Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Korlai Fort, Chaul and Kashid, Konkan on weekend

We were looking for a quick weekend trip and decided to visit Korlai fort along with Kashid. We have visited Kashid and nearby beach multiple time so the focus was to explore Korlai. It was the Renuka's (Wife) first visit to Korlai.
Travelers for this trip were me and Renuka.

Sea View from Korlai Fort
Sea View from Korlai Fort

About Kashid and Chaul
              Kashid is a beach town on Alibag-Murud road. It is popular mainly because of its white sand, curvy beach shape, mountains behind beach and beautiful sea view. Kashid has a 3 km stretch of beach tucked in between two rocky hillocks with Casuarinas groves all around the seashore. Few sea-facing resorts are under construction in kashid and lots of homestay accommodations are available.
             Kashid beach is generally crowded by Mumbai people on weekends so my advice is to visit this place on weekdays to enjoy this beautiful sandy beach.

Chaul is a former city of Portuguese India. It is known as one of the oldest Former city from Konkan region. There are 360 temples in Chaul. Korlai Fort in the town of Korlia. This fort was built in 1521 by the Portuguese with the permission of Burhan Nizam. Fort was used for keeping watch on River and on Chaul area.

Our Route:-
            Best way to reach Kashid/Chaul is Pune - National highway towards Mumbai- join Expressway - Lonavala - After crossing Lonavala-Khandala on Expressway, there is Khopoli exit - Take a left at Khopoli square for Pen - Pen - Alibag - Chaul - Kashid.

22 June 2019: Pune to Kashid via Chaul:
             We woke up by 5.30 AM and left home at 6:00 AM. We chose the route via Khopoli to reach Chaul. We reached in Chaul without taking a single break. We decided to visit a couple of ancient temples from Chaul as it is practically not possible to cover all the temples from Chaul. Our first destination was Rameshwar Mandir from Chaul. Temple is of Hemadpanthi style of architecture. Temple has been renovated various times in the past to make it attractive, however, the exact year when it was built is not known. Lord Shiva is the foremost deity in the temple. Temple has 3 Water tanks namely Parjanya (Rain) kund, Agni (Fire) kund, and wayu (Air) kund representing three elements of nature.

Rameshwaram Mandir

Shree Vakhanath Temple
Shree Vakhanath Temple

              After a quick visit, we saw a couple of temples from Chaul. Most of the temples are now renovated but their style of architecture is ancient. We left Chaul and had our breakfast before reaching Kashid. we were not interested to stay near Kashid beach hence we prefer to stay a couple of KM before the beach. We checked a few hotels and checked-in in Hotel Coco In.

Ganesh Temple

Mukhari Ganapati Temple

             All the rooms from the hotel are sea-facing though the beach was rocky. Room was large in size and clean. This property is typically for family or people who want peace and relaxation time. We had our lunch in the hotel which I found tasty but a bit overpriced. We were expecting Monsoon Konkan trip but there was No sign of Rain at all. Rather than Monsoon, Sun was dominating in the sky.

Hotel Coco Inn

Veg Meal

             In the evening, We went to Rocky beach to witness Sunset. Monsoon clouds gathered on the horizon which skipped Sunset show. We had dinner in the hotel itself and enjoyed the India Vs Afganistan World cup cricket match. You can Visit Revdanda Beach and Fort which is near to Chaul. As we have visited that place multiple times so we prefer to stay in the Hotel for the evening. You can check my Blog on Revdanda and Phansad Forst here

Sunset

Expenses:
  • Petrol: INR1500/-
  • Expressway Toll Till Khopoili Exit: INR 138/-
  • Breakfast near Kashid: INR100/- (Omlet Pav 40/- and Cold drink 20/-)
  • Coco inn Hotel: INR3000/- for AC (INR4000 for AC and INR3000 for Non AC on weekends)
  • A veg meal in Lunch: INR700/- (₹350/- per person)
  • Water bottles: INR 125/- (5 bottled)
  • Dinner: 400/- (1 Prowns Meal and Extra Rice)
  • Kokam Surbat: INR45/- per Glass
  • Cold drink: INR45/-
  • Coconut water: INR 80/- for 2

23 June 2019: Korlai Fort - Pune:
               We woke by 7 AM and feel fresh as Monsoon clouds were entered in Konkan. Quickly we left for Korlai fort. We reached by 8AM and got to know that Fort entrance opened after 9AM. I was aware of another route to enter in the Fort from Northside and Security allow us to go from that route.

