Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Solo ride to Dandeli-Anshi Tiger Reserve

April 1st - 4th

Little about Dandeli that I knew...

Dandeli is located in Northern Karnataka or in Uttara Karnataka, Close to borders of Goa and Karnataka. Its one of the last remaining regions in Western India which has some finest jungles. Large part of it falls into Dandeli-Anshi Tiger reserve and is thus a protected area. The Supa dam reservoir, which falls into this park, is one of the largest reservoirs in India, in terms of expanse of backwaters. This is where the river Kali(Black) originates which then is routed towards Karwar for hydel power. The Kali river is where all the rafting action takes place. There is quite a bit of wildlife presence in Dandeli-Anshi region with reported tigers too. Due to thick vegetation, sighting is very difficult. This place is around 2 hours drive from Belgaum and at equal time from Karwar as well.

Panaromas from the trip...






Route Map:

View Dandeli-Anshi Solo Ride in a larger map

Trip Log:

Dandeli was one place I had planned last time around when I did a trip to Coastal Karnataka and Malnad on my motorcycle but due to heavy rains in Karnataka at that time, I had to skip it.

I had a holiday on Gudi Padwa on 4th April which was Monday so very quickly my mind started making plans to utilize this break.
That is when I thought of making a trip to Dandeli. After unsuccessful attempts to convince friends for the ride, I decided to make it a solo adventure. Priyanka, my wife, was very apprehensive about the whole plan and was worried about it. But somehow, I managed to convince her. Not an easy task though! Another problem was lack of camera as my earlier camera was not working. So had to manage with a very basic camera with no optical zoom!
So took a days leave on Tuesday and planned the whole trip for 4 days. Man, I was excited!

Immediately I did bit of googling and came across a fantastic blog http://dandeli-anshi.blogspot.com by Giridhar Kulkarni. I mailed him and got a prompt response from him. He called me and gave some useful contacts in Dandeli for my stay. The contacts later turned out to be excellent contacts. A big thanks for Giri for all this help. He gave a contact of a person by named
Narsimha Chapkand, who runs a home stay in Dandeli. I made the reservation for 2 days as accommodation was not available at Kulgi Nature Camp and Anshi Nature Camp, both places run by Karnataka forest department.
So here is the trip log...

Day 1:
Route: Pune-Kolhapur-Belgaon-Khanapur-Ramnagar-Ganeshgudi-Kadumane Home stay(Dandeli)
Approx: 450 KM

Left early morning at around 4:30 AM from Kothrud. It wasn't very cold. Then, It was one straight, Uneventful and little boring ride till Karnataka Border. Reached Nippani on the border at around 9 AM and had breakfast on one of the dhaba after a small ghat there. Then quickly reached Belgaum and entered the city and without much pain, found the Khanapur main road. Called up Narsimha to confirm my arrival. It was now getting hot. Followed the course of the Goa highway passing Khanapur and reached Ramnagar, where I took the left turn towards Dandeli. Soon the scenery started changing and there was more forest cover now. Still felt the heat. There wasn't much traffic and reached Ganeshgudi at around 12.

Supa Dam
Bought some essentials and asked around for directions towards Kadumane.

Kaali River on the way to Ganesh Gudi

Jungle road towards Kadumane
 I took the Karwar road from Ganeshgudi and then there was a left turn from a place, Bapeli cross, from where a left turn took me to Kadumane home stay. There was absolutely nothing but a board in jungle.


Kadumane Home Stay

Way to home stay!
Very little indication that this could have been a home stay. The first sight of the home stay was really soothing for the eyes. Very rustic setting amongst the jungle. I was welcomed by the cook with some great herbal tea!
Herbal tea
Mud house at the homey stay
After some time the owner, Mr.Narsimha Chapkand, a conservationist, working with Bangalore based Wildlife Conservation Society, came to the home stay to greet me. Soon, delicious lunch was served with all organic ingredients. Truly Yummy!


Fish? Keep guessing!
I was enjoying!
I had good long conversation with him. We talked about his conservation work. It was very adorable.
I then asked him about the places I could visit. Basically I wanted to trek/ride through parts of Dandeli which were off the main tourist circuit. After all the questions I asked about Dandeli, he had no doubt that I wanted to explore off the road.

