Peak hidden in a veil of mist

Peak hidden in a veil of mist

The hill attracts trekkers, pilgrims, wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers throughout the year.

It is the highest peak in the Bandipur National Park region. Situated at the confluence of Bandipur, Mudhumalai and Wyanad forests, the area provides a fabulous view of the Mysore plateau and its adjoining hills namely Thriambakadri, Mandhagithi, Nilgiri, Hamsadri and Garudadri.

Records say the hill was known as Govardhanagiri, Kamalachala and Kunchagiri. The temple of Venugopalaswamy was built by Hoysala king Madhava Dananayaka in 1315 AD and the architecture belongs to the Hoysala style.

The black idol of Lord Krishna inside the sanctum sanctorum is appealing. According to the priest of the temple, in the colder months, condensed water drips on the idol and the temple came to be known as Himavad Gopalaswamy hill. It is believed that the idol was consecrated here by sage Agasthya who is said to have collected holy water from 77 ponds.

There are sacred tirthas or streams including Hamsa tirtha, Gadha tirtha, Padma tirtha and Vanamalika tirtha surrounding the hill. In 1931, the then Maharaja of Mysore set up a 90 sq km sanctuary for wildlife conservation. This was expanded to 800 sq km in 1941 and named Venugopala Wildlife Sanctuary.

The deity was worshipped by the royalty and further extended to its present size of 880 sq. km and renamed Bandipur National Park in 1973. The hill served as a quaint hilly retreat for the Wodeyars of Mysore. The area has a mosaic of habitats including scrub, deciduous, evergreen, sholas and grasslands. The rivers Kabini, Moyar, Nugu and Moolehole run through the area.

The hill is home to 120 species of medicinal plants. Even on a casual visit, chances of sighting wildlife are pretty high. For the adventurous, there are a few trekking trails. The one popular route is via Kullana betta and the other is from nearby Gopalapura village.

A written permission from the forest department accompanied by a forest guide is mandatory. However camping on the hill is strictly prohibited as wild animals are believed to roam around the temple in the night. During the month of January, an annual jaathre attracts devotees from far and wide.

Getting  there: The hill is just 70 kms from Mysore and 210 kms from Bangalore. Buses ply from Mysore / Gundlupet to the hill. Take a bus to Bandipur and alight at Hangala village. From here, the hill is 11 kms away and you can hire a private vehicle.

Accommodation: There is a forest rest house on top of the hill. Permission to stay here can be obtained from the Conservator of  Forests, Chamarajanagar in advance.
Carry food and water. There are no restaurants or shops.

Best time to visit: Throughout the year. Winter months November - January are very
cold.                
         

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