Dandeli, a city located on the bank of river Kali in Uttara Kannada District of Karnataka is a great place for tourists who love a dose of adventure coupled with scenic beauty. We had a long weekend coming up and who wouldn’t want to get away from a monotonous city life and spend some quality time having fun with friends. Christmas weekend was 4 days away and I started searching the internet using the same old key words – “Places to visit in India during X”, X being the month.
I narrowed down my search to places nearest to Hyderabad and Dandeli fit the description for a perfect weekend getaway which is at a distance of around 570 km. The date was set, plan was made, and tickets were booked. We started from Mahatma Gandhi Bus Station (MGBS) in the night on an Airavat Gold Class Service (Run by KSRTC) Bus which cost 800 plus booking charges each. The journey was quite comfortable and we reached Hubli by 7.00 AM. We got down near the Hubli railway station and bought a platform ticket so that we could freshen up at the available Sulabh complex in the Railway station premises. We booked a mini bus to take 15 of us from Hubli to Dandeli and show us around for the whole day until our booked night stay at Rangers Camp (Dept. of Tourism, Karnataka).
After breakfast, we started from Hubli and reached Dandeli by 1.00 PM. Our first stop was at a location called Syntheri Rocks. The unpaved road heading to the rocks is quite narrow and becomes difficult for 2 large vehicles to cross each other.
Syntheri rocks offer breath-taking views. You will have to climb down a long way to get to the place where water flows.
We totally forgot that it was way past lunch time and spent more than an hour enjoying and capturing the moments.
Be advised, getting into flowing water is strictly prohibited and people who chose to think otherwise in the past, had not survived. Getting back up the stairs was hard for our weakened city boy bodies. I was sweating profusely and panting for breath by the time we reached our bus.
We then travelled quite some distance to get a glimpse of the Suppa Dam (a.k.a Ganesh Gudi Dam) but came to know that the Dam is off limits for public and we could only look at it from a long distance. It was past 3 PM and no so called restaurant on the way back to Dandeli had any food left to serve 15 hungry hippos.
We reached Dandeli town and the aroma of food pulled us to a restaurant called Hotel Sindhu and we devoured Biryanis and Chapathis like we hadn’t eaten in ages. Once our tummies got what they needed we headed to Kali River. We couldn’t ask for a better location for experiencing a sunset. The shape of rocks in the river is intriguing and the view obviously astonishing.
I just sat on one of them rocks and kept staring at the sight of dim orange light with the sound of gushing Kali River in the backdrop. Boy what a feeling that was!
It started to get dark by 7 PM. We went back to Dandeli to the state lodge complex to complete all formalities for our night stay and started to the camp. On reaching the camp, we were served hot food (both veg & non-veg) and tents were provided on 3 sharing basis. Contrary to popular belief, the tents were quite cosy and had blankets and pillows to keep us warm.
Some of us found company in Royal Stag and camp fire where time just flew away. The next morning, our allotted guide was ready to take us hiking and we followed him into a nearby forest.
The breath of fresh air was feeling great and thanks to our scout dog, no one played with the idea of breaking away from the group.
The sight of sunlight tearing its way through the narrow gaps among the teak trees kept us busy for a while.
The guide seemed amused when asked if there were any wild animals like tigers roaming around. He said that elephants killed more people there. Now our minds started to think of all we could do to escape a potential elephant attack. The hike was fun and a great place for nature photography.
We came back to the camp, had breakfast and packed ourselves into a jeep popularly known as Trax Toofan. Now if you are thinking no way 15 people could fit in there, we have seen worse. The driver seemed to be a fan of Michael Schumacher looking at the way he chose to drive on those narrow roads with 15 people stuffed in that thing. We finally reached Bison river resorts where all the adventure rides were available.
Given the time constraint, we chose to go for River rafting and kayaking. There were many more rides and events available like Jacuzzi bath, River Crossing, Boating, Coracle ride and Zorbing.
The river rafting event covered a distance of 4 km consisting of 5 rapids amongst which the first one was specially mind blowing. We were told that river rafting is not available throughout the year, so be sure to check it out before planning to go there.
Kayaking was equally good. Though the sight of a water snake swimming nearby made me paddle harder, the guy who was assisting us had a wide grin on his face. You in the middle of the river, trees on either side, clean water where you can see the bottom of the river bed at many places is a worthy experience.
I was at peace for 30 minutes! I had nothing in my mind but admiration for Nature. I wished I could stay there longer.
Once our indulgence in water sports came to an end, we started back to Dandeli town. Now the stupid thing that we did was not booking a vehicle back to Hubli. I thought we were never going to make it back to Hubli in time to catch a bus back to Hyderabad that was scheduled to departure at 7.40 PM.
But, luck was on our side and the moment we reached Dandeli bus stop on our super-packed Indian Ferrari, a KSRTC bus driver stopped for us on the main road blocking traffic. Guess what? It was the only bus that could get us to Hubli on time. The bus conductor wouldn’t miss 15 tickets and we badly needed to board that bus. All 15 of us managed to find seats. The bus driver tried to go as fast as possible and was kind enough to speak to the other driver (Hubli to Hyderabad service – Rajahamsa) on phone to ask him to wait for another 10 min in case we couldn’t make it to Hubli by 7.40 PM. Though the rough road and hard seats on the bus took a toll on our spines, we managed to reach the Hubli bus station by 7.45.
We all thanked the bus driver and immediately boarded the bus back to Hyderabad. All in all, the trip was awesome. I would advise any future tourist to avoid buses for journey. I couldn’t sleep the whole night thanks to back pain. Take a train to Hubli and hire a vehicle to show you around and drop you back at Hubli to board a train back to your home. The entire cost of this trip was under Rs. 5500 which is a huge value for money given the range of activities Dandeli has to offer. So, when are you visiting Dandeli?