Melkote and Srirangapatna, a day trip.

Melkote and Srirangapatna

We made a quick trip to Melkote and Srirangapatna on the 31st of Jan 2009. My inlaws wanted to visit a Narasimha temple (Their ‘family god’) on the eve of their wedding anniversary and the only Narasimha temples we knew of outside Bangalore are in Sholingur (TN) and Melkote (KA).

Having been to both these places in the past, we thought that Melkote is a better bet this time as it would be a shorter drive, an easier climb up to the temple for the elderly and we could also make a flying visit to Srirangapatna.

The ‘standard’ timings for the Melkote temples are Morning 8.00am to 1.00pm and evening 4.30pm to 7.30pm. However the timings seem to get extended a little during weekends and on occasions when there is a heavy influx of pilgrims.

A day before you start off your trip, you can call the folks below to get an update on the timings and the crowd for the particular day.

Cheluvanarayana temple:
Sri S. Narasaraja Bhat,
Pradhana Archaka,
Tel:08236 – 298913
Mobile:9448754696 & 9448813124

Yoga Narasimha Temple:
Sri S. Narayana Bhat,
Pradhana Archaka,
Mobile:94484 12656

If you have young kids or elderly folk in your group, it is preferable to avoid going there during any special festival days. There might be a longer than usual standing in queue for darshan. [Check out if you can a day off during the middle of the week, all these places will be devoid of crowds.]

Also, ensure that you drive up the hill to the point where the road ends. [Near the mobile phone towers on the hill]. A narrow road that leads past the Kalyani goes there. Looks like quite a few people prefer to park near the Kalyani and walk all the way up, which may not be ideal for the elderly.

(* For bio-breaks, there are clean ‘Pay and use’ toilets in Melkote town, keep looking towards your left while driving from the hill temple towards the Cheluvanaraya temple. There is a small school and the toilet block is in the corner next to the school.)

Ranganathaswamy temple – Srirangapatna.
Temple timings 7.30am to 1.00pm, 4.00pm to 7.30pm.

(* There is a ‘pay and use’ toilet here in the ground next to the parking area)

Suggested trip would be:
[1] Start early from Bangalore – By around 5.30am.
[2] Stop over at Lokruchi for breakfast.
[3] Reach Melkote hill temple by 9.00am and complete the darshan.
[4] Reach the Cheluvanarayana temple by 11.30am and complete darshan.
[5] Carry packed lunch (Curd-rice?), so that you can stop in some shade and finish lunch.
[6] Drive around to the ‘Raya Gopura’, ‘Akka-Tangi’ kola. [Dhanushkoti requires some climbing up, not advisable for the elderly.]
[7] It is @45 minutes drive from Melkote to Srirangapatna.
[8] Since the temple opens at 4.00pm, finish seeing the places nearby. [The dungeon, the Jamia masjid, Tipu’s palace ruins and the place where Tipu’s body was found are all within a 2km radius from the Ranganathaswamy temple. The Darya-daulat bagh palace, Gumbaz (Tipu’s tomb) and Sangam are within 5 – 6 kms on the other side of Mysore road.]

* Other than the temple which is open till 7.30pm, Gumbaz – open till 6.30pm, Sangam – will have people around till 6.00pm, the other places like Darya-daulat bagh, the Dungeons, Tipu’s palace ruins etc. will close at 5.00pm, so plan accordingly.

There are two routes that I had taken to Melkote in the past and this was a third route. And by-far this is the smoothest route of the three. Excellent road conditions all the way till Melkote.

Route 1:
Mysore road > Just after Mandya take a right turn onto the road which says ‘Melkote’. [There are a couple of signs including a Karnataka tourism sign-board indicating Melkote] – This is the shortest route, but the last time I had taken this road the conditions were nothing great to write about.

Route 2:

Mysore road > Continue straight after Mandya and much before Srirangapatna you will see a board indicating a road to ‘Pandavapura’, take that road and you’ll reach Pandavapura from where you go on to Melkote. – Road conditions upto Pandavapura were not that great, from PPura to Mkote are great.

Route 3:
Mysore road > Continue all the way till you see the big green arch on the road which says ‘Welcome to Srirangapatna’, just a few feet before the arch, there is a state-highway that goes off to the right. Turn right into that road and you’ll find some milestones marked for ‘Ballari’ and some for ‘Pandavapura’. Just go straight on the road, reach Pandavapura. Take the Pandavapura bypass to stay on the highway and follow the signs all the way to Melkote. Though this is a longer route and adds around 23 + 23kms extra on the odo, this is the best road, with almost no potholes and a good road all the way to Melkote.

