-by Srinidhi Raghavendra LV
BANGALORE: Are you bored and sick of breathing only automobile fumes and seeing the concrete jungle? Do you want to get up and stare into an unending expanse of greenery and forests? BR Hills, also known as Biligiri Rangana Betta in local tongue, nestled at the edge of the Bandipur Wildlife Sanctuary, is the place for you. BR Hills is a protected forest teeming with wildlife. One can sight deer, peacocks, elephants, bison and a wide variety of birds like warblers, kingfishers etc.
We started off on two motorcycles, I on an Enfield and Kishore and Prakash two up on the Yamaha YBX towards the hills. Our plan was to reach BR Hills and spend the night there. The next day do some trekking in and around, and proceed towards Parsons Valley in the Mukurthi Wildlife Sanctuary near Ooty.
The road till Kanakapura was good and neatly paved but after Kanakapura the road slowly turned from bad to worse and thus considerably slowing our progress. But still the ride was enjoyable because of the scenic beauty on the sides of the road. We passed many small villages and towns before reaching BR Hills.
We reached the base of BR Hills at around 4 pm and before starting ascent of the hills we decided to take a small break at a beautiful lake-cum-reservoir. The lake had crystal clear water and invited us to take a dip and refresh ourselves. The view of the BR Hills from here was truly captivating. Prakash clicked many pictures here. On the way to the top we were lucky to sight a few peacocks and deer which scampered into the thick jungle on either side of the road on seeing us. The one-hr slow drive to the top of BR Hills was simply refreshing, with the vast expanse of greenery and mountains.
At the top of the hills there is a temple of Ranganathaswamy, the main deity of many surrounding villages and a place of worship of the Sri Vaishnavas. The priests are very welcoming to visitors. To reach the temple one has to either follow a recently-constructed steep road, or climb the 150 odd steps, which leave any ordinary person breathless.
We spent the night at BR Hills and proceeded towards Chamarajanagar en-route Parsons valley the next day. The road passed through the thick forest till the base of BR Hills and thereafter after through small villages and towns. The next town we reached was Chamarajanagar where we had lunch and proceeded towards Gundlupet. After Gundlupet we entered Bandipur Wildlife Sanctuary.
There were signs that warned us of elephant and wildlife to be found on roads. We reached Bandipur and after that it was a complete forest stretch till Parsons Valley. There are small villages and towns between Bandipur and Ooty but these towns lose their importance when one is so enamoured by the forest and the beauty of the nature around.
We refuelled our bikes at Gudlur and proceeded towards Parsons valley. This valley lies in the famous Mukurthi Water Buffalo Sanctuary near Ooty. On the way to Parsons Valley one has to pass through Pykara dam, which offers facilities for boating and some water sports. This place has been developed and maintained by the Tamil Nadu Government.
Parsons valley is a haven for trekkers, naturalists and wildlife enthusiasts. During the trekking season there are many trekking teams traversing the beautiful slopes of the valley and the Mukurthi Peak and surrounding areas. The tribals who are now employed by the Tamil Nadu Government and the local tea estates basically occupy this valley and there is also a small school established by the Government to impart education to the tribal children. The Porthimund dam built across the Pykara river is located just 18 km from Parsons Valley. For two days we stayed at Parsons valley, trekking in and around the thick forests.
We said good-bye to our hosts and the forest department staff there. The return journey was almost uneventful and quite fast because we came via Mysore.
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