Cheluvanarayana Swamy Temple, Mandya, Karnataka

Date built:
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Major festivals
District:: Mandya
Address: Pandavapura Taluk, Mandya Dist, Melukote – 571431
Phone 08236299839

Cheluvanarayana Swamy Temple is located in Melkote in the Mandya District, Karnataka, India. The place is also known as Thirunarayanapura. It is built on rocky hills known as Yadavagiri or Yadugiri overlooking the Cauvery valley. It is about 30 miles (48 km) from Mysore and 97 miles (156 km) from Bangalore.


The temple is a square building of large dimensions but is very plain and only sparsely ornamented with carvings or sculptures. The presiding deity is Cheluva Narayana Swamy, also known as Tirunarayana ತಿರುನಾರಾಯಣ or Cheluvapille Raya ಚೆಲುವಪಿಲ್ಲೆ ರಾಯ, a form of Lord Vishnu. It appears from inscriptions that in the early centuries after the temple was built, the Lord was also known by the name Ramapriya, but this usage has now completely disappeared.

The utsavamurthi ಉತ್ಸವ ಮೂರ್ತಿ, which is a metallic idol used for processions and certain religious rituals, represents the deity ‘Cheluvanarayana Swamy. According to a legend, this metallic image was once lost but was recovered by Sri Ramanujacharya. The annual report of the Mysore Archaeological Department states on the strength of epigraphic evidence, that the presiding deity of this temple was already a well known object of worship even before Sri Ramanujacharya worshipped at the shrine in December 1098 CE. and even before he came to the Mysore region and that very probably he used his influence to rebuild or renovate the temple. From the lithic records of the period, existence of Tamil influence and Vaishnava worship in the area are also evident.

The temple is richly endowed, having enjoyed the special patronage of the Rajas of Mysores. As early as 1614, King Raja Wodeyar I(r.1578–1617), who first acquired Srirangapatna and accepted the Srivaishnava pontiff as his guru, handed over to the temple and to the Brahmins at Melkote, the estate granted to him by Vijayanagar Emperor Venkatapati Raya. While that estate was lost when Zamindari was abolished in the 1950s, the temple still possesses many properties and valuables, in particular an extremely valuable collection of jewels. On one of the pillars of navaranga of the Narayanaswami temple is a bas-relief about one and a half feet high, of Raja Wodeyar, standing with folded hands, with his name inscribed on the base. He was said to have been a great devotee of the presiding deity and a frequent visitor to the temple. A gold crown set with precious jewels was presented by him to the temple. This crown is known as the Raja-mudi (royal crown), a play on the name of Raja Wodeyar, the donor. According to legend, King Raja Wodeyar was observed entering the sanctum sanctorum of the Lord on the day of his death, and was seen no more afterwards. From the inscriptions on some of the gold jewels and on gold and silver vessels in the temple it is learnt that they were presents from Krishnaraja Wadiyar III and his queens. Krishnaraja Wodeyar III also presented to the temple a crown set with precious jewels. It is known after him as Krishnaraja-mudi. The Vairamudi (“diamond crown”), another crown of great value, seems to be older than the Raja-mudi and the Krishnaraja-mudi. However, it is not known who presented it to the temple.

All the three crowns are kept in the safe custody of the Government and brought to the temple on specific annual occasion for adoring the image of Cheluvanarayana Swamy. The vairamudi festival, which is the chief annual celebration is attended by more than 400,000 people.

Legend / Local stories

Cheluvanarayana Swamy Temple is over 1000 years old. The engravings on the temple mention the historical evidence of the temple.  On one of the columns of navaranga is a bas relief, of Raja Wodeyar. This name is etched on the base. He was said to be a great devotee of the presiding deity and a constant visitor to the temple.

Cheluvanarayana Swamy Temple is a lavishly empowered temple by the Wodeyar dynasty, the Royals of Mysore. The temple has the most valuable collection of jewels given to the lord by Mysore king Raja Wodeyar. Wodeyars gifted two gold crowns knows as Vairamudi or Vajramukuta and Krishnaraja-mudi to the lord. There is another crown, must older than these two crowns gifted to the lord by some unknown person. All the three crowns are currently in the custody of the Government and are brought to the temple on special occasions.

Vairamudi Festival is one such occasion when the crowns are taken out and adorned on the deities, post which the deities are taken out for a procession in the town. This festival is attended by kore than 4 lakh people every year. An interesting fact is that the main priest is blindfolded before the crowns are taken out, as it is believed that no one should see the crown until it is adorned by Tirunarayana, the main deity.

This temple is one of the most important shrines for the Vaishnavas. It is also listed an Abhimana Sthalam. The main idol of the temple is that of Narayana, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Mostly visites by the Vishnu believers or the Vashinavites, this ancienttemple was built if phases including the royals of Mysore. Vairamundi Seva Festival is organized on a huge scale during the time of March-April. A chariot procession is taken out during this festival. The deities of the temple are:


The presiding deity of this temple is of Lord Vishnu also known as Tirunarayana or Cheluvaraya. Utsavamurthy, the small metal idol, represents the main deity. Sri Chelunarayana Swamy was worshipped in Kritayuga by Lord Dattatreya and got the name of Vedadri. In Tretayga it was called as Narayanadri succeeded by Yasavadri as it was idolized by Balrama and Krishna. In Kalyuga it was idolized by Saint Ramanujacharya.


As far as mythology is concerned it is believed that Lord Rama visited this temple. This fact has been mentioned in the ancient texts as well as can be found in the manuscripts kept in the temple. Lord Rama along with his two sons Lav and Kush visited this temple and offered a flower tribute to the temple deities. And hence Cheluvanarayana Swamy was originally called as Ramapriya.

Bibi Nachiyaar

As per another legend utsavamurthy, the metal statue symbolizing the chief deity got lost during the Mughal invasion. It was then found by Ramanujacharya from Bibi Nachiyaar, Mohammed Shah’s daughter. She was given this idol as a toy, however rather than playing she was found worshipping it. Mohammed Shah gave the idol back to Ramanujacharya and it was then Bibi Nachiyaar came from Delhi to Melukote in search of it. She collapsed and died the moment she saw the idle. It is believed that her soul in the form of flame united with her idol. As an honor to her devotion, her idol is placed next to the feet of main idol.The temple has more than one Brahmotsavam and follows Pancharatra Agama. Thuni Thengol and Puliyogare are the popular prasadams of the temple.

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