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- B R Hills

B R Hills Biligiriranga Hills commonly called B R Hills, is a hill range situated in south-eastern Karnataka , at its border with Tamil Nadu in South India . The area is called Biligiriranga Swamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary or simply BRT Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected reserve under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1973. Being at the confluence of the Western Ghats and the Eastern Ghats , the sanctuary is home to eco-systems that are unique to both the mountain ranges. This makes it a very critical habitat.

The BR hills links the Eastern Ghats and the Western Ghats allowing animals to move between them and facilitating gene flow between populations of species in these areas. Thus this sanctuary serves as an important biological bridge for the biota of the entire Deccan plateau.

The BR hills along with the Male-Madeshwara ( MM Hills ) range forms a distinctly unusual ridge running north-south amidst the plains of Bangalore(~900 m above MSL), Mysore(~600 m above MSL) and Krishnagiri(~450 m above MSL). The peaks of these lofty range rise as high as 1800 m (BR hills 1400 to 1800 m; MM Hills 1000 to 1200 m). The highest hill is Kattari Betta, at 1800 MSL. Various observations point to a possible biogeographic link between BR hills and Niligiri ranges.

Biogeographically , the sanctuary is unique. It is located between 11° and 12° N and the ridges of the hills run in the north-south direction. It is a projection of the Western Ghats in a north-easterly direction and meets the splintered hills of the Eastern Ghats at 78° E. This unique extension of Western Ghats constitutes a live bridge between the Eastern and Western Ghats with the sanctuary located almost in the middle of this bridge. Thus, the biota of BRT sanctuary can be expected to be predominantly of Western ghats in nature with significant proportion of eastern elements as well.

Climate and vegetation

The sanctuary, ~35km long north-south and ~15 km wide east-west is spread over an area of 540 km² with a wide variation in mean temperature (9°C to 16°C minimum and 20°C to 38°C maximum) and annual rainfall (600 mm at the base and 3000 mm at the top of the hills) The hill ranges, within the sanctuary raise as high as 1200 m above the basal plateau of 600 m and run north-south in two ridges. The wide range of climatic conditions along with the altitude variations within the small area of the sanctuary have translated it into a highly heterogeneous mosaic of habitats such that we find almost all major forest vegetation types scrub , deciduous , riparian , evergreen , sholas and grasslands .

The forests harbour close to 800 species of plants from various families and shows a close affinity to the Western Ghats.

Flora and fauna

The Biligiris are charnockitic hills, covered with tropical dry broadleaf forest , part of the South Deccan Plateau dry deciduous forests ecoregion. The forests range from scrub forests at lower elevations, degraded by over-use, to the tall deciduous forests typical of the ecoregion, to stunted shola forests and montane grasslands at the highest elevations, which exceed 1800 meters. The forests form an important wildlife corridor between the Western Ghats and the Eastern Ghats, linking the largest populations of Asian Elephants and tigers in southern India. The most conspicuous mammals are the herds of wild elephants . The BR hills is the only forest east of the main Western ghats mountain ranges in the central southern peninsula to harbour these panchyderms in large numbers. The forests were the study area for R. Sukumar, a scientist who studied the elephants of the area in the early eighties. A recent survey has revealed the presence of 17 Tigers in this sanctuary.

The BR hills has been a good place for viewing large game and at the same time encountering numerous smaller life forms. The forests have been famous for the Gaur , a large Asian bovid . There are about 26 species of mammals recorded in the sanctuary. The other mammals include sambhar , chital , the shy barking deerwhich are quite common here and the rare four-horned antelope . Carnivores include tigers , leopards , wild dogs , lesser cats and sloth bears and among arboreal mammals two species of primates and three species of squirrels including the giant flying squirrel are recorded. A recent (2005) survey of tigers by DNA analysis of scat samples has revealed 17 tigers, although the number may be more. 254 species of birds recorded in the BR hills. These include the enigmatic southern population of the White-winged Tit ( Parus nuchalis ), a specimen of which was collected by R. C. Morris and now housed in the Natural History museum at Tring.

People and culture

For hundred of years this region has been the home for the semi-nomadic Soliga tribe. The forest regions of Yelandur, Chamrajanagar and Kollegal , including the hilly tracts and foothills of Biligiri Ranga and Male Mahadeshwara in the southern part of Karnataka, are inhabited by nearly twenty thousand soliga tribal people. The Soligas inhabiting this range were nature worshippers originally, and revere a large Champaka tree ( Michelia champaca ), called Dodda Sampige in the local language.

Randolph C. Morris, a Scotsman brought coffee into the hills in the latter half of the 19th century. The estate he established at Honnametti was later continued by his son Col. Ralph Morris , a hunter-naturalist, who published prolifically about the Natural history of the hills in the Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society . He left the hills after independence, and the estate is today privately owned. His daughter, Monica Jackson, revisited the places and wrote about her memories in the book Going back . Among the many reputed guests that Col. Morris had, were Dr. Salim Ali , who visited him during the Birds of Mysore survey and E P Gee , a naturalist. The estate still preserves the home of the Morrises. Not far from this estate is the Honnametti Kallu , a boulder which gives a metallic clang when struck with a rock. Soliga legend has it that the rock has gold within. Honnametti itself means 'golden footprint' and refers to a legend that the Lord Ranganatha leapt across the hills changing his shape at each step and leaving his footprint on the hills.

