Apologies for poor quality of snaps as it was clicked using a blackberry mobile. With a family function in mind, we travelled to Mysore. Me, best half and my elder brother in the car drove down to Nice road and paid the toll to mysore road exit. It was a quick 10 mins drive and then on we encountered lot of vehicles and speed breakers on the mysore road, which resulted in a avg speed of 45-50kmph. Reached Mysore just in time for the lunch and rested till evening, next 3 days were spent locally. As we relaxed, thought of a plan to visit Nanjangud Srikanteshwara Temple and seek blessings, this was long pending trip and getting the whole family together was a task in itself. After dinner, With the trip timings fixed for 7.30am departure and covering some 25kms to the destination, i casually made a suggestion if we can travel a bit further on the same road and go to Himavad Gopalswamy Betta (hills). Note : Google this to find more about the place, a must visit for nature lovers. To my surprise, everyone eagerly agreed and the trip was fixed without much fuss. Mom the early riser, wokeup at 4.30am and fresh brew of filter coffee was irresistible and everyone apart from 2 kids and dad were sipping steaming hot Kafi(thats how its pronounced locally). The morning chaos as to who should be the 1st to get ready etc started I and my brother were the last and our cars were loaded with water bottles and some nick nacks. 7.15 am, we started driving to south mysore towards ooty road, hunger pangs made us alter the trip plan and we visited a darshini near chamundipuram.. (Famous GTR is not upto the mark on their Dosas, we had gone there 2 days before the trip and hence ruled it out and Mahesh Prasad is always a problem as they create artificial rush by suspending service on 20-30 percent of their available tables). After sumptuous breakfast of all kinds idlies, dosas,upma,pongal etc headed towards Ooty road passed via Nanjangud and reached Gundlupet and then to Gopalswamy betta entrance arch on the right. Brother in Astar and me in Linea rest of the 6 members of the family were split between our cars. Drive was smooth as roads were good, but between the Arch and the hill top the road condition is not good., but drivable. After some 4-5kms from the main road arch, we were greeted at a forest checkpoint, entry fees were paid and we were allowed a 1.30 hours schedule to come back. Note: Outside temp was around 28-29 degrees. As we tackled pot holes and the snaky roads to reach the hill top figured out lot of Elephants droppings on the road, this added some thrill to see wild Elephants. Accessibility (source wikipedia): It is approximately 220 km from Bangalore and 75 km from Mysore on the Mysore Ooty road -10 km away from Gundlupete, which is 60 km away from Mysore. There is a motorable road all the way to the top of the hill. Entry fee is collected at the forest department check post at foot of the hill. Materials used for pooja (prayers) alone such as flowers, fruits, Incense sticks etc. are permitted. Other food items are not permitted to be carried in. All these materials should be carried in non-plastic bags. Entry fee has been revised w.e.f. February 1, 2011. Entry fee is Cars (Rs 50), Buses (Rs 200), Bikes (Rs 10). You have to report back at the entrance after 1 hour 30 minutes. Visitors are allowed from around 8:30am till 4pm. Overnight stay on top is not allowed. There is a forest department guest house at the top of the picturesque hill, which is not available for public, only public servants on official duty are allowed to use it. Altitude is about 1450 meters and the highest point in the famous Bandipur national park. As we touched the hill top, i gota parking space next the temple compund, and there was not much of a rush apart from some 30 pther people. 1st thing we noticed was the climate was chilling, the temperature difference between the main road arch and hill top was atleast 8-10degrees variation and everyone were thrilled by the natural air condition climate. Spent 1st 10 minutes seeimg the place around and then went to the temple entrance which shows vast hill range surrounding the forest area and we could sight wild elephant herds from long distances. Forest gaurds were on the alert not to allow anyone cross the boundary, but few people ventured and went outside the specified boundary and got a good shouting and warning. The temple is very beautiful, lord krishna with his flute appears majestic and there is always some amount of fog drops on the lord and which the priest uses to bless, by sprinkling it on the devotees. After the ritual, spent 1 hour observing the nature at its best and the far hill tops had plain grass which helped spot the giants. Everyone were sad to get into the car as the hill top and the surroundings were awesome and the experience will last for ever in our memories. Next we drove to Nanjangud, visited the historical Shiva temple and sought blessings and temperature outside was around 34-36 degrees and humid., returned back with lot of cool memories ! I was highly impressed with the beauty of the forest and