Tuesday 26 February 2013

The first dryland forest of south India

It is south India’s first dry land forest and though it is in Karnataka, it is nearer from Hyderabad than Bangalore. Located in an extremely hot and dry climate, it is the only area in this vast and arid region to share many features of the Western Ghats.
Though the area in the Karnataka side have already been a forest, a little piece of land bordering  the forests between the two states pf Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh have become the bone of contention with each state claiming right over it.
The dry land forests are not only home to some native species of wildlife but also to Lambani or Lamani tribes who live in small settlements called Thandas.
This is Chincholi in Gulbarga district and it was only last year that 134.88 sq km area of Chincholi forest on the Karnataka side was declared as South India’s first dry land wildlife sanctuary.
The area was formally notified as a forest on November 28, 2012 to protect the prime wolf and hyena habitat here which is spread over the two districts of Gulbarga and Yadgir.
Named as the Chincholi wildlife sanctuary, the Forest Department considers the areas to be ecologically sensitive. Though it has a canopy cover of just about 0.40 per cent, it is the only area in the entire Hyderabad-Karnataka region comprising Gulbarga, Yadgir, Bidar and Bellary to share certain similar features with the forests of  the Western Ghats.
The forests cover 13,488.31 hectare area (ha) or (134.88 sq km area) over five blocks, the Chincholi forest block comprising of 11,985.62 ha, Sangapura forest block comprising of 688.39 ha, Bhonsapur forest block comprising of 317.59 ha, Magdumpur forest block comprising of 327.67 ha and Shadipur forest block comprising of 169.04 ha.
There are 30 Lambani Thandas in the region and they mainly depend on forest produce for their livelihood. Medicinal herbs and sandalwood trees, red sanders and floral species like Anogessus Latifolia, Chloroxylon, Bosweellia Serrat and Madhuca Indica are widely scattered.  
Apart from the wolf and the hyena, the forest is known to house wildlife like panther, boar, antelope, black buck, common fox, fruit bat, snakes and mongoose. Orinthologists have recorded over 35 species of birds, including Rollers, Wagtails, Bee eaters, Jacanas kite, oriole, black drongo, blossom-headed parakeet, pigeon and grey patridge.
The wolves are classified as a major carnivore in north Karnataka and they are known as Canis lupus pallipes. They generally prey on black bucks. Since wolves are   
The forest is unique as it has the large Chandrampalli dam along with four smaller dams. The man made island of  the large dam is worth a visit. The forest area covers 28 villages. The large dam and the island are ideal for trekking and picnic.   
The wildlife sanctuary covers the forest areas of 28 villages of Chincholi taluk.
If you like to trek to the forests, the easiest and the best route is from Chandrampalli village. There is small Hanuman temple with a Nandi located on an adjoining hill. You can trek from here to the highest point in the forest.
The forest does not include 150 to 200 hectares in Sangapur village, over which both Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh are locked in a dispute.
Chandrampalli is 140 km from Hyderabad. Gulbarga is 578 kms from Bangalore. Chandrampalli is five kms from Chincholi, a taluk headquarters.
You can also visit several nearby places such as Harkud Channabasaveshwara Temple in Chincholi, Mulla Mari river  which is also called Dodda Phul bridge, the Chandrampalli Dam itself, Nagaral dam near Chimmanchode, Yettipota falls near Vantichinta and Bhoga Devara Ghat near Chincholi.
The forests that continue across the border and in Andhra Pradesh are called as Konchavaram. The Ettipothe or Yettipota falls is a small one but very beautiful. During rainy season, water falls from a height of 25 feet. Many small streams in the forest flow to the Mulla Maari river.  
The dam across the river Mulla Maari is another picnic spot. One side of the dam offers a fantastic view of the water, while the other side is bordered by a forest. Boating is popular here.
The Lamanis are a nomadic tribes of north Karnataka and they are as famous in India as the Maghyars or gypsies of Roma in Hungary, Europe. These Lambanis have their own customs and traditions and they live a simple life. Interact with them if you are interested in social sciences or anthropology.
Wolves attacking people particularly children are very common in Gulbarga district. Take care not to stray deep into the forest. Trek in groups  or keep to the trail marked out by the forest department officials.      
There are direct trains and buses from Bangalore and almost all other places in Karnataka to Gulbarga. From Gulbarga, take a bus or hire a private transport vehicle to Chincholi.
Summers are pretty hot and it is advisable to wear a hot and carry plenty of sun cream and bottles of water and juice.   


  1. U r nicely given ur opinion on chincholi forest n dam..thanks for giving valuable information:-)

    1. Thank You, Mr. Akay Kumar. We try to be objective in our posts so that it is not biased or one-sided. We hope the information would help people. Thank you again for the compliment

  2. Nice info. Do u have contact of forest dept there to plan a visit. Thanks