The Himavad Gopalaswamy Betta is a great hill located in the heart of Bandipur National Park. It is situated at an altitude of 1450 meters from the sea level, in the Chamarajanagar district of Karnataka. Due to the fact that this hill remains covered by mist throughout the year, the name of the hill is called so(Himavad=Bounded by mist). In Kannada language, Betta means mountain, so it’s a mountain bounded by mist. It is one of the deep and well-spread forests, which is also popular for being the highest peak in the region. Due to being tucked in the core of the National Park, it is the grazing ground of many a wildlife, especially the wild elephants that can be seen in groups.
This is one of the famous tourist attractions for many recreational activities, among which elephant safari is the popular one which is quite thrilling for those who haven’t experienced the view of the forest from an elephant’s back. There is a famous temple located on a hill and is called Gopalaswamy Temple. That’s why this place is also called as the Himavad Gopalaswamy Betta. Lord Venugopala Swamy, who is considered as one of the avatars of Lord Krishna is revered in this temple. So, other than enjoying the wildlife and spending time in the lap of nature, this place also has a great importance in terms of religious significance. The picturesque and captivating natural surroundings is what is it well known for. If you are here, then you must not miss the sunrise and sunset from the top of the hill which is truly amazing in every sense.
More on Gopalaswamy Betta
History of Gopalaswamy Betta
Talking about the historical significance of this place, the great sage Agastya Muni performed intense meditation (Tapasya) to please Lord Vishnu. Pleased by the deep devotion of sage Agastya, Lord Vishnu promised him to reside here so that his devotees can worship him and seek his blessing. This place is also called as Hamsatheertha (Lake of swans) due to the fact that Swans have an important place in Hindu mythology. They are considered to be the symbol of salvation, knowledge and tranquillity. You might have noticed goddess Saraswati sitting on a swan who served her as a Vahana. So, this place is no less than heaven both in reality or from a mythological point of view.
The temple was built on the hilltop during 1315 AD by the Chola King Ballala. Later, this temple came under Wodeyars of Mysore who consider themselves as ardent devotees of Lord Venugopala, and it is maintained by them.
Elephant Safaris at Gopalaswamy Betta
This place is the abode to elephants who came and inhabited the forest. That’s the reason this place is quite famous for elephant safari. This comes under the administrative authority who is also responsible for allowing people to have a look around the exquisite beauty of the hill. The experience of sitting on the back of an elephant and enjoying the surroundings is an unforgettable memory for many tourists.
The Gopalaswamy Betta houses wildlife which includes leopard, wild dogs, tigers, Indian Gaur, Sambar, Chital and many more. The bird’s eye view from the tip of the hill will give you goosebumps. You can watch the elephants with groups ranging from small to big roaming and grazing in the forest from the top. So, keep your camera ready to get as many clicks as you want.
Gopalaswamy Temple at Gopalaswamy Betta
The Gopalaswamy Temple is also situated in the same Himavad hill. As mentioned above, Lord Venugopala Swamy is worshipped in this temple. The architecture of the temple is based on Chola style, which can be seen in many other temples built by Chola rulers. The temple has a single tired “gopuram” which is supported by a wall around it. The inner portico which is called the Mukha Mandapa has an altar called “Bali-peetam” and a pillar hoisting the flag called “Dhwajastambha”. In Mukha Mandapa, you can witness the ten avatars(Dashavatara’) of Lord Vishnu that has been mentioned in Hindu mythology.
You can see many pictures being portrayed on the wall, Garbha Griha with a panel of Hindu deity Lord Krishna. This is the scene where Lord Krishna performs Raslila under the tree.
Tips For Visiting Gopalaswamy Betta
1- As per the Wildlife Act of 1972, it is not permissible to go beyond the temple premises so that the wild animals do not get disturbed. You can’t go for trekking, partying or for a picnic in this prohibited area.
2- You are not allowed to spend the night at the top of the hill.
3- You can’t take any homemade or any kind of food to the temple except the Puja saamgri.
4- You can have tea or snack at the nearby shops if you so feel.
How to Reach Gopalaswamy Betta
KSRTC bus service is available to the Bandipur. Once you get there, you can take the local bus or taxi to reach the hill. The nearest cities from where you can easily get to this place are Bengaluru (235 km), Mangalore (310 km) and Coimbatore (167 km).
However, you can’t take your private vehicle to the top of the hill; the government provides KSRTC bus service to go and come back from the hilltop at a price of Rs.40 (both ways). You can park your vehicle in the parking area of the hill entrance.