If bird watching is your drug, go no far beyond the Old Magazine House at Ganeshgudi for a high. The forest here is home to more than 40 local species and welcomes several more migratory species during the winter. My apologies for not being able to provide any more account on the details of bird watching here as I am not really an enthusiast in this matter but if you are, be rest assured that you’ll be treated to your heart’s content.
It is actually a challenging task to follow the GPS navigation accurately up to the property. So feel free to ask passers-by on which way the Old Magazine House is until you reach the bifurcation where there is a clear signage indicating the road to Old Magazine House. The road is a delight to drive with the freshness of the forest filling you up. After a while, there’s a sharp V-turn towards the left that takes you to the property and that is something what Google Map fails to show correctly. So use your common sense and look out for the earthen road from where you feel like Google Maps is getting it wrong – there’s actually a signboard that would confirm the direction to the Old Magazine House but you would notice it only if you halt to look back.
The Old Magazine House has a rather interesting story to how it got its name. It was used to house the ammunition required during the construction of the dam on the Kali river nearby and hence the usage of the term ‘magazine’. There are 3 cottages and a dormitory at present. The cottage that I stayed in consists of 4 spacious rooms, each a separate unit in its own, united by the common seating area outside. The other cottages are individual ones and are lined up on the way towards the dormitory from the entrance. The dormitory building also doubles up as the dining area on the roof.
The property is located at the heart of a jungle and is probably just what you need when you mean being away from the din and bustle of the city life. As if light years away from the cacophony, all that plays in your ears are the relentless banter of the crickets and the sinusoidal chirping interference of the birds and the music of the wind dancing around the trees – you feel like you are in the middle of an orchestra, witness to the wonder that the synchronization of a multitude of non-human languages, is. Sit alone for some time, let the demons of your inner noises be drowned by the tunes that nature plays for you. It’s not everyday that you can enjoy this serenity, so make the most of it once you are at the Old Magazine House.
The staff at Old Magazine House is extremely helpful and cordial. From trying their best to provide a variety in the menu with the limited ration they have to going the extra mile to accommodate your requests, they are always up there to ensure you have a pleasant stay. The staff arranges for a safari quite early in the morning and takes you to areas deep inside the forest. If luck is with you, you might as well be spotting members of the cat family as they have a relatively higher density in this area. You can also go for a coracle ride on the Kali river nearby or opt for a ride to the bridge on the Kali river which offers a stunning view of the river and the forest around it. We were lucky to spot a lot of hornbills who nest in the forest area beside the river. Our guide showed us the Shivalinga that though drowned in the water, still manages to stand upright, withstanding even the strongest currents of the river when it’s full. He also narrated the story of how it managed to stay there when the temple housing it got washed away.
There’s nothing much to do inside a forest at night and quite usually, you have an early dinner here. The staff repeatedly requested us to not roam outside our rooms post 10 PM and on asking why, we kind of got a nice shock! Sloth bears. They have a particular fondness towards having an evening stroll, somewhat more than we have, and are generally, extremely willing to hug you with all the affection in the world which would definitely not be the most ‘comforting’ hug you would normally ask for. We decided it would be prudent to follow the instructions rather than being adventurous and dying a rather uncommon and uncomfortable death away from the comfort of our own bed. I would advise, you follow the same too!!
It was overall a very satisfying stay at the Old Magazine House even though not being able to make the most of what it is famous for. If not for bird watching, it is definitely a place for people who want to lose themselves once in a while in the magic that a jungle is.
I was hosted by Dandeli.com, a tour operator specializing in conducting tours in and around Dandeli. The team is extremely competitive and are great in curating good trips around the region. Highly recommended.