Sometimes you start feeling trapped in your daily life to a point where to escape somewhere is the single biggest recurring thought that keeps hitting your mind. After a hectic month at work and little action at home, I was in a similar state of mind where all I needed was say goodbye to everything and escape into nothingness. The weekend trip to Dandeli came as the prefect break that was needed.
Dandeli is a small town in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka and is a part of the Western Ghats. It is notable for the second largest wildlife sanctuary of Karnataka, named after it, which is a natural habitat of wildlife like, tigers, leopards, black panthers, elephants, bison, bear, a variety of deer, monkeys and reptiles, including exotic snakes and river crocodiles. It is a bird watcher’s dream come true with nearly 300 species of birds within its folds. If you wish to know more about Dandeli, we are coming up with a Dandeli Travel Guide soon.
We hadn’t planned much for this trip, in fact we were not even aware of Dandeli. However sometime in October ’13, we got a call from a representative of Dandeli.com, asking us to visit them and experience what the place has to offer for travelers and nature lovers. As our schedules were packed, we could not do it at that time, but by February we were ready (and craving) for it. So off we went on a Friday evening, to arguably one of our best weekends in recent times.
The trip to Dandeli was quite comfortable as the place is hardly 6 hours from Pune by road. We took a KSRTC bus to Dharwad and reached there by 6:00 AM. From there, were were picked up by a cab sent by our hosts.
The road from Dharwad to Dandeli is quite scenic. The woods start soon and tall teaks lined up on both sides of the road in our welcome. The name of our resort was Jungle Camp and it took its name too seriously. It was a cozy bunch of cottages and tents build in the middle of the jungle, so much so that it fell within the territory of a black bear who was known to chase lonely people walking on that path after dark. Within a couple of hours of arriving there, we had already encountered many species of birds including horn-bills and a kingfisher, giant squirrels and a long snake !
Our kind hosts had planned all our activities beforehand, so after some rest and a much needed breakfast, we were ready for our first activity – a trip to the Syntheri Rocks. It was around 15 km from our camp and we rode in an open jeep on the narrow jungle road, wind in the hair.
Named after an English girl Cynthia, who is said to have discovered it more than a century ago, the Syntheri rock is a colossal monolith of granite, more than 300 feet high. The river Kaneri flows at its base, the water making small caves in the rocks. The river also makes a small waterfall and there are interesting patterns cut in the rocks due to the flow of the water. We had to descend through a long flight of the steps to see the rock and we spend some good time there watching water flow and taking photographs of the waterfalls and birds.
There was a festival going on in a Shiva Temple about 16 km from Syntheri and while coming back, we encountered hundreds of cars, vans and bikes carrying pilgrims towards the temple. Many of the bikers were riding as if they had a death wish, one almost dashed with our jeep, inviting the wrath of our driver. The rest of the journey back was relatively uneventful.
Our second activity of the day was Jungle safari which began at 4:00 PM. For this, we were joined by Priyanka, a blogger friend, and the three of us had a good time together during the trip. For the safari, we were taken to the Kali River Adventure Camp from where we boarded the open jeeps of the forest department and went into the jungle. This was my first trip inside a jungle and needless to say I was thrilled. However we did not expect to see tigers, leopards etc; it was just the experience of wilderness which we were looking for.
The forest with its sights, sound and a characteristic smell is an experience which has different effects on human mind, depending on what time of the day it is. At least as long as the sun is up, the chirping of birds, rusting of leaves and animals in their natural habitat make it a beautiful experience. We were traveling in an open jeep and the day it made us feel closer to the surroundings.
The day was nearing its end and birds were returning to their nests. On our way we came across a few villagers carrying firewood for the evening. We were lucky enough to spot a few hornbills, a beautiful peacock and some other birds. Among animals, just a few monkeys, spotted deer, sambhar and a wild boar. The friendly forest officials were kind enough to stop as soon as they spotted and animal and would help us see them with their binoculars. Though we did not have some big sightings, that did not dampen the beauty of the trip.
The safari culminated at an abandoned mine which led to the sunset point. From here on could get a scenic view of various layers of the Western Ghats. Add to it some mist and a very interesting cloud formation and the view was amazing!
Night came swiftly with temperature dropping alarmingly. In my foolishness I had not packed any warm clothes for the trip so all we could do was sit around the campfire, gazing at the full moon and the stars while the angry-orange flames consumed the wooden logs to give us warmth. Talking of the moon, hope you like what we saw when we looked up ..
This trip to Dandeli was facilitated by Dandeli.com. Thanks a lot for the amazing experience !