Mandya, the Sakkare Naadu (Sugar City) of Karnataka is a bustling city just 45 kilometres from Bangalore. The 75 year-old-city is one of the largest producers of sugar in the country. The sugar factories of Mandya in Karnataka are one of the major sources of revenue in the district. So it is called the Sakkare Naadu or the Sugar City of Karnataka. At first glance, it might seem like there isn’t much to do or see here. But several places in Mandya are hidden gems that are worth a visit.

Compared to other places in Karnataka, the town of Mandya is relatively new. The town was established in 1939, however, the origin of the land has several legends attached to it.

How To Get There

Mandya is easily accessible by road and railway. The town lies on the Mysore-Bangalore Highway (NH 275). The nearest airport is in Bangalore.

How Mandya Got Its Name

According to one legend, Mandya was earlier known as Vedaranya or Vishnupura. Legend says that a great rishi (sage) who lived in the land, installed an idol of Janardhana (a Hindu God). He tried to teach a wild beast to pronounce the sacred word “veda” and so the place came to be known as Vedaranya. According to another legend, another great sage established the idols of the gods Sakaleshwara Swamy and Vishnu. So it was named Vishnupura (land of Vishnu). 

A third legend says that a childless king called Indraverma came to the land to pray and beget heirs. The king’s prayers were granted and he had a son called Somavarma. Somaverma built a fort and an agrahara (place of Hindu religious studies) in the place and named it Mandevemu. The name Mandevemu is believed to have been corrupted to give the city the name, Mandya. According to a fourth legend, a great sage called Mandavya lived and performed penance in the area. The place that he lived in was named after him and came to be called Mandya. 

The tiny town has had a tumultuous history with several rulers throughout history. The Gangas, the Hoysalas, the Vijayanagara Kings, the Wadiyars, Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan have ruled the town at some point in history. After India became an independent country and it was divided into states, Mandya district became a part of Karnataka state.

Places To Visit In Mandya

Mandya in Karnataka is full of beautiful places that are worth a visit. For those who love nature, ancient architecture and mythological tales, the tourist places in Mandya are a must-visit. From ancient temples with their origins mired in mythology, lush green forests and sugarcane fields, Mandya in Karnataka has a bit of everything. Let’s take a look at where you should go and what you should see in Mandya.

1. Melukote: The Sacred Land, Which Is Home To Two Vishnu Temples

Mandya in Karnataka has the Hindu temple of Cheluvanarayana Swamy on the hills of Melukote
View of the Hindu temple of Cheluvanarayana Swamy on the hills of Melukote

Melukote is a small town in Pandavapura taluk of Mandya district. The tiny town is home to two Vishnu temples, whose origins are mired in Hindu mythology. The Cheluvanarayana Swamy temple and the Yoganarasimha temple are built on three rocky hills. These three hills, Yaadavagiri, Yadugiri and Yadushailadeepa are situated overlooking the Cauvery valley. Melukote is also home to several other smaller temples and ponds. 

The tiny town is considered a very prominent centre of the Sri Vaishnava sect (followers of Vishnu). Sri Ramanujacharya, the famous Sri Vaishnava saint, lived in Melukote in the early twelfth century and spread his teachings in the area for over 12 years. The town is also known for the Academy of Sanskrit Research. The academy is said to have collected thousands of Vedic and Sanskrit manuscripts. 

According to mythological stories, Melukote was called by several names. Some of the names were Narayanadri, Vedadri, Yadavadri, Yathishaila and Tirunarayanapura. The word Melukote translates to “the fort on top of the hill.” The town gets the name from the Narayanaswamy temple on the hill Yadugiri, which is surrounded by a fort. 