The hills are famous for the temple of Lord Ranganatha . The local form of the deity is called Biligiriranga and is depicted in a unique standing position. The Annual Car festival of the deity is famous in the region and attracts thousands of pilgrims from far and wide. The temple is situated on the 'white cliff' which gives the hill its name.

There have been numerous megalithic burial sites that have been discovered from within and in the immediate vicinity of the sanctuary, testifying to the presence of indigenous people in these regions for a long time.

There are two local NGOs which work for integrated tribal development and biodiversity conservation in the sanctuary.

Places to see around:-

Biligirirangaswamy Temple : Situated on top of the highest peak, this ancient temple gives Biligirirangana Betta its name. The deity in the temple is Venkatesha, popular as Ranganatha.

Dodda Sampige Mara :
Literally the 'Big Champak Tree' is a 2,000 years old giant tree thet still flowers in season. The tree is deeply revered by the local Soliga tribals, who believe it is the adobe of loard Rangaswamy. It's believed that other deities also reside here and are represented by over 101 stone lingas.

Kanchikote : These are the ruins of an old fort stated to have been built by the Gangaraja of Shivanasamudra.

Himvad Gopalaswamy Hills : The Himvad Gopalaswamy Hills in Mysore District is situated in the verdant Western Chats. The hills are a trekker's delight and a popular holiday resort too. Situated atop the Hill is the Gopalaswamy Temple

Rath Festival : The Ratha Festival at Biligirirangana Betta is held during 'Vaishakha' in the month of April. Once in two years, the local tribes make an offering of a large pair of slippers measuring one foot and nine inches, made out of skin, to the deity.

Shopping:-

One can pick up pure honey from here. There are also several basket-making units here.

Get away from the blistering summer months. The Ananthagiri hills are on the way to Araku Valley and are famous for coffee plantations.

Distance:- 235 km South of Bangalore
By Road: - 5 Hours
By Rail: -

3 Hours + road 2 Hours

Route:-

NH209 to Chamarajnagar via Kanakapura, Malavalli and Shivanasamudram then state road to BR Hills.

When to go:- September To May .
Tourist offices:- Jungle Lodges Booking Office.
Tel: 080-5597021/24-25

KSTDC(bookings and info) Badami House, NR Square, Bangalore Tel: 080-2275869, Fax: 2352626 Email: kstdc@vsnl.in
Where to stay :-

Day visit - Rs. 850/-
Tented Cottages - Rs. 1650/-
Loghuts - Rs. 2200/-
Angling at an extra cost of Rs. 1000/-
For Foreign Nationals: USD 65/-
Angling at an extra cost of USD 65/-
Per person per day
White Water Rafting at extra cost

Galibore Fishing & Nature Camp
Tel: 08231-694248
Tariff: Indain Citizens
Day visit - Rs. 850/-
Nature Package - Rs. 1650/-
Angling at an extra cost of Rs. 1000/-
For Foreign Nationals: USD 65/-
Angling at an extra cost of USD 65/-
Per person per day
White Water Rafting at extra cost

Doddamakali Fishing & Nature Camp
Tel: 08231-694248
Tariff: Indian Citizens
Day visit - Rs. 850/-
Nature Package - Rs. 1400/-
For Foreign Nationals: USD 40/-
Per person per day

 
 
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Tourist Places in Bangalore, Karnataka
 

Bheemeshwari
Sangam
Mekedatu
Nandi Hills
Muddenahalli
Shivanasumadram
Srirangapatna
Kere Thonnur
Mysore
Brindavan Gardens
Nanjangud
Somanathapur
BR Hills
Male Mahadeshwara Betta
Halebid
Sravanabelgola
Belur
Hampi
Anegundi
Dandeli Sanctuary
Kulgi Nature Camp
Shiroli Peak
Nersa
Badami
Pattadakkal
Aihole

 

Dubare
Nisargadhama
Veerabhoomi
Harangi Dam
Kabini
Nagarhole
Kutta
Irpu Falls
Brahmagiri Sanctuary
Siddapur
Gonikoppal
Madikeri
Bhagamandala
Chettalli
Talacauvery
Kakkabe
Karanda
Venur
Udupi
Kaup Beach
St. Mary's Isles
Malpe
Maravanthe
Kollur Shri Mookambika
Ottinane
Kodachadri Hills

Shivgiri Trails
Kemmannagundi
Chikmagalur
Kudremukh
Kalasa
Horanadu
Kukke Subrahmanya
Dharmasthala
Mangalore
Someshwar Beach, Ullal
Surathkal Beach
Tannirbhavi Beach
Honnemardu
Jog Falls
Sagar
Nagavalli
Karkala
Murudeshwar
Bhatkal
Netrani Island
Gokarna
Kumta
Yaana
Devbagh
Forts
Devanahalli Fort
Viduraswatha

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Tourist Places in Bangalore, Karnataka
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