Dandeli




The plan to go to Dandeli National Park in the weekend was quite sudden. After searching the internet for a while I found the only reasonably priced place to stay was Kulgi Nature Camp. But unfortunately none of the websites provided an immediate booking facility or the availability of rooms. However the phone number of the DFO of Anshi-Dandeli National Park was provided. I made a quick call and after confirming the dates a phone booking was made.
The rest of it was easy.

How to Book
 1. Call this DFO Office
             DFO Office Phone No : STD - 08284 Ph- 231585
 2. Confirm the booking by sending a Demand Draft to the DFO Office


The Anshi-Dandeli National Park can be approached from different directions. the most straight forward way is to reach Dharwad. Dharwad is a big town and there are buses that run from Dharwad to Dandeli. The other places that are nearby are Londa Station and Alnawar station.

We chose to try it out from Londa station. After getting down from the train at Londa we were staring at a small station without a clue how to reach Dandeli. We had a quick breakfast of Vada Pao and tea at the station and after some enquiries we walked about a couple of 100 metres to a jeep/trekker stand nearby. There are shops on both sides of the road outside the station and one can have snacks here also.
We got to know that the way to reach Dandeli is
- Londa to Ramnagar Bus Stand (By trekker or jeep)  - Approx Rs 20 per head
- Ramnagar to Dandeli Bus Stand ( By bus or trekker ) - Bus is approx Rs 40 per head and Trekker is almost double of that. Hiring the whole trekker would cost about Rs 600.

The Ramnagar bus stand is a good place and we found a bus to Dandeli. The bus was slow but the weather was fantastic and we enjoyed the journey.

How to Reach Dandeli
1. Reach Dharwad - Direct bus available from Dharwad
2. Reach Alnawar - Not explored
3. Reach Londa Junction - Londa junction to Ramnagar Bus Stand. Ramnagar to Dandeli by bus.
 

Dandeli is a small town with a lot of variety of shops , garages and vehicles. If the bus is going beyond Dandeli bus stand one can get down near the next stop ( near to Bharat Petroleum station and KC Circle). The DFO office is walking distance from there. The Broad banner outside the DFO office area says "Govt Timber Depot and Sawmills Dandeli"). We missed this place initially ,but walked back and then found the DFO Office. The officials were friendly. They asked us if we had sent a DD to confirm the booking. We did not. But the booking was still valid and we paid Rs 1000 for a night's stay at the Kulgi Nature Camp and got a couple of copy of the receipts. One recipt was for us ,and the other one was for the Range Forest Officer at Kulgi.

After completing the formalities we also bought a couple of handy books on birds of Anshi and Dandeli , Rs 30 a piece. There was a hard bound book with lots of photos available at a discounted price of Rs 1200. Being on a tight budget we decided to skip that.

Our next destination was the Kulgi Nature camp. We came to know there are buses and trekkers and autos from KC Circle towards Kulgi Nature Camp.KC circle is Kittur Channamma Circle, a small place where we soon found out that there are hardly any buses. The best thing to do would be to hitch a ride or pay an auto or jeep to take you directly to the nature camp.

How to reach Kulgi Nature Camp ?
 - Dandeli - Kulgi - 12 km though forest area ( Rs 300 approx cost of an auto or jeep)
 - Very few buses on this route
 - Lots of travel agents around who can arrange the drop to Kulgi Nature Camp

We found a Tours and Travels agent nearby who was a very nice chap and talked to a trekker to give us a lift till Kulgi. He mentioned that he can get a sightseeing day trip done and provided us several options like picking up from Kulgi and dropping us in Dandeli after sightseeing.

Tour Operators
S Lad. Phone number - 9741263402 ( The helpful guy in Dandeli)

With a lift from the trekker we reached the Kulgi Village crossing. The Kulgi Nature Camp is just about 500 metres walk from the crossing.
Since there are no mobile towers near Kulgi , hence landline numbers are the only way to communicate here.

Important Phone Numbers

Kulgi DCF Office - 08284-332981
Kulgi Range Office - 08284-258553
Kulgi Nature Camp - 08284-291831


Rates at Kulgi Nature Camp
There are two different camps side by side, the booking format is same.
1> Kulgi Timber Trails Camp ( Log Houses - slightly costlier than the tents)
2> Kulgi Nature Camp ( Deluxe Tents( with attached bathrooms- Rs 1000) , normal tents ( common bathrooms - Rs 500) and a dormitory ( 12 people- Rs 150 ) )

Check in/Out at Kulgi
After reaching the nature camp we came to know about the timings.
Check in - 3 PM
Check out - 1 PM

Although these timings seemed a bit out of normal , we decided to order the lunch. It was a simple vegetarian lunch of chappatis, rotis, sambar, poriyal and a curry. However it was delicious. I was amazed how well it was cooked. We can to know that we can order any food as long as we order it before they go to the market. So we ordered a chicken curry for dinner.

