lie along a single route and trekking to these is a moderate 2-3 hour exercise. The last cave is along a different route and is reportedly a tough trek. After reaching Ulavi and visiting the temple, one can pick up a person to guide you to the caves. Alternatively, figuring out the route leading to the caves is not very tough and can be found out by enquiring around a bit. It is a steady descent to the caves. After reaching the first of these, the others are close by. While I do not remember the individual names, the penultimate one in this path has a ladder that takes you to the mouth. You can choose to crawl inside the cave which is only 2 feet high at the entrance. There is enough space to walk around once inside. You can enjoy the dark and eerie interiors or if you are claustrophobic like I am, you can make a dash to the exit in a jiffy. The caves are naturally formed on tall spire like rock formations lying within dense forests. Since we are descending down, at places we get amazing views of the wildlife sanctuary all around. Be warned that the return journey can be a bit tiresome as it involves uphill climb.

Another adventure option is to camp overnight on the banks of the Kali river near Molangi. To reach the place drive for about 10 mins on the Dandeli-Londa road up to the the point where an old railway line cuts across the road. Its easy to miss if you are not watching because the line has been in disuse for many decades now. One needs to take the next left and drive along the narrow road until you reach a dead end on the banks of Kali. A narrow path along the river takes you on a beautiful path that is rich in natural beauty and birdlife. There are some places where the riverbank can be used to camp in the night. The JLR offers facilities for camping. Camping can be risky as well because the water flow in the river swells when the release from the Supa dam upstream increases and it usually happens without warning. An additional aspect is the presence of wild animals especially crocodiles.


Syntheri rocks and Kaneri river point are another attraction in this route. While going towards
Ulavi, you come across the diversion that leads to Syntheri rock formation about 30km from Dandeli. A 2km drive through the forest leads you to the point where one needs to descend down on foot. There is huge limestone monolith which has been carved by the ravaging Kaneri river. Though inside the forest, coming across wildlife may be very rare as tourists frequent this place a lot.

A little further along the road towards Ulavi takes you to a bridge across the Kaneri. A little distance before the bridge, there is a place where you can descend down to the river to take a dip in relatively placid waters and in peace.

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Dandeli - Nature/Birding


Another attraction for nature lovers in and around Dandeli is the abundance of wildlife - especially birds. Spotting wild animals, especially predators, here may require loads of luck as the forests are very vast and dense. If your interest lies in birding, you won't be disappointed.

The pride of the place is of course the hornbills. With some luck, you can see all 4 varieties of hornbills found in southern India - Malabar Pied Hornbill, Great Indian Hornbill, Indian Grey hornbill and the Malabar Grey hornbill. The Karnataka forest dept timber depot in the town is a great birding haunt. One is guaranteed sighting of the Malabar grey and the malabar pied hornbills at one of the many ficus trees in this campus. Green pigeons, Barbets - coppersmith, large brown and crimson-fronted, fairy bluebirds, many thrushes, tits are the other attractions.

About 25 kms towards Ganeshgudi takes one to just downstream from Supa Dam. There is a bridge overlooking the supa dam on one side and the Kali flowing down on the other. This spot is great for getting flight shots of the slow-moving hornbills. If you are lucky, you might spot the
Great Hornbill here. A trek on a path along the river downstream takes you into a wooded area that is good for birding as well.

The JLR camp at Ganeshgudi which is just a few kms further from this bridge is a very good option for stay as well as birding. Since the camp is in a secluded location and in sort of a mini valley, one gets gallery view of many perched birds.

The area around Kulgi nature camp including the nearby timber depot is another good spot. The camp is about 10km on the road to Ambikanagar from Dandeli. The Bommanahalli dam backwaters, just a few kilometers from Kulgi nature camp is one more option.

...to be continued

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