Somehow the virgin visit to Melkote was wiped off my memory without a slightest trace, as though an inked piece of paper soaked in water. Thanks to my grandpa's family which gave me another opportunity to visit this beautiful historical place, now the place is well recorded, both in my cerebra and camera. This discourse is going to be more pictorial than my other articles, for the town gave me too many opportunities for clicking.
The town of Melkote is located in the Pandavapura taluk of Mandya district. Its about two and half hours away from Bangalore and about an hour away from Mysore. From Bangalore, you hit Mysore road, pass Kengeri, Bidadi, Ramanagara, Chennapattana, Maddur and Mandya. After Mandya you see a board towards right indicating Melkote, turn there and keep driving till you reach Melkote which you'll identify by a temple atop a mountain. The drive is a very picturesque one with greener country-side landscapes.
Melkote is mostly an Iyengar settlement, the first thing that you notice in this town is the Iyengar naama, 2 white lines with a red line in between them, painted or carved at many places. Also you see boards "Puliogare mix available" in almost every shops and restaurants. The old houses bearing vivid colours form perfect subjects for photography, so does the people and animals and streets. The Cheluvanarayana temple at the heart of the town is home for some breathtaking Chalukya architecture, the pillars are well carved with very intricate Hindu figurines.
The town also has a large Kalyani (reservoir) at the foothills of the Yadugiri mountain. The surrounding mantapa (the pillared outdoor hall) along the Kalyani and the steps leeading to the water makes gives rise to a beautiful photograph with lines and reflections. The pillars have carvings of ancient musiscians playing air instruments. The reflection of the overlooking Yoga-Narasimha temple on the Yadugiri mountain also give rise to a beautiful reflection in the Kalyani.
Steep steps lead to Yoga-Narasimha temple which takes not more than 10minutes to climb. There are flowers, fruits, tender-coconuts and buttermilk peddlers along the path. The panorama of the town from the temple is very scenic, on one side tilled farms and mountains, on the other the town of Melkote as though painted with red-patches everywhere. The Kalyani looks great from the temple. Yoga-Narasimha temple scores low in terms of architecture when compared with Cheluvanarayana temple, but makes up for it with the beautiful vistas it offers. There are innumerable troops of monkeys, people often treat it with love feeding bananas and biscuits. Inside the temple I saw many tiny cradles that were tied to the ceiling, I was told that childless couples believe that tying the cradles in the temple works wonders.
Other places of interest:
Dhanushkoti is on the tip of the mountain, where the legend has that Lord Rama struck the rock with his arrow to form a water hole (fissure) which always contain water. The view of Cauvery valley from this cliff is breathtaking, unfortunately I couldn't photograph them well due to hazy weather. Bukinakere Baagilu (the Bukinakere doorway) is an amazing symmetrical structure with exquisite stone carvings. The structure is formed by perfect placement of gigantic stone slabs (without any binding agent) which could be climbed. Tall pillars with beautiful floral carvings are truly magnificent. Sanskrit research center at the entrance of Bukinakere Baagilu is worth visiting too. Its library houses about 50000+ citric smelling palm-leaf manuscripts waiting to be decoded and published. It's a treasure house for all Indian ancient vedic information dealing with geography, ayurveda, mythology, kamasutra, yoga, gastronomy and what not! Akka-Tangi koLa (Sisters' reservoir) is a pair of juxtaposed Kalyanis just ahead of Cheluvanarayana temple, with shoals of small fishes in them. One can feed them with puffed rice. I also heard of some caves in Yedugiri mountain, but we couldn't make it due to lack of time.
For those who love heritage sites, ancient art and architecture, a laid-back picturesque town and puliogare (tamarind rice) then Melkote is the place to be. Its a perfect weekend getaway from the busy Bangalore life.