Trip to Dandeli
My picnic to Dandeli was good. We started on Thursday night, and reached Dandeli on Friday early morning. We had reserved tents in Kali Wilderness Camp at Dandeli, on the banks of River Kali. Located in Uttar Kannada district of Karnataka, around 480 kilometers from Bangalore, Dandeli is a beautiful and picturesque place. I heard that around 75% of this district is covered with dense forests. The most important inhabitants of the forests are said to be tigers, panthers, elephants, the endangered species of flying squirrels and a number of rare birds. But the first animal I saw in the trip was on the way to Dandeli; when we stopped at a petrol bunk I could see a boar family enjoying their breakfast in a huge garbage bin. I think Haveri was the place.
After a nice breakfast at the camp, we went to watch Syntheri Rock. It is around 50Kms from Dandeli by truck, after which we have to trek around 4 Kms, and then we can see the huge monolithic rock which stretches to around half a kilometer in width and is around 100 meters high with large bee nests hanging from its various edges. River Kaneri flows in front of it, forming a small waterfall of few feet high. It is really a spectacular sight. Our guide told that wild animals come to the river at that location to drink water, but we could see only common Langurs.
In the evening we had a ride through the river Kali for around two hours in coracles, which are boats used by the natives. It is basically huge baskets made of bamboo and plastic sheets. Small seats are arranged in the baskets in which five people can sit. I could see various trees with names unknown to me on both sides of the river and the freshness of the breeze that was coming though the trees was enchanting. There was a small island in the stretch we covered, and many beautiful waterbirds were seen in the small forest in the island. A Brahmani Kite was looking for its dinner, flying slowly over the river. I didn't see any crocodiles in the river, but our guide rowed the boat near to the shore and showed us a crocodile nest (a "cave", in fact). My friends who rowed through the other side of island got a chance to see few crocodiles. Altogether, the coracle ride was a great experience. My friend has taken few photographs during the ride. With my special request, he has tried to include in one frame an attractive girl who was in another coracle rowing in front of us.
In the night it rained heavily, with lightning and all. Still it was comfortable in the tent. Vibin and myself stayed in one tent and we had usual gossiping until midnight.
Saturday we woke up early, at 5 and went for an open jeep ride to Dandeli wildlife sanctuary. A board was showing the number of tigers, bison and other species in the forest, but we were not fortunate to see any of them. But we could see many spotted deer, hornbills, and giant Malabar squirrels. We climbed to a small hill in the forest which was a good view point. From there we could see all the uninhabited forest almost till the horizon. Teak is one of the major constituents of the forest.
After the safari, we went to see Ulavi caves. Ulavi is a small village around 40Kms from Dandeli. From Ulavi, we have to trek around 7Km through the dense forest to reach the narrow caves. I dropped out after half of the journey, as I have never been a very adventurous person and the thought of trekking though steep slopes makes me uncomfortable. But it was good to sit in the real forest for some time. I saw a small black snake (I guess it was a cobra kid, from the shape of it's head) slowly moving around through the dry leaves. Surprisingly, that was the only snake I saw in the entire trip. On our way back, we went to Ulavi Chennabasaveshwara Temple. It was a very large temple; surprising - considering that it is a small village surrounded by jungle. Later I learned that it is a major pilgrimage center of Veerashivites.
On Sunday we started our journey back to Bangalore. Part of our journey was through the Hubli - Karwar state highway. It was an excellent road, resembling the highways of the US. There was very less traffic, and we could see the road stretching to many kilometers in front of us. Later we joined National Highway 4, which was not as good as the state highway, but definitely far more better than the gutter filled roads of Kerala. The landscape was splendid. A part of the road looked recently renovated and it was good.
The greatest adventure was just waiting for me when I reached my home late night at 12:30. Many ferocious looking dogs - event managers of the night life in my street - chased me though the stairs leading to my house.