Himavad is a hilltop with a temple. It is also supposed to be very cold (compared to the rest of the region) – people have seen icicles in the temple.
The hilltop is located inside the Bandipur forest area. Is is around 80-84 km from Mysore, and around 17 km from Gundlupete, off the Mysore – Ooty highway.
We (Swapna and I) drove from Mysore to Nanjangud and from there we continued towards Gundlupete. Just before we entered Gundlupete, we took a break at a Cafe Coffee Day (they have clean toilets :-)). From Gundlupet we continued towards Bandipur sanctuary. Around 5-6 km from Gundlupete, we turned right under an arch at a village (there was also a signboard with “Himavad Gopalaswamy Betta” written on it).
Within a km of getting off the highway, we hit vast open spaces (see the first photo on the left). In front of us were the hills on which Himavad is located, on the left was the Bandipur sanctuary. On the right were open farmlands without any buildings. The border of the Bandipur area was fenced (it looked like an electrified fence, so don’t go too near it).
After driving some more distance (3 km) , we came to the foot of the hills and a gated check-post manned by the Forest Department. We paid Rs 50/= as an entry fee for the car (there is no entry fee for people or cameras, only for vehicles). We were told to be back in 1.5 hours at the gate – the entry ticket was valid for 1.5 hours only.
The car was checked – we are not supposed to carry food (other than fruits for pooja / offering at the temple) to prevent littering and converting the place into a picnic spot. I guess there were other prohibited items like arms too, but the security chap was very specific about food. I am not sure as to what they would have done if we were carrying prohibited food (destroyed it? confiscated it? kept it in safe custody till we returned? refused us entry?). Anyway it is safer not to carry any food.
After passing the gate, the terrain became hilly and after some more distance we encountered hairpin bends. The distance from the gate to the hilltop temple is around 8 km, but driving up took us around 20 mins – with two breaks to soak in the scenery and click a few photos. We did not encounter too much traffic, but the road is narrow and we had to stop at 4-5 places to give way to larger vehicles negotiating hairpin bends.
Once we crossed the gate, we were in a wildlife sanctuary that is home to wild Elephants, Gaur, and Sloth Bear; without any protection like fencing or forest guards.
We did not see any of these animals, but did see huge mounds of dung (presumably deposited by wild elephants) on the road up to the hilltop. I don’t know whether the wild animals frequent this part of the sanctuary during the day (maybe they come to check out the place at night. (A stray thought: What if an angry elephant attacks a vehicle and decides that it is better to kick it off the hill? :-)).
We reached the hilltop in around 20 minutes of safe driving and 2 stops for photos.
At the hill-top there is an old temple, a temple pond, a small building in ruins and another newer building that is blocked off by a gate (I believe it belongs to the forest department and is used by government officials).
Unlike typical temple places in India, there are no shops, no food for sale, no pooja material being sold (so, if you want to do pooja, you will have to bring the material with you).
The place is very clean and free of litter.
I did not see any groups sitting around and eating (they were anyway not supposed to have brought food with them).
From courtyard around the temple we could see rolling hills (obscured by some kind of mist). There were bald hills and hills covered with trees.
There is some kind of a nominal fence around the temple (not the kind that would deter either the animals or humans to cross) – maybe it is just a reminder for visitors not to stray.
After walking around the temple and taking a few pictures, we started on our way down.
The downward journey did take lesser time than the journey up. We used up 1 hour 10 minutes of the 1 hour 30 minutes (however, we did not spend any time inside the temple).
We did have lunch at a Dhaba-like place after reaching Gundlupet – it was adequate.
Post-lunch, our way back was pretty hot and sweaty (the car air conditioning needs repair), even though this was mid-Dec.
Some things to keep in mind if you are planning to make a trip to Himvad:
- Make sure that your vehicle is in good condition and that the spare tyre is usable
- Do not carry any food, except stuff that you will use as pooja items
- Try to make it an early morning trip, so that you are there by mid-morning, and can experience the cold
- Do not try to reach there late, the drive back in darkness may not be pleasant, and the forest department folks may not let you in, anyway
- In case you are going to visit the temple and perform some kind of puja, be aware of the time – maybe you can budget the stoppages for photos and viewing scenery after the temple visit
You can also get a feel of the road condition for the last 10 km on this youtube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwln6HyzHuA
Please feel free to share your views, experiences, and queries, using the “comments” feature.