Unlimited Karnataka : Ganeshgudi & Dandeli - The Birds Paradise.
In the last series we wrote about hidden gems of Goa and now we move to the adjoining state of Karnataka which is rich in culture, nature and architecture. These treasures are waiting to be explored and appreciated. So let us delve into some of the fascinating places in Karnataka.
Ganeshgudi, a small unexplored hamlet in Uttar kanadda (North Karnataka) district is famous amongst bird photographers. Bird watchers from all around the country come to Ganeshgudi to capture these beautiful and colorful creatures made by God. It is around 25 kms from Dandeli.
We specifically went for bird watching but if you are not interested in bird watching/photography you can book a resort in Dandeli and do a lot of adventures activities such as rafting, kayaking, jungle safari, canoeing, mountain biking, jungle trekking etc. Dandeli has all kind of activities as per choice and you can always choose the one you want and keep exploring the place.
Nearest Airport : Belgaum
Nearest Railway station : Londa junction.
Best Time to visit : Winter.
Best place to stay : Old Magazine House.
We (Me, Mohini, Goureya, Ganesh and Ashvath) booked 2 rooms for 2 nights 3 days package with Old Magazine House run by Karnataka tourism and it costed us around 8k per night inclusive of accommodation with all meals, taxes, bird watching guide and coracle ride for 1 room. The rooms are clean budget rooms with no flare since the main attraction here is not accommodation but bird watching. The lodge has made a special area with trees, moss and water places for the birds. You have to just wait patiently to watch birds come, eat, bath and sun bask. Early morning and evening is the best time for bird photography.
We traveled by our own vehicle from Mumbai taking a halt at Belgaum and reached the lodge by afternoon. Ganesh and Mohini came from Goa in their own vehicle. We check in, refreshed up and went for lunch. Lunch was simple south Indian thali and was healthy and filling. Dinning area is near the bird watching area so that if any rare bird is seen everyone can immediately come and capture it. Everyone use to carry their cameras everywhere not willing to miss any opportunity. It was my first time experience of watching all bird photographers at work. All of them had high end cameras with big lenses as compared to our small compact point and shoot camera. The biggest task in our hand was to tell Ashvath who was then 6 years old to keep his voice low and do not disturb the movement of birds, it was a huge task. And the moment he would shout or laugh loudly all the photographers would give us dreaded looks.
After lunch we went to our room for a nap and came back in the evening at around 5:30 to the bird watching area where we were served hot tea and biscuits. Evening was a good time and I captured around 10-12 different species of birds such as white bellied blue flycatcher, Brown cheeked Fulvetta, dark fronted Babblers, Tickle’s Blue flycatcher, Oriental White Eye, Indian Paradise flycatcher (Female), Pair of Emerald Dove, Robin Magpie, Blue capped Rock Thrust, Verditer Flycatcher, Red Whisked Bulbul etc. We also capture giant Malabar squirrel that readily gave us all kind of poses and made our day.
As the bird activity reduced we planned to go watch a sunset point over the dam area which was just 5 kms away from the guesthouse. It seemed like an orange colored ball of sun was waiting for us to set in for the day. It casted a beautiful light on the Supa dam reservoir. We took some pictures of the setting sun and after the sunset went back to the lodge, played cards, had our dinner early and retired for the day.
Next day we woke up at 6 a.m to visit Dandeli timber depot which is famous for hornbills. We got ready, had our morning cup of tea, grabbed our cameras and were all set for the journey. Dandeli was around 25 kms from Ganeshgudi and it took us around 25-30 minutes to reach the Dandeli timber depot. The morning fog and beautiful winding roads made the journey exciting and romantic.
As we parked our cars and entered the depot we saw cut and arranged logs of Timber and dense forest of Timber around where we spotted innumerable hornbills such as Malabar Pied Hornbills, Grey Hornbills etc. Some of the photographers also captured fox, which ran away immediately after sensing our presence. We captured hornbills in our cameras and returned back to the guesthouse, had our breakfast and went for a coral ride in Kali River.
We saw a typical village seen as we reached the banks of Kali River, some kids were bathing in the river, ladies were washing their clothes and some were bathing their cattle’s in the water. Kali River was quite calm and serene around here so we could enjoy our coral ride and the surrounding around us. Kali River can get very rough and wild at other parts were adventures sport of rafting is performed at Dandeli. Coral ride was included in the package and we were picked up and dropped by the guesthouse staff.
We had our lunch, rested for a while and went for a wildlife Safari at Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary.
After paying nominal charges we entered the jungle, where we saw deer’s, mongoose, birds etc., but the main attraction was a bison. We also were lucky to catch a baby bison tagged along. The safari took us around one and half hour and later we came back to our resort had dinner and dozed off as we were to leave for Mumbai the next day.
Next day I and Ganesh got up early to have our last chance to capture as many birds as we could. The guide took us to a bird trail and we followed him. We were back after 2 hours and went straight for breakfast. After breakfast we were all set to leave the place with fond memories and a promise to come back again to this birds Paradise.