Melkote is a lovely picturesque town prominent for its Vaishnavite Temples.
It is also such a beautiful town that there is always some shooting of a movie-going on! My friend and I decided to drive down to Melkote from Bangalore since I had heard a lot about the Lord and wanted to get His blessings.
Bangalore to Melkote:
Bangalore to Melkote is around 157 Km. We drove down the following routes— Nice road, Mysore road, Ramnagaram, Maddur, Mandya, and the Melkote.
This was the first time I travelled on this route, and I figured out that you can drive down to Ramnagaram and then decide which way you want to proceed! Almost all the prominent sightseeing places around Bangalore seem to branch out of this junction.
I enjoyed the drive down this highway ( Since I was not driving). Watch out for a right to be taken towards Melkote once you are on the Mandya highway. The drive becomes incredibly scenic once you enter this road as it has lush paddy and sugarcane fields on either side with cattle grazing on it occasionally.
Many small villages are found en route thronged with chicks, sheep, and calves running around. Our drive, including a stop for breakfast, took close to 4 hours. You can start early to beat Mysore road traffic.
Wikipedia has quite a lot of history of the place. So let me get head directly into my journey.
|Paddy Fields on the way|
Wikipedia has the history of the place. So let me get in directly into my journey.
1. Melkote CheluvaNarayana Swamy Temple
This is the temple on the foot of the hill, lined up with small stalls on either side.
Cheluva Narayana means the deity who loves to deck up, and so He was. It was around a 6-foot tall majestic God. Unlike other temples where the Utsava Murthy is placed along with the main deity, there is a separate shrine.
By the side of the main deity is the shrine for the Alwars. This is where Sri Ramanujacharya resided for nearly 15 years, performing miracles, and there is a shrine for Him as well.
|Melkote CheluvaNarayanaSwamy Temple Main Entrance|
|Check the first pillar top for the unique curved carving|
We next proceeded to Danushkoti. The reason being that this temple atop the hill remains open till 2.30 pm only, while the rest starts closing by 12.30 pm. So we headed off to Danushkoti.
You need to drive a good 5 km down the Akka tangi kulam, and then you would come up to a small hillock. History says that when Lord Rama and Sita were walking around these forest regions, Sita felt thirsty and asked for water. Lord Rama shot His arrow into the land, and water sprung out. The water does not dry up here.
There is a shrine for Lord Rama. The feet of Rama are carved out there; hence it is considered a holy place.
The climb up the hill is through uncut rough steps of the mountain. The view from above the mountain is beautiful and breathtaking.
|Walk to Danushkoti|
|The depression with water|
3. Melkote Raya Gopuram
First things first— This is where Padaiyappa, Barso Re song from Guru, and many more movie scenes were filmed.
It is a half-finished Gopuram. History says it was completed overnight! Overnight! Seriously! If they had stacked up some random stones, I would have still believed! But this one has some intricately done carvings!
I will let the pictures do the talking here...
|The Raya gopuram|
|One of the beautifully done lady on the pillar|
4. Akka Tangi Kulam
These are two tanks separated only by a fleet of steps. One tank is salty, and the other tank is sweet! That is the surprising element here!
There is a shrine for Kulashekara Alwar. The steps of the pond are built symmetrically. The pond is filled with fishes, and tiny turtles were basking in the sun. It was such a treat to watch.
I did not have a high-zoom high definition camera to take those pictures. But I was lucky to enjoy the sight in real-time.
|Adjacent is similar tank|
5. Melkote Yoga Narasimha Temple
Okay! Now, this one is a serious climb.
Apart from being Saturday and Ekadashi, I believe some festival was also going on since many people from around the villages were making their way up the hill!
We climbed it with minimal breaks. There are defined steps, unlike Danushkoti, but these were very steep. The crowd was continuously pushed and shoved. We stood in the queue for almost half an hour with very little ventilation on a hot summer afternoon! Imagine the horror!
The deity was Yoga Narasimha, and I guess you can get a ticket to enter in apart from the regular queue. This is also the temple where the annual Melkote Vairamudi festival is held. The Vairamudi festival is where the utsava Murthy is adorned with a crown made of diamonds and taken on a procession.
Despite the crowd, the darshan was fruitful. We then came out of the temple, took in the splendid views from around the temple, and felt the cool breeze!
