About Dandeli (Karnataka)

Understanding the History of Dandeli, Karnataka

The beautiful town of Dandeli is located in the midst of the Western Ghats and represents the best that forest areas have to offer. While we all know this surreal region as one which perfectly captivates India’s southern jungles, its myths and history are just as fascinating.


The favored folklore behind the name Dandeli is a love story gone wrong. It centres around Dandelappa who was a loyal manservant of a Mirashi landlord. When a lady member of the landlord’s household fell in love with him, he rejected her proposal out of loyalty and respect to his master. This shunned lady, in an act of revenge, lied to her brothers and claimed that he behaved in an inappropriate manner. The very same household he was loyal to then beheaded him for a false crime. The legend grew so popular that Dandeli came to be known after him and the Dandelappa temple was built in his honor.An alternate story centres around Kind Dandakanayaka who once passed through these forests which were then unclaimed. He loved this serene land for what it is and claimed it as his own, thus naming it after himself.


River Kali is the lifeline of Dandeli and the entire region can be found carefully clustered around this river’s expansive shoreline and freshwaters. Not many realise that this river flows all the way from Uttarakhand, where it is named River Mahakali or Sharda and forms a border between Nepal and India. After many splits, dams and diversions the river flows into Dandeli as we see it today.


The natural and untouched aspect of Dandeli extends to its many landmarks which can be found in the area. The Kavala Caves have existed since ancient times and are known to have a naturally formed Shiva Lingam. It’s limestone and stalagmite foundation implies that it was formed due to volcanic activity which could only have happened during prehistoric times. The Syntheri Rocks displays the composition and strength of varied types of rocks which are again believed to have been formed multiple centuries back.


This region is home to the Siddis – a tribe that are the direct descendants of African Negros. They were brought to India in the historic times by the Arabs, the Portuguese and the Dutch and can be found here even today. While they speak the regional language and mingle with the locals, their features to betray their origins. Apart from the Siddis, Dandeli is home to the Kuruba, Devali, Marathas, Konkani, Lambanis and other such communities which can also be found in the surrounding regions and cities.

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