One day in the 12th century AD, Sri Ramanuja, the great Philosopher and Saint, had a dream where the Lord asks him to go to a mountain and unearth an idol. Ramanuja indeed found an idol of the Lord and named it Thirunarayanan. The place became Thirunarayanapura, aka Melkote and can be found 51 kms from Mysore. Legend has it that the idol was stolen during the Muslim invasion of South and the princess of Delhi made it as her doll. Ramanuja went to Delhi and when he endearingly called 'Come on, my dear child, the idol miraculously came to his lap! Melkote us a must visit destination among tourist places in Karnataka.
Cheluva Narayanaswamy temple 730am-1pm, 4pm-6pm and 7pm-830p. On weekends, the morning timing is 8.30am to 1.30pm.
Puja (Nithyakatle)at Yoganarasimha Temple is from 9-10 am. Abhisheka is from 10-11am. Darshan is from 11am-1pm and 530-8pm. On weekends, the darshan timing is 11.00am to 2.00pm and 5.00pm to 8.00pm.
One can reach Melkote from Bangalore by Road. Take the Bangalore Mysore highway and reach Mandya Town. After Mandya take a right turn at the sign board of Melkote.Melkote is 40kms from Mandya.
While coming from Mysore, reach Srirangapatna and then take left after Srirangapatna towards Pandavapura. Melkote is 34 kms from Pandavapura. Being a prominent karnataka tourism destination, there are ample number of sign boards all along the way.
A fun way to explore Mysore is to ride in a Harley, Triumph or Royal Enfield in a guided motorcycle tour organized by 5 Senses Tours. There are 2 tours offered from Bangalore to Mysore. Check Organic Farming & Heritage Trail and Royal and Cultural Heritage Trail.
While Melkote is a prominent tourist place in Karnataka, there are no hotels. However, Sanskrit Academy at the base of Roya Gopura has cottages. Each cottage has 2 bedrooms, living room and a kitchen. For more details, visit Sanskrit Academy Melkote.
Melkote became a centre of learning and worship after Ramanuja came to this town. He spent 12 years here in the 12th century AD.There are two main temples at Melkote. The principal temple is dedicated to Lord Cheluva-Narayana Swamy or Tirunarayana. The other temple of Yoga Narasimha is on top of a hill.
In the Cheluva-Narayana Swamy temple, the presiding deity is called Thirunarayana, while the processional image of Lord Vishnu goes by the name of Shelva Pillai or Sampath Kumara. It is believed that the latter was worshipped by Lord Rama and his son Kusha; hence the name Ramapriya. The temple is richly endowed having been under the special patronage of the Mysore. The temple pond is called Kalyani Theertham and is so beautiful that it has been captured in many feature films.
Lord Yoga Narasimha temple is on top of a hill. At 1777 meters above sea level, it gives you a breathtaking view of Mandya and other surrounding areas. It’s an exciting climb over 200 steps where you will have to battle a strong breeze before reaching the summit. It is believed that the image of Yoga Narasimha temple was installed by Prahlada. Krishnaraja Wodeyar III, the King of Mysore, presented a gold crown to this temple. A huge drum donated by Tipu Sultan of Mysore can also be seen inside the temple.
The two main festivals held at Melkote Templ are the famous Vairamudi festival (Diamond Crown) and Sri Ramanuja Tirunakshatram (Sri Ramanuja's Appearance Day) festival. The former is held in the Solar month Panguni (late March), while the latter is held during the solar month of Chittirai (late April). Make it a point to visit Melkote Temple during these times to see tens of thousands of devotees over the 10 day period.
There are 2 pillars inside the Melkote temple complex, each 30 feet in height supposed to be a thousand years old. Legend has it that the famous sculptor Jakkanacharya was challenged by his rivals to build an entrance to Melkote in a single night. He took up the challenge. When it appeared that he would win, his rivals apparently sounded the gong for 5 am when it was just past midnight. Upset, Jakkanacharya left the structure as it was and just walked off. To this day the pillars look unfinished. They might be unfinished but still attractive enough to feature as backdrops for Bollywood songs! You might want to watch Aishwarya Rai’s famous song ‘Na na re’ from the film Guru again.
The Melkote temple premises also houses one of the oldest Sanskrit colleges of India. It is called Sri Veda Vedanta Bodhini Sanskrit Mahapathashala. It dates back to 1854. The institution continues to provide instruction in Sanskrit and Indian Philosophy.
While at Melkote, you can also visit the Melkote Temple Wildlife Sanctuary. It was created in 1974 to preserve the wolf. Other mammals found in this sanctuary include leopard, jungle cat, bonnet macaque, pangolin and the langur.
In summary, Melkote is a fascinating Karnataka tourism destination and a cultural extravaganza.
For a Pilgrim's Diary on the famed temple of Srirangapatnam, visit Ranganathaswamy Temple.