Having waved a bye to Maharashtra, our Konkan adventures moved into Karnataka. We took the road to Dandeli through Belgaum, one of Karnataka’s important cities.
Bowled over by Belgaum !
In the entire drive of 60 odd kilometers from Amboli to Belgaum, we hardly found any good place for lunch, you can’t expect hotels in the middle of a ghat road, so we had to skip lunch. Anyway, it was past lunch time by the time we reached Belgaum, we stopped for some food for our cars, thankfully, there was an ice cream parlour in the fuel station and we had our fill too !
Even before we entered the city, there was one interesting thing we noticed throughout our journey across the Konkan region, starting from Kolhapur to Belgaum, in this entire region, everywhere, Xerox was spelt like this:
We observed this in Kolhapur first and we thought it was some spelling mistake but the same spelling continued right upto Belgaum ! Outside the Konkan region, we don’t remember seeing this spelling ! We have no idea why.
Crossing over to Belgaum, we were totally floored by the city ! Belgaum is a historical city and an important trade, industrial and educational centre, that much we had always known but we were surprised to find a modern, developed city with wide, clean roads and greenery.
First Kolhapur and then Belgaum, both these cities had us charmed, it is good to see tier 2/3 cities giving some competition to the metros. We were particularly impressed with the Corporation building of Belgaum. Most cities in Karnataka seemed to have the same architecture for their Government buildings. Located beside the highway, this one is a beauty !
We were tempted to stop at Belgaum and check out the place but since we were already running short of time, we decided to move on to Dandeli, we had another 83 kms to go and wanted to get there as soon as we could.
Drenched in beauty !
An hour’s drive from Belgaum, we knew we were getting closer to the forest area, the landscape got greener and the tree cover, thicker. As we inched towards Dandeli, dark clouds gathered up in the sky. We spotted a lotus pond by the roadside, together with the black clouds, the multi coloured landscape of the pond, pink lotus flowers and the green grass, the place looked like how fairy lands are described in stories.
Just as we clicked the picture, there was a heavy downpour. We drove a little further and stopped at a small cafe for a hot cup of tea. While is poured outside, we relished the Chai, rain and chai, unbeatable combination !
A short while later, we were driving through the Dandeli Forest area, the entire forest looked happy after the shower of rain. It is amazing how the leaves get that bright, fresh green colour after the rains and no matter how many times we pass by such scenes, the beauty of a forest drenched in rain is something you want to just stop and keep watching it forever.
When you drive through a forest area, roll down the glass and breathe in the fresh air, sure to add some more years to your life !
Stanley Farm House, Dandeli
It was around 6 PM, when we finally reached our homestay at Dandeli, Stanley Farm House. Located amidst thick woods, Stanley Farm House is a great place to stay at Dandeli. The farm house is located on the outskrits of Dandeli town.
There are about 3-4 rooms in the farm house, which look like dormitories, ideal for people travelling in groups. The rooms give you all the basic comforts and the stay is economical. More than the rooms, it will be fun to stay in these tents out in the open.
We had booked the tents in advance but since it rained that evening, they couldn’t give us the tents. They accommodated us in one of the rooms, big enough for 6-7 people. The tents had been shifted indoors and we were told we could use them if we wanted to.
The farm house also has some indoor games like carroms and Table Tennis. For those who like to go for a ride around the woods, you can hire a bicycle.
The best part of Stanley Farm House is a small pond within the premises, it is more like a rustic swimming pool, where you can go Kayaking or swimming or simply splash around. They have life jackets so there are no worries of drowning even if you don’t know swimming.
Right after settling in and another round of tea, we took a plunge into the pond. Equipped with life jackets all of us had a blast, swimming, rowing, kayaking and simply jumping in and out of water. It got dark after a while but none of us was in a mood to get out of the pond. It was cloudy, cold night and we had the time of our lives playing in the water after dark, there was only one bulb for lighting. Every now and then, when we stopped near the pool walls, we felt something biting us, later we realised that they were actually tiny crabs hiding in the walls but nothing stopped us from having some awesome fun.
It was almost 8.30 PM by the time we got out. It was wonderful to go back to being children again (not that we grew up much, anyway) !
A simple but tasty South Indian meal was served for dinner, we had a good time chatting up around the camp fire.
Hear the nature speak through silence !
After dinner, a few of the boys from our group who had gone into Dandeli town came back with stories of how they spotted a few deer on their way and so all of us headed out for a ride in the darkness. We stopped by road where they had spotted the deer and waited, switching off the car lights and making no noise. We waited for almost half an hour but there was no sign of any deers. We only saw a man walking by himself in the darkness, whoever he was, he must be one brave person !
It was pitch dark all around and we stopped talking, we could hear a few sounds of nocturnal birds, rustling of the leaves, twigs falling off the branches and the stillness of the night, it was as if nature was alive and talking.
Right from the time we reached Dandeli, the dark clouds over the pond, the rain washed green forest, the misty evening at the farmhouse, the little pool that we swam in and the blackness of the starlit night, nature did all the talking that evening, we realised it when we put off every other thought and tuned in to nature. Sometimes, it is good to just shut up and hear what the nature has to tell us, there is more beauty in it than all the words that we speak, put together !
Since, there was no sign of any deers, we headed back to the farm house and retired for the night. River Rafting adventure was waiting for us the next day !
– Belgaum and Hubli are the nearest big cities and rail heads, from there you can find buses to Dandeli.
– Stanley Farm House charges around Rs.1400/- per person including food. You can get the details at their website. The farmhouse is away from the town, so if you do not have your own vehicle, check with them for transport.
– You can hire their bicycles but they charge you Rs.100/- per cycle.
– The pool at the farmhouse is not your regular swimming pool. The water is mostly rain water, if you are particular about cleanliness, you may want to think twice before jumping in but we suggest you go ahead, it is lot of fun.
– Staying in the tents is a great idea, each tent is big enough for 2. Though the tents had to be moved indoors, we still went ahead and slept in the tents placed in the hall !
– There are several popular jungle resorts and camps around Dandeli, each of these resorts arrange for adventure activities.
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