One day trip to Melkote

Melkote has always been on my bucket list for Karnataka. I had heard so much about the beautiful temples in the area but unfortunately, every time I planned, something came up and I never ended up going. But this time around, I was adamant and I planned for a one day trip from Bangalore to Melkote with a friend. We started from Bangalore very early to reach Melkote just before noon and we had plenty of time to explore and see all the things that Melkote can offer.

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About Melkote

Also known as Thirunarayanapuram, Melkote is a small religious town in Mandya district of Karnataka state. The name is derived from the fort that is on the hill and Melkote in Kannada literally means fort on a hill.

Melkote hosts an annual spiritual event Vairamudi Brahmotsava. The main event is the procession of the God Cheluvanarayana Swamy through the streets of Melkote. During the procession, the idol of the god is carried on top of a golden garuda, along with his wives Sridevi and Bhudevi. The festival is named after the diamond studded crown, which is donned by the god during the procession and it is called the Vaira Mudi.

According to local legend, Vaira Mudi was stolen from Lord Narayana, an avatar of Lord Vishnu, when he was asleep by Virochana, who was the king of demons and the son of Prahalada. Garuda was requested to bring back the crown. Garuda fought with Virochana and won the diamond studded crown. While bringing the crown, a blue stone was lost and it fell near Nachair Koil, a temple town in Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu state. It is believed that the gem turned into a stream called Manimuttaru. On his way, Garuda saw Bala Krishna playing with his friends in the mid sun. To protect Bala Krishna from the rays of the sun, Garuda spread his wings to create a shade and placed the crown on Krishna’s head. The locals claim that the crown was then presented to Lord Cheluva Narayana.

Did you know that Channapatna has one of the rare temples, dedicated to Bala Krishna, called Sri Aprameya Swamy temple?

How to get to Melkote?

  • By flight – The closest airport is at Mysore, which is around 69 kilometres from Melkote.
  • By road – Melkote is around 150 kilometres from Bangalore and by road, the journey takes about 3 hours. The route is towards Mysore.
Update 14/03/2022: Mysore road has a lot of construction going on so there could be few bottlenecks along the way.
  • By train – Pandavapura near Srirangapatna is the closest train station to Melkote. The train station is around 25 kilometres from Melkote. Up to date information on trains can be found on IRCTC website.
  • By bus – There are frequent buses between Bangalore and Mandya and Mandya is around 40 kilometres from Melkote. There are local buses to Melkote from Mandya. It is best to go to the local bus stop at Mandya and ask the locals.
  • By taxi – I traveled to Melkote by an outstation taxi and this was a one day trip from Bangalore. I booked the taxi on MakeMyTrip website and it cost me INR 4500 for one whole day.

4 places to see in Melkote

Note: Melkote is popular for tamarind chutney (puliogre) that is mixed with rice before consuming.

Sree Yoga Narasimha temple

One of the main temples of Melkote is the Sree Yoga Narasimha temple which is on the hill. Dedicated to Lord Yoga Narasimha, the temple is an ancient temple that is believed to have been built about 1000 years ago. Yoga Narasimha is a man-lion incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The temple is very beautiful and has stunning architecture.

  • Steps to Yoga Narasimha temple: Around 100 steps.
  • There is no entrance ticket to the temple. However, if you wish to get a fast entry to see the god, then you can purchase a ticket for INR 50 per person.
  • Be careful of monkeys. There are a lot of them who snatch anything and everything from people.
  • There are plenty of free parking places at the base of the hill.
  • Leave your footwear in your car before climbing the stairs.
  • Dress appropriately as this is a religious place and respect the local sentiments.

Melkote Kalyani and Mantapa

Kalyani is a water tank that is usually built with the temples. The Melkote Kalyani is around 1000 years old and is the largest of the 108 kalyanis in the district. According to legend, Lord Krishna took on an avatar of Lord Varaha and when he lifted the earth from the universal ocean, few drops of water from his body fell on top of a hill at Melkote to form the kalyani.

Melkote has a mantapa which is very popular among the photographers. Mantapa is a pillared hall used for Hindu rituals. The architecture of the mantapa is stunning. No matter what you miss, definitely do not miss the mantapa.

  • Unfortunately, one side of the kalyani is very dirty because of all the offerings given by the devotees.
  • You can wear footwear while walking around the kalyani and mantapa. The footwear is not allowed just inside the fence near the kalyani.

Sree Cheluvanarayana Swamy temple

Dedicated to Lord Cheluva-Narayana Swamy, it is believed that the utsavamurthi (idol of the main deity) in Sri Cheluvanarayana Swamy temple, was worshipped by Lord Rama and the kings of Surya Vamsa dynasty for generations. Later the same deity was given to Chandra Vamsam dynasty and was worshipped by Lord Krishna. So the deity is unique as it was worshipped by both Rama and Krishna.

  • There is no entrance ticket to the temple. However, if you wish to get a fast entry to see the god, then you can purchase a ticket for INR 50 per person.
  • Leave your footwear outside the temple or in your car.
  • Dress appropriately as this is a religious place and respect the local sentiments.

Raaya Gopura

Built by Hoysala King Vishnuvardhana, the Raya Gopura is an incomplete temple. The temple has four raised pillars with amazing structures and carvings. It is believed to have been built overnight. There are a few steps to get to the Raya Gopura.

Raaya Gopuram
Raaya Gopuram

Safety for solo female travelers

Melkote is very safe for solo female travelers. As it is a religious place, people usually are god fearing and mind their own business. But be careful of the monkeys there. Also, like any other place, be cautious and know your surroundings, especially at night.

Closing Notes

If you love history, temples and architecture, then Melkote must surely be on your list of places to visit. The sacred town is extremely beautiful and a lovely place to go back in time. A trip to Melkote can easily be done as a one day trip from Bangalore. I absolutely adored the place and I would love to go back again.

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