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Sri Himavad Gopalaswamy Temple, Himavad Gopalaswamy Hill

This temple was built by the King Chola Ballala during AD 1315. Later the Wodeyars of Mysore who were ardent devotees of Lord Venugopala displayed keen interest in maintaining the hill temple. The plain tracts on the hills are covered with lush grass, and is home to elephants, deer and rabbit, while the slopes are covered with thick forests, home to tigers and leopards. The hills are also home to some rich bird life including peacocks, parrots, forest hens and pelicans. The forest is covered with rosewood, teakwood and other such valuable wood. It lies in the core area of the Bandipur National Park and is frequented by wildlife including elephants. Being a part of the Bandipur wildilife sanctuary, the hills are frequented by grazing wild elephants. The place is also known for its picturesque views of the surrounding hills and valleys. One can also get a view of the spectacular sunrise and sunset from a top.

The temple is dedicated to Gopalaswamy, which is one of the names of the Hindu God Krishna. The gopuram of the temple is single-tiered and rests on the compound wall of the enclosure. A dhwajastambha (flag-pillar) and a bali-peetam (sacrificial altar) is present in the mukha mantapa (inner-porch). The parapet wall of the façade of the mukha mantapa contains the sculpture of dashavatara (the avatars of the Hindu God Vishnu) with the centre portion of the sculpture
depicting Krishnavatara (the avatar of Vishnu in which he appeared as Krishna). There is a shikhara tower over the garbha griha (sanctum sanctorum).

Sri GopalaSwamy - Himavad Hill

The garbha griha contains an idol of Krishna holding a flute under a tree. Krishna is flanked by his friends and the posture is that of a dance with the left big toe resting on the right one. The panel also features several characters and icons from Krishna’s avatar. Lord Gopalaswamy’s idol is flanked by his consorts, Rukmini and Satyabhama. Cows and cowherds are featured towards the right side of the panel.

A lake is situated near the temple and is popularly called Hamsatirtha. The swan acquires a mythical significance, symbolising knowledge, tranquillity and salvation. Legend says that sage Agastya, performed intense penance and as a result lord Vishnu blessed this place and promised to reside here. As this was a place of worship and penance, it used to be called as ‘Hamsatheertha’, which means the lake of swans in Sanskrit.

Being a part of the Bandipur wildlife sanctuary, the hills are frequented by grazing wild elephants. The place is also known for its picturesque views of the surrounding hills, valleys and visitors may also see the spectacular sunrise and sunset from the top.

There are around 77 punya theerthams in and around the hill-temple. Legend says there was once a crow that took bath in one of the theerthams and turned into a Swan! From then on, the theertham was known to be ‘Hamsa Theertha’! WE DON’T SEE A SINGLE CROW in the kshetra even today!

A very special thing to notice is that during the Brahma rathothsava usually the chariot is tied with big tough ropes to pull. But, in this temple ONLY CREEPERS are used to pull the chariot!

How to reach there?

Himavad Gopalaswamy Hill is situated approximately 220 km from Bangalore and 75 km from Mysore on the Mysore Ooty road. Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) buses ply from Mysore, Gundlupet to Hangala. The hill station is located 16 km southwest of Gundulpet. There are two routes leading to the spot. They are Gopalapura – Kumagahalli and Gundi – Vijayapura – Hangala.

Start from Gundlupet, continue in the same Ooty-Mysore road towards Bandipur. Nearly 8 Kms after Gundlupet, a place called Hangala is available. Here, you will find an arch at right side of the main road saying “Way to Gopalaswamy Hills”. Just you have to take right turn at this place to proceed towards Gopalaswamy betta. This is a motor able road all the way to the top of the hill. Just before starting of the hill, there is a check post. Entry fee is collected at the forest depeartment check-post at foot of the hill. Visitors are allowed only from around 8:30 AM till 4:00 PM.

Key Things to Remember:

– Liquor and smoking is strictly prohibited.
– This area is covered under the Project Tiger for Bandipur wildlife sanctuary and is a no plastic zone.
– Elephants are very commonly seen in the hill area; sometime on the roads too..! So beware of Elephants.
– Overnight stay on top is not allowed due to wild animals attacks.
– Trekking and videography in the surrounding hills are allowed only with prior permission and to be accompanied by the forest department guides.
– No food is available at the hill.

Highlights::

Type of Place: Hill and ancient Temple
Situated: Chamarajanagar District, karnataka. INDIA.
Distance: 220 Km from Bangalore; 75 Km from Mysore; 10 kms from Hangala Village, 21kms from Bandipur Reception area.
Transport: Private Taxis and buses, few government buses ply to the top of the hill
Information: Entry fees for vehicles to be purchased at the bottom of the hill
Timings: 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM
Staying Options: Forest Guest House at Bandipur, Jungle Lodges, M.C.Resorts, Country Club, Cicada Resort
Food Facility: Not available at the top of the hill

Staying on hill on prior permissions & booking:

There is a forest department guest house at the top of the picturesque hill, where accomodation is available at Forest guest house if booked in advance. you can reserve this in advance through the forest office in Mysore or Bandipur. But the guest house provides only basic accommodation. Food and other essentials should be brought along by visitors. Please remember, no food is available at the hill.

Tourists are advised to stay at Gundlupet or cottages in Bandipur which are very nearby.

Courtesy: Sri Srikant Swami

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