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? B.R. Hills, also known as Biligiri Rangana Betta nestles at the edge of the Bandipur Wildlife Sanctuary. It is a protected forest teeming with wildlife: deer, peacocks, elephants, bison and a wide variety of birds like warblers and king fishers.
From Bangalore, we started off towards the BR Hills on 1st May on two motorcycles - an Enfield and a Yamaha YBX Our plan was to spend the night at BR Hills and trek in and around BR Hills and K. Gudi and proceed towards Parsons Valley in the Mukurthi Wildlife Sanctuary near Ooty. The road till Kanakapura was good and neatly paved. After Kanakapura, the road slowly turned from bad to worse and slowed us considerably. The ride was enjoyable because of the scenic beauty. We passed many small villages and towns and almost everywhere the folk eyed us with surprise and pleasure because few motorcycles are seen on this road. Due to the bad quality of this road most bikers and travelers prefer the Bangalore - Mysore -BR Hills Road, so only buses ply on these roads.
We reached the base of BR hills at around 4 pm and before starting the ascent, we decided to take a small break at a beautiful lake cum reservoir. The lake had crystal clear water and we took a dip to refresh ourselves. The view from here was truly captivating. Reluctantly we moved towards our destination, promising ourselves that we would return and camp here for one more day. On the way to the top we sighted a few peacocks and deer which scampered into the thick jungle on either side of the road on seeing us. The 1 hour drive to the top of BR Hills was refreshing with the vast expanse of greenery and mountains.
At the top of the hills there is the temple of Ranganatha Swamy, the main deity of many surrounding villages and a place of worship of the Sri Vaishnavas. The temple is a historical structure built some 200 years ago. The stone ramparts of the temple have carvings and scriptures etched on them. The main temple is also beautiful and still retains an old world charm. The priests are very welcoming and are only too happy to explain the history of the temple. To reach the temple one has to either follow a recently made steep road, or climb the 150 odd steps, which leave one breathless. When you reach the top you are rewarded by the magnificent temple and the view of the entire range of BR hills and K Gudi forests from behind the temple.
We spent the night here and proceeded towards Chamarajangar en-route Parsons Valley the next day. The road was through thick forests till the base of the hills, after which it traversed through small villages and towns. The next town we reached was Chamarajanagar where we had lunch and proceeded towards Gundlupet. After Gundlupet we entered the Bandipur Wildlife sanctuary area. There were signs that warned us of elephants and other wildlife. We reached Bandipur, after which we passed through a stretch of forests till Parsons Valley. There are small villages and towns between Bandipur and Ooty, but one hardly notices them, enamored by the forest and the beauty of nature.
We refueled 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 well by the Tamil Nadu Govt.The 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. This valley is basically occupied by tribals who are now employed by the TN Govt. and the local tea estates. The Porthimund Dam built across the Pykara River is located just 18 kms from Parsons Valley with a motorable road till the Dam. The weather at the Parsons valley is very pleasant and soothing and compared to Bangalore with temperature of 34 C, it was like being in paradise. We didn't feel like returning to our mundane routine life. The return journey was pretty fast till Gudlur, as the road is downhill and there was not much traffic. It was painful for us to leave Mother Nature and come back to the city where there is nothing but the polluted air to breathe and the concrete jungle to see. We left promising ourselves that this was not our last visit and that our visits to places of natural beauty would be more frequent.