Bangalore to Melkote / Melukote: A day trip

“Nann hesaru Basappa antha, illi thumba varushadindha iddinee (my name is Basappa, I’ve been here since many years)”, the Dasayya at the Kalyani (pond) in Melkote tells me, polishing his brass vessel with lemon.

Melkote Basappa

Every morning, he comes to the Kalyani near the temple and performs religious tasks for devotees at a small fee. His day starts early… applying the Vishnu nama on his forehead, polishing his brass vessel and plate, cleaning the shanka (conch) and jagate (stick to hit the plate)… and then approaching devotees offering his service.

Living this way is the only thing he knows. Clearly, life for this Dasayya revolves around the temple. Before I could ask him more questions, ‘clients’ arrive and I thank him for his time and leave.

Melukote / Melkote

Like Basappa, almost everyone in the town is connected to the temple. Melkote is a temple-town, the 2 temples of Cheluva-Narayana Swamy below and Yoga-Narasimha Swamy at the top and the Kalyani (pond) being the epi-center of activity, mostly religious and as its offshoot.. commercial.

The temple town of Melukote

Melkote Yoganarasimha temple

A town that literally falls asleep by 8pm, narrow streets that can accommodate no more than one vehicle at a time, people who have plenty of time to spend at the pond,…. Melkote is  a laid back town. Life here is uncomplicated and strikingly simple to an outsider, esp to the pigeon-hole-dwellers, like me, from cities. But when it comes to heritage value and beauty, this place is a little dynamite, packing many interesting things into a smallish area.

Melkote is often treated as a day-trip from Bangalore. I beg to differ. I urge all the readers of this post to spend at least a night there and ‘experience‘ Melkote in its entirety! Please see below for accommodation options.

A journey, not just a destination

Melkote is not a destination that you should reach in 2 hours from Bangalore. It is a journey. There is so much on the way between Mandya and Melkote. Lush green paddy fields, village life in all its glory and beauty, lakes, channels and ponds on the way, richness of bird life… the route alone has a lot to offer. It would be such a pity if you zip past all these in an urge to see just Melkote. Slow-down, soak-in, let the place decide where you should stop, what you should do and how long you should linger on the way. Spend time on the route.

Lush green paddy fields

Rural India

Indian countryside

Bangalore to Melkote route:

Bangalore -> Mandya (~105km) -> Take right just after the huge “Thank you” board after leaving Mandya -> Jakanahalli cross -> Melkote (~145Km)

Indian countryside


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Once you reach Melkote, places to see are plenty. A few are listed below. At the same time, I would urge you to just go out and explore… perhaps you would come back more enchanted than me.

1. Yoga-narasimha Swamy temple

The temple at the top! The temple you see in most photos!

Melkote temple as seen from the Raya Gopura

Yoganarasimha Swamy @ Melkote

Yoganarasimha Swamy @ Melkote

Melkote

There are steps that lead to the top. Steep and quite a climb, but should not take too long. You should finish it under 30-40 minutes even if you are pretty unfit. Do take a torch with you, if in case, you plan to visit in the evening and spend more time at the top. When we started the descent, the power went off and it was pitch dark. Of course, I had a torch unlike the others who struggled at every step.

Steps to the temple

The view of the lowlands from the top is fantastic, esp at Sun rise and sunset. I wasn’t too lucky with clouds playing foul… the best I got is this.

Sunrise at Melkote

2. Cheluva-narayana Swamy temple


The temple at the base of the hill. The deity, Cheluva-narayana here is amazingly pretty.

3. Kalyani or Pushkarani

The beautiful pond near the Cheluva-narayana swamy temple. It has an unmatched charm to it. Early morning spent here can be very peaceful. The Kalyani is full of life with activity – dasayya getting ready, people performing ablutions, puja, meditating, etc. Also, you get a nice view of the hill temple from here.

Kalyani at Melkote

4. Raya Gopura

Local folklore says that it was built in a night. Unfinished but interesting structure of large and heavy stone blocks. Local guy hanging out there mentioned a few movies shot in the area – Padayappa, Guru, Shivaji, etc. Ask anyone for directions. 5 min walk from the Cheluva-narayana temple.

