We passed through the roads with swaying sugarcane fields and over Ragi harvests spread on the roads. We were doing the threshing for the villagers by driving over the dried yield. After many such mounds my driver stopped to clean the wheels free from the grass, that stuck in. The villages we passed by were tiny and sleepy. As we reached the temple town we spotted the Gopuram perched on the hill. That's when I did the vibhajan of "Melkote" Mel is top and Kote is fort in Tamil. Hummm... everyone echoed.
We got off near the gate of the Kalyani and parked the car in the open space in front of it. My nephew who until then was busy eating one or the other thing started opening his mouth to ask endless questions. Why are we visiting here? What do we see here?
This town of Melkote is dominated by Iyengars. Yes but aren't Iyengars supposed to be Tamilians. Well history says the saint Ramanujacharya lived here for 14 yrs of his life. So came his followers from Tamil Nadu and made this little town their home, in the middle of Karnataka. They are so traditional and conservative that it almost feels like we are living in Malgudi days.
The Kalyani was inviting and felt like taking a dip however out of our environmental conscientiousness we have decided not to wash our sins in pilgrimage places our home and leading clean simple lives is a better way of doing it. So we got suchirbhut.
My driver though familiar with the town showed least interest in being our guide excusing himself in the name of guarding the car. So we decided to climb the hill first , to avoid the sun. We had reached the foothills by 8.15 am itself. It was not so sunny but it was a very bright day. As we climbed up the 1000 steps slowly we blessed the souls who planted the trees along the path. At a few hundred step there were shelter domes too.
On reaching the top of the hill and the entrance of the temple we realized the door was closed. So it was an opportunity to sit at the gopuram and taken in the views of the scenery around. Swaying palms, a hill with ridge that looked picturesque.
The cool breeze brushing gently against the Champa flowers and intoxicating with the sweet smell.
See the yellow gopuram there, that's where we went after we went down the hill to the Cheluva-Narayana Swamy Temple.
At 10 am the priests came up to the temple on the hill, they told us that the deity was Yoganarashimha. I let everyone go in and stayed back at the edge of the hill to enjoy some silence. As I sat there alone the cool breeze against my skin gave me goose bumps and a rush of energy! I knew this is what I would remember Melkote for the rest of my life, my spiritual experience. I travel places to seek this.
I was guarding everyone's footware so once they were back I went in for darshan along with Panu. We went behind the temple where we found a strange window with huge paduka. Was it where Ramanujacharya meditated?
This is the foothill temple gopuram. We took the road around the Kalyani and walked thru the sleepy town passing by vendors selling Puliyogare rice and curd rice. At first we hesitated. They were also selling the masala packets. I check it out and then put it back.
After trying to find the beautiful face of the Lord Vishnu in the heavily flower decorated idol we did circum-ambulation walking through the stone carved pillars.
As we stepped out we saw aarti being done for Ramanujacharya's idol and the temple musicians playing the auspicious tunes. Then followed some excellent chanting of Mantras.