Dandeli and related thoughts…

Did a sudden sneak to the Dandeli Wildlife Resort, run by Jungle Lodges and Resorts….. a mid-week, 2-day break in the “off” season. Well, we realized that Nature has no “off-season”….just a different kind of beauty revealed in different seasons!

The naturalist at Dandeli, Mr Shashi Dhar, is extremely knowledgeable. He answered all my questions, not just on birds (the star of the Dandeli resort are the 4 types of Hornbills), but on butterflies, rock formations, the dams and the work related to them, wild orchid names (there are several growing in the area)…and we were very impressed.

Apart from the hornbills (we even saw the rare Great Indian Hornbill, which apparently is not as common as the Indian Pied and the Malabar Grey, which literally come to the resort terrace to feed off the ashoka tree fruits)we spotted the Racket-Tailed Drongo,the Brahminy Kite, the Crested Serpent Eagle (which Kalyan first showed us at B R Hills), varieties of kingfishers and woodpeckers, sunbirds, and some rainbow-hued bee-eaters, and the nest of a thrush…and also managed to spot gaur, langurs, spotted and barking deer, and wild boar, and saw the webs of many wolf spiders…not bad for the “off-season”, eh? When my spouse joked about not seeing a black panther, Mr Shashi Dhar pointed to a black cat at the side of the road and said, “Just scale that up a little!” His sense of humour made the 2 days even more memorable.

The forest was so GREEN….and lush…the roaring waters of the Kali and the Kaneri (its tributary) were raw with the power that is harvested by the Karnataka Power Corporation (that is an awesome tale by itself…the entire river has been diverted to underground tunnels which pour into the Surge Tank and then is let down in 3 stages, generating about 1400 MW of power….incredible engineering feat!). We enjoyed the sign at Kaneri River-side sign which said, “Swimming is Fatal…no. of people dead till date;- “!! (Er…no figure was visible..)

We took rides to see the monolithic Syntheri Rock with rock bees and rock swallows nesting in the hollows in the sheer face, and to Sykes Point to see the magnificient views. We took a 10 km trek (the road was unusable, which was a good thing for us!) to the Cavala Caves to see the awesome stalactites, and the huge stalagmite that is revered as a Shiva Linga. The warren of caves was awe-inspiring.

On the trek we saw wild orchids, wild brinjal, wild sweet potato, and were ourselves wild with mosquito bites…everything was somehow more mysterious and wonderful in the dim, misty light of the monsoon, with rain spattering suddenly and stopping just as suddenly. At the resort we saw the wild tomato plants beloved of many river birds.

We had a wonderful time without any television, not even a pack of cards….we just flopped into bed after dinner each day, tired out!

We packed so much into 2 days, without the white-water rafting that is the normal draw of Dandeli. (The river was in spate right then.) In fact, we were very lucky, because as we went back, Mr Shashi Dhar got the info that trekking and jeep rides were no longer permitted in the jungle because of the heavy rains..we had just made it!

JLR is an extremely well-run organization. Always VFM. Kalyan….we missed you every step of the way!

The photography….the first blow was that the CF card for the Canon digital camera had been left behind! But never mind, my spouse made full use of the regular Canon…we hope the pics will turn out well…and when the photo lab develops them, I will post the link where they can be seen for a month.

A great time…what a lame way of describing an incredible sensory overload!

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