Melukote, a culturally rich town in Karnataka, is home to several old temples, historic buildings and religious sites. Located in Mandya, it’s about 50km from Mysore. The history of Melukote dates back to the 12th-century, when Saint Ramanujacharya stayed here for a decade.

The most iconic attraction here is the Cheluvanarayana Swamy Temple. It is dedicated to Lord Cheluvanarayana, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The highlight of the temple is the Vairamudi festival, during which time the idol of Lord Cheluvanarayana and the temple complex are decorated in precious jewels.

If you wish to get a sweeping view of the historic city of Melukote from a height, head to Yoga Narasimha Temple. Located atop Yadugiri Hill, it is believed that the deity of Lord Narasimha was placed inside the temple by a devotee called Prahlad centuries ago. Since then, it has been a major religious site for Hindus, and especially comes alive during Narasimha Jayanti.

Home to two of the most exotic animal species – the blackbuck and grey wolf – Melkote Temple Wildlife Sanctuary is spread over an area of about 50 square kilometres. It’s a gorgeous looking park with an abundance of deciduous trees.

Among the ponds, Akka Thangi Kola (also known as Sister Ponds) and Pushkarani Pond are worth a visit. They offer a tranquil atmosphere where you can sit and listen to the sounds coming from the temples in the area.

Apart from these, you can visit Raya Gopura, a ruined structure popular amongst history lovers and Vanaprastha Ashram, an important preaching centre. Thondanur Lake is another important attraction in the city considered to be a holy place amongst Sri Vaishnava sect of Brahmins.

Giving this holy and sacred place in Karnataka a chance is highly recommended if you have a keen interest in temple architecture and ancient history.