Saturday, June 16, 2018

Melukote - a quaint temple town

It was after the famous Srivaishnava saint Ramanujacharya lived here for 14 years it became a prominent center of the Srivaishnavas. Unlike other temple towns, Melukote isn't merely temples and commercial shops around them. This (temple) town has a character of its own. The streets of Melukote will not only take you back in time but also resonates the Agrahara in the novel "Samskara" by U.R. Ananthamurthy. Many grandmothers will be sitting at the veranda of their century old houses and chit-chatting with their friends.

Melukote is 150 km from Bangalore if you go via Mandya and a 180 via Nelamangala- Kunigal - Bellur Cross - Nagamangala- Melukote. We took the second option and deviated at Bellur Cross, towards Nagamangala onto 150A - this road leads to Srirangapatna - and turn right a little after Chinya. This route is better, except that there is some road widening work in between. Watch out for speed breakers and the construction debris. Otherwise, the traffic is less and it took a little more than 3hrs to cover 180km from Electronic City to Melukote.

Cheluvanarayanaswamy temple is a pleasant and well maintained temple. It is mainly stone and wood. The main image is made of Brass. The architecture is stunning with fine details on all the pillars. There are few smaller shrines inside the temple complex. Walking inside this old temple complex is a calming experience.
Yoga Narasimha Swamy temple on the hill can be reached by foot in 30min. The steps are very wide and placed apart. You will find many women selling butter milk and peanuts en-route. 3 glasses of butter milk cost just Rs.10. At the time of writing, there was lot of renovation work going on at this temple and surroundings.

The largest pond -Kalyani- is breathtaking for its gigantic size and the architecture around, made famous by movies. There are many other ponds around this small town, most popular are the twin ponds known as -Akka Tangi kola (sisters' pond). Dhanushkoti is a short ride from the town and view from here is spectacular. On the way to Dhanushkoti is Raya Gopura, again made famous by movie populace.

The house where PuTiNa - famous Kannada Poet, one among the well-known trio of Navodaya poets (D.R.Bendre and Kuvempu being the other two) - was born, can be visited before 5pm, unfortunately we couldn't make it in time. There is a Government Sanskrit College and also a Sanskrit Research Centre. 

The best way to explore a town and appreciate what it has to offer is to walk around and eat from local places. Puliyogare (Tamarind Rice) stalls will be ubiquitous and you will start thinking puliyogare was invented at Melukote. So it is a must-do activity at Melukote to taste Puliyogare. Subbanna Mess is the most recommended for a sumptuous meal of white rice, Puliyogare- Rs 80 per meal.

 Accommodation is limited; a few places we came across:
1) Ahobila Yatri Nivas- TeL: 087227 16468/ 070260 92345. dbl Rs 650.
2) Yadhugiri Guest House- 7676767638. Available on hourly basis.
3) Bangur Yatri Nivas- Rs.400 with common toilet, dbl, A/C Rs.1000. Walk-in.

We stayed at Ahobila, the housekeeping is very poor. Carry your own toiletries and bed sheets.