We walked around the camp lazily till the checkouts were complete and tents were cleaned. The dormitory was also very clean. All the tents are named after birds and nicely made. The tents have a protection of tin or corrugated sheet at the top and straw to keep it cool. The bathroom portion is made of concrete , but the tent is real. It is made of some good polyester kind of stuff with mosquito nets and even door locks.

The tent platform is on concrete with carpets. Each tent has two wrought iron cots ,complete with bedsheets,pillows, blankets and two chairs to sit outside or inside. Deluxe tents were also provided towels. All other toiletries (like soap ,shampoo , toothpaste etc ) were available at an extra cost.

We came to know that bicycles were available on rent (Rs 50 per bicycle) and we can ride in the forest towards Kali River backwaters. My fried wanted to have a swim , so we hired a couple of nice bicycles and rode into the forest. After a few kilometres it was just the forest and us. We found the Kali River backwaters and it looked tempting. But after trying out from different sides we could not find the approach road to the backwaters. The undergrowth in the forest was pretty thorny and it was difficult to walk. At a few places we found some roads which were blocked and posing several threats like anyone who crosses that point can be charged under section xx etc . We figured out that no one has crossed those markings for a long time else the undergrowth would have been manageable.

We decided to turn around and bicycle as far as we can. But we got tired after an hour or so and decided to return. By that time the late afternoon sun was directly on our face and it was quite a hike.

After several stops and avoiding the wrath of several groups of monkeys we reached Kulgi.
We decided to have a cool drink at the nearby shop. It was a indeed a tremendous ride.

After returning to our rooms and having a quick bath we decided to do a short trek in the birder's trail. This was a pleasant 2 km walk.We found Ramu who agreed to be our guide. He walked us through the forest and showed us some birds from the watchtower near a natural pond. He informed us that bears were seen there a few days back. We saw some elephant droppings also.
Although Ramu did not appear much of a guide in terms of knowledge about birds and trees, he knew the way through the birder's trail. There was another watchtower on the main road after the end of the trail. This is a wonderful place and gives a panoramic view of the whole Anshi - Dandeli reserve.

We walked back to the camp and it was already dark. But it was a pleasant walk and seemed to be pretty safe. Back at the camp we had tea at a local shop nearby and decided to bicycle in the dark in another direction. But it was a bad idea. The dogs at the Kulgi Village started barking and soon we had a hoard of dogs to silence. We figured it would be safest to return to the camp. back at the camp we spent time in the open courtyard watching the full moon night. It was pleasant. We talked to the guys in the camp. Mr. Chandrakanth who was the officer in the camp said that he can arrange a vehicle next day to Kavala caves. We paid Ramu Rs 200 for his guide services and headed for dinner.

The dinner was again excellent. Although the chicken pieces were all terribly cut with all shapes and sizes ,the cooking was excellent and the overall meal was very satisfying.
After confirming our next day plan we retired to our tents



Second Day in Kulgi
-------------------
Someone was banging on the door in the wee hours of the morning and we woke up to find that we were late. After getting ready in a hurry we ran to the jeep that was waiting for us. The Jeep is the camel of the forest. It was a great ride to the entrance of some protected area and only a jeep could have made it at that speed.
We found there were two options
1> Forest Safari (Rs 250 per head ) - Not sure about this
2> Kavala Caves (Rs 475 per head)
We wanted to go to Kavala caves , but the jeep has to take a minimum of 4 persons , so we decided to wait. We were informed a couple is on their way. Soon after paying the requisite fees we were on our way. The ride through the forest to Kavala Caves is one of the best rides I ever had. The jeep driver said that we can walk the last couple of km if we wanted because it was a pleasant foggy morning. He was damn right. It was indeed an incredible walk through the forest to the caves.

At the entry point of the caves there are a series of concrete steps , about a hundred or maximum 200 which goes down to the caves. The entry to the caves is locked by a wooden door. Our jeep driver and guide had the keys. Then its literally crawling in to the caves. Although the story said that Pandavas stayed there for sometime, its highly doubtful how huge people can get inside. It was pretty suffocating and smelly and damp. It smelled of bats or similar creatures. There seemed to be a maze of different routes and its better not to lose sight of the person in front of you.

Anyways after about 15 minutes which seemed like an hour in the dark maze inside ( Of course with out a good torch if you are inside , you are as good as dead) our guide helped us outside. We relaxed after breathing fresh air.

