Adventurous Kali River
The delayed monsoon, empty dams and reservoirs, shortage of drinking water, hence the water disputes, power cuts in all most all the states in India, is what I read day after day in the daily news papers off late. To imagine things could worsen in a week’s time if it doesn’t rain, gives a very scary scenario. When I sit back and recollect my trip in the year 2001, to a forest resort in ‘Dandeli’ where the furious river ‘Kali’ flows cutting through the forest, makes me wonder who’s responsible for the poor performance by the nature.
I, being a physically challenged had a fabulous time in Dandeli on the banks of Kali river. Dandeli is a forest resort in Karnataka near Belgaum. The distance from Bangalore to Dandeli via Belgaum is about 481 Km. by road. Belgaum is the nearest airport at a distance of 91 Km. Nearest railhead is Alnavar, which is 35 km away from Dandeli. Alnavar is well connected to Belgaum, Bangalore and Hubli.
Being a forest area, Dandeli has a few authorized resorts. ‘Jungle Lodges and Resorts’ (where I was staying) offers tented accommodation next to the fearful river Kali. They pamper you with born fire, room service, very good food, and an early morning jeep safari deep into the forest. Dandeli is famous for the wild bison inhabited there. The very first night there was a very huge wild bison grazing next to my tent. I slept motionless with my heart beat on the higher side for more than half an hour until the security came and drove away the bull. Next morning at 4 am, we were woken up with a cup of hot tea and at 5:30 am we were driven off to the forest. Of course, I had the forest dress code of brown pant and dark green T-shirt! The early morning fresh air, the cracking of the dried leaves as the herd of samba strolled along broke the silence of the forest; the chirping of the birds from a distance gave a perfect forest atmosphere. Though we could not see the tiger, we had to be content to see the pugmarks on the dry summer sand.
The optional ‘Tribal’ visit and the visit to Syntheri Rocks were breathtaking. Bought some skillfully made tribal artifacts made from materials available in the forest and tried to understand their life style. The Mysore Maharaja’s palace in the midst of the jungle was breathtaking, (one could imagine as how the Maharajas loved the sport of hunting.)
When I visited Dandeli during the last week of May, the river was flowing full, even though three dams are built on her. I quickly opted to go for White River Rafting. I just couldn’t believe myself that I could cross nine fearful but exciting rapids that too in the southern part of India!! I must mention the preparation of the rafting was too systematic. We drove 26 kilometers by road upstream in an open jeep with the trailer carrying the rubber boat. The rafting was 9Km. long with nine rapids. As we sat on an inflatable boat, with life jackets on, we were given half a dozen instructions to maneuver the boat. Though we imagined we successfully crossed the rapids, it was the boatmen’s tactful skill to cross the rapids single handedly! Half way through the 26 kilometers where the river was flowing broad and calm, the group was given a choice to swim in the river. Many jumped into the river and had a very good fun disturbing the silence of the nature. The three and a half hour ride was awesome!! In the evening we relaxed in front of the tent with chilled beer and felt we conquered the Kali River! A perfect adventure holiday I could enjoy!
Even today, the trip to Dandeli, is so fresh that I can memorize every moment of it!!
A visit to Dandeli is a must to experience the wilderness. My only fear is that river ‘Kali’ should not become a stream.