The compound enclosing the structure is quite small and you can finish walking around it in no time. Unless you stop to look at every carving with great detail and try to read the stories being depicted on the temple walls - with no one around - it'll seem like the entire temple has been waiting for you to discover a forgotten era.
How to reach
This lovely temple is well connected by road from both Mysore and Bangalore. Located in a village, you'll need to ask for directions as most part of it is not listed on maps.
When to visit
Mandya being a very hot region. It's best to visit between October and January, before summer begins to set in. Choose to arrive in the morning as the temple has only one guard and is also most visible with natural light
What to bring
A sense of curiosity and respect! Unlike most temples, while the Gods are taken care of by the village priest, it's not a temple that invites offerings. It's ideal to marvel at the ancient architecture of the Hoysala dynasty, without the tourists. There are no shops or amenities here so be sure to carry some water with you.
Do remember that the Mallikarjuna Temple in Mandya is a protected site. While the urge to touch the walls and carvings may be strong, it's best to appreciate it from a distance. The constant touch from tourists can lead to the statues losing their lovely forms over time - not something we should encourage if we want to travel responsibly!
A thoughtful gift
My mum's always been someone who has encouraged me to follow my inner compass. When I was 18 she tried to get to me to go backpacking alone through Europe. She has always believed that being young, backpacking and traveling minimally is the right thing to do. And while she isn't social media savvy, connected online or great at keeping secrets, she managed to pull off this sweet, birthday surprise for me - something which only brought us closer together!
I realised how much we take for granted as millennials. Navigation with smart phones and discovering hidden destinations comes easily to us because we're so well equipped with technology. But for my mum who has grown up in the era of radio shows and James Hadley Chase novels, planning this surprise must have been a huge task. My best friend while growing up, she truly surprised me with the way she managed to plan my birthday and so perfectly well too! Added bonus - naps on her lap after the excitement of the day wore off as we made our way home past sunset.
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