The hike back was not as pleasant. The sun was up by this time and climbing 200 odd stairs is not easy. At one point there is a diversion with stairs going down. But it was do dangerously steep that it seemed to be like gong down to hell. After about 50 steps I felt a bit dizzy and decided to skip that.

Back to our jeep after the trek we were famished. We had some snacks to eat and then we set out for the safari.

The safari took us to a place called the Sunset point which was a nice viewpoint. We relaxed there for a while before heading into the forest again. We came across an Indian Gaur ( bison) which was equally scared as us. It was so huge the driver was careful not to get too close to it. But by the time we got a good glimse at him , the beast ran into the bush.

We saw several peacocks which are less shy birds and stared back at us curiously. We got down from the jeep to take photos. We saw a lot of Indian hornbills , but unfortunately did not see any of the famous Malabar Pied Hornbills.
The best visual we got was of Malabar Red squirrels, amazingly fast creatures. We were lucky to see these close upfront on fig trees.


The Safari was soon over when we saw our jeep return towards the tribal farm lands ( which are part of the protected area). After a bumpy ride, the couple was dropped off in their Homestay and we returned to Kulgi Camp around 12 noon. After a refreshing bath we planned to get a ride to Ganeshgudi, the happening place in Dandeli. Our lunch was ready and this time we had ordered fish. I cannot explain how well it was cooked. The fish fry was out of the world.

Heavily stuffed we checked out of Kulgi Camp. Out Food bill for 2 lunches and 1 dinner , plus the tea and coffee and biscuits several times added to something around Rs 500 for two persons. That is what was most pleasing.

After bidding goodbye to Raju and Ramu and Babu rao and Mr. Chandrakanth and the cooking Aunty we took a Maruti Omni arranged for us to take us to Ganeshgudi. The trip cost from Kulgi to Ganeshgudi and back to Dandeli was Rs 1000. The driver Mr. Vidyadhar said he also had a jeep and arranged his own sightseeing. Since he is a local of Kulgi his landline number may help others.

Mr. Vidyadhar - 08284-291631

I snoozed off on my way to Ganeshgudi, but after reaching the Bison River Resort I was just stunned to see the Kali River. It was April summer and Kali River was in full flow. There were excellent water sports facility here. We decided to try out Kayaking.

Kayaking ( 1 hour ) - Rs 250 per head ( Single canoe) is the best
Rafting ( 9km) - Rs 1300 per head

We kayaked against the stream flow. After 15 minutes or so our guide said time up and have to return. After returning Mr. Vidyadhar informed us that we still had a lot of time in hand and it was just 15 min. So we set off again. About a 100 m or so I lost balance in a current and my Kayak toppled. Fortunately the life jacket was good and I floated or rather floated at the thought that I have the life jacket.

The guide was quick to get to the spot and he managed to get the kayak in position again. Then he showed me the steps to get up on the Kayak again . That was the best part. I learnt how to keep calm and get on. After I managed to get into rowing position again I paddled further upstream and thanked God that I did not lose my spectacles ( Umm I already thanked God when I started floating on the water without breaking my neck)

After that eventful canoe ride we returned to Dandeli. We were already feeling a bit hungry , but we decided to settle for a cool drink and buy some Dharwad Cookies( very good ) just outside the Bus Stand on Dandeli.

Almost immediately we got a bus to Dharwad which took about an hour and half to reach Dharwad. We found Dharwad to be a town buzzing with pedhas ( sugary sweets). My friend wanted to have Vada Pao ( actually the one on Londa station was excellent), but Dharwad disappointed us. We found some small shop a bit far away from the bus stand , but the quality was not so great.

Anyways, soon we found a bus to Hubli from the bus stand and it was a short ride to Hubli. Out train was dead at night and our ticket status showed HA 1/B. We were not very sure what that meant. IRCTC does not give a good explanation of that. But its a confirmed status where a person can board a train and there will be a compartment called HA1. Its a first class compartment. Although our tickets were 2AC we were upgraded to this HA 1/B.
In this compartment the bogies are named as A, B, C etc . The second bogie is B. There is provision for 4 people , 2 Lower berths and 2 Upper berths. Its very comfortable and secure ( because there are doors in the bogies).

Indian Rail (IRCTC) has done a good job. Although the train was late to a frustating point , but the ride was smooth on our Gol Gumbaz express.


Best Things to do in Dandeli
- Bicycle ride at Kulgi Nature camp
- Forest Safari and visit Kavala Caves
- Short treks around Kulgi ( Birding Trail and Timber Trail)
- Kali River Rafting, Kayaking at Bison River Resort


Some real good Blogs on this place

- http://addithebirdie.blogspot.in/2005/11/great-birding-party-dandeli-karnataka.html





Contact Form

Name

Email *

Message *

Google + Page