Update : The name of the place is Thondanur actually, not Tondalur as said earlier. Kindly forgive adiyean.
Once again Sriman Narayana blessed adiyean with an opportunity to visit some wonderful temples – the well known Melkote and the not so well known Thondalur in Mandya District, Karnataka (Please use the interactive Google Maps at the end of the post for directions).
Melkote is also known as Thirunarayanapuram. Though not amongst the 108 Divyadesams, Melukote is an important Abhimana Sthalam revered by Sri Vaishnavas. Swami Ramanuja stayed at Melukote for about 12 years after he left Sri Rangam due to atrocities of the Chola King Kirimikanda Cholan. Also the temple by itself is an very ancient one and Swami Ramanuja was responsible for renovating the temple to the present state. Infact it was Swami Ramanuja who retrieved both the Moolavar (Thirunarayana Perumal) & Utsavar (Shelva Pillai). And also, Melkote is also the place where the magnificent Vaira Mudi Utsavam takes place.
The story of Swami Ramanuja retrieving the Utsavar Perumal is an very beautiful story. Before the arrival of Swami Ramanuja, Melkote had been raided by the Muslim emperors. Along with many treasures, Utsava Perumal was also taken to Delhi by the emperor. Swami Ramanuja met the emperor and requested for the Deity. The emperor showed him a room full of deities looted from many temples and asked him to identify Shelva Pillai perumal. Swami Ramanuja lovingly called out “Shelva Pillai”, and the Deity instantly walked out to Swami Ramanuja, who is filled with boundless joy named Perumal as “Sampath Kumara“. This is another instant where Sriman Narayana listens like an innocent child to His devotees. The emperor’s daughter who had become very attached to the Shelva Pillai perumal, followed Swami Ramanuja to Melukote and came to be known as Bibi Nachiyar. Continue reading