The Cheluvanarayana Swamy temple in Melukote is a large building made of stone. The building itself is plain, but the gopura (tower) has intricate carvings all over it. The deity in the temple is also known by the names Shelvapillai, Cheluva Raya and Cheluvanarayana Swamy. According to legend, the idol in the temple was worshipped by both Rama and Krishna. The Mysore Wadiyars were great devotees of Cheluvanarayana Swamy and Yoganarasimha Swamy. The Mysore kings donated a lot of gold and silver jewellery and vessels to the temples. The Raja Mudi, the golden crown studded with rubies, which adorns the head of Lord Cheluvanarayana Swamy was donated by Raja Wadiyar.

The Yoganarasimha temple is situated on top of the hill. Devotees have to climb several stone steps carved into the hillside to reach the beautiful temple. The temple’s courtyard on top of the hill offers great panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Though you can visit the temples all year round, the best time to visit the temple town is during the Vairamudi festival (festival of the diamond crown). 

2. Hemagiri Falls: Listen To The Calming Sound Of The Waterfall Amidst Lush Greenery

Get away from the hustle-bustle of the city and treat your senses to the calming sound of a waterfall amidst lush greenery. The Hemagiri Falls in K.R.Pet taluk of Mandya in Karnataka is the perfect place to relax and dip your toes in the Hemavati river. The Hemagiri Falls is caused due to an anicut (weir) built across the Hemavathi river. This weir and channels nearby supply water to the farmlands in the surrounding villages. 

The falls are at their best just after the rains in monsoon. But if you’re looking to play in the water or enjoy a dip under the waterfall, it’s safer to go when the water level is lower. Either way, the banks of the beautiful Hemavathi river makes for a great picnic spot. So it’ll be a day well spent looking at the panoramic sight of the wide waterfall.

Also Read: The top 12 most beautiful waterfalls to visit in Karnataka

3. Dariya Daulat Bagh: Home Of The “Tiger Of Mysore”

Tipu Sultan's Summer Palace, Daria Daulat Bagh
Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace, Daria Daulat Bagh

On the banks of the river Cauvery in Srirangapatna Taluk of Mandya stands the beautiful Daria Daulat Bagh. Tipu Sultan’s summer palace lies a mere 2.5 kilometres from the city centre. The palace and its surrounding gardens appear as if it’s an oasis in the surrounding scraggly wilderness. The palace is built mostly with teakwood in the Indo-Saracenic style and the construction was completed in 1794. 

The entire palace is covered in beautiful murals and frescoes. These colourful murals and frescoes in the style of Mysore paintings are mostly portraits of Tipu Sultan’s contemporaries and their durbars or they depict battle scenes. The palace sits amidst beautifully landscaped gardens. The top floor of the palace has a museum dedicated to Tipu and several memorabilia and personal effects of the erstwhile king are displayed here. The gumbaz (tomb) just outside the palace houses the tombs of Tipu Sultan and his parents. 

Read More: Tipu Sultan’s palaces: visit the many homes of the Tiger of Mysore

4. Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary: Home Of Crocodiles And Birds

A flying crane landing on a tree in Ranganathittu Bird sanctuary in Mandya, Karnataka

Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, also known as Pakshi Kashi of Karnataka, is a haven for bird lovers and migratory birds. The bird sanctuary in Mandya is the largest in the state. Spread on 40 acres of land, the bird sanctuary is made up of six islets on the river Kaveri/Cauvery.

The islets were formed as a result of an embankment that was built across the Cauvery river. Thanks to the pleasant Mandya weather, the islets soon started attracting birds and upon the urging of the noted ornithologist, Dr Salim Ali, the area was declared a protected area. The islets in the river are nesting grounds for several species of birds.

Over 170 species of birds have been sighted at the sanctuary. The bird sanctuary is a real treat for ornithologists and bird watchers in the winter months (from mid-December). Over 40,000 birds congregate at the sanctuary, with some birds migrating from as far as Siberia and Latin America.