Narsimha Chapkand
He was more than happy to suggest me some routes and even arrange a guide for me from one of the local Kunbi tribe villages. So then we decided on a excursion with the guide on the next day. After the lunch, I had a short nap in the mud house. At around 4 PM I got up and decided to visit Syntheri Rocks, a tourist destination. Syntheri rocks is situated on the Dandeli-Ulavi road and goes right through the national park. This road is closed in the night due to presence of wildlife. After about 20 km, reached the place. I was all alone there and it was quite exciting.
Entry gate to Syntheri rocks

Scenic road leading there

Stairs going down to the rocks

Self photo op!

Bee hives 
Syntheri rocks panaroma
Quickly descended the stairs and took some self snaps and of the cave which is formed by the flowing river and against the backdrop of a huge rock. Was a pretty place. After that headed to Dandeli town for fuel.
Kaali river flowing through Dandeli town
Came back to Kadumane around 6 PM. Here I met a group of guys from Bangalore who were invited by one their friends who works as a naturalist. Went a for a short trek to view the sunset but could not see it as it got late. Here, too, there was presence of wildlife. With frequent visits by wild elephants.
Sunset form Kadumane

Walk with the group

Bamboo boat!

Small lake from a short distance from the home stay

Elephant dung!


My tent for the night!

BTW, I couldn't believe myself that I skipped the World Cup Final for this trip. With no TV, all I could do was to call up my wife to know the score. I had a nice camp fire along with the group from Bangalore. One of them, Vineet, who was a naturalist, gave a pep talk on conservation. He appeared very knowledgeable and left his good life in Bangalore to pursue his interest in nature conservation. Some people have the guts to leave the city life and work like him. Great guy!
Soon after the Dinner, the news of India’s triumph spread and we all had a blast. I was so very happy. Narsimha pointed out the alarm calls of langurs, suggesting there could be a predator around the camp! With only me staying in a tent out in the open, it was little scary! Went to sleep in what looked like a comfortable tent. Happened to be my first night in a tent!


Day 2:

Route: Kadumane - Dandeli Forest - Kadumane

After the world cup excitement the night before and the good time spent at the camp fire, it was time for some action in the jungle. Got up early at around 5:00 and got ready for the ride/trek into the beautiful jungles of Dandeli-Anshi.
Yogesh, my guide for the day, met me on the way to Joida, which is on the road to Karwar. We took a right turn after Joida and reached the Yogesh's village, Deriya. Had a great breakfast at his place consisting of piping hot Tandoolachi Bhakri(Rice Roti) and some tasty chatni made up of Jaggery.

Tandoolachi Bhakri!
 Soon after we started our journey into the forest. There are couple of villages inside the thick forests. Within first couple of km, the scenery started to look so stunning.


Early morning on the jungle roads
The morning fresh air and the evergreen forests around with chances of spotting some wildlife is something to die for. We were constantly looking for signs of any wildlife. The chances are always rare here due to its thick, impenetrable jungles.
Great off roads!

Yogesh, my guide

Forgot the name...it was a big bird which mainly feeds off fish

Elephants invaded the fields

The river crossings!
It was fun!

They use this birdge in the monsoons

More river crossings!
But, I guess the uncertainty adds to the beauty of the place. There are confirmed reports of Tiger sightings in these jungles which is really a good news for the conservation effort. For many years now, Dr. Karanth and his team from Wildlife Conservation Society, based out of Bangalore is taking great effort in conservation of these jewels. I somehow feel that Karnataka Govt. might have taken some efforts in preserving the green cover. It is way better than anywhere along the western ghats in Maharashtra. Only few forested patches like Chandoli, Koyna and Radhanagari are left along the Sahyadris. That again is another topic altogether.
Ok. Coming back to Dandeli, Yogesh had a route plan in his mind and I was all throughout unaware of it. Slowly the tarmac vanished and turned into a dirt track. 


Beautiful roads!

