In nature's lap at Dandeli

In nature's lap at Dandeli

Get up, close and personal with wildlife at Dandeli and experience nature at her best, writes K Karunakaran

A  relaxing and rejuvenating sojourn amidst the dense jungles of the Dandeli Wild Life Sanctuary is on everybody’s list. Located in Uttara Kannada district, this place is every nature lover’s paradise.

Driving down from Dharwad on a sunny evening, we passed expansive farm lands covered with black cotton soil and reached Haliyal. Going through a densely forested area, we crossed the long bridge over River Kali and arrived at a resort which was right on the banks magnificent river. The eerie silence of the night was only disrupted with the sound of the waters splashing against the rocks. 

We woke up to the loud calls of hornbills the next morning. It was misty outside the cottage, but we sighted several big hornbills perched on tree tops, some clattering their long beaks and others calling out to their mates loudly, their yellow beaks and beautiful white and dark-tan plumages shining in the dawn’s soft light.

A calming ride

When the sun finally emerged over the horizon and lifted the misty veil off the lovely face of River Kali, we set out in a coracle for an exciting journey up the river. The hornbills, which abounded in this locale, insisted on entertaining us all through the coracle ride, some frolicking on the tree tops and some flying in groups with perfect precision. 

We also spotted a few egrets and cormorants seated on stumps projecting out of the waters. During certain months, several crocodiles dominate the waters here. With hundreds of animals and birds living here, these river banks are considered to be great preservers of biodiversity. 

On our return from the coracle journey, we went up to a point where the river cascaded over low-lying rocks. The panoramic picture of green waters splashing over the rocks and into the rapids below was a breathtaking vision. By the time we got back to the banks, a batch of enthusiastic tourists were setting out for a kayaking and white-water rafting trip. Dandeli is one of the major spots in the state for such adventurous activities.

After a sumptuous lunch, it was time for a jungle safari. The jeep belonging to the forest department was truly ancient, almost resembling a remnant of the World War II. The cacophony created by its engine made us wonder if any wild animal would dare to come anywhere near us at all. Unfortunately, it was a very disappointing safari as we couldn’t spot any animals.

Going wild

Nevertheless, the rickety jeep safari accompanied by all its cacophony, was indeed a memorable experience. It gave us an opportunity to experience the true magic of wilderness amidst lush forests. 

Half way into the jungle, our driver suggested a view point from where we could enjoy some fantastic sights. Since the hillock was right in the core area of the tiger reserve, we were very sceptical. But the driver allayed our fears saying that wild animals never came into the open when vehicles and people were around. 

Putting aside all our fears, we climbed the hillock and to our joy, a fabulous sight awaited us. The serene hills of the Western Ghats were engulfed in shrouds of greenery and a white canopy of mist with some tall peaks jutting out of the mist.

We spent the evening by going on a pleasant nature walk to a nearby village called Ganeshgudi which is very near to the Supa Dam. Here, we visited the small shrine of Ganesha situated on the river bank. 

Next morning we drove up to the town of Dandeli which has a small temple dedicated to Dandelappa, who was supposedly a loyal servant of the Mirashi landlords. The locals worship him as a deity, and believe that the town got its name from him. Legend also states that a king named Dandakanayaka had camped here long ago and named the place after himself. 

There are many resorts in and around Dandeli for tourists. With all the modern amenities, these places are mostly set on the river banks, promising a comfortable stay in the wild. 

Dandeli is a wonderful place to relax, unwind, recuperate and enjoy nature’s bounty in all its glory.

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