Old Magazine House of Dandeli
Doesn’t the title sound odd? Well Old Magazine is a resort deep in the jungles of Dandeli. The story goes that in 1974 the Government decided to build a dam in the Supa area. They wanted to store the cartridges used for blasting whilst building the dam somewhere away from the villages to ensure safety. The best place was in the jungles away from human inhabitation. Two lightning proof buildings were built to store the magazines. Once the Supa dam was built they decided to convert this place into a resort with the name Old Magazine House and it became part of the Jungle Lodges and Resort group.
I was invited to stay in this beautiful place right in the middle of the jungle. In Old Magazine at a given time around forty five people can be accommodated and there are plans for further extension. The cottages are built 8 to 10 feet above the ground on stilts and they protrude right out of the hill. One can sit outside the room in the verandah of the cottages to enjoy the beautiful view of the jungle and its wild inhabitants. Rare and migratory birds are found in abundance in this forest and they are a regular in this resort. Old Magazine is a haven for the bird enthusiasts and they stay put day long with their huge cameras and lenses to capture the sightings from October to May. Perches and bird baths placed all around the resort lure the birds and give a great view to the shutterbugs. One can also indulge in river rafting, coracle ride, nature walk and hiking by staying in this resort.
The rooms have all the basic amenities and ensure your stay is pleasant. You wouldn’t find television in any of the rooms. This is a very novel concept and the reason for it is, Jungle Lodges and Resorts would want you to break free from the daily grind of life, its hullaboo and relax in the calm and peaceful company of nature. Here you wake up to the bird calls and the sun streaming through the dense forest of Dandeli. You inhale the fresh air of the forest and clear the cob webs of your mind. A walk into the woods would give an insight into its bio diversity.
Did you know once the giant wood spider is done with its mating the female eats the male? Also once the female has laid the eggs it too dies. The cobweb spun by the spider is so thick and strong that a sun bird can get entangled into it. The female spider is bigger than the male. I actually got to see both of them in the jungles of Dandeli. The forest houses the kumkum tree from whose seeds you get the kumkum powder made by the tribals of Dandeli. Spices like pepper, cardamom, bay leaf, curry leaves are also found in abundance. The forest has many herbs and plants that have great medicinal value. The whistling sound that I would get to hear every day in the resort wasn’t that of a human being but the Whistling Schoolboy or the Malabar whistling thrush. These facts I got to know by talking to the naturist of this resort Mr. Vinayak. Few minutes spent with him are enough to get a sight of the exhaustive flora and fauna that surrounds this resort. He has been trained by the Karnataka Forest department and is also a certified naturist.
Mr. Yellapa is another individual who can talk to you about the history, culture and food of Dandeli. He has a thorough knowledge of the jungle and its wildlife. These are people who have spent their life in the jungle and through experience could talk to you about its richness and their encounters. Old Magazine just doesn’t give you the experience but it also gives you the right knowledge.
The food is of good quality and one that you would relish in your stay. Mornings are started with tea and coffee that the resort doesn’t keep a track of. You are at your will to down innumerable cups of this hot drink. Breakfast consists of items like bread, omelet, jam, butter, aloo parathas, idli and curd. Lunch and dinner has two veggies, rotis, one non vegetarian item, rice, dal and one sweet like gulab jamuns, kheer etc. in the gol ghar (dinning area) below the open sky. Before you go for the evening hike you are treated with tea and biscuits and once you return from the refreshing hike you are fed with some pakodas and tea. It is a sense of getting pampered and taken care of personally.
On the last day we had planned to visit Dudhsagar and hence had to check out at 7:30 a.m. The staff ensured they woke us up at 6:15, was ready with the breakfast at 7 am. and had also packed lunch for us considering there aren’t any restaurants in Dudhsagar. How very thoughtful of them? They are always ready to help you and ensure the visitors have a pleasant stay.
The resort has ensured the integrity and the existence of the ecology in the forest is maintained. They do not allow loud music, bonfire as any action that would disturb the balance in the bio network is against their principles. The core values of eco-tourism are followed and well maintained. A stay in this resort would be an out of the world experience that not just relaxes and rejuvenates you but gives you an understanding of the jungle life. Who knows you might start pursuing a new hobby after this trip probably hiking, bird watching or tiger census activity? Any takers?
How to get to Old Magazine House?
Old Magazine House is located in Ganeshgudi which is around 25 km from Dandeli. Dandeli is well connected by road and rail network.
- Road – From Bangalore it is around 500 km., Goa – 115 km.
- Air – Bangalore and Goa airports are the closest
- Rail – Nearest station is Londa
Best time to visit –
- If you want to sight the wildlife of this area head to this reserve from Oct to May
- The monsoons are from June to Sep. Though the animal sightings might be less in this season Dandeli has lots of other activities to offer which you could engage into. Also one could enjoy the verdant dense forest in this season for its beauty, views and mesmerizing landscapes.
Good to know –
BSNL service operator is the one which works well in this area. In few pockets you would find Vodafone and Airtel functioning. Apart from these the rest of the mobile operators do not work.