Fort Area

              Proper stone steps are laid from lighthouse till the top. It takes hardly 15-20 mins to reach the top. we approached the fort from Northside after Quick small trek. Northmost point of Fort has a storehouse of ammunition and place to park ships at that time. The Fort is mainly divided into 6 Parts. After Crossing 2 sections with some slow elevation, we reached the entrance which is connected via Stone steps.

Fort entrance

              Next section has Canons and Bastion. Entrance to the next section is in proper shape. You can see the small Shiva Temple and Shiv-Linga. There is a Water trench opposite to small temple but it is covered. In the Next Section, you can see the chapel and Portuguese inscriptions. There is another entrance on your left. Looking at the entrance construction, It should be the main entrance at that time to enter the Fort or Chapel.

Shiva Temple at Korlai Fort

Chapel on Korlai Fort

              There is a small entrance behind the chapel for the last section of the fort. You can see the 3-4 Cannons. All the cannons are mounted in wheel cart. Wheel carts are newly built and placed to keep heritage cannon on it. View from the Southmost point is breathtaking, You can see the sea on your left and Korlai village on your left. we spend some time to witness the beautiful view of Sea and Monsoon approach over the Arabian sea.

Behind Chapel

View from Korlai Fort
View from Korlai Fort

             Korlai was initially known as the “Rock of Chaul”. In 1594, there was a chaotic situation after Burhan Nizam died. The Portuguese tried to take advantage of this by building a fortification. But Hussein Nizam perceived the danger and decided to fortify this mountain himself. The Portuguese opposed this and they signed a treaty. It was decided that inseam would not build a fort and the Portuguese would not pose him any threat on the seas. Second Burhan Nizam succeeded in building a fort there. Sardar Fattekhan cannoned the walls of Revdanda fort soon. The Portuguese were short of soldiers and ordered more army. They then attacked the fort by invading the base village. They won the fight and captured Korlai fort. In 1684, Sambhaji Maharaj made an unsuccessful attempt to capture the fort. In 1739, Chimaji Appa (From Maratha emperor) made a strong attack on the fort and captured it.

Korlai Fort

             We came down quickly and left the fort. You can visit the Lighthouse By paying a nominal fee. Lighthouse engineer explains the functionality of lighthouse, Radar system and how the entire system communicates with the ships and the control room which is in Mumbai.

Cannon on Korlai

              We reached Hotel and had our breakfast. After some rest, we check-out from the hotel and started our return journey. We took a small stop to visit Birla Ganesh Temple. It is located in Revdanda-Murud Rd near Revdanda Bridge. The architecture is pretty good and well maintained. Camera and Mobiles are strictly not allowed in the temple area. No locker system available so better to keep in your vehicle.
              Our next destination was Nagaon. we went to Nagaon only for Lunch and we skipped Beach as it was overcrowded (as always). You can read my travel blog on Nagaon here. We had tasty Seafood meal at Mahesh restaurant near the beach. On the way to Alibag from Nagaon, there was one small temple. It is known as Nav-nag temple (Nine snake’s temple). Hardly any tourists visit this place. Local says that the Name of this village came because of this place. In the temple, you can see a total of 10 rocks having snake images on it. 9 were originally placed here and in recent time someone added 10th snake idol.

King Fish Meal

We left Nagaon after some Konkani Product shopping and came to Pune safely via Pen - Expressway.

Expenses:
  • Korlai Fort parking: INR 20/-
  • Korlai Fort entry: INR 40/- for 2 person
  • Birla temple parking: INR 30/-
  • Lunch: INR 365/- (Kingfish meal, and Extra 3 Roti - Meal shared by 2 people)
  • Modak (sweet Dish): INR 40/- for 2
  • Expressway Toll: INR 173/-
Contact Details:
  • Hotel Coco Inn: +919167562668, +919167562468, +919969315657.
  • Mahesh Lunch Home, Nagaon: +919764557050, +918390382222.

I will try to upload more and more travel blogs. Thanks for reading this Travel Blog.