Riding here was awesome!

Scenic road
Start of true adventure? Yes! We came across streams which were fun to cross. It just made me wonder how it would be in the rains. Another adventure to think of! All along, the track was covered with thick forests. So refreshing.
Amazing greenery!

The road going deeper into the jungle

Amazing roads!

My bike!
Wild berries

Yogesh got hold of a Guava tree!

What to say!


 Next, he took me to the backwaters of Supa reservoir. It was a nice place and an opening in the jungle. 
Fields near Supa backwaters

Makeshift boat to catch the fish

Supa backwaters



Pond somewhere in the jungle

Sighted a Deer here but couldn't take a snap 


After that we went to a village where he had some relatives.


Village inside the forest

Very scenic village




 After we were taking to them, one of them told us that there was a place near by from which we could see the Dudhsagar falls and the railway track which goes down through Braganza ghat into Goa. Braganza ghat and Dudhsagar falls in rains? Yet another adventure for some other day! 2-3 km from the village and triple load on my bike on these kind of tracks, we reached the place where we would start the short trek. The trek approached a hill lock. There were all signs of wildlife. With droppings of Gaur/Bison or Gava Reda as they call it here and fresh scats of Bear on the way, we started climbing the hill. 
Trek to view the dudhsagar falls

Trek to view the dudhsagar falls


This was a place, hardly visited and I was little skeptical. We then climbed up and soon we saw the Dudhsagar falls in some distance. This place offered panoramic view of the hills and the Goa plains below. 
Dudhsagar falls at distance

Beautiful landscape

This man knows it all very well


After some snaps we descended back and his relative went back on foot. Next on stop was Gavala Devi mandir. Deep inside the forest, an open ground where many people visit during the annual yatra there. I think Dandeli could do away with these yatras as it must be causing a lot of disturbance and plastic leftovers there. After the darshan, we went to another village where Yogesh's in-laws stayed. Another beautiful place. I had amazing lunch with some great food served hot by his relatives. We heard few stories of how bears come during night in the village and latche onto the Jackfruits there.
The village where we had lunch

This is why the bears would pay a visit!

Cheerful bunch of kids!

The lunch!

 After the meal, we took some rest as it was peak day time with little heat. These villages, I feel should be relocated outside the park, as the movement of these people and vehicles creates disturbances to the environment. The govt, instead of relocating these villages, builds multi crore hospitals with virtually nothing but the building. No doctors! Next on our stop was Diggi village, deep inside forests. Here we met a group of volunteers which were carrying out some field work with camera traps. It was now 4 pm and we started back the return journey. Instead of taking the morning route back, we took another route back to Deriya, his village. After some time, we just stopped by look at an abonded bauxite mine. Once these mines were flourishing in these areas but now it has all stopped. Just few steps ahead I some fresh pugmarks. Initially I got very excited and thought it was the Tiger!

Leopard Pugmarks!

Leopard Pugmarks!

The leopard walked right here!

After looking carefully, Yogesh suggested it was the leopard! None the less, leopard pugmarks did excite me for a moment and it looked as if they leopard roamed the same track in the morning or the night gone by. Took dozen snap of it! We then reached a stream with sizeable amount of water in it and couldn’t hold ourselves from taking a dip into it!
The stream where we took the dip

Me enjoying it all!

Refreshed!

Can you spot him?

Aur kuch chahiye?
Camera traps for wild animals


 After the dip, we soon reached Deriya and had tea at Yogesh's place. Many thanks to Yogesh for making it a memorable day for me. As a result of this fantastic outing, I got an idea of yet another adventure trip!! I wouldn't reveal it until I make it one day! Was a short ride back to Kadumane. Shared the outing with Narsimha and he was equally excited to hear my experience. All day along I sorely missed a good camera that day and I think its time for me to invest in a good DSLR. Dandeli has got amazing bird life which can be trapped through a good camera. Had a tasty dinner and went to sleep for second night in the tent .

Day 3: Anshi Evergreen Camp

I couldn't sleep well despite being little tired from the outing the earlier day. I woke up early that day. Narsimha and his team left for a village where they would play skits to create awareness amongst the children in these villages. Great work being done by these people.

