“Biligiri Rangaiah, Neene Helaiah
Sri Ranganayakiya Chandulli Chaluvaiah…”
The above is a popular song of the 70’s from the Kannada movie Sharapanjara, which was sung by P.Susheela and the lyrics were written by Kanagal Prabhakar Shastri and the meaning of the song is “O’ Lord of the Biligiri hills, you tell me , you the handsome charmer of Goddess Ranganayaki…..”
Biligiri Rangana Betta or BR Hills is a perfect getaway to experience the wilderness. The name Biligiri means white cliff, Rangana means Lord Ranganatha / Balaji / Venkatesha and Betta means hill.
BR Hills is situated 90 Km from Mysore and 230 Km from Bangalore.
The ancient temple on top of the white cliff situated at 5091 feet above sea level is dedicated to Lord Sri Ranganatha. The idol was installed by sage Vashishtha and it is in a standing posture dressed as a hunter complete with a dagger in the belt. The idol is very appropriate to a place surrounded by forests with wild animals roaming free. You can either drive up to the temple or climb 150 steps to reach the beautiful and quaint temple. The annual car festival is held during the Hindu month of Vaishakha i.e., April – May according to Gregorian calendar.
A walk behind the temple gives a bird’s eye view of the vast forests spread below and shhhh! Listen, sometimes you will hear the roar of a tiger. And yes we did hear it!! The locals explained that the roar is due to the success of the tiger’s hunt. A roar of triumph! It was a treat and though we could not see the tiger, just the thought of it lurking somewhere below tearing its prey apart was thrilling enough.
The Biligiri Ranga Hills wildlife sanctuary is spread over an area of 540 sq. km around the temple and the bio diversity found in this region is unique as this is place where the western and eastern ghats meet. The hills are adjacent to Satyamangalam and Male Mahadeshwara hill ranges. The highest peak is the Kattari Betta, which is 5400 feet above sea level.
A drive into the forest with the Cicadas screaming in the background will reveal the flora, fauna, birds, insects and butterflies of the region. The forest comprises of 800 species of plant life, which includes scrub, dry and moist deciduous, evergreen, sholas and high-altitude grasslands. These surroundings are conducive for wild animals like Wild Dogs / Dholes, Tigers, Panthers, Elephants, Bears, Sambars, Chitals and Gaurs to thrive in the forest. We spotted many elephants, sambar and chital /deer while driving into the forests.
An amazing 278 species of birds have made this their home. We spotted woodpeckers, peacocks, sun birds, jungle wabblers, drongo and many many unidentifiable aviators! You will also be surprised at the different varieties of butterflies fluttering from one wild flower to the other. An unbelievable 116 species of butterflies are in these forests.
It is a suitable place to trek though you might need permission from the forest department to venture deep into the forests. You can visit the place anytime around the year.
For staying the best option is Jungle lodges and it is situated right in the middle of the forest at Kyathadevara Gudi (K.Gudi). They have 11 comfortable tented cottages, a restaurant, and jeep and elephant safaris.
Tribals of B.R.Hills
The Soliga tribes are the aboriginal people of this region and there are around 20,000 of them residing around Yellandur, Kollegal, Chamarajanagar, B.R.Hills, Stayamangalam and Male Mahadeshwara hills. They worship the Dodda Sampige Mara / Big Champaka tree and are also devotees of Lord Ranganatha and Male Mahadeshwara / Lord Shiva. Once in two years they offer a slipper made of leather measuring 1 foot and 9 inches to Lord Ranganatha. It is believed that he wears them in the night and wanders around the forests.
Two NGOs, ATREE and VGKK have bought in a lot of progress for the Soliga tribes. They have also played a very important role in preserving the bio diversity of this region. The NGOs and the forest department have been successful in banning plastic within the sanctuary.
Type of Place: Ancient Temple and Wildlife Sanctuary
Situated: Yelandur taluk of Chamarajanagar district of Karnataka
Distance: 90 Kms from Mysore, 250 Kms from Bangalore via Chamarajanagar, 190 Kms from Bangalore via Kollegal and Yellandur
Transport: Well connected by roads, there are regular buses from Mysore, Bangalore, Chamarajanagar and Yelandur
Facilities: Many small eateries available near the temple, a traveler’s bungalow is available with rest rooms and Jungle lodges
- Chief Conservator of Forests, Project Tiger, Aranya Bhavan, Ashokapuram, Mysore – 570 008. Phone: 0821-2480901
- Deputy Conservator of Forests, Wildlife Division, Chamarajanagar – 571 313.Phone: 08226 – 222059/225165. e-mail: email@example.com
- Range Forest Officer, Wildlife Range, Yellandur. Phone: 08226 – 240019
- Jungle Lodges and Resorts Ltd., B.R.T. Hills Wildlife Adventure Resort, Kyathadevarayana Gudi (K.Gudi), Chamarajnagar District – 571 313. Phone: 08226 – 296086. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Jungle Lodges and Resorts Ltd., 2nd floor, Shrungar Shopping Complex, M.G.Road, Bangalore – 560 001. Phone: 080 – 25597021/24/25, Fax: 91-080-25586163, e-mail: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org, Website: www.junglelodges.com