PriteshKulkarni
Pune

Sunday, 30 June 2019

Hidden Gem from Ujjani Dam - Palasnath Temple

Palasnath Temple was on my list from the last 3 years. Temple is located in the backwater of Ujjani Dam and people are only able to visit the temple in case of heavy drought. For rest of the time, it is submerged under the backwater of Ujjani Dam. Temple was accessible in the year 2016 but I missed to visit the temple. I was praying that temple should remain in my wishlist forever but unfortunately, 2019 drought opened the temple for Visit.

Palasnath Temple
Palasnath Temple

About Ujjani Dam and Palasdev village:
              Ujjani Dam is built on Bhima river hence it is also known as Bhima Dam. Dam's construction began in the year 1969 and completed 1980. The storage capacity of the Dam is around 110 TCM. The reservoir created by the Dam is one of the largest backwaters in India. Backwater length is around 50km. Ujjani Dam backwater near Bhigwan is famous for migratory birds in winters.
            Temple was part of Palasdev Village which was located on the bank of Bhima river before Ujjani Dam. In ancient time, Village name was Ratnapur as per record and famous of Market at that time. The village consists of 5 temples and one of them was Palasnath temple. It was dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva.

To Reach Temple from Pune is - Join Solapur Highway - Cross Bhigwan - After a few kms, you can see Palasdev village arch on left - Take a left in Village - Follow the road and park your vehicle on the backwater bed (Make sure that Land is completely dry) - Take a walk towards Temple.
You may have to take a small boat ride to cross the backwater and Boats are available when the temple is accessible.

Palasnath Temple

June 2019 Visit:
             We left home after breakfast with friends and their kids. We reached the Temple area after 2-3 hours of journey. We took a boat to cross the small backwater channel to reach Palasnath Temple. Temple was built in the year 1157 (शके1079 as per Marathi calendar) by Dandanayak Chandev. Temple was dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva.
             Within the area, there are two temples, one for Lord Vishnu and one for Lord Shiva. Temple with Kalas (कळस) is of Lord Shiva. Both temples are West facing. You can see Lord Hanuman idol outside of the temple. Temple has Mandpam, GarbhGruh (Temple's inner room to keep lord idol) and 3 side entrance. As per the Temple pillar structure, Temple was built under Yadav empire era. Shivlinga idol from Temple was relocated in the village during Ujjani Dam construction. you can see the beautiful carving on the Temple walls.

Lord Hanuman at Palasnath Temple
Lord Hanuman at Palasnath Temple

Inside Temple...Photo clicked by Ameya Deshpande
Temple Pillar...Photo clicked by Ameya Deshpande

Few ruined stone sculpture can be seen in the temple area. They are mainly Nandi (Lord Shiva's Vahan), Veergal (वीरगळ Standing Stone dedicated to brave person from emperor), SatiShila (सतीशिळा), Dashaavtar, Surasundari (सुरसुंदरी meaning celestial beauty) etc. In temple sculptures, the Surasundari are often depicted as attendants of gods and goddesses.  It also consists of Dharmshala (Rooms for stay purpose-built for devotees) in front of the temple.

Nandi

Veergal
Veergal

Dashavatar stone strip

Ancient time Bhakta Niwas

               There is another temple just a couple of meters away from Palasnath Temple. This temple is known as Lord Ram temple. Some people believe it is another temple of Lord Vishnu but as the outer wall of the temple has different stories of Ramayana. You can see Ramayana stories such as the war between Vali and Sugriva, Lord Hanuman destroying Ashokavan, Goddess Sita in Ashokvan, monkey army carrying Stone for Ram-Setu, Ravan with 5 faces and Lord Ram with Laxman. There are other stone sculptures such as Surasundari (सुरसुंदरी), snake, Lord Vishnu in meditation and many more.

Small Temple near Palasnath Temple...Photo clicked by Ameya Deshpande
Lord Hanuman destroying Ashokavan at Palasnath Temple
Lord Hanuman destroying Ashokavan...Photo clicked by Ameya Deshpande

Surasundari...Photo clicked by Ameya Deshpande

War Between Vali and Sugriva...Photo clicked by Ameya Deshpande

             Visiting early morning gives you the opportunity to spot some wetland birds like Greater Flamingo, Purple Swamphen, seagulls, Asian Openbill Stork, Painted Stork, Coot, Heron and many more. Best time to visit this place for bird watching in winter. You can check my Bhigwan Blogs here.