Raya Gopura at Melkote

The view from the top of the Gopura is interesting too.

Melkote temple as seen from the Raya Gopura

View from Raya Gopura

5. Akka – thangi kola

Literally translates to elder and younger sister ponds. Located next to each other, just below the Raya Gopura. Their symmetrically built steps are brilliant… just like the Kalyani. Smaller in size compared to the Kalyani.

Akka-thangi kola @ Melkote

Melkote cuisine

Any discussion on Melkote is incomplete without discussing Puliyogare (tamarind rice) and the delicious Sakkare pongal (sweet rice dish). My not-so-exhaustive research tells that Subbanna mess is the best place to eat both of them along with their special Mango chutney. Their timings are 8am to 4pm only. They also sell the puliyogare mix and gojju in packets. I can easily recommend them to anyone!

If you are late to the town and find Subbanna mess closed, perhaps, you can try the Ganapathi mess nearby. Beyond 7pm, your options are very few, the ordinary Sudarshan hotel being one of them. Rates are reasonable throughout the town.

Accommodation options

Tricky question if you are a gang of bachelors. For families, the Sanskrit academy at the base of Raya Gopura has a few cottages that they rent out for the night at ~750INR (donation.. the receipt says). This, of course, if you look and behave like a gentleman in front of the officer there and if you have a bit of luck too. Each cottage has 2 bedrooms, a hall and a dining room. Each bedroom has 2 beds.

There is a yatri nivas too, which should provide accommodation to everyone. Apart from this, I doubt if there is any ‘regular’ accommodation. However, locals do provide accommodation to people as and when they feel like it.

And if you are left without options to stay.. pretty good actually. All you need is a sleeping bag to spread on the temple verandah and sleep. You will have company on busy days for sure.

Throughout the year, I should safely guess. But the festive period is either a no-no if you are *just* a traveler or a yes-yes if you are religious. Vairamudi festival is attended by almost half a million people and it can get really really really congested in the narrow lanes of the town.

A sample 2-day 1-night itinerary

  1. Start from Bangalore before noon
  2. Lunch at Kadambam / Maddur Tiffany’s / Kamat
  3. Reach Mandya by noon
  4. Stop at several places on the route from Mandya to Jakkanahalli to notice village life, esp the lush green paddy fields and the lakes, channels, etc
  5. Reach Melkote by 3.30pm and head to the Raya Gopura for evening photography
  6. Visit (climb) the hill temple in the evening
  7. Stay in Melkote (Sanskrit academy, Yatri nivas or simply in the temple verandah)
  8. Go for 8.00pm walk in the town to notice how the town is already asleep
  9. Wake up early at 5.00am and reach the hill temple (closed at this hour) before Sunrise. Soak in the beauty of the early morning sunrise.
  10. Visit the Kalyani
  11. Visit the Cheluva Narayana swamy temple
  12. Visit the Akka – Thangi kola near the Raya Gopura
  13. Have puliyogare and sakre pongal at Subbanna mess and perhaps buy packets of puliyogare and mango chutney
  14. Head to Dhanush koti if you have time. Or the Tannur / Tondlur lake.

36 thoughts on “Bangalore to Melkote / Melukote: A day trip

  1. Nice log there. This will be really helpful for those who plan to visit the place. No wonder if some might decide to make this place a destination, err, a journey after reading your log 🙂 I have visited this place once long ago. It was with family then. We just visited the two temples and the kalyani. We missed the Raya Gopura and Akka-Thangi Kola. I will visit them the next time I go there.

    Again, nice post!

  2. Planning to visit tomorrow, ya 2 days and a night, planning to stay in Forest guest House, to add above we are planning to visit Melkote reserve forest 🙂
    Good write up, thanks

  3. i say its a complete packed details one who is in search of Melkote and photos are amazing..After reading am feeling to go to that place and get a experience of it.Thanks for writing this 🙂

  4. Thanks for all the info. Feel we should make this trip!Am glad you havetaken the effort to post this.

  5. Prem, you are too good man. Thanks for sharing useful information and relevant photographs.

    Now I have decided, coming weekend will start our journey to Melkote.

