Melukote, Thonnur lake and Ranganathittu – A memorable day outing

Melukote was on my travel list on finding out that ancient temple architecture to many movie songs being shot there. It sounded a sublime place for a weekend outing – 150kms from Bengaluru. Also, It had been a long time I met my LG friends. This was so perfect to call out for a weekend drive. Dragged out my friends – Teju, Pradeep, Sud, Rocky for a hangout and there we go !!


Melukote is famous for Cheluvanarayanaswamy and Yoganarasimha temples. The place gained importance after the Srivaishnava reformer Ramanujacharya lived here for 14 years. Many devotees of Sri Vaishnava and Brahmin cult visit here to seek blessings frequently. We were excited to explore the temple architecture and the ancient remains.

The journey towards Melukote

So, the journey started on a Saturday morning. We were pleased with Pradeep’s driving adventures 😉 So we gave him a chance to drive this trip. On the other hand, we did not have any better option! That’s a different story !! 😀 We had planned to leave Bengaluru at 6:30 am. Thanks to Rocky !! He never misses his energy-rich breakfast even on the day of the trip 😛 Finally, by 7 am they picked me up, fuelled full tank and the journey started off from Tumkur road.

From Tumkur road, we deviated to Kunigal Bypass road. Lots of interesting talks on the way made us laugh to the core. Guess what!! Rocky said – Guys, Let’s stop for breakfast! I’m hungry :|. In spite of having a good breakfast, he was already hungry. We all gave him a death stare :D. On the way long we stopped to boost up our energy. I don’t remember the name of the restaurant. But the place was too good !! and they served us soft idlis and vada. A nice breakfast added up high spirits!! 🙂

We resumed our journey using maps. We almost reached Melukote by 9:30 am. Melukote is actually a hill and has two temples – Cheluvanarayanaswamy temple at the base and the Yoganarasimha temple at the hilltop. The cars reach the peak almost and we parked it in there (take route help from locals to reach the peak via car). The sun was high and the place was pretty crowded.

Temples of Melukote

The Yoganarasimha temple – Hilltop Melukote

As it was already late, we decided to visit temple first- Yoganarasimha temple. We gazed at the hilltop and noticed the temple gopura. So here we go, we started ascending stairs. Believe me, each step is too high to climb. I could see many devotees (mostly Srivaishnavas) with tilaka ascending the stairs with all the devotion.

Numerous small gopuras on ascending

We passed by many small gopura structures on our way to the peak. The view got better as we ascended here. Finally, we reached the peak. The feeling was awesome !! We sighed and the cool breeze embraced us.

Temple Gopuras – Old and high
Temple etches

This temple is centuries old, wherein it is believed that Ramanujacharya stayed here for 14 years. As we entered the temple premises, a devotee offered us tilaka and we noticed a huge Garudaghamba, which had that ancient touch. The whole temple appeared to be made of mostly rocks and hence preserved the coolness. The deity looked very elegant and we bowed with devotion. The temple also had the idols of 12 Alwars who contributed to the prosperity of the place.

Pushkarni view

As we exited the temple, a huge Pushkarni captured our sight. It appeared peaceful and beautiful. This has been featured in a lot of movies and looks great for its symmetry.

Beautiful symmetry at this spot

We descended the hill and started to walk towards Cheluvanarayanaswamy temple. The temple was too crowded and large queue held up late.

Cheluvanarayanaswamy temple
Krishna idol on Gopura

As we entered the temple, we could feel how ancient the temple is. The architecture said it all. Huge pillars all around, well carved with the concepts of Vishnu Puranas. Interested people can do a lot of research on the history of temple dated back centuries ago.

Intricate carvings of Vishnu avatars. Beautiful pillars all around. So ancient! So artistic!

Rayagopura / Shooting spot

We had to visit one more spot – RayaGopura, a hotspot for movie shootings. We boarded our car and drove for 5 mins to reach Rayagopura. This appeared like a rock mantapa with four vertical rock pillars, full of beautiful carvings.

RayaGopura – A must visit

There are stairs to ascend the RayaGopura.Somehow, Rocky helped us in ascending the RayaGopura :P. With all adventures, we were excited to witness beautiful views from the top. Feels awesome. On the way, we had our lunch at Green Park restaurant.

Thonnur Lake

Approximately 18kms from here as we navigated, Thonnur Lake was our next destination. The lush green countryside farms greeted us on the way.

Countryside farms. Feast to eyes.

As we reached the spot, an awesome sea blue lake left us awestruck. The lake was so vast and the reflection of the sky calmed our eyes. We remained there looking at the lake view, playful with water. The viewpoints gave us the best shots of the lake.

Excellent lake view!
View point of Thonnur lake

Few people were swimming here even upon warning of sign boards. The backside of the lake is famous for its view. As I have heard, the lake appears like a sea.  Unfortunately, we were unaware of this fact and hopefully, I’ll revisit it soon again.

Ranganathittu bird sanctuary

We still had time, Rangathittu was nearby. The place is a treat to nature lovers and also, winter is the best season to watch the migrated birds. Upon asking my friends on visiting, they said yes!! And en routed to Ranganathittu bird sanctuary for another 25kms.

Ranganathittu bird sanctuary is also called as Pakshi Kashi (Holy place of birds) and is the largest sanctuary in the state, situated on the banks of Kaveri river. The famous bird lover, Salim Ali lived here to researchThe best attractions of the place are Watchtower, Boating point, lovely parks around and the beautiful birds to calm human spirits.

Entrance to Ranganathittu

As we entered the place, the chirping birds hiding in tall trees greeted us. It is a divine feeling for a nature lover with the peaceful atmosphere. It was late evening already, hence we rushed towards the boating point. As the boat rowed, we noticed a series of birds with their families, tall green bamboo trees and crocodiles resting on the rock beds.

Pelicans! Beautiful eyes and beak. Look at the wings!
Spoon bill gazing. I loved its hairstyle though!
Nesting of Open billed storks.
Pelicans. Their beaks are unique and wings are huge.
Look at the designs on their wings.
The lake view as we rowed. Lovely Isn’t it?
Fiery sun !! 😀
So soothing Sunset to mark the day 🙂

We had to leave to Bangalore before 6 pm, as Mysore road would be a nightmare to drive at night. We had a nice dinner at a roadside hotel and finally departed to homes. The day was a perfect day outing with craziness overloaded. The moments will be cherished!

Visiting tips

  1. Best one-day itinerary from Bangalore. Melukote – Thonnur Lake – Ranganathittu.
  2. Melukote
    1. Temple timings – 9:30am to 1pm and 5:30pm to 8:00pm.
    2. Raya Gopura is a must visit for a serene time.
    3. Parking is just on road side. So be careful not to block the roads.
    4. The Puliyogare here is so delicious.
  3. Thonnur Lake
    1. Thonnur Lake is open all day to the public.
    2. It has the best view from the backside. Try exploring this.
    3. Swimming here is not preferred. Take care at your own risk.
    4. The countryside fetches you awesome landscapes.
    5. If you have time, witnessing sunset here would be a great idea.
  4. Ranganthittu
    1. Visiting hours: 8:30 am to 5:45 pm every day. Make sure to reach Ranganathittu by 4 pm at least.
    2. Entrance fee cost 60 bucks per head. Parking and stalls are available.
    3. Best season to visit is in winter. Best time to visit is early morning / late evening.
    4. The boating cost 60 bucks per head. This is the only way to witness birds.
    5. One of the best places near Mysore for a photo shoot.

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