GPS Location of Palasnath Temple: 18.246586, 74.882470

I will try to upload more and more travel blogs. Thanks for reading this Travel Blog.

Pritesh Kulkarni 
Pune

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Netrani Island Scuba Dive and Dandeli

Scuba diving at Netrani Island (near Murudeshwar, Karnataka) was in my wishlist. 2 years back, we were unable to visit the place as it was closed by the Navy. It is one of the best Dive sites in India.
We decided to visit Dandeli during our return journey. Travelers for this trip were me and wife Renuka. Our friend Ameya joined us. This time, my i20 was not on the road and we drove Ameya's New SUV 500.

Travelers

About Netrani Island and Dandeli
             Netrani Island (formally known as Pigeon Island) is small Island from the Arabian Sea. It is off the coast of Murudeshwar, Karnataka which is famous for Shiva temple. Island is 20km away from the coast and owned by Navy. It is used as target practice by the Indian Navy. Scuba diving was banned till 2017-18 due to a court case for disturbing ecological balance.
Dandeli is a perfect destination in north Karnataka for all nature lovers. It is also famous for adventure activities on the River Kali such as white water river rafting. Dandeli is a paradise for bird watching activity and Anshi National park from Dandeli is the home for Tigers, leopards, black panthers, elephants, gaur, deers, antelopes, and bears. Sighting of the cat family in such dense forest is rare.
Ganeshgudi is a small village near Dandeli and known for bird watching. The jungle is also home to reptiles and almost 300 varieties of birds.

The route to reach Murudeshwar (For Netrani Island) from Pune is Pune – join Mumbai Bangalore National highway – Kolhapur – Nipani – Belgaum – Take Right exit at Kittur (Road beside Hotel Gajaraj palace)- Alnavar- Yellapur - Kumta - Murudeshwar.
The route to reach Dandeli from Pune is Pune – join Mumbai Bangalore National highway – Kolhapur – Nipani – Belgaum – Take exit for Belgaum – Khanapur – Londa – Ganeshgudi.

Ameya's Car SUV 500...

Day 1: 09th Feb 2019: Pune – Murudeshwar:
              Our journey began at 6 AM as we wanted to avoid the highway traffic and enjoy the cold freezing morning. The National Highway 48 was in excellent condition and well suited for a long drive. We had a short break before Khambataki for tea-Coffee and breakfast break at Karad.
Our target to reach Murudeshwar by 8PM as our Dives were planned for Sunday 10th February. We took a lunch break at Kittur by 1PM and then left the national highway. The route from Kittur till Kumta was in excellent condition except for a few small rough patches. The route goes through dense forest. We were ahead of time so we decided to take a break at Kumta beach for Sunset view.
         We reached on the beach near Kumta by 6:30PM. We missed sunset but had a short break on the beach. After spending some time on the beach, we moved ahead for Murudeshwar.
We reached Murudeshwar by 8PM and meet Ajay Patil (Owner of Dive Netrani and Dive Goa dive school). We know each other from 2013 when we did our Scuba Dive in Goa. Check my Goa travel Blog here. Our plan was of Single Dive which we extended up to 2 dives. We meet our Dive instructor Rupee, Ram and shaoumik. We left Dive Netrani office (in the campus of Hotel RNS residency) after completing formalities.
               We were too hungry so we had a meal in a nearby restaurant and then searched for a place to stay. We booked 2 AC rooms at Shree Vinayak residency whereas booked Naveen beach resort (located on the beach) for Sunday Night.

