Dandeli Diaries – memorable experiences
Dandeli had been my abode for three days and I had enjoyed every moment of it. Three years back I had visited Dandeli but then it was just white water river rafting and soaking in the waters of River Kali. This time around I saw a very different face of Dandeli. I never knew she had so much to offer. I spent my entire stay in the Dandeli – Anshi Wildlife Reserve which is house to many endangered species like the hornbill, tiger and black panther. The thick vegetation is spread across approximately 1400 sq. km.
Dandeli offers the visitors a plethora of activities all throughout the year. I was of the impression that it is only Birding and White Water River Rafting which one can indulge into but there is an exhaustive list that Dandeli has to offer to it’s guests. This jungle which was once rampant with mining activities had given me a refreshing and a soothing experience.
Wildlife Safari –
The forest department takes you on a 25 km jungle safari in the monsoon and 48 km in the summer. You are not allowed to drive your personal vehicles. The ride takes you through the forest and if you are lucky you might sight the tiger, black panther, bison, sloth bear, sambar, other deer varieties, migratory birds, Malabar Giant Squirrel to name a few. If you are keen on animal sightings best time would be from Jan to May when the jungle dries out and the watering holes reduce forcing the animals to come out of their hiding. During the monsoons the jungle comes alive with its thick vegetation and you could enjoy its natural beauty. Visitor’s Timings are 6 to 8 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. only.
This is an adrenaline filled activity for the adventurous sort and one that I would suggest everyone should experience. Minimum age eligibility is ten years and there are nine rapids that you need to traverse through. They rapids are Class 2 and Class 3 in the Kali River and you also end rowing through mangroves that house the endangered flora and fauna. The Supa Dam’s water is released normally in the summers which also is the best season for this exhilarating activity. All the resorts in Dandeli would co-ordinate your pick up and drop for this activity which is managed by the government.
If you want to spend some relaxing time in the company of nature and solitude, you can go for kayaking in the Kali River. If luck be with you, you might sight some wildlife and migratory birds. During my stay I found girls having a gala time and navigating through the river with little or no experience. They seemed to bump into each other every now and then. But it is real fun as you get a hang of it shortly and also have the guides to help you.
The coracle ride is one that would take you on a calm and peaceful ride on the river Kali. You can sight crocodiles basking on the river bed in the mornings. With the fresh morning breeze and the soothing bird calls around you it is being in the company of nature 24X7. Be there to experience it!
Backwaters of Kali
The backwaters of Supa Dam offer some great panoramic views with the dense foliage of the jungles in the backdrop. You can spend some quite times and enjoy the silence of the forest or gaze at the beautiful sunset. If you get to stay in the Old Magazine do not forget to go on a hike with Mr. Vinayak which is sure to tire you off but the view when you reach the summit is completely worth it. It is the confluence of four rivers the backwaters of River Kali, Pandhri, Nagi and the Nasi that is in front of you with the islands floating in between them.
The Dandeli Anshi wildlife reserve is a habitat to various migratory birds and also turns into a home for the photographers in the summer. They are seen all around Ganeshgudi with their cameras and huge lenses, standing in the waters of Kali near the river bank or in the Old Magazine Resort eagerly waiting to capture those avians. It is an absolutely delightful place for the shutterbugs who are bird enthusiasts.
Kadumane (Meaning Forest House in Kannada) is a shop in the jungles of Dandeli that sells organic stuff like spices, honey, oil and handicraft items. Turmeric, Shikakai, pepper, bay leaves, cinnamom from the forests are sold here at nominal rates. Oils for joint pains, hair fall and different varieties of jams, pickles are promoted for the tourist’s use. My baggage on my way back home had a bottle of honey, turmeric, spices and joint relief oils. Kadumane also has a homestay and they engage visitors with the honey bee interaction stories. If you get a chance you can drop by to witness one such exhibition. I happened to miss it as the owner was out of station. Kadumane runs on the ideology of Route towards Root.
Hiking and Trekking
Dandeli is a place where you can do loads of trekking and hiking. My early morning treks took me to some yesteryear mines which lie abandoned and few have been turned into a watering hole for the animals during the rains. You can sight animals and rare migratory birds in your walks. A wild boar had dug the earth all throughout the trail that I took. The smell of the woods after the fresh rain, the damp earth, rare flora with medicinal properties, animal droppings and footprints are experiences that are of a very different kind. From the smallest animal to the largest, walk the jungles of Dandeli and it is good to know that mining has been stopped in this wonderful ecosystem.
Dandeli town is famous for the legend of Dandelappa who is revered by the locals all throughout the year at his temple. During the Dassera festival a huge fair is held by the locals and celebrated with pomp and fervour. It is told this noble man was beheaded by his master under false allegations by his daughter.
Meet the locals
There are many tribes in and around Dandeli practising various trades and occupations. It is a great melting pot of culture and traditions. There are the Gawli tribe which is mainly into cattle and dairy, Siddi tribe whose ancestors were migrated from Africa and the gypsies from Rajasthan. Agriculture is thriving in and around Dandeli and people mainly cultivate paddy, banana plantains, coconut groves, betel nut. Many locals work in the West Coast Paper Mill and Timber industry of Dandeli is well know. There is a heavy influence off Maharashtrian culture in the food and dialect (Konkani, Marathi) of Dandelians.
Yes you heard it right, you can visit Dudhsagar the sea of milk from Dandeli. It is just a short train hop away and could be covered in a day. Take the Amravati Express from Londa at 10:30 a.m. and return by Goa Nizamuddin Express by 6:30 p.m. You can indulge in some trekking to reach the base of the waterfalls and take a dip in its cold waters. Best time to visit this place is in the monsoon between June to September.
The list is endless and Dandeli has loads to offer. Head to this reserve this vacation and enjoy the off the grid experience.
My trip to Dandeli was planned by Dandeli.com. You can make bookings from my blog by clicking the link dandeli.com to avail discounts