BRT Wildlife Sanctuary is the prime attraction of the BR Hills, which is situated in southern region of Karnataka, between the Tungabhadra River and Cauvery River. Otherwise known as Bilgiri Rangaswamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary, it is spread over an area of 540 sq km and lies at an elevation of 5,091 feet above sea level.
This wildlife sanctuary is a protected site under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. Travellers planning to visit this wildlife sanctuary will get the chance to see different species of flora and fauna.
BRT Wildlife Sanctuary is home to animals like elephants, sambars, endangered tigers and gaurs, to name a few. The sanctuary inhabits about 116 species of butterflies and 22 species of reptiles. There are approximately 225 species of birds in this sanctuary, namely whistling thrush, yellow-throated bulbul, racquet-tailed drongo, crested hawk eagle, crested serpent eagle, hill myna and many others.
As far as floral species are concerned, the BRT Wildlife Sanctuary includes evergreen, dry scrub, grassland vegetation, deciduous and savanna. All these can be explored by visitors via jeep safaris and elephant rides.
Apart from exploring the different flora and fauna species, tourists can undertake adventure activities at this site, such as amateur fishing, coracle boat rides and professional angling, among others. Tourists planning trip to the BRT Wildlife Sanctuary should visit the site from October to May.
While on a trip to BR Hills, travellers must visit Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple that lies on the top of the hill range. The Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple is dedicated to Lord Venkatesha. Out of all the temples in India devoted to Lord Ranganatha, this is the only pilgrimage site where the idol of the deity is in standing position.
Apart from the statue of prime deity, this temple enshrines the idol of Ranganayaki, the Lord's spouse. A special pooja is organised at this temple every Friday. Bilgiri Rangaswamy Temple is of great importance to Srivaishnavites as local tribes from this region offer skin slippers (1 foot and 9 inches long) to Lord Ranganatha once in two years. This pilgrimage site attracts thousands of devotees from all parts of the country during the popular Car Festival (Ratha Festival) that takes place during 'Vaishakha' in April.
If time permits, tourists can explore Dodda Sampige Mara on a trip to BR Hills. Its name stands for 'Big Champak Tree' in English; this tree stands at a height of approximately 34 m and is around 20 m broad.
As per local belief, this tree is more than 2000 years old. Dodda Sampige Mara stands inside a temple that is situated about 4 km from the BR Hills. Upon reaching the site, tourists will notice that there are numerous lingams placed nearby this tree. Dodda Sampige Mara is of great significance for Soliga tribes and other natives.
During the month of April, this tree bears reddish yellow coloured flowers. The tree has braid like stems, which is why it has been compared to Lord Shiva. For Soliga tribes, Dodda Sampige Mara is a god who performs the fire dance during the occasion of Maha Shivarathri. This tree in general represents Soliga tribals' lifestyle that includes their relation with Mother Nature.
Bhargavi River, a tributary of Cauvery River, flows from the trunk of this tree. As per the local belief, this stream is the personification of Renuka, who was the wife of renowned Hindu sage, Jamadagni.