Melkote - Tiru Narayana temple
Melkote located ear Mysore in Karnataka houses an ancient Vishnu temple, worshipped as Tiru Narayana. This shrine is known for its long standing association with the spiritual leader Ramanujacharya. Melkote is also known as Yadavagiri, yatistalam, Vedadri and Narayanadri.
Legend has it this image of Vishnu was held in worship by Bhrahma. It is believed that the festival image Sampatkumara was worshipped by Rama and his son Kusha; hence the name Ramapriya. Legend has it that Krishna installed this deities here at Melkote. The temple itself is large and breathes history. It is very ancient – Vishnu is said to have worshipped here before his incarnations known as the Dasavataram. Rama too offered prayers here. The main deity Mulavar is Thirunarayanan, Utsavar is called Cheluvanarayana, Sampathkumar, Selva Pillai, Ramapriya. The Goddess is Yadugiri Nachiyar or "Goddess of the Hill". Ramanujacharya sannidhi is one of the important one, all the srivaishnava's will visit Ramanuja before taking darshan of Mulava, utsavar and Yadugiri Nacchiyar. Outside the temple are shrines to Desika, Manavala Mamuni and other Acharyas. On a hill overlooking the town is a separate Yoganarasimha temple of great antiquity. It is quite a climb on worn steps to reach that temple.
The presiding deity here (moolavar) is known by the name Tiru Narayana, while the processional image of Vishnu goes by the name Selva Pillai or Sampath Kumara.
Vishnu's consort is known by the name Yadugiri Taayaar. The deities of Selvappillai is housed in the Rangamandapa. There are shrines to Yadugiri Taayaar and Kalyani Nachiyaar. The temple tank is known by the name Kalyani theertham.
Melkote has two distinct temples. The Tirunarayana temple at the foothills and the hill temple to Yoga Narasimha. Legend has it that the Yoga Narasimha temple image was installed here by Prahlada.
King Bittideva of Karnataka who embraced the Sri Vaishnava way of life and patronized the saint Ramanujacharya, assumed the name of Vishnuvardhana and built five shrines known as the Panchanarayana temples. It is believed that at that time the Narayanapura shrine was in ruins and that both the images of Tirunarayana and Sampathkumara were missing and that Ramanujacharya discovered the image of Tirunarayana in the midst of Tulasi shrubs on the Yadavagiri hill and installed it back in the temple.
Legend has it that during the Muslim raids of South India, the festival image of Melkote was stolen and taken away and that Ramanujacharya restored it from the court of the ruler. It is said that it a muslim princess had gotten attached to the image of Selvappillai and that being unable to part with it, she followed the Acharya to Melkote and then merged into the shrine there. In honor of this, there is an image of Bibi Nachiyar here.