The government sure has ways of cutting out excess from our lives. Be it excess money or excess happiness. Why else would the forest dept. issue tickets to the beautiful temple hill of Himavad Gopalaswamy betta with a time limit of a meagre 90 mins!!
A 30 min steep climb from the entry post on a rough road takes us to the foot of a short flight of stairs that lead to the temple. I did notice a new car (probably a corolla) and a loaded KSRTC bus struggling their way up the curves and in the former case due to the inexperience of the driver. With a road as narrow as that and with almost no asphalt left on the road, most vehicles were struggling to negotiate their way on meeting a vehicle from the opposite direction.
At the top, there is ample parking space for 30-40 vehicles. You would come across vendors selling wares for the temple, cut fruits and this and that. A short stroll from this busy area will take you to the pristine woods with breath-taking views of the surrounding hills covered with green on all sides.
Climbing the stairs, you reach a platform consisting of the beautiful temple of Lord Himavad Gopalswamy and the ultimate open corridor with the best views. As the chill in the air greets you when you reach the top, at a distance there is a cloud passing through a hill, a stream of sun rays escaping the clouds to lighten up small areas below, a group of devotees straining their eyes to spot a herd of elephants on the neighbouring hill and all this with the temple bells ringing in the background.
Being just an hour away from Mysore, this place is popular among the Mysoreans for a quick bike ride or for family picnics. So, quite often, you will come across couples newly-wed or yet-to-wed imagining a duet while evading the eyes of the forest officials on watch. Gopalswamy betta is also just 30 min drive away from Bandipur on Mysore-Ooty road. Located strategically on the tourist path, the temple attracts travellers wanting to tick off another visit on the agenda for the day. So, there would be people from across the state borders making a quick visit to the temple while on their way to a larger destination. It’s common even among Bangaloreans to plan a day’s outing to these mesmerising hills.
The hill, strictly a plastic-free zone, is open to visitors only during the day time under the vigil of the forest department. The hill is located in the territory of the Bandipur forest reserve and is often visited by wild cats. Sighting wild elephants is an everyday affair.
|A herd of elephants spotted at a distance|
All said, the basic amenities are still missing. No food and no toilets. So plan your trip well not to miss on any of these. It can also happen that in the available time of 90 mins (which includes the ascent and descent of the hill totalling to about 45 mins) the darshana of the Lord is temporarily not possible for 30-45 minutes (like it happened to me) due to alankaara or naivedya or some other seva. I made the most of the available time in soaking in the beauty of the place, keeping the sight of the Lord pending for a better day!
All in all, a heavenly” real-estate with a view” occupied by the one-and-only Lord Gopalswamy!!
How to get there, history of the place: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Himavad_Gopalaswamy_Betta