What Makes Melkote Cheluvanarayana Swamy Temple Unique?

The Melkote Cheluvanarayana Swamy Temple is located in the Mandya district of Karnataka, a state in southern India. This temple also referred to as Thirunarayanapura, is situated atop the rocky hills of Yadugiri or Yadavagiri, offering a picturesque view of the Kaveri valley below.

The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, one of the principal deities in Hinduism who is revered across the world through various forms and manifestations. Situated approximately 156 kilometers from Bangalore and 48 kilometers from Mysore, the Cheluvanarayana Swamy Temple stands as a significant pilgrimage site for devotees of Lord Vishnu.

5. The Rich History

The Cheluvanarayana Swamy Temple was built during the 12th century by the Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana. It gained prominence when the great Vaishnava saint, Sri Ramanujacharya, lived here for 14 years, revitalizing it as a major center for the Vaishnava tradition.

During his stay, Ramanujacharya revitalized the temple and made it a major center for the Vaishnava tradition. The temple’s history is also marked by its survival through periods of destruction, notably during the Muslim invasions in the 14th century. The Vijayanagar rulers later restored the temple, ensuring its continued importance.

4. Architectural Marvel

The temple’s architecture is a testament to the Hoysala style. The main shrine, dedicated to Cheluvanarayana Swamy, features exquisite carvings and sculptures. The temple complex includes a spacious mandapam and several smaller shrines.

The Hoysalas Architecture primarily used soapstone (chloritic schist) as their primary building material. This soft stone allowed for intricate carving and detailing.

The gopura (tower) at the entrance is an impressive structure, showcasing intricate designs that highlight the skill of ancient artisans. The temple also has a beautiful pond, known as the Kalyani, which adds to the serene ambiance of the place. The twin tanks, Akka Tangi Kola, are another unique feature, each with its own legend and distinct water quality.

3. The Spiritual Legacy

From 108 Vishnu and Lakshmi temples that are mentioned in the works of the Alvars, the poet-saints of the Sri Vaishnava tradition, Melkote Cheluvanarayana Swamy Temple is one of the most important Vaishnavite temples in South India. The Ranganathaswamy Temple, located in Srirangam, is the first of the Divya Desams.

The presiding deity, Cheluvanarayana Swamy, is believed to have been worshipped by Lord Rama and his son Kusha (one of the twin sons of Rama and Sita, the other is Luv), which is why the deity is also known as Ramapriya.

Rama is one of the most widely worshipped Hindu deities, the embodiment of chivalry and virtue. The name is specifically associated with Ramachandra, the seventh incarnation (avatar) of Vishnu. His story is told in the epic poems the Mahabharata and the Ramayana

The temple’s significance is further enhanced by its association with Sri Ramanujacharya, who played a crucial role in promoting the Sri Vaishnavism tradition. The temple follows the Pancharatra Agama, and its rituals and festivals attract thousands of devotees each year.

2. The Vairamudi Festival

One of the temple’s most celebrated events is the annual Vairamudi Brahmotsava festival, held in March or April. This 13-day festival draws large crowds, with the highlight being the procession of the deity adorned with the Vairamudi, a diamond-studded crown.

The crown, which has a fascinating history, is kept under strict security and brought out only during the festival. The procession is a grand spectacle, with the deity carried through the streets amidst chanting and devotional songs. This festival is a major attraction, bringing together devotees from across the country.

The festival attracts over 400,000 devotees from all over the country. No dress code restrictions.

Highlights of Vairamudi Brahmotsava Festival

  • Garudotsava: Celebrated a day prior to Brahmotsava.
  • Diamond studded crown: Vairamudi or diamond studded crown is the center of attraction during the Vairamudi festival. The diamond crown is secured in a nearby city during the rest of the year and is brought to Melukote under heavy security during festival season. The crown will be mounted on top of the statue of Lord Cheluva Narayana Swamy.
  • Procession:  Rathotsava or Car Festival is the major component of the Vairamudi festival.
  • Daily celebrations: Teppotsava: Boat (coracle) festival, Nagavalli Mahotsava (prayer to snake god), and Gajendra Moksha (Prayers to elephant god) are some of the several activities held during the 13-day Vairamudi festival.

How to reach?

