Saturday, 14 January 2017

CHELUVANARAYANA SWAMY TEMPLE ( MELKOTE )

The temple is a square building of large dimensions but very plain, dedicated to Lord Cheluva-Narayana Swamy or Thirunarayana. The utsavamurthi, which is a metallic image, represents the deity who is called Shelvapillai, Cheluva Raya and Cheluvanarayana Swamy, whose original name appears to have been Ramapriya (meaning "Rama's Favourite"). It is believed that this utsavamurthi belonged to and was worshipped by Lord Rama and the kings of the surya vamsa Dynasty for generations. Later the same deity was given to a king of Chandra vamsam (the dynasty of Lord Krishna) and was worshipped by Lord Krishna and many generations. So CheluvaNarayana is so unique that he was worshipped by both Rama and Krishna. According to a legend, this metallic image was lost and was recovered by Sri Ramanujacharya. The annual report of the Mysore Archeaelogical Department (p. 57) states on the strength of epigraphic evidence, that the presiding deity of this temple was already a well-known object of worship before Sri Ramanujacharya worshipped at the shrine, in December 1098, and even before he came to the Mysore region.The temple is richly endowed, having been under the special patronage of the Mysore Rajas too, and it has a most valuable collection of jewels in its custody. As early as 1614, the Mysore king Raja Wodeyar (1578–1617) who first acquired Srirangapatna and adopted the Srivaishnava faith, handed over to the temple and the Brahmins at Melkote, the estate granted to him by Vijaynagar king Venkatapati Raya. On one of the pillars of navaranga of the Narayanaswami temple is a bas relief about 1.5 feet (0.46 m) high, of Raja Wodeyar, standing with folded hands, with the name inscribed on the base. He was said to be a great devotee of the presiding deity and a regular 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, after his name. 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 Wodeyar III and his queens. Krishnaraja Wodeyar III also presented a crown set with precious jewels. It is known after him, as Krishnaraja-mudi. Vairamudi or Vajramukuta, another crown of great value, seems to be older than Raja-mudi and Krishnaraja-mudi. All the three crowns are kept in the safe custody of the Government at Mandya Treasury and brought to the temple on a specific annual occasion known as Vairamudi which literally means The Diamond Crown for adoring the image of Cheluvanarayana Swamy. The Vairamudi festival, which is the chief annual celebration, is attended by more than 400,000 people. Jatras are held annually during March–April and more than one lakh people congregated here. In 1785, Tipu Sultan gave some elephants to the temple. A number of inscriptions and records of the place speak of the land grants and gifts to this shrine. Perhaps the fort on the hill was built during Hoysala period. The renovated temple has a beautiful gopura.