We decided Melukote as destination for our two days cycling event since it is 141 km from Bangalore making it an ideal location. The terrain and landscape around Melukote is Challenging and Panoramic. The event was decided by Monu, Niharika and me (Sonu). We were not expecting anyone to join us since the distance that we had set is not suitable for beginners. Three of us had done cycling to TG Halli reservoir a couple of months ago. The benefits of riding with someone like Niharika who is Super Randonneur are many – Preparedness, Expertise and of course food!! There is always something to learn from those experienced in such long rides. We left BTM layout at 06:00 and had breakfast at Bidadi. You can’t afford to lose focus on Mysore roads during weekends, there was lot of traffic and thus we decided not to ride back and instead see places around Melukote and visit SriRangapatna. We covered a distance of 105 km from Bangalore to Mandya in 5.5 hours including time for breakfast and adequate breaks.
The terrain from Mandya to Melukote is awesome and gets challenging. We made the mistake of not having lunch in Mandya and got ourselves exhausted. Luckily, Niharika had sandwich, Bananas and Electrolyte capsules which helped immensely. We took around 4.5-5 hours to reach Melukote from Mandya. We had our lunch at Jakkanahalli and then the final uphill stretch of around 6 km was considerably easy. Farms, Canals, Lakes along the way were pretext to take ample rest. Hospitality of the villagers was something that makes this journey much more memorable.
Melukote is a laid back temple town in the Cauvery basin, temples of Yoga Narasimha and Cheluva Narayana Swamy are the epicenter of religious activity. There are many options for accommodation but Monu had booked Ramanuja pilgrim assistance center in advance. Caretakers here made us feel at home. This center has few rooms with hot water facility. Dinner is home cooked and delicious. We visited both the temples the same evening. All the activities in the temples are carried out by priests who know Sanskrit and Tamil literature. Ramanujacharya who hailed from Tamil Nadu stayed here for twelve years. I later came to know that Melukote is also the birth place of Late Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalitha.
Next day, we woke up early and after warm up visited Raya Gopura, Tonnuru Kere (lake). Surprisingly I didn’t feel any pain or difficulty during our ride to Sri Rangapatna. We had our breakfast at Pandavapura and visited Aale Mane(Place where Jaggery is made) and Sri Ranganathaswamy temple and Colonel Bailey’s Dungeon before returning by bus.
This cycling tour had given lot of confidence for longer rides and BRM’s in sight!!