Monday, March 26, 2018

Trip to Melukote with Rita Keller

Every year during her workshop in Bellur Rita Keller take students to some historic places giving a break to yoga regimen for a change. For last two consecutive years we visited Melukote with her.

Melukote is on Mysore road around 200 kilometers from Bellur which is probably a 4 hour road journey if started early avoiding Bengaluru traffic. It is one of the ancient towns in Karnataka with great religious importance. Melukote is a sacred place for Hindus and also an important place for Guruji and his family.

A very ancient Library and Sanskrit college, the Raya Gopuram, Cheluvanarayana Temple, Pushkarini, Yoga Narasimha temple etc. are some of the highlights of the place.

We reached the library and Sanskrit college in around 11 A.M. I will now try to guide you through images what you can find in Melukote.

This is the first sight that come across you the moment you enter the Vedavedanta Bodhini Sanskrit college. A huge monolithic rock behind the college. 
Since we were asked to wait till some people explore the library, we went on exploring the nature. The rock in the picture below attracted me from far and when I went close; it appeared like a giant turtle with baby turtles by its side. Amazing isn't it?
And far down the valley I saw this beautiful sight of paddy field alongside a canal.
The Sanskrit college is built on a wide spread landscape with old Tamarind trees and some beautiful coconut trees and other plants.
I don't know what this is but it appeared very attractive.
This is what you can find inside the Library. All the ancient texts are preserved in their original form.
They were written in ancient paper forms like bhojpatras, tamra patras etc. They were preserved in a very traditional way. Snake skin and peacock feathers were used to preserve them from termite.
In the image below you can see some of the ancient texts like Ramayana and Maha Bharata were written on Palm leaves. Rita Keller told that Guruji used to regularly visit this place and spend time in this library reading ancient texts.
Rita Keller explaining something to the students. They say these transcripts have now been computerized and are available in their website for free. I tried to explore the site but the link was broken. You can off course try your luck.
This seems to be our favorite place. We had our lunch here during both the visits in 2017 and 2018.
Having lunch by the side of a pond under the shadows of tall coconut trees. This picture is of our 2017 batch.
Right after lunch we walked down to visit Raya Gopuram. It is the actual temple entrance built by Hoysala King, Vishnuvardhana. It is built with huge single stone granite. The Muslim invasion has destroyed most part of the monumental site. Indian movie lovers must be familiar with this site as many films were shot here. 
Raya Gopura has some intricate carvings still standing the test of times.
A stone cut inscription of a beautifully adorned temple elephant is seen. It is said that the elephant was gifted by Tipu Sultan of Mysore.
Walking few hundred meters down the line through some of the ruined ponds from Raya Gopura you reach Cheluva Narayana Temple. The image below is the main gopura (tower) of the temple.
The main deity here is Vishnu who is popularly known as Cheluva Narayana.
It is a big square complex with great architecture on it.
I love the eyes of Narasimha in the architecture of Karnataka. The ferocious eyes popping out in anger. 
I showed the images of this kind in my blog on Hampi. I love this.
I tried to capture some of the beautiful carvings on the temple top.
There are so many of these on this huge temple complex that stood out invasions and time.
Vishnu resting on the abode of Adisesha. You can see the head of Lakshmi is damaged or destroyed.
You can see yet another idol that has a broken leg. Not sure whether it got damaged due to Muslim invasion or due to other reason.

This is Yoga Narasimha. From here we walked up to Yoga Narasimha Temple. It is inspired from this idol of Yoga Narasimha sitting with a strap Guruji has introduced a yoga strap. 
The Pushkarini an ancient pond is what you see before you climb the stairs upto Yoga Narasimha Temple.
The site that you see on the other end of the pond is Natyamandapa, the stage meant for practice of dance. The close up shot below.
You see some of these beautiful art work at the platform near the pond. Since the temple was closed during the noon, we spent some time here at the pond.
Rita Keller shared some of her memories and experiences of visiting this place with Guruji and his family.
2018 batch could not visit the temple as it was closed. But don't worry here is what you can find on the way to Yoga Narasimha Temple. Yoga Narasimha Temple is built on a hill top at 1777 meters above sea level. There are around 300 steps that leads you to the temple. This is where the steps begin.
You will see some of these beautiful trees on both sides of the path giving some relief to the pedestrians from the burning hot Sun during summer.
Though we visited before Summer, it was quite hot. Most parts of Karnataka are hot due to rock hills around.
You will find plenty of Monkeys on your way to the temple.
This is the entrance of an ancient temple of Yoga Narasimha. 
I shot these photos during my previous visit. This is the entrance tower to the main temple.
We went on the roof of the temple that gives a 360 degree view of the entire town of Melukote.
You can see the glory of work done by craftsmen of that era on the walls of the temple.
This is the beautiful statue of Saraswati. 
This is the top of the temple.
You can see a beautiful valley and lake far in the background.
This is the Arial view of the pond that we visited before at the entrance.
This is the 2017 batch that went to Melukote on top of Yoga Narasimha Temple.
Keep watching the space for more updates.