Dandeli (ದಾಂಡೇಲಿ) is a town in Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka in the Western Ghats region in North Karnataka, India. A significant part of Dandeli's population consists of economic migrants from all over India. The migrants are from North Indian states like Rajasthan, UP, Bihar and many other districts of the Karnataka state. Although the official and predominant language of communication is Kannada, there are significant minorities speaking Hindi, Konkani and Marathi. The diversity of its population is reflected in its culture, and the Dussera, Ramleela, Ganesh Chaturthi and Diwali festivals are all celebrated.
As per 1930 census the population of Dandeli was 515 the residents were predominantly working in forest department and government saw mill. There was no school in the small town till 1936 when Shivaji Narvekar, Pundalik Pai, Sadanand Gopal Nadkarni, Balappa Chavan and Bapshet together contributed to a one room hut on the near by hill where now govt Urdu school is situated, to Ramachandra Ganapat Nayak migrated from Sanikatta near Gokarn to run a school. The majority residents belonged to Konkanis, Marathas, Lambani community, Negros, and Muslims. Starting with mere 18 students 3 of which were elder than their teacher R.G.Nayak in age.
In 1939 the school was recognised by British government. This place on the bank of Kali river was Dandeli. The town developed as Industrial town with the establishment of Indian Plywood Mill, Lalbhai Ferro-manganese Factory, West coast Paper Mill with Indian Saw Mill and number of small industries around Dandeli and Karnataka power Corporation engaged in construction of several dams to the Kali river at different places to generate power at different places. The very place was later called as Old-Dandeli.
A local legend states that the city is named after Dandelappa, a local deity, a servant of the Mirashi landlords who lost his life because of his loyalty. An alternative legend states that a king named Dandakanayaka passed through the forests and named them after himself, and the city is believed to stand on the place where Dandakaranya stood when he named the area.
Dandeli is a natural habitat for wildlife, including tigers, leopards, black panthers, elephants, gaur, deer, antelopes, and bears. It is the second largest wildlife sanctuary in Karnataka and was designated as a tiger reserve in 2007. The jungle is also home to a number of varieties of reptiles and almost 300 varieties of birds.
The sanctuary provides rafting opportunities at the Virnoli Rapids connected to the Kali River. Other tourism activities include nature walks, boating, bird watching, crocodile spotting and angling. Nearby tourist spots include Ulavi, Syntheri Rocks, Anashi National Park, and Moulangi.
- River Resorts: Dandeli Resorts have become an attraction for wealthier mobile residents from India and elsewhere. The natural beauty of the area attracts tourists from other parts of India and abroad. It is an adventure sports destination, and a white-water rafting destination in South India. It is one of the few locations where rafting is possible even in peak summer months of March to June.
- Landmarks: Dandeli is surrounded by natural, historic, and religious landmarks: the River Kali, the caves of Kavla, the Syntheri rocks, the Ulavi temple, Sykes point and the Supa hydroelectric dam. Karnataka's power corporation is situated in Ambikanagar (18 km from Dandeli), where electricity is generated through hydro-power. Nagajhari power house is also there.