Melkote (Thirunarayanapuram / Yadugiri/ Yadushaila / Yathishaila) is a beautiful village in Pandavapura Taluk, Mandya district, Karnataka State. The place features two major temples – Sri Tirunarayanar Swamy Temple and Sri Yoganarasimha Swamy Temple. The presiding deity in Sri Tirunarayanar Swamy Temple is Tirunarayana Perumal (Moolavar) and the
Utsavar is SampathKumara (Shelvappillai).
The Lord’s form here is a divine visual treat. If all of 14 worlds’ beauty were to culminate in a single personality, the result would be none other than our Tirunarayanar, as the name correctly suggests…! Who said beauty is feminine..? If you still feel so, visit Tirunarayanar and He’ll prove you wrong..! The all merciful Lord with His attractive eyes symbolizing the petals of a lotus is always eager to bless everyone. Another amazing highlight of this temple is that the deity of Swami Ramanuja was installed by Acharya Himself. After 12 years of stay in Melkote when Swami Ramanuja was about to return to Srirangam, His disciples were not able to bear the very thought of separation from their beloved Acharya. Hence Swami Ramanuja asked His disciples to make a deity of Himself which Swami subsequently installed with His potency. Since this deity was installed as per the will of Swami Ramanuja, the deity of Acharya is referred as Thaamuhanda Thirumeni.Swami Ramanuja here is often called as Peshum Yathirajar. (Emperor of Saints who reciprocates). It was Swami Ramanuja who reinstalled Tirunarayanar (who was dislocated on account of passage of time) and SampathKumara (Shelvappillai) who was taken away by mughals in one of their invasions. Tirunarayanar was located in Yadugiri itself but Swami Ramanuja travelled all the way to Indraprastha (present day New Delhi) to bring back SampathKumara. Melkote is highly revered as Abhimana Sthalam/Vijayasthanam in the SriVaishnava Sampradayam. At a certain point of time when it was not conducive to stay in Srirangam, Swami Ramanuja hailed to Melkote and stayed here for 12 years. History takes us through a series of phenomenal events that led to the installation of Lord Tirunarayanar. When Swami arrived to Tondanur (a place little away from Melkote), Melkote was only a hilly forest region. Tirunarayanar appeared in the dream of Swami Ramanuja and revealed that He is near the Kalyani Pushkarini on the hill and that Swami Ramanuja should find and re install the deity form of Tirunarayanar. Subsequently, upon the orders of Tirunarayanar, Swami Ramanuja gathered the local tribals and started the mission. Alas ! Tirunarayanar was found in the place as instructed in the dreams. Swami Ramanuja’s jubilation knew no bounds. Thereafter in Swami’s able leadership, a beautiful temple was constructed for Tirunarayanar. The wonderful temple stands in grandiose depicting ancient hoysala style of architecture. During His stay in Melkote, Swami Ramanuja, by His transcendental and revolutionary thoughts had built the place what gets the attention and reverence of millions. Swami Ramanuja is the architect of Melkote. Today, if Melkote is enjoying the prominence of being one of the most important centers of the rich traditional and cultural heritage of SriVaishnava Sampradayam, passed on to us by our Azhwars and Acharyas, the credit goes none other than our beloved Acharya, Sampradaya Pravarthakar, Shasthra Nirdharakar, Swami Ramanuja. It was Swami Ramanuja who standardized the principles of deity worship and other rules governing them. Swamy Ramanuja’s reforms were not only limited to these, but also extended to a number of social reforms in Melkote and Tondanur. One of the major being, construction of Tondanur lake to facilitate water storage. Another remarkable social revolution brought about by Swami was that He fought for the backward classes to be allowed inside the temple on few days (Thaer, Theppam and Theertham during Brahmotsavam) atleast, when, there existed a time they were not allowed inside the village itself. Yet another historical change triggered by Swami Ramanuja was that He included all sections of the society without any discrimination of caste and creed to assign various other services in Tirunarayanar Temple. Few examples of these being thozhukkini (to carry the pallakku of Their Lordships) bandikara (for Rathas and Vahanam processions), inner security, vaadyam (musical instruments), kombu kahale, dheevatike (torch bearers for processions), jinnangaale, nagaari, shankham etc. What is so called equality today was established centuries ago itself by our Acharya Saarvabhouma, Swami Ramanuja. Now we know how modern thinkers would’ve conceived the idea of equality..! The presiding deity in Sri Yoganarasimha Swamy Temple is Sri Narasimha Swamy in Yogic posture. This temple is situated on a hill top. Sri Yoganarasimha Swamy (Singa Perumal) majestically resides here establishing His true nature – Sarveshvara, the Supreme Controller. History reveals that Sri Yoganarasimha Swamy appeared to bless Prahallada who undertook a penance to please the Lord. Melkote is a place beyond one’s ambit of description. One can experience the serene and blissful environment only by visiting this divine shrine.