Temple at Murudeshwar
Temple at Murudeshwar

Expenses:
  • Car Fuel: INR 5500/- for the entire trip
  • MH Toll-1: INR 90/-
  • Coffee: INR 70/- for 2 coffee at Kamat
  • MH Toll-2: INR 60/-
  • MH Toll-3: INR 75/-
  • Breakfast: INR 288/- (Misal-Pav, Idli Sambar, Rava Dosa, tea and mineral water)
  • MH Toll-4: INR 75/-
  • KA Toll-1: INR 25/-
  • KA Toll-2: INR 65/-
  • Lunch: INR 530/- (Butter Chicken, butter Roti, Dal khichadi, Masala Papad, Cold drinks)
  • Coffee: INR 30/- for 2 coffee
  • Dinner at Ratna Sagar restaurant: INR 377/- (3 South Indian meal, Cold drink, 2 Lemon Soda and 1 Water bottle)
  • Stay at Shree Vinayak Residency: INR 1300/- for 1 AC Room

Day 2: 10th Feb 2019: Scuba Dive at Netrani Island:
              We woke up by 7am and reached a Dive Netrani office before 8:30am. It is always advisable to have some light and less oily food before you dive, thus we had some south Indian breakfast before we move ahead for our Dive. We geared up and went on the beach. We were accompanied by other Divers who were doing their Open water Certifications. We all had walk till Murudeshwar beach and then we load Cylinders, Scuba gears and snacks onto our boat.
              Our 1-1.5hr journey began for Netrani Island. During the journey to Netrani Island, we had a good briefing on how the SCUBA equipment works, do’s & don’ts underwater, signs to make during Dive, etc. It was our 7th and 8th Dive in last 7 years hence we were aware of many do's and don't things. We were still attending the briefing carefully. We had new friends on the boat and some chat with Ajey. After an hour, we saw glimpses of Netrani island.

Set for Dive with Dive Netrani

               When we reached close to the Island, we got to know that the first 4 Advance certified divers will Dive for their Deep dive training which was up to 30 meters. It was our relaxation time and we were getting ready with wet suit n all. One cannot land or step up on Netrani Island as all the edges of Island are sharp and vertical. Also, Island belongs to Indian Navy hence roaming on Island is not allowed. We planned with 2 dives per head with max allowed depth up to 12 Meters. After waiting for some, an Advance diver came up. we learned many things from those certified divers.


               We left the deep dive spot and started our journey towards an Island. The boat was anchored near Island and we equipped with Scuba gear. We are not PADI certified Scuba divers though, this was our 8th and 9th Scuba dive. Friend Ameya was the first person to start his 1st Dive. He also did a couple of Scuba Dives abroad. As we were aware of breathing technique, Renuka and then me entered the water without wasting any time for our first Dive. We went down slowly. Visibility inside water was fabulous. This time we were carrying our own underwater action camera to capture underwater beauty.




            Marine life at Netrani was too impressive and we were not expecting such an amazing experience. We were underwater for around 40-50 Munites with a depth of around 8 to 9 Meters. We saw too many colorful fishes and small fish colonies. Eel fish, pufferfish, Boxfish were major the major attraction of our first dive. It was a wonderful experience to be a witness the underwater beauty.


            We came up and board the boat. After finishing of first dive it was time for relaxation before we start our second dive. Ajay Told us that our second Dive (Not sure but dive site name is Nursery) will be more thrilling as you will be able to witness a huge fish colony around you. We had some food which was available on boat and power nap. We went together for the first dive through our underwater directions were different. For the second Dive, We went one by one. Renuka Went for her second Scuba Dive. I and Ameya entered in the sea for some swimming and snorkeling.


              My second Dive was the last Dive of the day and I went with Divemaster Ram. I was underwater for around 45-55 min with recorded depth as 9.9 Meters. This was my one of the Best scuba dive I ever did across India. I saw Variety of fishes, Eels popping out from the rock, Huge Fish schools around us, beautiful coral and many more. The peak point of Dive was when we saw Bamboo Shark just 3-4 meters away from me. Shark was within Rocks and Ram spot that and then I saw. It was around 3-4 Feet long beautiful Fish. This was not the end of my dive as we saw Humphead Wrasse fish (also known as Napoleon fish) which was huge in size. Fish was swimming parrel to us for around 15-20 seconds before it disappears quickly. After Dive I got to know that Humphead Wrasse (Napoleon fish) is very shy and don't prefer swimming around or parrel to Divers. I don't want to come out of the water as I was swimming all together in a different and beautiful world.





             After my Scuba Dive, We all left Netrani island. We all had Fruits which were arranged by Dive Netrani Team. After an hour we reached on Murudeshwar beach. We all help to shift Diving gears from boat to Dive Netrani Office. It was a fabulous day and satisfaction can be easily seen on our faces. If you're looking for Dive certification or Discover Scuba Dive then Netrani is one of the best sites to explore the beauty.