its been a while since i made any trip to forest and my mind was racing to Bandipur or Kabini reserve, as we were discussing my brother mentioned about BR Hills (biligiri rangana betta or BR Hills). Used the opportunity to quickly find a home stay and found one c,alled Champaka home stay on google, called up the number and got 1950/- per head deal inclusive of all meals and tea+snacks. In the evening but exclusive of safari charges. The plan was shared with rest and as my brother was leaving back to his work place in Maharashtra, and parents were not upto the game due to tiredness and hence i quickly made out my journey map, Mysore to BR hills and then to Bangalore directly via kanakapura. The biggest mistake i made in this trip was not carrying my SLR and was repenting it as i lost 2 good opportunities to capture the nature. Next day, left Mysore at 11.00am, the distance to BR Hills is around 90 odd kms., took T.Narsipura-Santemarnahalli-Yellandur,BR Hills. Road condition was good except for small stretches. Mysore to TNPura, road is single lane, then on the road stretches bit wider and once we reach Yellandur the road again contracts to single lane. After few kms from Yellandur, forest check post greets us, we need to register our details and car number, 20 rupees was asked by the guard for tea, happily gave it. Salary for forest guards as we know is not upto the decent levels, and they do good work of protecting the nature. Not many will opt for such a job i believe. The mile stone indicated 18 kms drive to BR hills from check post. Called up the home stay fellow, he asked me to drive down to Giri Darshini hotel. The drive was pleasant, roads were good and nit much to complain about, greenery every where, after some 16 odd kms reached a place where people settlement appeared, the local tribe called Soligas and Jenu Kurubas are being rehabilitated by one Dr.Sudarshan (google it). Along with it Swami Vivekananda foundation is working tirelessly hand in hand to develop schools and hospital for the localities. Met up with the partner of the home stay, Mr.Satish, he lives in Bangalore and does travel to home stay where there are 8 rooms and 2 cottages in the 6 acres plantation. The plantation consists mainly coffee, pepper and few fruit bearing trees. The rooms were clean and toilet was a delight, accommodation in the room are basic with a fan and led tv along with tata sky and western toilet with a 5 ltr geyser South Indian Lunch was sumptuous with chapatis, veg side /palya, sambar,rasam, curd , kheer/ payasa and pickle +papad. Spoke to the estate manager Seena, he is a localite and has been brought up in BR Hills and has BSc in forestry and aiming to complete the 5 year course as a naturalist, he is equipped with english, tamil and kannada with some hindi to meet and greet various visitors to his forest and Home stay. Seena arranged for evening safari, took us to the K-Gudi reserve, 18kms from home stay. The drive to KGudi is memorable, the roads are drivable and not bad at all. On the way he explained various brids and other species found in the jungle. Spotted 3 Indian Gaurs and few spotted deers and barking deers. 450/- per person safari charges was collected and we were on the 2 batch as we just missed the 1st batch of the safari. Spent the next 1.5hrs roaming around the kgudi forest department area and also Jungle lodges and resorts have thier accommodation in that place. Spotted 2 tamed Elephants, which ipare now part of the world famous Mysore Dasara Jumbo Savari -> (elephant procession, carrying goddess chamundi on golden howdha). As the mating season is on the cards, one of the elephant was behaving bit odd and were cautioned not to approach it. Inside the jungle on the safari, we had no sightings of big cats nor elephants, returned back to hotel with lot of talks on how lucky were some people to have spotted tigers and leopards on the roads and escape Elephants fury etc and some stories of mishaps as well. Dinner was good, met up fellow travelers and exchanged some information. I was told that Kabini is a sure shot better in sightings of big cats... (Next trip destination would be Kabini !!) Seena suggested we start early so that we might get lucky to spot some wild animals on the road leading to Kgudi, idea was accepted, requested to wake us up in the morning, had few drinks and we slept. 5:15 we were woken up and got ready in 15minutes, we were driving towards Kgudi by 5.40am when we hit the road block!! Forest remains closed between 6pm to 6am. However, our naturalist was ready for the task and got the guard to open the chains for us, we were in 3 cars. Paid Rs 50 each car as a thank you gesture! Malabar squirrel and few birds greeted us, no elephants or big cats. Safari trip didn't yield much as well and we had to be content on what we saw in the early morning drive. Had breakfast upon return and got ready to leave to Bangalore. Trip to bangalore was uneventful, roads are damn good via Kollegala, kanakapura, bangalore and less traffic too. We cherished the BR Hills for its beauty and will plan a trip with friends soon !!