Melkote or Melkottai or Thirunarayanapuram (Karnataka) houses two distinct temples viz. Yoga Narasimhaswamy Temple (atop a hillock) and Sri Cheluva Narayana Swamy Temple. (திரு நாராயண பெருமாள்). Melkote has close linkage with Sri Ramanujar. Sri Ramanujar lived here for about 12 years to spread Sri Vaishnavism when he was away from Srirangam . This place is also called as “Yadhothakari Kshetram” and “South Badrikashramam”.
Melkote is nearly 58 Kms from Mysore, in Mandya District amidst lush green paddy fields. Thanks to the River Cauvery whose canals keep this place greeny.
By Public Transport ( Bus)
It can be reached via Mysore – Srirangapattinam (20 Km) – Pandavapura (30 Km) – Jakkanahalli Cross (51 Km) – Melkote (58 Km). ( Hope, Mysore to Nagamangala / Tumkur buses go via Jakkanahalli cross)
Almost every 30 minutes, there is a Bus from Mysore City Bus Stand to Jakkanahalli Cross. It takes about 1 1/2 hours to reach Jakkanahalli cross. From Jakkanahalli cross, Melkote is around 7 Kms. Local buses are available in plenty and Autos are also available.
We were told that Direct Buses to Melkote are available from Mysore at select timings.
It can be reached from Mysore, via Srirangapattinam (Left turn)- Pandavapura – Jakkanahalli Cross – (Left turn) – Melkote.
If we come from Bangalore, we have to take right turn from Mandya to reach Melkote.
Nearby station is Pandavapura, which is in the Bangalore – Mysore rail route. All important trains stop here including Chennai Mysore Cauvery Express. From Pandavapura, Direct buses to Melkote are availble at select timings. Alternatively, one can catch bus upto Jakkanahalli cross and to change bus for Melkote.
It was a chilling winter Saturday morning. We left the Hotel (Near Mysore Junction) in the early morning and reached City Bus Stand. Took a bus, that goes via Jakkanahalli Cross. Bus was neat and clean. As we were nearing Srirangapatna, the River Cauvery was also in vicinity. Thereafter, till we reach Jakkanahalli cross, cool breeze, and pleasant view of lush green paddy fields, canals and Lake, made us feel light.Road was also good. Within 1 1/2 hours, we were at Jakkanahalli Cross and the conductor was kind enough to remind us to alight there for Melkote. We got a Town bus and reached Melkote Bus stand in less than 30 minutes.
Sri Yoga Narasimhaswamy Temple
It is built on rocky hills known as Yadavagiri or Yadugiri overlooking the Cauveri valley. Melkote Bus stand is just at the foothills of Sri Yoga Narasaimhaswwamy Temple. It is a small hill with around 400 steps . And there is a motorable road reaches us somewhere above the midway of the hill. Autos and Cars can go upto this point and from there, it would be hardly 150 steps to reach the temple.
As in any other hill temples, here also, few monkeys were spotted but they appear to be quiet and calm. Steps were little steeper. As we climbed up, we were feeling the chillness along with forceful wind. We didn’t have any blankets / jerkins as we didn’t expect this. Somehow, we managed.
This temple is more than 1000 years old and the inscriptions in the foothills speaks about the history of the temple which dates back to the ancient times. The temple was built during the Hoysala kingdom.The temple has a huge drum that was donated by Tipu Sultan. It has a beautiful bell that was donated by the Mysore Parakalamatha. During the rule of the erstwhile Wodeyar Kings of Mysore, Krishnaraja Wodeyar III had donated a gold crown to the temple deity.It is believed that Yoga Narasimha Swamy was installed installed by Baktha Prahlada himself.
By now, we reached the hill top and have a peaceful darshan of Sri Yoga Narasimhaswamy. We couldn’t see any other sannidhis. Sat for about 30 minutes in the steps with the panoramic view of Melkote amidst cool breeze.
Climbed down and started walking towards Sri Cheluva Narayana Swamy Temple, which is around 1 KM from foothill. The road goes through the Melkot market and we could see plenty of sweet shops (roadside) and small hotels (mess) offering infamous Puligere..(புளியோதரை). We went past the market and reached the Sri Cheluva Narayana Swamy temple
Sri Cheluva Narayana Swamy Temple (Thiru Narayana Perumal)
Sri Ramanuajar was staying at Thondanur ( See more details under “Thondanur”) and involved in various activities to spread Sri Vainshnavism in that Region. One day, he found that he was left out with no “thiruman” (Holy mark to be worn on the forehead of Sri Vaishnava followers) and was not available in Thondanur.
To be continued
It is believed that, in 12th centuary, Chozha King Kulothunga Chozhan who was a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva was threatening Sri Ramanujar to leave Sirviaishnavism and to follow Saivism. Sri Ramanujar decided to leave Srirangam on the request of his disciple Koorathazhwan. He quitted Saffron and wore White dress to be away from the sights of the King. Sri Ramanujar along with 1000 of his followers travelled along the river Cauvery from Srirangam towards West and reached Thondanur (15 Km from Melkote) where Thondanur Nambi (Sri Ramanujar’s principle disciple) was living.
Several wonders were said to be made by Sri Ramanujar during his stay here and one of the wonders goes like this. He relieved the daughter of the Hoysala Kingdom’s king named Bitti Deva, from Brahma Rakshasa. On seeing this wonder, he became the devotee of Sri Ramanujar and he was renamed as Vishnuvaradhan. The king established Pancha Narayana Kshetrams viz. Belur ( Channagi Narayana), Thondanur ( Nambi Narayanan), Gadag ( Veera Narayanan), Talakad ( Keerthi Narayanan) and at Melkottai ( Chelva Narayanan) to express his gratitude to Sri Ramanujar.