Ever wondered why humans fancy everything that is risky and adventurous, that gives goose bumps and turns unforgettable? Because whatever one may say, people love to come out of their comfort zones and experience something new. That adrenaline rush is addictive so to say, and leaves memories for a lifetime. The wilderness has always fascinated us- the deep dark forests, huge trees, chirping birds and insects and more so, the big animals. Imagine standing a few feet away from a big cat – the mighty tiger or a massive elephant and looking him in the eye? Well, can’t say about the animal but you will feel powerful for sure.
Dandeli is known for its rich timber, the wildlife and the river Kali. It has yielded several hydro electric projects owing to its numerous waterfalls. Today, nature lovers know this quaint town for the Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary which offers a never-before experience. Nothing beats this feeling of meeting the wild in its own abode. We have encroached upon the abode of the wild but there still remains hope for their survival and for them to flourish in demarcated spaces- the sanctuaries. It’s a small human attempt at providing the animals the home they deserve and one which we snatched for our own selfish motives.
Come vacation and we yearn to visit a wildlife sanctuary in India. The world has definitely woken up to realise the importance of a wildlife sanctuary and legislations such as the Wildlife protection Act helps in maintaining them. The Ranthambore may well India’s biggest wildlife sanctuary but Karnataka has its own share of some of the most rich wildlife, especially in Uttar Kannada.
A wildlife sanctuary is a blessing for both the animals and us because at least we get to see them. Karnataka is a land blessed with bountiful rainfall and dense forests, not to mention the diverse flora and fauna. The Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary covers an estimated area of over 860 sq. kms. It is a paradise for birds and animals owing to its rich natural resources for the wild to flourish and be safe. Uttar Kannada districts boast of several such demarcated areas. The Kali Tiger Reserve is one of the most important protected sites for Bengal Tigers, Black Panthers and Elephants.
It is an altogether new world, a rich ecosystem that thrives on the abundant rainfall and the river. The Kali river which originates at Kushavalli in Uttar Kannada district flows through the ravines of the plains and jumps over rocky terrains. On its banks are dense deciduous forests forming ideal habitat for animals like the tiger, elephant, Black Panther, sloth bear, gaur, panthers, flying squirrel, barking deer, spotted deer, bison, foxes, crocodiles by the river banks and a host of birds and insects. It’s very common to have you stalled on the road when a humongous Indian bison standing in the middle of the road and all you can do is wait for it to move lest your vehicle comes in danger or stared at by solitary foxes and deer, wild dogs, mongoose, the civet and the pangolin.
Realising the importance of this region, the govt. of India had declared it as the Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary way back in 1956. In 2015, it was renamed as the Kali Tiger Reserve comprising the area covered by the erstwhile Anshi National Park. This area borders Maharashtra and Goa which also have demarcated wildlife reserves, making this a combined reserve area of over 2200 sq. kms. The Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary location is ideal for people coming from across the country owing to its excellent connectivity by rail, road and air from major cities nearby like Panaji (Goa), Belagavi and Hubli.
For one, this is not a place for merry making and picnics but for understanding and respecting the wildlife and immersing in the feeling of oneness with nature. Tourists who visit such wildlife sanctuaries are avid nature lovers who know to respect the wilderness. They can observe in silence and love to shoot… but with cameras. So travel with complete respect for the wild animals, without harming or disturbing them. One must also ensure absolute avoidance of loud noise and littering with plastic and waste.
Our senses are at their peak when we’re experiencing adventure. That enables us to be completely distressed and be at our best. It lowers anxiety and heightens a sense of bonding by being in the wild. Resorts like the Whistling Woodzs in Dandeli make arrangements for their guests for an adventurous trip in the wildlife sanctuary which is open between 6 am and 6 pm. A small entry fee is levied for entry. The ideal time to visit is between October when the rain subsides and the forest is flush with new growth and May when even the peak of summer does not diminish the greenery albeit dotted with some dry grass.
The tiger is definitely an elusive animal but spotting is regular though not common. Your experienced guide from Whistling Woodzs can take you to the most accurate spots to see a tiger. Elephants are quite common and so are other animals like the bison, guar and bears. Guests can frequently hear the shrill cries of animals at night. One can opt to walk for some distance inside the sanctuary but it is always advisable to take a sturdy safe vehicle. It enables you to wander as deep as 20 kms inside the sanctuary and also move out quickly.
If you’re equip with binoculars, you may stand a better chance to spot animals and birds easily. Do not venture out in the open and follow instructions by the guide even when at times he forbids you from using the camera for some time when the clicking sound can frighten the animals. It is always better to wear comfortable loose cotton clothes for ease of movement and to withstand the humidity of the forest. Carry plenty of water too. If you’re into wildlife photography, be patient with spotting and savour the best shots when you least expect them.
A trip to the wildlife sanctuary helps you calm down, respect and appreciate nature, the beauty of wild animals and the luxurious flora and makes you feel humble. The smell of the forest is intoxicating and so is the wildlife enthralling.