Melukote is 150 km from Bengaluru. Mysuru airport is 61 km away. Mandya (40 km) is the nearest railway station. Private buses are available from Mandya and Mysuru to reach Melukote.

  • Nearby: KRS Dam (36 km), Shravanabelagola (35 km), Srirangapattana (38 km), and Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary (41 km) are some of the nearby attractions to visit along with Melukote.

1. Surrounding Attractions

Surrounding Attractions - Melkote Cheluvanarayana Swamy Temple

Melkote is not just about the Cheluvanarayana Swamy Temple. The town is home to several other attractions that provide visitors with a rich cultural and natural experience. Here are some of the notable places to explore in and around Melkote:

  • Yoganarasimha Swamy Temple: Perched on a hill, this temple offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, providing a serene and picturesque experience. It is dedicated to Lord Narasimha and is a significant religious site for devotees.
  • Kalyani (Temple Pond): This large, beautifully constructed pond, also known as Pushkarani, is located near the Cheluvanarayana Swamy Temple. Its steps and the surrounding mandapas (pavilions) create a picturesque scene often featured in Indian films.
  • Melkote Wildlife Sanctuary: Established in 1974, this sanctuary was created primarily to protect wolves. It has since become home to various other animals, including jungle cats, leopards, bonnet macaques, langurs, and pangolins. Bird watchers will also find this sanctuary a delight, as it hosts numerous bird species.
  • Akka Tangi Kola: These twin ponds, known as Elder Sister and Younger Sister ponds, are steeped in local legends. One pond has clear, sweet water, while the other is somewhat salty. The ponds are filled with fish and are a tranquil spot for visitors.
  • Sanskrit Pathshala or Library: This institution, dating back to the time of Sri Ramanujacharya, is one of the oldest educational establishments in the region. It houses an extensive collection of Vedic, English, Kannada, and Sanskrit texts, making it a treasure trove for scholars and those interested in Indian languages.
  • Raya Gopura: Known as Kote Vasil, this structure was intended to be the main entrance of the Cheluvanarayana Swamy Temple. The incomplete pillars of this gopura are stunning and surrounded by local folklore about its construction.
  • Thirunarayanapura Dam: Located near the temple, this dam offers another spot for visitors to enjoy the natural beauty and peaceful environment of the region. It is a great place for a quiet walk or a picnic.

How to Reach Cheluvanarayana Swamy Temple

  • Address: MJ6X+33J, Pandavapura, Taluk, Melukote, Karnataka 571431, India
  • Hours:
    • Thursday 7:30 AM–1 PM, 4–6 PM, 7–8:30 PM
    • Friday 7:30 AM–1 PM, 4–6 PM, 7–8:30 PM
    • Saturday 7:30 AM–1 PM, 4–6 PM, 7–8:30 PM
    • Sunday 7:30 AM–1 PM, 3:30–6 PM, 7–8:30 PM
    • Monday 7:30 AM–1 PM, 4–6 PM, 7–8:30 PM
    • Tuesday 7:30 AM–1 PM, 4–6 PM, 7–8:30 PM
    • Wednesday 7:30 AM–1 PM, 4–6 PM, 7–8:30 PM
  • Phone: +91 82362 99839
  • District: Mandya District

  • By Air

Bangalore International Airport located at a distance of 133 kilometers is the nearest airport to Melkote. Bangalore Airport is well-connected to all the major domestic and international destinations.

  • By Rail

Mysore railways station located at a distance of 51 kilometers is the nearest railways head. It is well connected with other major cities of Karnataka as well as prominent metro cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Hyderabad.

  • By Road

KRTDC buses ply on a regular basis from both Mysore and Bangalore. You can even take a bus to Tumkur and onwards from Mysore and deboard at Jakkanahalli Cross. Melkote is about 6 km from this point.


The Melkote Cheluvanarayana Swamy Temple is a remarkable historical and cultural site in Karnataka. Its architectural splendor, rooted in the Vijayanagar style, is truly awe-inspiring. The annual Vairamudi festival, where the temple’s prized jewel-studded crown is paraded, is a significant event that draws devotees from far and wide.

Beyond its physical grandeur, the temple holds deep spiritual significance for Vaishnavites. For those interested in history, architecture, or Hindu religious traditions, a visit to the Melkote temple is genuinely enriching and memorable. It is a destination that seamlessly blends the past and present, making it a must-see attraction in Karnataka.