            If you just want to try scuba dive for the first time then you can go for Discover Dive (at some places, it is called an Introductory Dive). You will not receive any certification and it is just to explore the underwater world with the help of Divemaster. Swimming is not mandatory for this dive. After Quick basic training session, you can dive into the water with Divemaster.


              There is plenty of diving course available in PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors). you have to be first PADI open water Diver course. The course contains classroom theory, Pool training and then Open water dives. You should be medically fit, able to swim with any swimming style and above 10 years to be certified Scuba Divers. Detail information on PADI and PADI Scuba dive courses is available at Website www.padi.com


             After Dive sessions, we did check-in in the Naveen Beach resort which is located on the beach. We went to the temple for darshan and Murudeshar market for some shopping. We all were tired hence preferred seafood dinner in the Hotel itself. It was quite a long day and we had rest after our Dinner.

Shiva Statue at Murudeshwar

Sunset from Murudeshwar
Sunset from Murudeshwar

Expenses:
  • Scuba Dive cost: discover Scuba Dive INR 5500/- per Dive + INR 1500/- for next dive (Next dive should be on the same day/Same Trip)
  • South Indian Breakfast with filter coffee: INR 220/- for 3 person
  • RNS cafe: INR 751/- (chana Batura, cheese sandwich, paneer pakoda, Manchurian, 2 coffee and Juice)
  • Naveen beach resort stay: INR 2500/- per AC room per night with breakfast
  • Dinner at Naveen beach resort: INR 782/- (Kingfish curry with rice, lemon Rice, Masala Papad and 2 cold drinks)

Day 3: 11th Feb 2019: Murudeshwar - Dandeli:
             we were ready by 7:30AM to visit the beach and the temple. After spending some time on the beach, we went to the temple for Darshan. Temple area consists of Murudeshwar Temple, Raja Gopura and Statue of great Lord Shiva. Temple is built on a hill which is surrounded on three sides by the Arabian Sea. The Lanka King Ravana worshipped Shiva with devotion for the Atma-Linga. Pleased by his prayers, Lord Shiva agreed to give him the boon on the condition that it should never be placed on the ground before he reaches Lanka. If the Atma-Linga was ever placed on the ground, it would be impossible to move it. The gods thought that with the Atma-Linga, Ravana may obtain immortality and cause destruction on earth. Lord Ganesh came up with a plan to confiscate the Atma-Linga from Ravana. As Ravana was nearing Gokarna, Lord Vishnu blotted out the sun to give the appearance of dusk. To perform his evening rituals, He wanted to handover Atma-Linga to someone. At this time, Lord Ganesh in the disguise of a Brahmin boy accosted him. Ravana requested him to hold the Atma-Linga until he performed his rituals, and asked him not to place it on the ground. Ganesh struck a deal with him saying that he would call Ravana thrice, and if Ravana did not return within that time, he would place the Atma-Linga on the ground.

Murudeshwar Temple area from Gopura

             Ravana returned to find that Ganesh had already placed the Atma-Linga on the ground. Vishnu then removed his illusion and it was daylight again. He realized that he had been tricked tried to uproot and destroy the linga. Due to the force exerted by Ravana, some pieces were scattered. He threw the cloth covering the Atma-Linga to a place called Mrideshwar which has been renamed to Murudeshwar.

Ganesha calling Ravana before placing Linga on Ground

Ganesha placed Atma-Linga on ground

             At the entrance of the temple, 20 storied Gopura (tower built at the entrance of the temple, especially in Southern India) is constructed. With the help of the elevator, you can reach on the 18th floor which offers a breathtaking view of the Arabian Sea, Murudeshwar beach, village view and a beautiful view of the 123-feet idol of Lord Shiva. It was an amazing experience to view Murudeshwar from such height. Gopura has beautiful carving and two life-size elephant idols are placed at the entrance.

Morning view of Murudeshwar Beach from Gopura

               After Gopura visit, we went inside the temple. Temple is small but maintained very well. There are many small temples. Photography in the main temple is not allowed. Real gold is used on the roof of all temples.

