Friday, August 5, 2011

A tribute to my friend who expressed his desire to visit Mysore !

Gopal swamy betta & Ranganathittu Wildlife Sanctuary

Himavad Gopalaswamy Betta, is a hill (betta in Kannada) located in the Chamarajanagar district of the state of Karnataka, at a height of 1454 m India and is extensively wooded. It is also the highest peak in the Bandipur National Park. It lies in the core area of Bandipur National Park and is frequented by wild life including elephants. Dense fog predominates and covers the hills round the year and thus gets the prefix Himavad and the temple of Venugopalaswamy (Lord Krishna) gives the full name of Himavad Gopalaswamy Betta. The charm of this place lies in the Sunrise amidst fog on the hills and drizzling sky. Feel the chill instantly once you reach the hill top. Play with the clouds and enjoy your moments at the place.

It is approximately 220 km from Bangalore and 75 km from Mysore. There is a motorable road all the way to the top of the hill. Depending on the kind of vehicle, entry fee is collected at the forest department checkpost at foot of the hill. We paid Rs.100 per vehicle. Travellers are allowed from around 7.30 am till 6.00 pm. Overnight stay on top is not allowed and since it is a day trip, no need to carry heavy luggage. We started our Journey from our office located at Whitefield, Bangalore 2.30 AM midnight and reached the hill at 7.00 AM on a Saturday. The gate was opened at 7.30 AM. We were standing at the gate, appreciating God’s creativity. The best time to visit this place would be during winter season, November to February.

There is a forest department guest house at the top of the picturesque hill, which can be reserved in advance through the forest office in Mysore or Bandipur. The guest house provides basic accommodation, food and other essentials should be brought along by travellers. There is no shops or restaurant on the hill. The traveller has to come down the hill for food and other basic requirements. Although there is no necessity to book the guest house as one can spend the entire day on the hills with there loved ones.

We were so much excited with view at the hill, we started immediately capturing all the pictures around us. All of us were tempted to take individual photograps amids mountains & fog that none of us remembered Morning dose of tea & coffee. The photographs were looking as if they were taken in studio with special effects & arrangements at the background for scenic beauty. We started our Journey back to the city by 12.30 PM after the special pooja that held at the temple. On the way, we decided to have our lunch at Mysore, Heritage hotel. Food was little expensive although it was mouth-watering.

Since it was too early to start for Bangalore, one of my friend thought of Ranganathittu Wildlife Sanctuary. Most of them agreed and a few resisted as it was drizzling. Finally we decided that by the time we finish our lunch, if it is still drizzling, we will start for Bangalore or we will stop at the Ranganathittu Wildlife Sanctuary for a while. We were lucky and got the opportunity to visit Bird santuary which is popularly known as Paradise of Birds. Ranganathittu Wildlife Sanctuary gets closed for general public by 4.30 PM. When it rains heavily, the Wildlife Sanctuary is closed down completely for general public untill the rain water is drained out. The water level raises and the reptiles settles on the path way which could threaten human life.

The sanctuary, even though it lacks a sprawling area, is a delightful place to visit. What makes it inviting is that it is an important Asian nesting and breeding ground for migratory birds from all across the earth. Some species of birds that are known to have made Ranganathittu their breeding abode are spoonbills, open bill storks, darters, white Ibis, little cormorants, egret, heron, partridge, river tern, stone plougher, snake bird, and other exotic bird species that fly to the sanctuary in large flocks. Park officials and experts have traced the origins of some of these bird species to as far as Siberia, Australia and even North America. A record number of 1,400 painted storks visited the area in 1999. 2000. Local inhabitants like kingfishers and peacocks are also found in this avian bliss.

Migratory birds lay their eggs on islets in the river. The authorities have created additional islets at the sanctuary to make way for more number of birds to lay eggs and breed. The birds begin arriving in the sanctuary in December every year. The migratory birds lay eggs and breed until they finally move out of the sanctuary with their little ones in August, only to return yet again the following year.Boats are available at the sanctuary to take the tourists for a ride along the river and the islets, where they can witness trees full of beautiful birds of myriad varieties. Most of the oarsmen are also excellent guides and can provide tourists the exact location as to where the birds may be spotted. The Kaveri riverbank also offers excellent spots for picnics. The best time to visit this place is in between January to June.

Boats are available at the sanctuary to take the tourists for a ride along the river and the islets, where they can witness trees full of beautiful birds of myriad varieties. Most of the oarsmen are also excellent guides and can provide tourists the exact location as to where the birds may be spotted.

There is no feeding of food by Ranganathittu Wildlife Sanctuary authorities. The birds & crocodile eats fishes. There is a natural food chain represented by reptiles and wild-life. Rowing boats are used by the boatman and the authorities have ensured no machineries are used as the noise of it can cause disturbance to the birds & reptiles. We paid Rs.25 per had for the boating charges and Rs.50 for still camera. We started back to Bangalore at 4.00 PM and reached in the city by 6.30 PM. There are atleast 15 islands at this Sanctuary. On the way, we stopped at Modur for coffee & tea.

Some advices to traveller friends now. Do not forget to carry your Jacket and ensure that you have a pair of extra socks as the hill is wet early morning & late evening. An advice to all the Travellers who aspire to trek, do not wear short pants as the grass can leave scraches & scars on your legs. One of my friend had similar experience and she had to use cold creams for a fort-night. Both Himavad & Ranganathittu Wildlife Sanctuary are plastic free zone. So leave all your belongings in your vehicles.

A personal request to all my traveller friends, do not carry drinks on top of the hill as the empty glass bottles broken can hurt wild life. Do not throw garbage and left over food. These can be disposed on way to the city down the hills.

My source of information is from the below website.