Nestled amidst the picturesque landscapes of Karnataka, Melukote is a quaint and culturally rich town that has managed to preserve its heritage and natural beauty over the years. Known for its ancient temples, pristine lakes, and unique traditions, Melukote offers a refreshing escape from the bustling cities and a glimpse into the heart of South India’s spirituality and history. Melukote is truly a hidden gem in Karnataka, let’s explore its attractions, 6 must visit places of Melukote and it’s history.
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History of Melukote:
Melukote, also known as Thirunarayanapuram, is a town in the Mandya district of Karnataka. It is steeped in history, and its origins can be traced back to ancient times. Here is a detailed history of Melukote.
Ancient Origins: Melokote
The history of Melukote dates back to several centuries. It is believed to have been a prominent center of learning and culture during the reign of the Ganga dynasty, which ruled the region around the 9th century. The town’s ancient name, “Thirunarayanapuram,” is derived from the deity of the Cheluvanarayana Swamy Temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
Hoysala and Vijayanagara Periods:
During the Hoysala dynasty’s rule, Melukote gained prominence as a religious and cultural center. Many temples, including the Cheluvanarayana Swamy Temple and the Yoga Narasimha Swamy Temple were constructed during this time, with beautiful examples of Hoysala architecture. In the 14th century, the Vijayanagara Empire, under the rule of King Krishnadevaraya, continued to contribute to the development of Melukote. The town played a crucial role in spreading the philosophy of Sri Ramanujacharya, a revered philosopher who also resided in Melukote.
Sri Ramanujacharya, also known as Ramanuja, lived and preached in Melukote during the 12th century. He was a proponent of the Vishishtadvaita school of Vedanta and made significant contributions to the Bhakti movement. His teachings and philosophy had a profound impact on the town, shaping its cultural and religious heritage.
Wodeyar Dynasty and Modern Times:
The Wodeyar dynasty of Mysore, particularly King Chikka Devaraja Wodeyar, contributed to the preservation and restoration of many temples in Melukote during their rule. They maintained the rich cultural traditions and protected the heritage of the town.
Melukote is known for its unique cultural practices, including the annual Vairamudi festival, during which the deity of the Yoga Narasimha Swamy Temple is adorned with a diamond-studded crown. The town’s traditional music and dance forms, such as Yakshagana, have added to its cultural richness. Cheluvanarayana Swamy Temple and the Yoga Narasimha Swamy Temple continue to draw devotees and tourists from across India and around the world.
6 Must visit places of Melukote:
1. Yoga Narasimha Swamy Temple:
This temple is dedicated to Lord Narasimha, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. It is perched on top of a hill and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. The temple is famous for its stone carvings and the annual Vairamudi festival, during which the deity is adorned with a diamond-studded crown.
The temple boasts of an impressive architecture. There are around 300 steps that lead to the temple situated high up on the hill. The intricate carvings on the pillars and the overall structure of the temple offer a glimpse into the architectural style of the bygone era.
Here is a short video on Yoga Narasimha Swamy Temple Melukote
2. The Kalyani (Pushkarani):
One of the highlights of Melukote is its ancient stepped tank, known as the Kalyani or Pushkarani. It’s a marvel of architecture and a serene place for visitors to take a dip and cleanse themselves spiritually. Surrounded by stone mantapas (pavilions) and filled with crystal-clear water, the Kalyani adds to the town’s unique charm. Here is Marvelous view of Kalyani from Yoga Narasimha Swamy temple.
Above pictures shows the stone mandapam & lane of stones around the Kalyani.
Suggested read: Aghoreshwara Temple Ikkeri
3. Cheluvanarayana Swamy Temple:
The Cheluvanarayana Swamy Temple is one of the most revered temples in Melukote. It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is known for its intricate architecture, especially the impressive gopuram (tower). The temple also houses the deity Cheluvapille Raya, which is believed to be made of solid gold.
4. Akka-Tangi Kola (stepwell of two sisters):
There are a pair of ponds behind the Cheluvanarayanaswamy temple known as Akka Tangi Kola In English it translates to sister ponds. The water of Akka kola is sour-salty and that of Tangi kola is sweet. Only the sweet water is used for the temples.
5. Rayara Gopura :
The Rayara Gopura is a famous incomplete temple probably built during the Vijaynagar empire. The Temple has 4 raised pillras with intricate carvings but no gopuram. It is said to have been built overnight, but with the huge pillars and stones used for construction. There are steps, we can reach the top of the gopura, from where you can get the entire view of Melukote.
This temple entrance was built by Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana, near the main temple of Melukote.
6. Dhanushkoti in Melukote:
Dhanushkoti is one of the must visit place when you go to Melukote. It is believed that Lord Rama shot an arrow at a rock and brought water, quenched the thirst of himself, Sita and Lakshmana.
The water here does not dry up any time of the year, although the place is on the hill top. This steps take you to the beautiful hilltop.
Local Cuisine :
No visit to Melukote is complete without savoring its traditional cuisine. The town is renowned for its delectable puliyogare (tamarind rice), obbattu (sweet flatbread), and other South Indian delights. Don’t forget to try the iconic puliyogare in Subbanna mess nearby Cheluvanarayana Swamy temple.
Here is a short video on Must visit places of Melukote:
Melukote, with its historical temples, serene natural beauty, and rich traditions, is a destination that offers a perfect blend of spirituality, history, and natural splendor. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply seeking a peaceful retreat, Melukote has something special to offer. A visit to this hidden gem in Karnataka promises not only a memorable experience but also a deeper understanding of the cultural tapestry that makes India so diverse and enchanting. So, pack your bags, embark on a journey to Melukote, and immerse yourself in the magic of this timeless town.