Himavad Gopalaswamy Betta, (betta means Hill in english) is a Beautiful Hill Station with a Pilgrimage Place among the Hindus, located in the Chamarajanagar district of Karnataka State. The Hill is at a altitude of 1454 m from Sea Level and is extensively wooded. It is also the highest peak in the Bandipur National Park Zone. It lies in the core area of the Bandipur Tiger Reservedd National Park and is frequented by wild life including Tigers, Deers and elephants. Dense fog predominates and covers the hills round the year and thus gets the prefix Himavad(in the native language of Kannada) and the temple of Venugopalaswamy (Lord Krishna) gives the full name of Himavad Gopalaswamy Betta.
The hill is home to wild animals like Elephants, Gaur, Sloth Bear and the elusive Tiger. There are places uphill where you get a birds eye view of the forests below, so while driving up or down. The area is also frequented by herds of wild elephants. Some Times, the elephants are visible even to the naked eye. It is fascinating to see the Elephants from above move with their little ones slowly eating their way into the forests. We have also spotted Sambar, Gaur and an abandoned Tiger cave.
These hills are covered with grass and classified as shola forests. The forest is also a treasure trove of a variety of birds, animals and plant species. The sobriquet Himavad (fog / mist in Kannada) is because most of the year, there is a veil of mist covering the whole area, and winds blowing through the trees are like a song in praise of the lord. These regions were a favorite hunting ground for the Mysore Maharajahs and their British guests. The royals have built a guest house on top of the hills and there are some rare pictures of the Maharajahs and their guests with their prized hunt the tiger. Now, guest house remains locked.
A lake is situated near the temple and is popularly called Hamsatirtha. The swan acquires a mythical significance, symbolising knowledge, tranquillity and salvation. Legend says that sage Agastya, performed intense penance and as a result lord Vishnu blessed this place and promised to reside here. As this was a place of worship and penance, it used to be called as ‘Hamsatheertha’, which means the lake of swans in Sanskrit. There is another Myth associated with this place. There is no single crow found in the area. Believed that, if a crow dips into Hamsatheertha, it becomes swan and will fly away.