I was talking to a friend from Melkote about getting there and all of a sudden Subbu, (another friend) asked why not we ride there tomorrow. How could I say no to such an exciting plan? Soon another six joined.
4 bikes and 8 people; we met near Bangalore University at 5:45 AM on 19th of January 2008, a saturday. We quickly introduced each other and started off. I enjoyed the back seat watching the sunrise, as we rode to Mandya. We stopped at Maddur to fill tank, at MRPL’s first ever fuel outlet, opened only a day before, said the workers there with enthusiasm. They were extremely friendly, which was surprising.
We stopped for breakfast at Mandya. Food at hotel Hari Priya is really good. Srik and I stopped for buying some snacks while others took off. A rightward Deviation to Melkote is about 2KM after Mandya.
We did not find others at the junction as decided, but kept moving. Few km’s gone I get a phone call that Subbu’s bike would not start and they were still at the Hotel. As we had already made few km into the deviation road, we decide to stay there and wait for the others.
Meanwhile Srik and I met a villager who enquired about us. Looking at us taking pictures of the sugarcane fields, he suspected us to be researchers or something from the agricultural department. He shared his story too; he owns a lot of land and the researchers have asked them to plant sugarcanes at 5inch separation from 3 before. This would minimize the effect of worms and other insects and thus diseases. He says it has worked well. But he struggles to find laborers and at his mill he has workers from Bihar. Most laborers from village move to Bangalore for better life, he says.
We slowly rode slightly ahead and stopped at a canal. Villagers were spreading Raagi on the road, when asked why? One said that the moving vehicles would separate the Raagi seeds from the grass; otherwise they need to beat them.
We next stopped at a beautiful location under a tamarind tree. I slept below the tree’s shade overlooking a small hill on top of which was a temple. Srik and I relaxed there until the others came.
After they arrived, we directly rode to Melkote.
We first went to Cheluvanarayana swamy temple. In front of the temple was an Iyengar, who was marketing for his food stall and asked us to have lunch. Iyengar Pulivogre is famous here. He also told us about the nearby places. Cheluva narayana swamy idol is very beautiful indeed. One would not want to move their eyes off such a pleasant looking idol of lord Vishnu. Badrinarayana temple is another small temple opposite main temple.
Yoganarasimha temple is on top of a hill. About 1000 steps would lead you up there. Both these temples are 900 years old and are extremely beautiful with lot of stone carvings depicting stories of Vishnu. One of the songs from film Guru is also shot here on the way to hill.
The view of the entire village from top is truly mesmerizing. The lake Kalyani at the base of hill is a good relaxing place.
We rode back and had Pulivogre, Sweet Pongal and Curd rice at the iyengar’s place. It was very tasty. The food is cooked at home and sold here. He also gave us some back ground of the temples. It seems, a jain king who ruled here had two daughters, one of whom was terribly ill (Effect of Brhamarakshasi is the term referred to). Ramanujachar was requested to arrive and cure her. He took her to Tannur lake and there cured her out of the disease. In turn the king offered him gold, but ramanjachar instead asked him to follow his vishnava principles and convert to a Vishnaya king. The king was renamed to Vishnuvardhana. Ramanujachar stayed there for several years and preached his new followers.
Another famous story about the temple is of the utsav idol which was stolen and then found in Delhi, in sultan’s house being worshipped by his daughter. Lord Vishnu himself came in dreams of Ramanujachar and informed his whereabouts.
This is a major difference I have seen by traveling in India and anywhere else; every place has stories to say, villagers have interesting information about their ancestors and I think this is what makes it so good to be in these places and to be part of history.
We next rode to Danush koti. A cutout in a rock, in which the natural spring keeps water filled, is believed to have been created by Lord Rama’s arrow. While we were there millions of honey bee from nowhere flew in to cover the entire place with black spots. We had to hide behind a rock to save ourselves.
The next stop was Akka-Thangi Kere. Water in one of these is salty and other sweet. Next stop was Raya Dwara – A grand entrance that never got completed. Myth is that the King wanted a grand entrance built within a night. But as the sun’s first ray fell on the incomplete masterpiece, the time was up and till date it remains so.
The Sanskrit academy was closed. The library has a wide collection of oldest scriptures.
We took a narrow back route from Melkote to Tannur Lake. It’s a neat place to hang around. We took a coracle ride. The guy in charge there arranges campfires too.We watched the sunset and returned through Pandavpur-Mandya-Bangalore route.
We stopped at Mandya again for food. Reached Bangalore university at 9:30 PM. Dispersed from there to our homes.
It appeared to me like I had lived 2 days in one. What a long day it was; lovely places; interesting history; enthusiastic villagers. Few back routes that we took have not seen buses yet. Few paths are only meant for bikes and they pass through the real village life.