Some journeys bloom in the monsoons. I felt this as I drove through the winding roads of the coastal belt of the Western Ghats, witnessing sunrays peer hesitantly through the damp, misty morning. I was so engrossed in the drive that I almost missed sighting a Barking Deer that stood right across the road like a mystical creature. It was a glimpse into the many amazing experiences I went on to have at Anshi forest, part of the dense and ever-beautiful Kali Tiger Reserve.
Anshi National Park and Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary together created the Dandeli Anshi Tiger Reserve (DATR), which was renamed as Kali Tiger Reserve in 2015. Whilst Dandeli is well-known amongst travel and wildlife enthusiasts, the areas around Anshi still remain virgin, with ample opportunities for the explorer in you to find interesting life hidden in the depths of these forests. As I entered the Ghats from sea level, dense mist covered the road, with visibility only up to 20 metres. Driving a little further, a beautiful waterfall, Anshi Falls, welcomed me to the Anshi range.
Later that afternoon, I ventured on my first walk on a birding trail at Anshi Nature Camp, and my very first sighting was that of an Emerald Dove. A few steps ahead, synchronising to the tunes of a Malabar Giant Squirrel was an Indian Yellow Tit, on a tree across from it. After more such finds, as the sun was about the set, my eyes scouted the canopy for a Dandeli speciality – the beautiful hornbill. And as if on cue, perched on a tree along the pathway was a Malabar Pied Hornbill pair.
By sunset, the rain gods decided to have mercy on me and my camera gear; as a bonus, the incessant rains had brought macro-life alive. There was plenty of activity in the campus, with sightings of frogs, toads and Green Vines Snakes. Sightings of a brown morph of the Malabar Pit Viper and a Hump-nosed Pit Viper left me enthralled. When my legs were stuck deep in marshy thickets, the forest guard urged that we move towards shelter and retire for the day.
The next morning, I did a short trek near the nature camp to find more macro creatures. After a drizzle, the greens were alive with butterflies, spiders, damselfies and many such smaller fauna.
Throughout the trail, the forest guard accompanying me shared many stories from the region – about wildlife sightings, Ulavi Caves, local delicacies, and the Channabasaveshwara Temple and fair. I learnt that Anshi also has a couple of short treks in the Barpali and Kadra Ranges, and I resolved to return to experience those. With all its bounty, it could be said that Anshi offers the best of the Western Ghats, while being an area that still remains unexplored.
Best Season and Getting There
Anshi can be visited throughout the year; however, the humid summer months are best avoided. Monsoon is a treat for macro lovers, while winter (October to early March) is ideal for birding enthusiasts.
Anshi is accessible by a train to Karwar, 50 km away. The nearest airports are Dharwad and Belagavi, but flights are infrequent. The road from Bangalore offers different routes to enjoy the Western Ghats – one could drive via the beautiful forest of Yellapura, do a slight detour to Sathodi and Magod waterfalls, and continue to Anshi via Kaiga.