Dandeli – The rain forests of North Karnataka

A few months ago when I decided to take up Sourdough Workshop at Sujit Sumitran’s house in Goa, I knew nothing about how my trip would pan out. The only two things on my map that were planned were to take the class and take a train from Goa that crosses over to Belgaum in the bordering state through the majestic Doodhsagar waterfall. As I was researching for a home-stay in Belgaum, travel blogger Elita (@nomadicthunker) told me about this small town in North Karnataka – Dandeli. A quick Googling of pictures of Dandeli were convincing enough and deciding factor in planning the last two days of my 10 day trip.


Like most of my trips, where I ensure I don’t read too much about the place I am visiting or don’t scroll through too many pictures online, this too was left to expecting the unexpected. Not reading too much and not looking at pictures gives me a sense of discovering it for the first time, for the sake of my own satisfaction. The only research I kept in mind was to know how to get from one place to another and book a stay.

When I took the bus from Belgaum to Dandeli in the morning all I wondered was whether the journey was more beautiful than the destination. The bus sped through lush green meadows, paddy fields and small streams of river. In a couple of hours I was in Dandeli and we (my sister joined me at Dandeli) were driven to Old Magazine House in Ganesh Gudi, about 20 mins drive from Dandeli. The place was once used to store daru-gola for the construction of the dam on Kali river and hence the name. The resort is now a dedicated bird sanctuary and during winters you can spot as many as 300 species. As I sat there trying hard to spot a Malabar Grey Hornbill, the manager of the resort pointed towards a group of men who were planting cherry trees to attract more birds.

Old Magazine house, Dandeli
Lunch at Old Magazine House, Dandeli

After lunch we were off for a short trek to the top of the hill for a spectacular view of the Kali River, all the way listening to various birds and spotting spiders with the help of our guide Mr Vinayak. The resort provides activities like coracle ride and white water rafting. However, having your evening cup of coffee in the midst of the forest, listening to birds and occasionally spotting a few would be the highly recommended one. Add to that, there’s hardly any network here. During the bird watching season, the use of mobile phone is completely prohibited.

Joint Wood Spider, Dandeli
View of Kali River from the hill top, Dandeli
Coracle ride in Kali River, Dandeli
Elephant trees near Kali River, Dandeli

The next morning after a leisurely coracle ride in the Kali River, we left for our second resort – Dandeli Jungle Camp. Located almost in the heart of the forest, this resort is managed and run by the people from local tribe. The village style rooms have basic amenities and a rustic charm about them. Meals are generally simple with rasam/sambar, local preparation of vegetables, chicken, chapatti and rice.

Dandeli Jungle Camp
Lunch at Dandeli Jungle Camp

Our exploration here began with a trip to watch crocodiles basking in the sun. About 10-15 minutes long ride takes you to the backwaters. The area is populated by a number of crocodiles and we spotted a few taking an afternoon nap. On our way back we visited the tribal shop Kadumane which sells organic spices, hand-made soaps, honey, squashes, jams etc.

Next morning was an early start for the safari at Dandeli-Anshi Tiger Reserve. Apart from the tigers the forests here are famous for black panther, Malabar giant squirrels and hornbills. It’s also one of the few reserves which are open for safari during monsoon. Unfortunately apart from a heard of deer, a barking deer and few peacocks, we didn’t see anything else. However, the ride through thick forest is an adventure in itself. We halted at a view point inside the sanctuary. A quick flight of stairs up and we were looking down at green valley covered with thick clouds. I absolutely fell in love with the perpetually grey clouds of north Karnataka. Until a few years ago these forests were open for iron ore mining and we saw the traces of leftover work near the view point. The mining is now banned and Dandeli-Anshi is now a protected reserve.

Dandeli-Anshi Tiger Reserve
Dandeli-Anshi Tiger Reserve
Dandeli-Anshi Tiger Reserve
Dandeli-Anshi Tiger Reserve
Dandeli-Anshi Tiger Reserve

A bit further we did see fresh tiger paw marks on wet mud; the closest I’ve ever come to spotting a tiger. After a two hour ride we drove out to the view of spectacularly green meadow dotted with little ponds and a small house in the distance. While I was looking for magic elsewhere, nature surprised me with this view showing me the unexpected.

Distance: 125 kms from Goa

P.S. – The ideal way would be to take a train from Vasco Da Gama to Londa to enjoy the view of Doodhsagar waterfall. The distance from Londa to Dandeli is about 36.7 kms. There are plenty of buses and you can also request Mr. Rajesh to provide a pick-up.

Dandeli.com is a one point stop to plan your Dandeli trip. There’s extensive information on all the resorts, lodges and activities. For more travel information, booking and reservation, please contact Mr.Ramnath at 09449244567 or Mr.Sanjay at 09902474761. You can mail them at book@dandeli.com.

The stay and activities at both the resorts were partially sponsored by Dandeli.com.



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