Dandeli is a town located on the Western Ghats region in Karnataka. The Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary is the second largest in Karnataka and houses tigers, leopards, black panthers, elephants, bears, and deer amongst other mammals, several varieties of reptiles and over 250 different birds. The Kali river flows through Dandeli adding to the scenic beauty of this space. I spent my time here at the Dandeli Mist Jungle Stay. They offer three types of accommodation – tree-houses, luxury cottages and tribal cottages. Every meal provided was an excellent buffet of local dishes. We were taken on night safaris and to various view points around Dandeli. Every moment spent here was one with a view. I’m so glad I found another beautiful location so close to home. ❤
As you approach Dhenkanal on National Highway 42 it is almost impossible to visually locate Gajlaxmi Palace. The Palace is the home of the Dhenkanal royal family and is quietly tucked away on Megha Hill overlooking vast stretches of forests. Jitendra Singh Deo and his wife Navneeta welcomed me into their home with warmth and generosity.
After a wonderful home cooked lunch we headed out to visit a small artisan village. This village comprised of no more than 50 homes with all its residents working on the craft of Dhokra. Dhokra is a non-ferrous metal casting method that uses the lost-wax casting technique.
The next morning we went on a nature walk that took us through another small village and around the royal family’s property.
Tragically I had to leave soon after. I missed out visiting the Joronda Temples, the Satakosia Sanctuary and so much more. Can’t wait to go back…
I’ve been loving this tune for a few hours now… I love the contrast between the lightheartedness of the music vs the slight seriousness of the lyrics…
I’m at the bottom of the ocean,
I’m at the bottom of the sea,
I don’t know if I’ll make it back home,
I’m just stuck here in a dream…
For mor soulful electronic music visit my soundcloud page : https://soundcloud.com/smerav
The Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves are one of the earliest groups of Jain rock-cut shelters in India which were built to provided dry shelter for meditation and prayer. These caves are located about 6 kms away from Bhubaneswar in Odisha. They are situated on two adjacent hills, Udayagiri and Khandagiri. Udayagiri has 18 caves while Khandagiri has 15 caves. The caves have plain interiors, but their facades are encrusted with sculptures depicting auspicious objects worshipped by Jains, court scenes, royal processions, hunting expeditions and scenes of daily life.
On the 22nd of February I headed to Bhitarkanika National Park which is located in the Kendrapara district of Odisha. It is placed at the delta of the Brahmani – Baitarani rivers and is an estuary. This sanctuary is spread over 672 sq.km. The flora of the area comprises of 82 species of mangroves and the fauna includes saltwater crocodiles, king cobras, pythons, spotted deer, sambar, otters, dolphins and over 200 species of resident and migratory birds. During my time here I saw many crocodiles, 3 different kinds of kingfishers, a few egrets and other birds along with a few spotted deer.
That night I stayed in the heart of Dangmal Village at the Bhitarkanika Nature Camp located about 300 meters from the main entrance into the sanctuary. I had an amazing host who cooked great food and was extremely helpful in every way possible. I stayed in a Swiss tent for the night and planned my dive to Calcutta for the next day.
With a nice cold, foggy start to the morning I headed to Chilika Lake, Odisha from Borra caves On the 21st of February. The journey was less than 400km in total. Initially I drove through a ghat section that had beautiful roads all the way to Odisha courtesy of the Andhra Pradesh Forest Department.
While driving around the country I have always come across situations in which people lose their patience and it has always left me wondering where everyone was in such a rush to get to. Right before entering Odisha a few of us on the highway were stopped at a railway crossing for about 11 minutes. People in larger vehicles had no option but to wait but most of those on bikes kept ducking under the barricade with their vehicles to get to the other side. Being in the ghats we did not have much of a visual of the train tracks as they curved with the mountains. Sometimes I really feel like telling all these people that being safe is so much better than being impatient.
As I entered Odisha there was a complete scenic change. From the hills and mountains of northern Andhra Pradesh to the flat plains of Odisha. I passed by so many water bodies, so many rice fields, and so many Toddy palm trees. This state seemed to be so wonderfully lush and green.
Chilika Lake is a brackish water lagoon which is spread over the Puri, Khurda and Ganjam districts of Odisha. It covers an area of over 1,100 kmsq making it the largest coastal lagoon in India and the second largest in the world. The lake has a vast range of fish making it an ideal place for small fishermen villages to flourish all around it. Chilika Lake also has the largest wintering ground for migratory birds on the Indian sub-continent, sometime hosting over 160 species of birds in the peak migratory season. Tragically I managed to lose over 100 pictures I took here due to some technical difficulties so I am unable to give you a full visual of my experience here.
OTDC (Odisha Tourism Development Corporation Ltd.) provides a range of rooms and cottages located by the lake starting from Rs.800 a night. Their development at this location is called Panthanivas Barkul. It is extremely clean and is safe for everyone.
Borra Caves are located about 90 kms north of Visakhapatnam in the Ananthagiri hill range of the Eastern ghats, located at Araku Valley in Andhra Pradesh. These limestone caves were discovered in 1807 by the British geologist William King. Borra Caves are naturally formed and are believed to be over 150 million years old. Small streams flowing down the Ananthagiri hill range towards River Gosthani are what have formed these caves over the years. The humic acid in the water reacts with the calcium carbonate in the limestone and dissolves the minerals causing the rocks to gradually break.
The main entrance of Borra Caves is located at an altitude of 705 meters above MSL while the interior goes down to 625 meters above MSL. The total length of these caves are about 200 meters, but you can walk around exploring over 350 meters of the space. Surrounding these caves are breath taking hilly terrains that are covered in forests filled with a vast population of wild fauna.
This cave is one of its kind in India and is open to tourists between 10am and 5.30 pm everyday.