He is one of the most well-recognised Gods in
. He is revered equally by the Vaishnavas and Srivaishnavas. But here, he is also the patron deity of the tribals and the God here is in hunting gear. India
The deity is also presented a pair is slippers so that he can go around the area as has been his usual routine for centuries. The slippers are replaced once in two years and it is a wonder that the slippers look worn out and much walked.
The slippers are replaces by the tribals who are commanded to do so by the deity in their dreams. Though the slippers may appear to be outsized, the tribals insists that they fit the wandering deity’s feet to the “T”.
The size of the slippers. One foot and nine inches and it is handcrafted out of leather. The deity is in a standing position and he is surrounded by deity of Ranganayaki, his consort.
The temple is located more than 5,000 feet above sea level and it is in the midst of thick forests that are home to elephants, tigers, wolves, bear, wild dogs or Dholes and other wildlife.
The elephants that roam about here frequently get irritated by white coloured milestones and signs. They pull these ,milestones in a rage and throw them away, forcing the PWD and the local authorities to paint them a garish yellow and green. The elephants seems not to mind this weird combination.
Till a few years ago, there were also sign boards warning tourists about the forest bandit Veerappan. Yes, the forests were once home to this notorious poacher and forest bandit who was shot dead in an encounter on October 18, 2004.
Though Veerappan is dead and gone, the forests around the temple are still dangerous. Elephants are temperamental and when they charge, you can literally fell the earth trembling.
Coming back to the temple, you can either climb 50 steps to reach it or take a winding road to the top. Both are spectacular and offer a breathtaking view of the surrounding forests.
The hills are white in colour and in Kannada they are called white mountain or Biligiri Ranga Hills (BR Hills). The name Ranga stands for the Ranganatha shrine atop the BR Hills.
The annual car festival is held during the Hindu month of Vaishakha,April- May
Walk behind the temple to see the vast extent of the forests below. Sometimes you will hear the roar of a tiger from below.
A few decades ago, BR Hills was an isolated spot with very few tourists and pilgrims venturing into the forests. Today, good roads, connectivity, resorts and hotels have sprung up at BR Hills and it has become one of the most popular destinations in the State.
The temple, which stands at the highest point of the BR Hills ranges, is surrounded by the Biligriri Ranga wildlife sanctuary and its stretches to a long distance from BR Hills to MMS hills, which once was the undisputed
. territory of Veerappan
Today, the forests are the habitat of several animals, birds and reptiles. The forest ranges stretches from north to south for about 16 km. The shoal rainforest is a treat to visit.
The Soliga tribesmen inhabit the areas surrounding the temple. They are the oldest inhabitants of the forests.
Apart from the temple and the reserve forest, enjoy the Dodda Sampige Mara or Champak tree. This is a 2,000 year old giant tree that still flowers in season.
The tree is worshipped as Shiva by the Soliga tribals. They believe it is also the abode of Lord Rangaswamy. They say that other deities also reside here and some of them are represented by over 101 stone lingas.
The BRT Wildlife Sanctuary is spread over 525 sq km of undulating hills. It is open throughout the year, but the best time to sight wildlife is between June and October.
Apart from wild dog or Dhole, sloth bear, wild boar, bison, leopard, elephant and tiger can be spotted. The hills are host to 270 species of birds, of which 210 are migrant species, including the exotic Paradise Flycatcher, Racket-tailed Drongo and the Crested Hawk Eagle.
Jungle Lodges and Resorts have a resort here. For trips within the park one can either trek on foot or opt for jeep safaris or elephant rides. If you are staying at the Jungle Lodges resort, everything is taken care of. If you are not, take permission from the Forest Department at Chamarajnagar.
The Cauvery here is ideal for angling, fishing, coracle boat rides and river rafting. If you enjoy trekking, there is no better place tan BR Hills. Apart from BR Hills, other trekking trails include Malligabare Betta, Hiddinabetta, Doddabetta and Mulkibetta. The Soliga and Jenu Kuruba tribesmen are good guides.
You can visit the Soliga settlement close to the K. Gudi camp of Jungle Lodges and its manager can arrange a visit through Dr Sudarshan, the social worker, who is doing yeomen work.
Jungle Lodges arrange trekking, rover rafting, jungle safaris, nature walks, elephant rides and coracle trips.
BR Hills is 235 km South from
Bangalore and 86 kms from . The road from Mysore is via National Highway No 209 through Kanakapura, Kollegal and Chamarajnagar. The journey from Bangalore will take a little over five hours. The nearest railway station is Mysore Junction. The nearest busstop is Kyathadevara Gudi (K.Gudi). Bangalore
If you are in
Bangalore, contact Jungle Lodges and Resorts Ltd:
II Floor, Shrungar Shopping Centre, M.G.Road,
, 560 001. Tel: 92-80-5597021, 5597024, 5597025, Fax: 91-080-5586163. Bangalore
II Floor, Shrungar Shopping Centre, M.G.Road,