This town in Karnataka never celebrates Diwali - learn your history the right way

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The festival of lights and joy, Diwali, which brings in good vibes and a reminder of good winning over evil, is never celebrated in this sleepy town of Melkote, 50kms away from the touristy town of Mysore. History taught to us has omitted some glaring events but the people residing in this town havent forgotten what happened two centuries ago. Read on to learn the bloody history behind this.

I have written another blog about Talkad and how it sunk into the sand. The kings of Mysore after that event were the Wodeyars. Hyder Ali was the commander in chief of the king Krishnaraja Wodeyar II. Slowly he became the defacto ruler in 1761 and his son Tipu Sultan declared himself Badshah or Emperor in 1780. His good deeds are known to us through our history books. But there was an another side to him which has been conveniently forgotten.

There was a community in Melkote called the Mandyam community who were fiercely loyal to the Wodeyar kings as they were patronised by them. They were planning to take help of the East India Company and depose Hyder Ali. Hyder Ali uncovered this plan and arrested two brothers who were at the forefront of this plan. The others in the community fearing persecution escaped to the Madras Presidency. Hyder Ali died in 1873.

Unlike Hyder Ali Tipu Sultan was wary of this on going plan. He considered this as treason and decided to wipe out the entire community. So on the day of Diwali, Tipu Sultan sent his army to round up all the members of the Mandyam community who had gathered at the Narasimhaswamy temple in Srirangapatna. There was a huge gathering of people to celebrate Diwali. Tipu Sultan's army massacred all the people who had assembled there, majority of them being from the Mandyam community and hung them from the nearby tamarind trees.

In remembrance of that day's bloody massacre, Diwali is not celebrated in this town of Melkote where the community had moved to after that day's events.

Regardless of the history, Melkote offers some beautiful sights to visit if you are visiting Mysore.

1. Raya Gopura - This is the location of many a song shootings in hindi, tamil and kannada. Popular among these would be Barso re Megha song from Guru, Aishwarya dances in front of this structure. The song Dhadang dang from Rowdy Rathore was also filmed here. Some scenes in the blockbuster tamil film Padayappa were also filmed here. This was supposed to be the grand entrance to the town of Melkote.

Photo of This town in Karnataka never celebrates Diwali - learn your history the right way 1/9 by Kamalakar Venigalla
Raya Gopura front side
Photo of This town in Karnataka never celebrates Diwali - learn your history the right way 2/9 by Kamalakar Venigalla
Raya Gopura back side
Photo of This town in Karnataka never celebrates Diwali - learn your history the right way 3/9 by Kamalakar Venigalla
Beautiful carvings in the Gopura
Photo of This town in Karnataka never celebrates Diwali - learn your history the right way 4/9 by Kamalakar Venigalla
View of the Gopura

Folklore has it that a sculptor was challenged to complete the construction of pillars and tower over it in one night. The sculptor and his team seemed to be doing well when his opponents fearing the sculptor would win played a trick. They rang the morning bells at two in the night instead of five in the morning.

Disappointed, the sculptor abandoned his work and the pillars stand incomplete to this day.

2. Akka thangi Kola(pond) - Legend has it that 2 sisters started to build the ponds for the people of Melkote. One of them built the pond religiously and properly, while the other wanted to complete the pond as soon as possible. Hence the two ponds water taste differently. One is sweet and the other is bitter. Water from the sweet pond is drinkable and the other one is not. This is the surprise factor in this place.

Photo of This town in Karnataka never celebrates Diwali - learn your history the right way 5/9 by Kamalakar Venigalla
Akkina Kola
Photo of This town in Karnataka never celebrates Diwali - learn your history the right way 6/9 by Kamalakar Venigalla
Thangina Kola

3. Kalyani Pushkarini - According to the Isvara Samhita, Lord Krishna took on the avatar of Lord Varaha when he lifted the earth out of the universal ocean. While doing so, a few drops of the water on his body fell on top of a hill at Melukote. This led to the creation of the Kalyani pond. This has been the location of many shooting sequences in films.

Photo of This town in Karnataka never celebrates Diwali - learn your history the right way 7/9 by Kamalakar Venigalla
Kalyani Pushkarini

4. Cheluvanarayana Temple - The utsavamurthi, which is a metallic image, represents the deity who is called Shelvapillai, Cheluva Raya and Cheluvanarayana Swamy. Hence the name of the temple. The temple is richly endowed, having been under the special patronage of the Mysore Rajas, and it has an extremely valuable collection of jewels in its custody. They are brought to the temple to adorn the image of Cheluvanarayana Swamy only during a specific annual festival known as Vairamudi habba( Diamond crown festival).

Photo of This town in Karnataka never celebrates Diwali - learn your history the right way 8/9 by Kamalakar Venigalla
Cheluvanarayana Temple. Source: wikipedia

5. Yoga Narasimha Temple - The impressive temple stands on top of a hill at a height of 1777 metres above the sea level. Legend has it that the the idol of the deity Narasimha in seated position was installed by Prahalada, son of Hiranyakashapu himself.

Photo of This town in Karnataka never celebrates Diwali - learn your history the right way 9/9 by Kamalakar Venigalla
Yoga Narasimha temple. Source: wikipedia

So next time you are visiting Mysore and you have the time, make a trip to this town to learn a piece of history which has been forgotten and remember how history was made before the British came and consumed it all.