Dandeli, is a small town located in North Karnataka in Western Ghat region. It has become famous for Adventurous sports like River Rafting, camping etc offered by various adventure clubs there. But there is a other side to the place as well. Forests in this area gives you an opportunity to come close to the nature and two days time will not seem sufficient to see the place. But remember even if you plan to do only sightseeing be prepared to walk for long in forest or climb 300 steps to see waterfalls. Dandeli is not a place to relax.
There is no railway station in Dandeli and thus only way to reach is by road. It is well connected by Hubli which also has an airport and railway station. Direct overnight buses are available from Banglore reaching dandeli early morning. To plan it both from Hyderabad and Banglore, you can take overnight buses till Hubli and then take ST buses to travel further to Dandeli. The distance between Hubli and Dandeli is only 80 Km but ST buses take around 3 hours. Keep an eye on time specially during return journey if your onward bus is from Hubli. The ST buses frequency is not that great and they stop at couple of stops in between and thus total time taken touches 3 hours although the ride is comfortable. Inquire about bus timings as soon as you reach Hubli.
If you plan to stay in resorts or adventure camp you need to add few thousand rupees to your budget. Most of the camps offer packages which include river rafting, jungle safari, camp fire etc which are good if you are going in a bigger group but of course they cost a handsome amount. e.g River rafting will cost around Rs. 1500 alone. But if such activities are not in your area of interest then you can opt to stay in lodges available in the city which are quite cheap. There is a lodge just opposite to bus stand called Emporial lodge where a basic double room with hot water and TV would cost just Rs. 400. Kamat lodge which is more popular on online forums is also near bus stand but unfortunately I couldn’t gather room prices there.
We planned not to go for rafting here and keep it as an activity for future trips :), we inquired about other sight seeing options in the region and it turned out that two days would not be enough to see all the sites. So first day we decided to go for Jungle Safari. The safari is either available in early morning or in evening around 4 PM. Safari entrance point is around 30 KM round trip from city and taxis would charge around 700 Rs. for it including waiting time. You can get taxis from any travel agent around bus stand.
Don’t expect to see many animals in safari and for us it turned out to be disappointing in terms of watching animals. But we enjoyed a standing ride on back side of Jeep inside the forest. The cost of Safari Ride is Rs. 400 for Indian nationals and Rs. 1200 for Non Indians including vehicle charges. The safari lasts for around 2 hours with stop overs at 2 view points. You need to be extremely lucky to spot Tigers or in fact other animals as told by locals and probability is more in morning Safari which starts around 5 : 30 in the morning. So final verdict is if you are going with an expectation to watch animals then better skip it.
Jungle Safari Route
The second day can be utilized for sightseeing purpose. There are couple of waterfalls at a distance of 50-6o KM. A day tour taxi would cost around 1800 for whole day if you directly contact drivers. The route takes you through curvy roads among forest area. You will be tempted to stop at couple of places among woods to take pictures. One of the spots is a dam which can be seen from a distance but nothing special there. After going for some distance you can see backwaters at a distance from road.
Birds Flying Around Backwater
Crossing the Forest Area
There is a very nice temple of Ulavi which is 60 KM from dandeli on the same route. If you are traveling with family then it will be a good temple to visit. After spending some time you can move towards Kavala caves which are located deep inside forest. You need to move 4-5 KM inside forest on an uneven track and step down lots of steps. This will be a very tiring experience and someone who is interested in crawling inside caves will be able to enjoy it fully. For others like me it would better be described as enjoyable trek inside forest.
Walk 4 KM On This Route To Reach Caves
There is a view point of river Kali for which you need to step down from main road and you can see large group of people having their lunch under tree. The next sightseeing point is Syntheri Rocks which is a single big 300ft high granite stone and a waterfall along sides adds to the beauty of place. It is very dangerous to step inside water and so far 13 people have lost their lives here. Again you need to step down some 200 steps down to reach near waterfall and don’t forget you have to climb up again :).
River View Point
Warning At Syntheri Rocks
Small Waterfall At Syntheri Rocks
I could cover these places in a day as we had to return to city in time to catch bus to Hubli. There is an evening bus from Dandeli to Hubli at 5:30 in evening which will reach Hubli around 8. Have a final sip of coconut water at a road side coconut seller and say good bye to Dandeli. The woods of forest will be in your memories forever.
- Be prepared to walk a lot for all the time you are here.
- Do not expect luxury accommodations to be available and instead enjoy the nature.
- If looking for tasty homemade food, walk 300-400 meter to the right when you come out of bus stand. There is a mess run by a family and per plate charges is Rs. 20 only. The place is hygenic and food is very tasty. I forgot the name of place :(.
- Keep water with you as you will need it on treks inside forest in heat.
- When inquiring about taxi rates, visit 2-3 agents near bus stands. Prices will vary by a big margin across agents.