That is the beauty of such a place! The calming greenery and the breeze, despite hot summer noon, were such a blessing.
|Temple at top the hill|
|View from the hill|
6. Melkote Kalyani Pushkarani
It is a vast temple pond down the hill with neatly done steps.
You can get a good view of the temple from the pond. There are signs of "Keep the pond Clean" all around, but nobody seems to bother. Despite no bathing or washing allowed in the pond, it was in a sad state.
By the time we had finished all this, it was 3 pm. We stopped for lunch and proceeded to Thonnur lake.
There is a crossing from which one way leads to Melkote and the opposite one to Pandavpura. At about 10km from the junction is the Thonnur lake. You need to take a right and pass through tiny roads. At one point, you might wonder if you are lost.
Then finally, you would see the signboard for going up, and you go atop a small hill. There was a deep depression with some water there, and I thought— is this all?
I was mistaken, and the lake was on the other side. The steps were not so well-defined. It was super-crowded. There were some unruly office members too. So we could not have a good time there.
The lake is "lovely, dark, and deep," so be careful at the steps. Sunset and sunrise look magnificent.
We were getting late, so we headed off to our next destination.
|Magnificent Thonnur Lake|
|Endless paddy fields. View from Thonnur Lake|
8. Sri Nambhi Narayana Temple
Just 500 meters down the Thonnur lake is the Nambhi Narayana Temple. Unfortunately when we went the premises was closed as some pooja was going on.
Since it was getting late, we had to leave without getting a darshan.
|Nambhi Narayana Temple|
9. Sri Krishna Temple
Right opposite the Narayana Temple is the Krishna Temple, with a reasonably big temple complex. It is not very architecturally significant, but if you are religious, do stop by.
The sanctum sanctorum has 5 to 6 feet tall deity in the sitting form! It is Huge! His consorts accompany the Lord on either side. It is a lovely sight to behold.
After getting blessings from the Lord, we started our way back to Bangalore.
Well, I hoped the Nambhi Narayana temple would open by the time we came out, but it did not. It was already past 5 pm, so we had to rush back.
I believe there are a few more temples around. The Krishna temple complex looks similar to the Narayana as mentioned above Temple complex.
How can I write a travelogue without mentioning the food?!
We stopped at the famous Maddur Tiffany and had excellent Maddur vada, idly, and strong coffee for breakfast. The vada is a must-try here. You cannot miss it at any cost!
For lunch, we stopped at the Subbana Mess Melkote. Just next to the arch leading to CheluvaNarayanaSwamy temple is the famous Subbana mess. Despite the crowd, we were warmly welcomed into the mess and were given a seat.
It is a slight mess with only some chairs. Arrangements were there to eat on the floor as well. The serving was delicious and came close to be as wholesome as home-cooked food.
We had a yummy plateful of Puliyogare, which they are very famous for, along with homemade pickles and spiced buttermilk. We ended the meal with a cupful of piping hot belle sakare Pongal. They have the sugar one too, and we asked for the jaggery one. Despite the thick dark colour of jaggery, the Pongal was perfectly sweet, loaded with shards of coconut. Heaven in a cup!
A warm uncle stopped by and told us the history of the humble mess. It is now running in its 109th year!!
We walked into their shop and picked up puliyogare mix, chivda, bhoondi, chutney powders, and some snacks (who knows when we will get a chance to revisit it!).
We made it a point to have maddur vada and coffee in the evening.
|One more from the highway|
The highways are lined up with channapatna toys. They have entertaining stuff for the kids.
It started pouring heavily as we were reaching Bangalore. Like any other trip, it didn't felt very good to return to the city!
My only suggestion here is— if you are not religious, go on Sunday or weekday or when you are sure there is no festival. If you are religious, then any day is yours.
We also met a person at the temple who gave a temple tour plan covering Belur ChennaKesava, Srirangapatna, Chammundi, etc. Apart from the famous ones, he mentioned a temple called ''Saumya Narayana Temple'' at Nagamangala, further down Pandavapura. It has the same effect as visiting Kalahasthi, meaning —all the Rahu Kethu doshas will be gone!
With that, we bid adie to Melkote. If you want to avoid the busy Mysore road, you can also take the Hassan highway. A slight deviation but prettier landscapes.