[When you are driving from S’patna towards Bangalore, you will see signboards indicating that this road goes to Melkote]

The Melkote drive had been on the cards for more than a month. We had planned to do it over this weekend. While driving back from Kukke Subramanya to Bangalore after our Kumara Parvata trek, we had noticed that the state highway that goes off to the left after Srirangapatna had a board indicating ‘Melkote’. Having tried the other two routes to Melkote in the past, we thought of trying this third route this time. Since we would be driving past Srirangapatna, we pencilled it into our plans.

We started from Bangalore at 6.00am from Airport road, picked up my in-laws and reached Mysore road by around 8.00am. First stop was at Kamat Lokruchi for breakfast. With the number of times we have been landing up at this place of late, I should apply for a ‘Loyalty card’…

Reached Srirangapatna next and took the right turn just a few feet before the ‘Welcome to S’patna’ arch. It is another state highway, so road conditions are good. Almost no potholes / rough stretched all the way till the Melkote mini-ghat section. Melkote is around 135kms from Bangalore, in Pandavapura taluk of Mandya district.

Melkote (Previously called Thirunarayanapur) is a town that is more than 1,000 years old, which has been often called the “Badrinath of the South" due to its religious importance. The town is built around a rocky hill called ‘Yadavagiri’. It has two main temples, the Cheluvanarayanaswamy temple in the town and the Yoganarasimhaswamy temple on the hilltop.

The story of Melkote Cheluvanarayanaswamy temple goes as follows…
Over its 1000+ year history, this town was developed, destroyed and rebuilt by various Kings. When a Badshah of Delhi captured Melkote, he ransacked the temples of their treasures and razed the structures to the ground.

Saint Ramanujacharya was visiting a nearby town and one night he had a dream in which Thirunarayanaswamy asked him to unearth his idol from the ruins of the destoyed temple. With the help of King Vishnuvardhana, he recovered the idol of Cheluvanarayanaswamy and rebuilt the temple.

Most temples have two or more versions of the main diety, one is the ‘Moola-murthy’-the main idol and the other is the ‘Utsava-murthy’-the idol used for processions and other festivities. The ‘Utsava-murthy’ of the temple has been carried away by the Badshah as war booty. Since the idol is beautiful, it caught the fancy of his daughter(?) Bibi Nachiyar and she had the idol with her.

Ramanujacharya approached the Badshah of Delhi and convinced him to return the idol. This Utsava-murthy is also called Ramapriya (There is a connection to the Ramayana, where the idol was apparently created for Lord Ram…) When the idol was brought back to Melkote, Bibi Nachiyar could not bear to be away from the idol and followed it to Melkote. She lived in Melkote for the rest of her life and a small idol of her was built at the feet of the Utsavamurthy to commemorate her memory.

The first historic structure you see in Melkote is a ‘Mantapa’, nothing so spectacular, but worth a stop anyway…

You’ll find structures like this in almost every historical place in south India. They were built as shelters / rest-houses for travelers visiting these towns…

Next you see the ‘Kalyani’ tank. This is at the base of the Yoganarasimhaswamy temple hill. The Mantapa near the Kalyani…

It is believed that Prahlada himself installed the Yoganarasimha idol on this hill. A temple was built later and is said to been developed into it’s current design during the times of the Hoysalas. There is a huge drum at the temple, which was donated by Tipu Sultan, it is still used during the ritual poojas. A sign-board explaining the significance of the temple…

From the place where the road ends, there are 225 steps to the top…

For the elderly who cannot walk up on their own, a ‘Doli’ can be hired…

As with most old temples built in the hills, this one has its own resident monkey population. They grab any plastics covers, food articles, water bottles…

A view of the surroundings from the top. The view around is much better just after the monsoon rains…

The climb to the top takes anywhere between 10mins – 30mins depending on how fit you are…

A view of the Kalyani from the top…

The Yoganarasimhaswamy temple entrance…

After Monkeys, there are goats too…

Near the entrance to the temple…

There is a cave below the temple called ‘Bilaswarga’, which is now closed to visitors. [There was apparently closed after the Jan 08 robbery at the temple when jewellery worth Rs.1.5 crores was stolen from the temple.] This cave goes right under Lord Narasimhaswamy’s idol…

The Gopuram of the temple…

Stucco work on the gopuram…

In one corner of the temple, gaint footprints of God are carved close to the edge of the cliff…

The benefactors of the temple, immortalized in stone…

The entrance of the temple…

You get a great view of Melkote and the surroundings from the top…

The descent is relatively easier…

A view of the temple…


3 comments to...
“Melkote and Srirangapatna, a day trip.”
sampath kumar

very nice and very help full site thanks

Travel Partner

Very nice travellogue!!!
Thank you very much.
So far no one has given any information about the toilets. Excellent that you had an idea of mentioning this.
Kudos to you…


Thanks for detailed info. I am sure with the info one can go on a tour to Melkote and recollect your briefs.


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