Weather :

Time Required : 3-4 hrs

Entry Fee : Cars: INR 50,
Bike: INR 25

Timings : 8:30 AM - 4:00 PM

Gopalaswamy Betta, Bandipur National Park Overview

The Himavad Gopalaswamy Betta is a majestic and lofty hill lying in the core area of the Bandipur National Park. Located in the Chamarajanagar district of the state of Karnataka, at the height of 1,450 metres above the sea level; the name of the hills gets the prefix Himavad since the mountain is surrounded by mist all year round. Himavad in the native language of Kannada means fog, while Betta in the same language means mountain. This hill is home to an extensively wooded forest and is also the highest peak in the national park where it is located. The hill is located in the core area of the Bandipur National Park and is frequented by wildlife, especially elephants.

The attraction is especially famous for its elephant safari rides, and tourists who visit the area make it a point to indulge in this great experience. Another popular tourist destination here is the Gopalaswamy Temple located on the hill. This temple is dedicated to Lord Venugopala Swamy, who is considered to be one of the incarnations of the Hindu God Krishna. The hill thus is deemed to be a place of worship and penance and holds great religious and historical importance other than being an important sightseeing spot. Gopalaswamy Betta is also known for its picturesque views of the surrounding hills. Visitors are particularly fond of the spectacular views of the sunrises and sunsets from the top of the hill.

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History of Gopalaswamy Betta

According to famous legends, the sage Agastya performed intense penance at this place; and consequently, Lord Vishnu blessed this spot and promised to reside here. Since this was a place of worship and penance, it was known by the name of 'Hamsatheertha', which means the 'lake of swans' in the Sanskrit language. The name of this place is associated with that of swans since swans have a mythological significance in Hinduism and are symbolic of knowledge, salvation and tranquillity.

The temple located on the hill was built by the Chola King Ballala during AD 1315. Later the Wodeyars of Mysore, who were enthusiastic devotees of Lord Venugopala, displayed a keen interest in maintaining this hill temple.

Elephant Safaris at Gopalaswamy Betta

The Gopalaswamy Betta is especially known for attracting scores of elephants throughout the year. Hence, an elephant safari is offered at the place under the administrative regulations which still allows the visitors to experience the serene beauty of the hill. This fantastic experience ensures that the tourists enjoy the scenic views of the mountains as well as get a look at the wildlife that thrives here.

The Gopalaswamy Betta is home to a variety of wild animals like tiger, leopards, wild dogs and other species such as the Indian Gaur, Chital, Sambar, etc. Places on top of the hill also offer a bird's eye view of the forest below, and it is indeed a treat from the eye to watch the elephants move along with their young ones and wander throughout the forest. So, do not forget to carry along a good camera and binoculars to click amazing pictures and screen the woods respectively.

Gopalaswamy Temple at Gopalaswamy Betta

The Gopalaswamy Temple is also located on the same hill and is a famous temple that is built in dedication to Lord Venugopala Swamy, one of the incarnations of Lord Krishna. The temple is built in the traditional style of the Chola dynasty. The single-tiered 'gopuram' of the temple is supported by the compound wall of the enclosure. The inner porch, or the Mukha mandapa, houses the sacrificial altar (Bali-peetam) and the flag-pillar (dhwajastambha). The facade of the Mukha mandapa has a beautiful sculpture that depicts the 'dashavatara', the ten avatars of the Hindu Lord Vishnu, along with the Krishnavatara.

The temple houses numerous portraits, along with a garbha griha, which consists of a panel with an idol of Lord Krishna. In this icon, Lord Krishna can be seen holding a flute and performing raasleela under a tree. The same panel also displays some scenes of milk sellers and cows.

Tips For Visiting Gopalaswamy Betta

1. To maintain the peaceful habitat for the residing animals, venturing beyond the temple premises has been declared an offence as per the Wildlife Act of 1972. Under the same, trekking, picnicking, partying, etc. are also considered to be punishable offences.
2. Overnight stay at the hilltop is not permitted.
3. No food items are allowed to be carried to the temple. You can only take pooja items such as flowers, fruits and incense sticks and that too in non-plastic bags.
4. You can enjoy tea and a light snack at the shops that are located nearby, so do not worry about carrying food along.

How To Reach Gopalaswamy Betta

KSRTC runs various state buses to Bandipur, hence if one has to travel by road, one can take prepaid taxis or state buses to reach the hill. This place is also connected to the highway which will lead you directly to the park. Coimbatore (167km), Bangalore (235km), Mangalore (310km) and Kochi (326km) are the nearest cities connected by road.

Since private vehicles are not allowed up the hill, the government has made arrangements for KSRTC buses to take passengers from the bottom of the mountain to the hilltop.
Private vehicles need to be parked below the hill entrance, and there is no parking fee for the same. The ticket fare for the government bus for one way is INR 20 per person.

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