Ranganathittu is also home to several animal species. Visitors can often spot monitor lizards, flying foxes, smooth-coated otters and bonnet macaques in the area. The most popular attraction other than the birds, however, is the marsh crocodile or mugger crocodile. Go on a ranger-guided tour of the islets or on a boating trip on the river to catch a glimpse of the birds and the lazy, sunbathing crocodiles. The bird sanctuary is open from 9 AM to 6 PM on all days. Adults are charged INR 50 per person for entry, whereas children are charged INR 30 per child.

Read More: Ranganathittu bird sanctuary: A complete guide to this bird haven

5. Saumyakeshava Swamy Temple: The Serene Vishnu Of Mandya 

The Saumyakeshava Swamy temple in Mandya in Karnataka was built in the 12th century by the then rulers, the Hoysalas. The ancient temple is located in a town called Nagamangala in Mandya. The small town was a prominent center for those of the Vaishnava faith during the reign of King Vishnuvardhana of the Hoysala dynasty. The original structure of the temple (mulaprasada) is stellate (star-shaped) and it is constructed with a material called soapstone. 

The ancient temple has also received patronage from the later day rulers like the kings of the Vijayanagara empire. These dynasties have also added several features to the temple’s structure. The temple gets its name from the serene (saumya) faced tall idol of Keshava (an incarnation of Vishnu). The idol stands on a pedestal formed by the idol of Garuda (Vishnu’s vehicle, an eagle). The temple is open from 7 AM to 1 PM and then reopens again from 5 PM to 9 PM.

6. Bheemeshwari Fishing Camp: The Angler’s Paradise

Bheemeshwari in Mandya
Bheemeshwari

The Bheemeshwari fishing camp is located on the banks of the river Cauvery in Mandya district. The town of Bheemeshwari is located in between Shivanasamudra Falls and Mekedatu Falls. For nature lovers, Bheemeshwari offers a visual and sensory treat. The Bheemeshwari wildlife sanctuary is home to several species of flora and fauna. The forest is home to elephants, foxes, otters, leopards and crocodiles among other animals. 

Bheemeshwari is especially famous for its fishing camp, and is also known as “angler’s paradise”. Fishing enthusiasts and anglers from across the country flock to the fishing camp for the Mahseer. Mahseer is a variety of fish that is believed to be one of the largest tropical game fish. The Doddamkalli Nature camp nearby offers adventure sports activities such as white water rafting, trekking and several other activities. If you need an adrenaline rush, a trip to Bheemeshwari is a must. Tickets to the Cauvery Fishing Camp, also known as the Bheemeshwari Fishing Camp starts from INR 2,950 per person for an adult and INR 1,475 per child.

Read More: A complete guide to Bheemeswari

7. Alemane: Jaggery Processing Unit

Mandya in Karnataka is called the Sakkare Nadu or Sugar City. Most of the revenue of the district is from the sugar factories. So of course, it makes sense to visit an alemane, which is a traditional jaggery processing unit. Jaggery is the traditional non-centrifugal cane sugar that is golden brown to dark brown in colour. While the city of Mandya doesn’t have these traditional jaggery processing units anymore, the rural landscape is dotted with several alemanes.

Visitors can ask the owners of the alemane for permission to enter and get a tour of the processing unit. These units are usually located amidst sugarcane fields. While technology has found its way into these traditional units for sugarcane juice extraction and processing, jaggery is still made traditionally. A visit to an alemane will help you understand and appreciate the process and labour involved in making a block of jaggery. We promise you the knowledge and the heady, mouthwatering sugar of caramelised cane sugar will leave you spellbound.

Mandya In Karnataka: Taking The Road Less Travelled

Sometimes it’s good to take the road less travelled. You never know what you’ll discover. More than the destination, it’s the journey, the small incidents, unexpected places and people that matter. If you think Mandya is just a town on the highway, then think again! Tourism in Mandya is a beautiful experience that is full of surprises. So forget the plan, just leave the chaos of traffic behind and get lost in these beautiful places to visit in Mandya.

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