This temple is located in Mandya. It the 1000 years old and the lord is seen in a handsome tall standing posture. This is one of the Pancha Narayana temples and is now referred to as Thonnur. The temple was renovated by Ramanuja during his exile from Srirangam. The idol and the sanctum are over 5500 years old and dates back to the Dwapara Yuga. Ramanuja built new mandapas outside the sanctum and renovated and consecrated the temple. The architecture design came from the Chozhas. The temple was built by Hoysala Kings. There is no Raja Gopuram at the entrance as was the style of the Hoysalas. But the entire inner prakara and the outside walls have a strong Granite base structure and have a solid look to this day. This is one of the three temples in Thonnur, the other two being Gopalakrishnan temple (opposite the Nambi Narayana temple) and Yoga Narasimha temple.
About the Temple
Chola King Kulothunga, Ramanujacharya, the saint-philosopher, who propounded the Vishistadvaitha philosophy had fled Srirangam in Tamil Nadu because of all the torment and trauma. He took refuge at Thonnur, a small village near Melkote in Pandavapura taluk of Mandya district. Many scholars give different versions about how long he stayed there, but it seems that he had a lengthy sojourn here going by many events and legends connected with him. Bittideva, the Jain King of the Hoysala dynasty, was attracted by Ramanujacharya's teachings and became a Vaishnavite and called himself Vishnuvardhana. It is said that Thonnur became the second capital of Hoysalas during this period. The two temples here are the Nambi Narayanaswamy Temple and the Venugopalaswamy Temple. The Nambi Narayanaswamy temple got its name as Lord Narayana graced Nambi, a disciple. This temple was constructed in the 12 th century AD during the regime of Vishnuvardhana to commemorate his victory over the Cholas at Talakadu. According to an inscription, Suragi Nagaiah, one of the generals of King Vishnuvardhana, built this shrine. The temple has a Navaranga, a Maharanga Mantapa, an Ardha Mantapa, a Shukanaasi, a Garbha Griha (Sanctum Sanctorum) and a big Paataalankana.
To the right of Narayanaswamy, there is an image of Lakshmi. Gadha (Mace) and Padma are found on the upper hands. Sridevi and Bhudevi flank the nine-foot high main deity on the right and left sides respectively. The images of Narayanaswamy, Sridevi and Bhudevi are carved out of a single stone. In Navaranga, among other pillars, four are in soft stone. The remaining is in granite. Ornate designs of flowers and beads are carved on these pillars. According to experts, the four similar soft stone pillars were forerunners to the pillars found in Belur and Halebeedu temples. The images of astadikpaalakaas are also found here. The Ardhamantapa has the padukaas of Ramanujacharya. The Vimana of the shrine is in Dravidian style and built of mortar. Fifty pillars adorn the Maharanga Mantapa. The Paataalankana has 40 octagonal-faced pillars. 45 feet high Garudagamba lies in front of this shrine. Some scholars are of the opinion that the Paataalankana and the Maharangamantapa are subsequent additions.
The Venugopalaswamy Shrine, located opposite to the Nambi Narayanaswamy Temple, has a basadi-like Gopuram. The temple has a Shukanaasi, a Navaranga, a Mukhamantapa and a Garbha Griha. Parthasarathy is the main deity here. Sridevi and Bhudevi idols are found to the left and right of the main image. There are Tamil and Kannada inscriptions in the Mukhamantapa. An idol of Aravinda Nayaki lies in the second praakara with lotuses in two upper arms. The other two, show abhaya and varada mudras. In front of this idol lies the Kalyana Mantapa, where Kalyanotsava is held. A big pillar, used for swinging idols during important occasions, is seen outside the temple. Historians opine that this shrine is older than the Nambi Narayanaswamy Temple. It is also said that four generals carried out extension work in this temple.
Mandya district has many temples built in Hoysala style. But shrines in Thonnur are special, as they are built in Chola style. It is said that many Tamilians settled here after Ramanujacharya's arrival. Probably, this factor might have influenced temple construction in a particular style.
There are several inscriptions dating back to the 11th Century AD that describe the contributions made by different rulers of that period to the upkeep and maintenance of the temple and the conduct of various festivals during the year. A 12th Century AD inscription in Tamil with Grantha Characters refers to a gift of 5Gadyanas of gold paid into treasury by Kunraara Deva Perumal Bhattar for maintaining a perpetual lamp at Lakshmi Narayana from out of the interest accrued upon the endowment.