    -Umesh

  6. i say its a complete packed details one who is in search of Melkote and photos are amazin. Thanks for sharing useful information and relevant photographs.

  7. Was in search to plan for a days trip to melkote, after seeing ur detailed info i feel as though i have completed the visit thanks for the complete package of info at one short.
    details r very simple and clean…….
    When to visit details is very helpful.

  8. hi,

    I am from melkote and i realised that every other family/ person from Melkote is connected to temple recently. I am pretty surprised that you realised in your first visit and mentioned in your blog. It is a great place to leave if some one wants to have a retired peaceful life.

    regards,
    Radha

  9. Thanks for all the info, directions were simple & clear. Am glad you have taken the effort to post this. We are planning for a journey to melkote this weekend.

  10. Hi Prem…

    I stumbled into your blog this morning (6/14/2013) when looking for bookshops in Bangalore and simply loved your perspectives. I wish you and your enterprise all the very best. I would like to add that in Melokote I found Pu Thi Naa’s (Kannada Writer) house has been converted to a (cute little) writer’s museum of sorts. Check it out for some lovely hand sketches of Melukote Landscapes by the writer. Regards – Shashi

  11. Planning a visit to bangalore and Melakottai came to my mind . Long pending trip . Delighted to see your derailed summary . Now the desire is much more than ever before ! Hopeful of a good darshan . Will follow your itinerary evey step. God bless

  12. Thanks for all the info, directions were simple & clear. Am glad you have taken the effort to post this. We are planning for a journey to melkote this weekend.

  13. Good information .It seems written for car users. Let me add to derive maximum benefits in the two days-one night trip as said. Enroute.. after Ramanagaram ,there is Kengal Hanumanji (right side of road).
    Vyasar estabished Then after Chennapatna, at Doddamalur , on the left side of the highways, visit Aprameya perumal and also Ambegalu krishna.(crawlig Balakrishna).same temple. Considered varaprasadhi for childless couple. ..Then move ahead and before Maddur town, say half kilometer.on the left side of the highways, visit Ugra Narasimha…Ashta bhujam.. three nethram..Yashoda with Balakrishna feeding (rare to see elsewhere). Varadharaja perumal(nethra narayana)…Sri Ramanujar establshed……Then move to Mandya and Melkote. Adiyane Raghuram Ramanujadasa.

  14. When U visit Melkote temple’s, SriRamanujar sannadhi, remember that the murthy was self-embraced
    (aalinghanam) by Ramanujar himself ,during his stay there and transmitted power to it. Also U can see Bibinaachiyar photo near Dhwajasthambam. There is Badharinaathar sannadhi. (outside temple..opposite …right side). Adiyane Raghuram Ramanujadasa.

  15. Really nice explanation for first time visitor to Melukote.
    But, it would be really nice if you can explain the route via Bangalore – Mangalore highway as we can avoid busy Mysore road traffic. One can also enjoy the beauty of Shravanabelagola along this route.

  16. Thank you for the info. Planning to go tomorrow although for just a day but your tips are helpful. Hoping Melkote will be more of a journey than a destination!

  17. Really interesting if we had just asked about Melkite we would have known little but you are great seeing your blog every one will be interested to go , thanks a lot

  18. Well-presented!

    Just been back from Melukote and can’t agree more with you about it being about ‘journey more than the destination’.


    Cheers,
    Rajiv

  19. Please inform about the Yatri nivas or lodges address and phone no. So that interested people or family can come nd stay there. With regards

  20. Feel tempted to visit. Very informative and appreciate the pains taken to write down for the benefit of all.

  21. I am Sheela plan to visit this temple during Pongal holidays.Very good explanation about temple and stay details. But persons phone number to contact for stay is missing why don’t u give or post it now is it possible?

  22. This helped a lot!
    We are cycling to Melukote from Bengaluru. Hope we get the accommodation, else as mentioned, temples are always inviting. Cheers. Thank you

  23. ಧನ್ಯವಾದಗಳು. ನಿಮ್ಮ ಸಂಪೂರ್ಣ ಮಾಹಿತಿಗಳನ್ನು ನೀಡಿ ನಮಗೆ ಬಹಳ ಸಹಾಯವಾಗಿತು.ವಂದನೆಗಳು

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