Untravel Weekends: Dhole’s Den

While the name might conjure up images of Veerapan hunted animal hide on the floor, Dhole’s Den is a large estate big on conservation.


While the name might conjure up images of Veerapan hunted animal hide on the floor, Dhole’s Den is a large estate big on conservation.

A weekend getaway in the Nilgiri hills in the center of major national parks in the country might sound adventurous for most of us. Most tourist lodges and resorts in the midst of sanctuaries take this sense of adventure into round the clock jeep safaris, loud noise and by leaving enormous carbon footprint behind that shrinks the habitat for the wildlings.

While the name might conjure up images of Veerapan hunted animal hide on the floor or heads on the wall, Dhole’s Den is a safe haven for the many Indian varieties of hounds.

Having taken up the task of spreading awareness about Indian dog breeds, Karthik Davey started this large estate that caters well to a wildlife traveller’s needs without robbing any of mother nature’s goodness. Dhole’s Den has a well rounded approach to conservation with minimal usage of natural resources, re-use and harvesting, organic farming, using alternative energy to run the lodge, offering visitors bird watching tours over noisy safaris and giving back to the locals with employment and supporting the village school.

The home of Shaka, a male Kanni and Zulu, a female Chippiparai, Dhole’s Den comfortably settles you into the wild and if there are any chances of being killed, it’s the cuteness of playful dogs running around the place and playing their naturally designed role of ‘man’s best friend’.

Karthik Davey talks to us from Bandipur.

1. Can you share your story of setting up the resort? Your background and motivation for starting this venture.

I stumbled upon Bandipur sometime in 1994 and since then visited Bandipur every year and ended up dreaming about a lodge in the wilderness. Inspired by low carbon footprint lodges from Africa that offered great food but no air-conditioning and other paraphernalia that is part of our so called civilization I decided to open such a place in Bandipur for the traveller who looks into detail and isn’t guided by so called luxuries.  I am a tour operator by profession and have been promoting India as a destination to German speaking guests since 1994. After having found this piece of heaven called Dhole’s Den I started building the place and realised that it was an ideal place for home. A place I could call home away from the din and the loudness that surrounds us. Thus the safari-homestay Dhole’s Den was born. And yes Dhole because I am a dog lover and I love wild dogs.

I ended up having 4 Chippiparai Indian sighthounds at Dhole’s Den who are part of the family.  The farm is called Uhuru meaning freedom and in the larger sense it’s a place for creation and ideas. We don’t give you cable TV but internet so you can find a balance between trading on the Bombay Stock Exchange during the day and a bird safari in the afternoon, between writing a book or a film script if you fancy and paint or pursue photography if you wish.

I still have my travel business but stay maximum in Bandipur and work from here.

2. What are the 5 aspects of responsible travel you have worked on and what it took to implement?

1. Less is more, do away with things that one gets in cities and give an experience that is based on attention, care in detail. We don’t offer pools or cable TV or air-conditioning or even bathtubs. We offer a luxury of space and nature and experiences to jump in.

2. Eco-friendly measures and minimal carbon footprint. A Bungalow with all lights on runs on 63 watts and as Karnataka has less power on just 30 watts (alternate energy). We have decentralised all our energy needs. Solar and Wind both are used.

3. Visit to Bandipur is more than a badly run Safari by Jungle Lodges. Try and show guests smaller things that are important than just taking maximum safaris. We do an inclusive Bird Safari for our guests and a village visit or to the home of our staff to interact with the locals.

4. Support to our local village, youth and school, work close with Dhole’s Den Research Foundation which is active in all things starting from supplying notebooks, midday meal plates or even supporting research on bonnet macaques. The guests are being given a chance to participate in whatever means they can, be it financially or by giving time.

5. From people to produce, maximum is locally grown or sourced. Guides are local so are people who accompany you on nature walks

3. What has been the impact of your venture – on the local people, environment, the place itself, traveller sensitization and anything else they’d like to stress on?

Most of our staff are employed from the local village and for the first time have bank accounts to get a salary, the school gets to use our internet connection for uploading data regarding scholarships as they don’t have a connection and many more such things.

We are small on carbon footprint as we just have 4 rooms and a tent. The place looks greener and water level has risen thanks to our rain water harvesting measures like catchment etc. Travellers from India and abroad get a peek into everyday life and a holiday that’s more than a 2 hour safari hunting for the elusive cat.

4. Can you share experiences/anecdotes from travellers who’ve visited?

Travellers become friends after a while and there is a sense of belonging. We have had people who have ended up helping the Dhole’s Den Research Foundation in its activities, people who have taken the pain to ask what happened after a law breaking incident was noticed in the park. Guests come back to stand and cook for their family in the pantry we provide them. People visiting our trade fair stall enquire about our hounds.

Tel.: 0091 – 8229 – 236062, 236061

manager@dholesden.com

http://www.dholesden.com/

Untravel Weekends is a feature series on resorts, homestays and guesthouses that are built and run on the foundations of responsible travel by means of nature conservation, using alternative energy, reducing waste, recycling, rain water harvesting, organic farming, sourcing and feeding into the local economy or promoting indigenous cultures.

 


  ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The future is not a result of choices among alternative paths offered by the present, but a place that is created–created first in the mind and will, created next in activity. The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating. more

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  ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The future is not a result of choices among alternative paths offered by the present, but a place that is created–created first in the mind and will, created next in activity. The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating. more

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