About the Deity
The deity is 18 feet tall and appears majestically holding the conch in the right hand and the discus in the left. The idol of Sri Ramanuja, as Adisesha is in the Lord Narasimha temple.
Legend and Stories
At the end of the Dwapara Yuga, in the Sura Sura war, Indra was afflicted with Brahmma Hathi Dosham. To liberate himself from this, he undertook penance and invoked the blessings for Lord Vishnu.
He was directed to install 5 Narayana Idols in this region to liberate himself from his dosham. Thondanur is the first and the oldest of the Pancha Narayana Kshetrams. The others in this region being – Cheluva Narayana at Melkote, Keerthi Narayana at Thalakkad, Veera Narayana at Gadag and Sowmya Narayana at Belur.
Belief is that one will attain Vaikunta Moksham if he visited the Pancha Narayana Kshetram.
After leaving Srirangam in Tamilnadu, Sri Ramanuja sought asylum in this place. He was received with all respects by one of his disciples Thondnur Nambi. The place was then under the rule of one Pittidevan. He was staunch Jain. When Thaondanur Nambi visited him, he found the palace and all apartments plunged in darkness. The king told Nambi that his daughter was possessed of a ghost and his Jain Gurus could not cure her. Nambi assured the king that his Guru Ramanuja will drive the ghost holding his daughter. The king was happy and promised that he would embrace Vaishnavism if the Guru saved the daughter. The king and the queen received him with all courtesy. The Acharya spilled the water from his kamandala on the face of the princess. She fell fainted but rose up with a clear face, completely free from the ghost effect. Pittidevan and his wife became Ramanuja’s disciples. Sri Ramanuja renamed the king Vishnuvardan. Following the king, many shifted to Vaishnavism. Vishnuvardan built many Vaishnava temples as desired by the Guru. Temples for Belur Thalaikat Keerthi Narayana, Kodagu Veera Narayana and Melukot Seluva Narayana are a few among them, all speaking volumes of architectural beauty. They challenged him for a debate which he accepted. He faced 12,000 Jains from behind a curtain where Sri Ramanuja took the form of 12,000 hooded Adisesha and replied every objection raised by the Jains and defeated all the 12,000 Jains.
Two festivals are celebrated in the temple in the Tamil months Chithirai and Vaikasi covering April-May and May-June.
Devotees perform Tirumanjanam to Perumal and Mother and offer vastras.
Lord Nambi Narayana Perumal is holding conch and discuss in His right and left hands, while it is vice versa traditionally in Perumal temples.
Majority of the devotees pray to Acharya Sri Ramanuja here for relief from the evil effects of spells and witchcrafts.
The nearest International airport is at Bangalore. The nearest railhead is Pandavapura railway station. One can take a share auto from railway station to Pandavapura bus stand and then take a Narayanapura / Kamakana Halli bound bus to get down at Thondanur (buses every one hour). It will take 30minutes from Pandavapura bus stand to reach Thondanur.
Sri Nambinarayana Temple,
Devotees visit this temple to seek fulfillment of the following:-
- Freedom from diseases
- Relief from adverse effects from bad planetary aspects
- Relief from bondage
Achutham Keyshavam Rama Narayanam Krishna Damodaram Vasudevam Harim Shridharam Madhavam Gopika Vallabham Janaki Nayakam Ramachandram Bhajey
Meaning -Oh Lord who cannot be perished, who also has names like Keshava, Rama, Damodara, Narayana, Sridhara, Madhava, Krishna, Ramachandra the beloved of Janaki, let me say your name regularly.
Vasudeva Sutham Devam Kamsa Chanoora Mardhanam Devaki Paramanandham Krishnam Vande Jagathgurum
Meaning -I bow to you O Krishna, the ultimate guru, Devaki and Vasudeva's son, and the destroyer of Kamsa and Chanur.
Adharam Madhuram Vadanam Madhuram Nayanam Madhuram Hasitam Madhuram Hridayam Madhuram Gamanam Madhuram Mathuraa Dhipate Rakhilam Madhuram
Meaning -Meaning - Sweet are Your lips, sweet is Your face, sweet are Your eyes, sweet is Your smile, sweet is Your heart, sweet is Your gait, O Lord of Mathura, everything about You is sweet.
Alokya Mathur Mukha Madarena Sthanyam Pibantham Saraseeruhaksham Sachinmayam Devam Anantha Roopam Balam Mukundam Manasa Smarami
Meaning -I think of this Balamukundan as the one who looks lovingly at his mother's face while taking milk from her, who has eyes similar to the red lotus, who is the embodiment of truth and intelligence and other forms.
The temple is open from 9.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.