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Home > City News > ‘Kere Thondanur’ – 11 Century Hilltop Serene Lake !

‘Kere Thondanur’ – 11 Century Hilltop Serene Lake !

Normally, one drives down a valley to meet a lake, but at Thondanur one drives uphill to see a picturesque serene lake of a thousand acres!
‘Thondanur’ or ‘Tonnur’ or ‘Tirumalasagara’ or ‘Motitalab’ are one and the same name for this huge 11th century man-made picturesque lake – 130 Kms from Bangalore, 30 Kms from Mysore, 24 Kms from Melkote or 8 Kms from Pandavapura – the closest railway station to this lake. Local transport to this day picnic spot are dime and dozen from Melkote, Mysore and Pandavapura.
For the religious Hindu Vaishnava, Thondanur is a place where Sri Ramanuja Charya, the propogater of Vaishnavaism took refuge when he was persecuted by the then Shiviate Chola King, Kolutunga Chola who was under the Influence of his evil Minister, Nalluran. Sri Ramanuja Charya took asylum and refuge at the behest of his disciple, Nambi Thondanur fleeing Srirangam. Thondanur was then ruled by Bittideva (1108-1152) – the Jain King of the Hoysala Dynasty. This was their second capital. Bittideva was impressed with Sri Ramanuja Charya curing his possessed daughter, where none could do so. . . He embraced Vaishnavaism and became a follower. He was rechristened as ‘Vishnuvardhana’! The greatest Hoysala King of the dynasty and built a lot of beautiful temples. He won many wars and was the greatest king of that era.
Here at Thondanur, Sri Ramanuja Charya built an embankment between two hills and directed the flow of the Yadavanadi river into this gorge along with other mountain springs forming the great lake at Thondanur! The outflow of this lake has a small waterfall during rainy season and is aptly called, ‘Ramanuja Gange’ or ‘Tonnur Madaga’. This region was once called, ‘Yadava Narayana Chaturvedi Mangalam’ in the olden times.
This lake is surrounded with picturesque rocks and hillocks on three sides and fields growing paddy and sugarcane on the remaining side. This lake has never dried up even during the severest drought or from its inception – 11th Century! Water from this lake is used for irrigation and drinking purposes. This lake is a home to hundreds of fishes. Being rocky and deep, entering the waters is dangerous. There are no signs warning visitors, nor are there any life guards. But this vast lake is a serene scenic beauty from it’s elevated tank bund. Sunsets and Sunrises are spectacular. The water of this lake has a lot of medicinal value, with the water perculating from the mountain springs!
Apart from a few tuck shops, serving tea, coffee, package snacks and aerated drinks there is no civilisation. One finds few visitors here. The tank banks have a few diapialated temple mantaps of no significane. People and tourist guides exaggerate the lake size and areas to over 2150 acres! But all said and done, it’s pretty enormous! Make sure you put this locale on your next visit to Mysore.
The invading Deccan Sultanate’s of Bijapur’s Subedar – Nasir Jung once named this lake, ‘Moti Talab’ ( Lake of Pearls), enamoured by the clarity of water and the pebbles seen from the embankment. The builder and the creater of this lake, Sri Ramanuja Charya in the 11th Century called this lake – ‘Tirumalasagara’. Tipu Sultan during his rein repaired the embankments around the region. There are a lot of caves around the rocky regions, these are called – ‘Tipu Caves’! Rock Climbers and Trekkers flock this area. Only .. a handful people visit this picturesque locale each day, they are mostly pilgrims who visit the three temples below the embankment.
Take this circuitous route – Bengaluru, Mandya, Melkote, Thondanur, Pandavapura, KRS, Mysore and enjoy this natural beauty terrain. Happy journey. More on hidden temples of this region in the coming issues. Stay tuned.
-Jagdeesh Laxman Singh
aka Jugie Singh
Text & Photography

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