Clouds zoom in and around
Mesmerizing the soul
Hills n’ Valleys rise n’ fall
Entrenching the mind
To the Emerald horizon
And the life between
I surrender to you
O’ Divine Gopala!
There is no doubt that anyone who visits this place will fall in love with it instantly. Himavad Gopalaswamy Betta is covered with mist for most parts of the year and hence the first part of the name is “Himavad” meaning mist and the presence of the ascetic ancient temple on top dedicated to “Gopalaswamy/Lord Krishna” forms the second part of the name and the third part is contributed by the fact that it is a hill/Betta, which is 2800 feet above sea level.
This hill is the highest in this region and is part of Bandipur National Park situated in Chamrajanagar District, South Karnataka. This region is under Project Tiger funded by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and is 220 Kms from Bangalore and 75 Kms from Mysore. You can either trek or drive to the top of the hill.
In the early mornings the clouds cling to the top of the hill and by afternoon they move away reluctantly only to return by 4 P.M. If you have ever dreamt of walking into the clouds or touching the cloud, then this is the place to realize your dreams and be literally on cloud 9! The branches of trees are covered with sphagnum moss and many species of Orchids endemic to Western Ghats are embedded in the moss-covered branches.
Picture – Dendrobium Aqueum, Dillenia Pentagyna Roxb
Himavad Gopalaswamy Betta is home to wild animals like Elephants, Gaur, Sloth Bear and the elusive Tiger. On one of our visits we have spotted a herd of 25 Elephants moving in the forests near the foothills. There are places uphill where you get a bird’s eye view of the forests below, so while driving up or down…. stop…get out of the vehicle armed with camera and binoculars and screen the forests below. The Elephants though so far away are visible even to the naked eye. It is fascinating to see the Elephants from above move with their little ones slowly eating their way into the forests. We have also spotted Sambar, Gaur and an abandoned Tiger cave.
These regions were a favorite hunting ground for the Mysore Maharajahs and their British guests. The royals have built a guesthouse on top of the hills and there are some rare pictures of the Maharajahs and their guests with their prized hunt…the tiger.
During one of our visits the Speical Task Force(STF) formed to nab the notorious sandalwood smuggler Veerapan, had set up their camp base here adding to the mystery of the hills. They shared their encounters with wild life during the dark nights, which sent chills up our spines.
Himvad Gopalswamy Temple
This temple took shape in the 14th century and is dedicated to Lord Gopalaswamy/Krishna installed by the rishi/sage Agasthya. The idol is sculpted to perfection and the Lord is standing in a dancing pose with a flute in his hands. Simple yet grand the prabhavali/panel behind the idol has carvings of a tree, the Lord’s friends, his consorts Rukmini and Satyabhama, Cows and Cowherds. Another unique feature here is that throughout the year just above the door leading to the Sanctum Sanctorum cold-water drips constantly. The priest patiently narrates the legends associated with the place and sprinkles this water on the devotees.
Wild Turmeric flowers brush against your feet as you trek behind the temple.
Picture – Wild Turmeric
The view from here is beautiful with strings of hills covered with different shades of green juicy grass and large areas of forests. A sparkling lake called as “Hamsathirtha”/Swan lake amidst the greenery beckons you to explore more. Another distinctive phenomenon of this place is that there is not a single crow around.
I only wish that the visitors enjoy and respect the place, which is a beautiful gift from God and strive towards preservation and conservation rather than littering and creating a ruckus.
Updated on Feb 11th 2015: All this content including the poem I had penned on this place has been copied and posted on http://www.himavadgopalaswamy.org.in/. It is a violation of copyright laws.
Type of Place: Hill and ancient Temple
Situated: Chamarajanagar District
Distance: 220 Km from Bangalore; 80 Km from Mysore; 11 kms from Hangala Vilalge, 21kms from Bandipur Reception area.
Transport: Private Taxis and buses, few government buses ply to the top of the hill
Information: Entry fees for vehicles to be purchased at the bottom of the hill
Timings: 7 A.M to 6 P.M
Staying Options: Forest Guest House at Bandipur, Jungle Lodges, M.C.Resorts, Country Club, Cicada Resort