Narsimha and his team leaving for conservation work




Morning in Kadumane

Morning in Kadumane

My tent

Very comfortable inside

for the birds

The mud house

Its hot!
Yummy dosa for breakfast!


 The days plan was to book and reach the Anshi Nature camp and explore the jungles around it. After breakfast, I thought of going to Dandeli town to book the accommodation for Anshi. So instead of going directly to Anshi after the booking I thought of having the lunch at Kadumane. Talking about lunch, fish came to my mind! I went to Dandeli and straightway went to the local fish market and bought some Surmai and Prawns which had arrived from Karwar. Booked the stay at Anshi Evergreen Camp at the DCF office in Dandeli. Came back with the fish at Kadumane and the cook prepared a great lunch! A fishy treat for the day! 
Fish and Prawns!

What else you want in life!

Fish Treat!




Packed my bags and left for Anshi. Took the forest route to reach there. Passed through some amazing forests to reach Anshi at around 3 PM. 
Bamboo flowering in Dandeli

View point enroute Anshi

The amazing evergreen forets!
Anshi Nature Camp


This part of the park falls into the evergreen area of the park. The camp, settled in a nice area, amongst the evergreen jungles. I got a log hut which was newly built and in a good shape too. I was the only person who was staying there on that night!
The log hut

place to relax n unwind

The restaurant at the camp

Tented accommodation at the camp



After a quick nap decided to explore the surroundings. There isn't much to explore on bike but lots if you plan to trek. Due to lack of time I wasn't able to trek anywhere. Also, the guide charges are very high, about Rs.500 for any trek you plan to take up. I decided for a short ride near by. I had an option to go to Kadra view point along the Karwar road but decided against it due to bad road condition and lack of time. Near the camp I sighted a owl and many other bird species including my first sighting of a majestic Hornbill. 

The owl if you can spot!

Spot the owl!




Very different kind of noise it makes! After that I went back to the camp and took another long nap to wake up at 9 for the dinner. It was little scary as I was the only person there and log hut was situated at a distance from the restaurant. The dinner was good and I retired into the room soon after. With jungle noises for the company, I had a good sleep.

Day4:

Got up early morning at 5:00 again and got myself ready for the long ride back to Pune. I started early morning at around 5:30. I though it was a good chance of spotting some wildlife as it was early morning. Didn't spot anything but it was an exciting riding so early on these roads. It was little cold for a while. I Went via Kumbharwada-Joyda-Ganesh Gudi-Ram Naga-Belgaum and a looooong and boring ride back to Pune. Reached Pune at around 2 PM.
 Being a solo trip, this was another of those exciting rides where in it turned out to be a great trip with lifetime memories. 

Supa on way back to Belgaum
Kaali river in the morning

Hats off to Narsimha Chapkand and his team for their dedication in conserving such a beautiful place.
That’s it for now and eagerly waiting for my next adventure...

11 comments :

  1. Awesome dude!!!! Very beautiful....

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  2. bhari re hrishi....

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  3. Just mindblowing!! How did you make it Alone?
    Truly admiring work Hrishikesh!!Awesome snaps indeed..

    Satya G N
    Dandeli

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  4. @Satyanarayan G N
    Glad you liked the pics!
    Wanted to visit the place from long time...after failed attempts of convincing friends, i decided to head solo. Enjoyed every bit of it. Would like to come there on an extended stay and explore more. Such a fascinating place! BTW, your blog has nice piece of information abt Dandeli

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  5. Nice to read your travelogue. Haven for nature buffs, Dandeli is located by the banks of the Kali river. One can indulge in kayaking, canoing, rafting and other activities to satiate the adventurous cravings. Check out some popular places to visit in Dandeli such as The Kavala Caves, Ulavi Channabasappa Temple, and Anshi National Park etc.

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  6. How to get to that view point from where the dudsagar falls is visible?..

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  7. Your post reminded me of the best moments spent in Dandeli. Hope to visit this place soon.

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  8. Definitely a nice Place to spend some time. Nice captures!

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