Location: Chamarajanagar district
District Headquarter: Chamarajanagar
Distance: 210 km from Bangalore, 90 km from Mysore
Journey time: Around 4 hrs from Bangalore
How to reach there: By KSRTC bus via Mysore or Kollegal to BR Hills, private vehicle or bikes. Please note no bus is available from BR hills to K.Gudi. So private vehicle is preferable.
Route: Bangalore – Mysore road – Maddur – Take left turn after Maddur – Malavalli – Kollegal – yellandur – BR Hills
Where to stay: Government Lodges or private facilities
Where to eat: Sai Darshini
Language spoken: Kannada, Hindi and English understood to an extent
What to See: Hills, lush green forest and wildlife
Biligiriranga Hills or BR Hills is a unique range of hills connecting the Eastern and Western ghat ranges. Thus it allows free movement of animals from Eastern and Western ghat ranges and it features flora and fauna found in both the ranges. The forest there is called Biligiriranga Swamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary or simply BRT Wildlife Sanctuary which protected under the the Wildlife Protection Act, 1973. The sanctuary covers around 539.52 square km and was created on 27/06/1974. The minimum temperature is around 10 – 15 degree and maximum temperature is around 20 – 32 degree. Among wildlife one can see Gaur, Sambar, Chital, spotted Dear, Leopard, Bison, Elephant, sloth bear etc
This area is inhabited by Soliga tribes which were nomadic earlier and supposed to be the original residents.
We rode past Mysore road around 9 pm. But we rode quite fast and reached BR Hills by 1.30 pm. On the way as usual indulged in lots of photography. On the ghat section there is an intersection, if you go straight you will reach K.Gudi and if you take right you will reach BR Hills. We decided to go to K.Gudi which is 20 km from BR Hills. This 20 km stretch within of heavily forested area is wonderful for ride. Roads are narrow but in good shape. However, be careful of the treacherous terrain and curve. On this way if you are lucky you will be able to spot Dears. At K. Gudi you will be greeted by the Jungle Lodge Resort maintained by the government of Karnataka. The cost per person/day at this lodge is Rs 2750 which includes stay, food and jungle safari. The cost was steep and no room available. The bookings has to be done at JLR office at MG road, Bangalore.
That afternoon we could avail the safari so we decided to go back to BR Hills after we found that private lodging facilities are available. At BR Hills we booked a 3 beded room for Rs 900 opposite a government guest house around 6 pm. We did not had lunch till then, so after the booking formalities done we went to have food at Sai Darshini little away from there. This is the only hotel in this area and offers only vegetarian food. Back in the room every body was quite tired so after getting little fresh, everyone went to sleep. Frank was the first to wake up in the middle of the night (around 2 AM) followed by Arvind and me. Then I woke up Deepak saying “shuva ho gayi mamu”. Time went awesome in the dark and tranquility of the hills and we enjoying lighter moments. Meanwhile Hemanth spotted a small scorpion in the room. It was brown in color. We did video of the scorpion until it went inside its burrough.
By morning 6 am we went to Sai Darshini to have coffee and then went to Biligiri Ranganaswamy temple at BR hills. During day time one has to pay a toll pass of Rs 10 to reach there. However, since we went early morning there was no one to collect toll. The temple is top of a hill, probably the highest point in the area. It was a awesome ride through the curvaceous road in the mist. Lord Vishnu is prayed here as Ranganaswamy. From the temple periphery one can get a awesome view of the surrounding forest. During our visit it was covered with cloud most of the time. At the stairs of the temple, we saw a big black Beetle. Frank was the first one to get cosy with it. Then we did a bit of photography with it. Back from the temple we had breakfast (set dosha and Idli) at Sai Darshini. Following this we packed our bags, vacated the room and left for K.Gudi.
I again stress that the 20 km stretch from BR Hills to K.Gudi is awesome for riding but take precaution while riding. Do not give inexperience people to ride here. We reached K.Gudi around 11.30 pm. We were told there by guards that the safari is scheduled at 3 pm. So we went to see the local Soliga tribe settlements. We saw two settlements nestled among the hills and nature. We had the previlage to talk to one elder Soliga man who told now a days they speak just kannada. They just receive government given pension or go to far away lands like Coorg or kerela to labor to earn money. We took pictures of the people in their native custom. But be careful they demand money if you ask them to be photographed. The settlements are located 4 km from K.Gudi on the way to BR Hills. You will have to take a right turn after the safari road.
Back at K.Gudi we waited for the safari. The 1 hour jungle safari cost Rs 130 per person. Meanwhile we sighted big elephants, wild boar and a friendly dear. The spotted dear was just too comfortable around. She played with us, let us touch her and had biscuits from us jumping like a dog. The safari jeep, a Mahindra 4 by 4 was ready by 3.30 pm. In the safari we saw a Leopard on the tree eating a dear, many spotted deers, stags, Gaur, jungle Owl etc. During the second part of the safari it was raining like cats and dogs. We were back at K.Gudi by 5 pm. It was still drizzling but we had no option but to leave for Bangalore. We had to hurry as the forest gate at the Chamarajnagar side would be closed after 6 pm. This stretch of 11 km from K.Gudi to the next forest gate is very scenic as you can see the plains from hills. We also spotted parrot, wild hen and mongoose.
After driving for sometime we took a turn for Yelandur. As Chamrajnagar would be longer as we will have to ride via Nanjangud, Mysore to Bangalore. So via Yelandur we reached Kollegal – Malavalli and given a brief stoppage at Maddur Cafe Coffee day. Reached Bangalore around 12 o’clock. Lastly went to have food at Empire, Shivajinagar. Reached home at around 1.30 am.