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The route to Melukote from Bangalore is via Mandya. After taking a right turn on the highway, we travel through serene Indian countryside. The green belt of Mandya is rich in sugarcane plantations, and a treat for one’s sore urban eyes.

Fields near MandyaIt takes about 2.5 to 3 hours to reach Melukote from Bangalore. Once we arrive, we head straight out to the large tank which is locally known as kalyani. Almost every temple in South India features a water body known as kalyani or pushkarini.

Kalyani or Pushkarani in MelukoteThe Kalyani in Melukote is unusually large. Many regional movies have been shot here for its dramatic views.

Pilgrims use the kalyani for ritual cleansing. Consequently, a lot of interesting activities take place around the kalyani.

Adventurous young pilgrims dive into the KalyaniWe spend the first half watching and taking photographs of people around the kalyani.

A number of old Dasayyas spend the day near the kalyani. Dasayyas are men with huge trumpets and colorful namaas who bless people and sing praises of God.

A Dassaya in MelkoteIf you hear loud trumpet sounds, don’t be alarmed! The dassayas are doing their job.

Dassayas blow a long trumpet quite frequentlyThe dassayas bless the pilgrims by putting a tilak or namma on the forehead.

Dassaya with Pilgrim putting a naama

Pilgrim having a namma applied
The corridor around the kalyani has beautiful stone pillars which makes for an interesting composition.

Pillars at the corridor surrounding the KalyaniMoving on from the kalyani, we have lunch at Subbanna’s Mess. This place is famous for puliyogere and sweet pongal – a dish that Iyengars know best to make.

Subbanna's mess at Melkote famous for PuliyogereAfter lunch, we go to see a structure known as Raya Gopura. This is an unfinished building at the back of the town.

Raya Gopura at MelkoteStone Carvings at the Raya Gopura
From the Raya Gopura, walking down, we reach two tanks beside each other known as Akka Thangi Kola. This literally translates into ‘two sisters tank’. The water in one tank is potable, while in the other it isn’t.

Tourists at Akka Thangi KolaThere are plenty of old structures and temples scattered around the town. This one is near the Akka Thangi Kola.

Old Ruined Temple Near Akka Thangi KolaFrom the Akka Thangi Kola, we walk past the Cheluvanarayana Swamy temple. If lucky, you’ll get to meet this very photogenic priest 🙂

Melkote PriestIf not this one, there are others!

An Indian Priest With a White Beard and a Sacred ThreadWe may also come across students of the Vedas who reside in Melkote.

Iyengar students who stay in Melkote to learn the VedasThe town bazaar near the temple has managed to retain its old world charm. This is an opportunity to see locals and photograph them.

Local vendor in the bazaar of Melkote

Local vendor in the bazaar of MelkoteThe local villagers go about their activities oblivious to the pilgrims and tourists, like this lady who was drawing a huge rangoli.

Lady putting rangoli

Market near Cheluvanarayana Swamy TempleMost houses in Melukote are quite old, which adds to the flavor of the place.

Young Tourists at Melkote

Local Village Boy

If the weather is right, we also stop by Danush Koti. This is about a kilometer away from Raya Gopura. From this place, you get a panoramic view of the landscape around Melkote.

Danush Koti in MelkoteCrossing the bazaar, we arrive at the kalyani once again. From there we start walking up to the Yoganarasimha temple.

Melkote View from Raya Gopura

Yoga Narasimha on top of the hill

It takes about 45 minutes to climb up to the temple, which is on top of a hill. The walk up on the stone stairway is very interesting.

Occasionally, you may get to meet the priest of the  Yoga Narasimha Temple. As per tradition, the priest carries water up the stairs before opening the temple doors in the evening. Imagine carrying a large vessel of water up a 100 stairs!

Priest Carrying Water at melukote

We reach the top of the hill in time for sunset. From here, we have a beautiful view of the town of Melkote.

Melukote Town View from Yoganarasimha templeWe close the day at sun down after witnessing the sunset. This is a great reward for staying on foot all day and exploring the temple town of Melkote.

Yoganarsimha Temple during suset

Street Photography in Melkote

Melkote is a great place to shoot portraits of people, happenings and every day life. The streets of Melkote is full of photography opportunities Here are photographs that I have shot in Melkote over the years.

 

I lead mentored photography day trips to Melkote. This is a temple town near Mysore, in Mandya district. The photos here were shot during my many visits. On the day of the tour, we leave Bangalore early in the morning, spend 6-7 hours in Melkote, and return the same day.

Showing 10 comments
  • Shreyas
    Reply

    Hey! Beautiful pictures, loved them all. I recently visited the place myself. Where was the line of pillars shown in monochrome ?

    • Pratap J
      Reply

      Thanks Shreyas. The pillars are right next to the Kalyani.

  • Ragu
    Reply

    Beautiful, what camera do you use ? 

    • Pratap J
      Reply

      Thanks Ragu. I use a Canon 5D Mark III and Fuji XE2. But the photos in this page have been taken with a few other cameras I have owned in the past.

      • ASIAN HEMROM
        Reply

        Nice pictures sir.These are all original photos or you edit it but really nice photos. I have brought canon EOS 500D with 18-55mm & 55-250 mm lens few years back. Can i click beautiful pictures as you clicked ?

        • Pratap J
          Reply

          Thank you. You can get nice photos with your DSLR too. Yes, you will need to edit your photos.

  • jagannath
    Reply

    very nice 

  • Anand
    Reply

    Wow!!! Beautiful photos Sir !

    I am amateur in photography and have canon dslr. Can you please suggest me some tips, am going to Melkote in next few days. I have kit lens and 70-300 lens.

    Thanks,
    Anand

    • pixelshooter
      Reply

      Hi Anand, follow the same path as given in this blog. Climb Yoganarimha in the evening. You will get nice photos of sunset. Also try and use a 50mm prime lens if you wish to shoot portraits.

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