Temple view from Top

            Last attraction in Murudeshwar was the statue of Lord Shiva. The Shiva statue is the second highest statue in the world after Kailashnath Mahadev Statue situated in Sanga, Nepal. We saw a museum which is below the statue and has a series of different statues that tell you a story of Lord Shiva, Ravana, and Atma-Linga. There is a huge Nandi statue in front of Shiva. The statue of Ravana holding the linga is also at the front. Various sculptures depicting the incidents from mythological tales can be seen around.

Shiva Statue

              We left Murudeshwar by 11AM and our next destination was Dandeli. We plan to visit Yana Caves on the route which is around 24-25km from Kumta. Yana is famous for the massive black, Crystalline, limestone rock. Yana also has Cave temple where swayambhu Linga has been formed. It is famous for two massive rock is known as the Bhairaveshwara Shikhara and the Mohini Shikhara. There is around 1.5-2 km forest trail followed by around 300 steps to reach Cave temple. The trail goes through deep forest with a water stream on your right. The waterfall is another attraction at Yana during the Monsoon session.

Yana Rocks

           After Quick Visit to Yana Cave, we started our journey towards Dandeli. We booked rooms at Old magazine house resort (a.k.a. OMH) from Ganeshgudi. This was our second visit to Ganeshgudi. Ganeshgudi is a small village near Dandeli and known for bird watching. The jungle is also home to reptiles and almost 300 varieties of birds. he Old Magazine House resort at Ganeshgudi is a property run by Jungle Lodges and Resorts. This place owed the ammunition storage during the construction of the Supa Dam project in the 60s. There are many birding spots in the resort; the best spot is beside the dormitory area where the birds enjoy a bath in the birdbath pots. The people at the lodge have put up a few birdbaths, a few perches around it and created a barrier a safe distance away for people to come and watch the bird activities. I do nor prefer sitting at one location to spot birds so we decided to visit nearby waterbody (Pumping station) and Timber market spot on next day.

Leaf Bird
Paradise Flycatcher Female

           Somehow, we manage to reach before evening and quickly we visited OMH studio (Birdbath area name). after spending an hour, we left for Ganeshgudi Pumping station for Hornbill. here is small government pumping station on Kali River near OMH and only resort guests are allowed to visit that area with the resort staff/ Naturalist. One side of the river has hornbill’s nests whereas the other side consists of trees with small fruits which are their favorite food. We saw more than 10-15 Malabar Pied hornbills.

Malabar Pied hornbill
Malabar Pied hornbill

            We went into the room and got ready for bonfire camp. A blazing bonfire came upon the grounds as we sipped hot soup and pakodas seated around it. We spent more than an hour discussing Wildlife, Photography and past experiences before we proceeded for dinner. After a delicious dinner, we took rest.

Expenses:
  • Parking at Yana caves: INR 20/-
  • Two Water bottles: INR 40/-
  • Lunch at Hotel Samrat, Sirsi: INR 225/- (2 South Indian meal, 1 mini-meal and, water bottle)
  • Stay at Old Magazine House with all meal and breakfast: INR 5818/- for 2 person room.

Day 4: 12th Feb 2019: Dandeli to Pune:
            We woke by 6 AM and were ready for bird watching. We skipped sitting near Birdbath and decided to go Timber Depot. The place is around 10-11 km from Ganeshgudi and located in the Dandeli. A naturalist from Hotel joined us as a guide. As the name says, its Depot of Timber especially Teak wood and Rosewood and they claim as biggest in Aisa. Timber Depot has trails and quality trees which is now home of many bird species. Timber Depot is also Home of Hornbill which indicates the richness of the forest.

Timber Depot at Dandeli

             There are lots of Fig trees in Timber depot which is a major attraction for Hornbills and other birds. we reach there at Sunrise time and soon we started spotting Hornbills. Though we have seen too many hornbills in our first visit (including Great Indian Hornbill) and at Ganeshgudi pumping station, so our focus was to spot other birds around Depot area. We saw Malabargiri, Leafbird, and Malabar Whistling Thrush in the first hours.

