But this quiet, slow paced town that has retained its rustic charm in spite of a couple of industries and power projects has something more to offer including spectacular rock formations, mysterious caves and a mix of ethnic tribes largely unexposed to civilisation.
Dandeli has in recent years grown to be a hub of adventure activities, especially water sports. With the dark and mighty river Kali flowing along, it is little wonder that some of the best aquatic adventure themes are possible here.
The gentle ride on a coracle down the smoother stretch of the Kali was a good beginning. The evening light cast a golden sheen on the canopy of trees lining the river contrasting with the green foliage. While the egrets and kingfishers keep flying away as if in a relay, the wilder crocodiles emerge silently on the islands albeit not too frequently.
The jeep safari into the jungle here is a must as the Dandeli wildlife sanctuary encompasses a large area of more than 5700 sq kms.
Embarking on a rugged journey through the forests, we realised that chances of sighting game were slim with the densely wooded cover blocking the view.
Home to the black panther
Though these forests are home to some of the most unusual wildlife, the major attraction here is the elusive black panther. Other wildlife include packs of wild dogs, gaurs, deer and the variety of birds, more than 200 species.
Driving up the steep road we were at the top of Shiroli peak for a magnificent view of the sunset over the vast green valley.
Talking about the adventure aspect, the camp here offers a variety of aqua sports to choose from. While the placid stretches of the river are suitable for kayaking or canoeing, the Kali also boasts of some forceful and speedy rapids that are none too less than their counterparts in Himalayan rivers.
The nine-km stretch with a series of seven rapids is where the rafting adventure can be experienced.
The river depends on the release of water from the Supa dam upstream and the winter months are ideal for rafting because this is when the water level is conducive for the sport.
The Syntheri rock is a geological wonder around Dandeli. Situated deep in a forested valley 35 kms away, this huge monolithic boulder rising to 300 ft sits pretty next to Kaneri, a tributary of the river Kali. The vertical sides of the rock with streaks of black and grey are suitable for the innumerable bee hives. The depressions carved by the river current is where hundreds of pigeons nest undisturbed.
Dandeli is 480 kms from Bangalore and is connected by overnight buses. Hubli, 75 kms away can be reached by train.