Himavad Gopalaswamy Betta, at about 1450 m, is the highest hill located within the Bandipur National Park, and filled with fog through the year. It gets its name from the fog (Himavad in Kannada) and the Gopalaswamy temple that is located on the top of the hill (Betta in Kannada).
Those visiting the national park to see the wildlife usually make the trip up the hill, to see the temple. If one stays at Jungle Lodges & Resorts (JLR) for a two-day package, a trip to the temple is included and you will be taken in the government safari Bolero or bus. If you prefer to go in your own vehicle, you will be allowed till the foothills after which you will be put onto a government bus to take you to the top.
It is a nice drive up the hill, and if you are lucky, you may see elephants or other animals of the forest. Along the way, there are points from which one can get lovely views of the area around the forest.
While driving through the forest, we spend a lot of time in seeing just trees and grass and mud and water. The bouncy ride can rock you to sleep, especially if you haven’t had a good night’s rest. Sometimes one can only hear the whirring of the Bolero engine, and when it goes off there is just silence. Seeing and hearing no “active” life is also soothing. It’s the feel of the wild.
Apart from the carnivorous tigers and leopards, and the hundreds of elephants, Bandipur has many other animals that are necessary for survival of the forest ecosystem, and its quite exciting to see them in their natural habitat.
“Any sighting today?” is a common question after a jungle safari. By “sighting” one usually means the tiger. In our desire to spot the tiger in Bandipur, we often overlook the amazing smaller creatures.
The vast Jungle Lodges & Resorts (JLR) campus itself is home to many birds. On our arrival, we could hear the distinct chirp of the sunbirds as they hopped all over the banyan tree at the entrance.
Bandipur Forest has been a family favourite ever since my children were little. We usually drove to Bandipur from Bangalore, pausing at Mysore for a break on the way. The last couple of times though, we took the train to Mysore, and then road (either bus or taxi) to Jungle Lodges and Resorts (JLR) at Bandipur, where we always stay. From Mysore, the bus service to Ooty is very convenient with the bus halting, on request, right at the gate of JLR.
This new year, we were fortunate to be able to go for a couple of days during the week just before Sankranti (12th-14th Jan 2023), and off the peak holiday season, when there are fewer visitors to JLR and Bandipur Tiger Reserve / National Park.
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