Brown-headed Barbet
Malabar Grey Hornbill

             We went deep inside and saw Racket-tail Drongo, minivet pair, Blue Cap rock thrush, Lesser Yellow-naped Woodpecker and Lesser Goldenback woodpecker. Some Birds like Tit, Sunbird, Wablers, plum-headed parakeet, etc were playing the role of Filler when we were moving from one spot to another.

Racket-tailed Drongo
Golden back Woodpecker
Orange Minivet (Male)
Orange Minivet (Female)

             We went a bit deep trail and saw Jungle owl. It was perfectly camouflaged with the tree. while coming back to Timber Depot, we saw Taiga Flycatcher and brown breasted flycatcher which was a jackpot for us. It was worth to visit Timber Depot rather than spending time in OMH studio. By 9-9.15 AM we left the place and reach OMH for breakfast.

Jungle Owl

Taiga Flycatcher at Dandeli
Taiga Flycatcher at Dandeli

            After breakfast, we were again busy with birding activity but now in the hotel area. Somehow there was less activity in the birdbath area so we started exploring the nearby area from the hotel. We saw a Malabar giant squirrel. Near the Fence area of the hotel, we saw a pair of Paradise flycatcher. Male Paradise flycatcher was young and we were clearly able to see his long tail with rufous color (Redies Brown) with some white color patches on it. Females are short-tailed with rufous wings and a blackhead whereas Males have elongated central tail in white color and blackhead.

It's My breakfast Time

             We had a lunch break by 1PM and again join the birding activity. We heard the call of Black Woodpecker. Hotel staff aware of where he will land as there is a nest nearby. We went and soon saw Black Woodpecker. It was quite far away from us so I barely managed to take record shot. Black Woodpecker is entirely black with Red-colored crown.

Sub Adult Male Paradise Flycatcher

Malabar Gaint Squirrel 

Malabar Gaint Squirrel

               Our plan to leave for Pune was by 4.30 PM but as more activity began after 4 PM we decided to leave a bit late. Our evening session began with the entry of Emerald dove followed by Oriental White Eye, Flame Throated Bulbul, Monarch, Little Spider Hunter, White Rumped Munia, Shama, Crimson-backed Sunbird, and chestnut bee-eater. We were busy with the camera. Soon Racket-tail Drongo entered on perches. It is the largest bird from Drongo family. The tail with twirled rackets is distinctive and in flight, it can appear as if two large bees were chasing a blackbird.  Bird has a wide range of loud calls that include perfect imitations of many other birds. Shreeram Kumar (Also a photographer and guest in OMH) recorded his call and activity on Camera. It was truly fun to observe the bird.

Black Woodpecker at Dandeli
Black Woodpecker at Dandeli
Blue capped Rock Thrush at Dandeli
Blue-capped Rock Thrush
Oriental White-Eye
Emerald Dove
Plum-headed Parakeet
It's a Bath Time

By 5PM, I packed my Camera and Male paradise Flycatcher arrived on perch. We witness the beauty and left for Pune. We reached home at midnight. It was truly a stress-relieving trip.

Racket-tail Drongo

Expenses:

  • KA Toll-1: INR 90/-
  • KA Toll-2: INR 65/-
  • KA Toll-3: INR 25/-
  • Hotel Kaveri: INR 70/- for tea-Coffee
  • Dinner at Aaroma restaurant: INR 465/- (veg dish, Roti, Masala Papad, Curd rice, water bottles and, cold drink)
  • MH Toll-1: INR 75/-
  • MH Toll-2: INR 75/-
  • MH Toll-3: INR 60/-
  • MH Toll-4: INR 90/-

Contact Numbers for Reference:

  • The Old magazine house: Mohan Babu 08383256301, 09448133240. Website: http://www.junglelodges.com/old-magazine-house
  • Scuba Diving: Dive Goa (Ashwini: 09325030110; Ajay: 093250300109) Website: https://divegoa.com/ OR https://divenetrani.com/

GPS Locations:
Murudeshwar: 14.095134, 74.485558
Netrani Island: 14.014424, 74.326859
Yana Caves: 14.590087, 74.566232
Old magazine house, Ganeshgudi: 15.291701, 74.520990
Timber Depot, Dandeli: 15.242992, 74.621711

Indian Paradise Flycatcher Male

I will try to upload more and more travel blogs. Thanks for reading this Travel Blog.


Pritesh Kulkarni
Pune