About 40 to 45 kilometers from Mysore is Thondanur also known locally as ‘Kere Thonnur’. In the 11th century Sri Ramanujacharya took refuge here after fleeing from the King, Krimikanta Raja. Its a beautiful town with eye pleasing landscape. Of all the places that Sri Ramanujacharya stayed in Karnataka, this could probably be the most important one. From here, He propagated His vishitadwaita siddhanta.
There is also a huge beautiful lake called Moti Talab of which Sri Ramanuja himself is the architect. The waters in this lake is know to have never dried up, even in the times of a drought. The water here is clean and crystal clear. During the times of Vishnuvardhana and Sri Ramanuja, this was a very popular place but now it has lost its previous glory and fame, but the beauty still remains the same.
There are three main temples in this town.
Sri Yoga Narasimha
The oldest of these is Sri Nambinarayana temple. The architecture of the temple is similar to those of Belur, Halebidu or the Somanathapura temples but has less carvings compared to most known Hoysala temples. Here resides the beautiful deity of Nambinarayana. Unfortunately, photography inside the temples has been strictly prohibited.
Sri Yoga Narasimha
Narasimha temple is built on a small hillock. one would have to climb 25 to 30 steps to reach the temple. The temple has been renovated recently and looks fairly new. There is a beautiful deity of Sri Yoga Narasimha who is about 4 feet tall in seated position. Apart from this deity, the other curious attraction here is the deity of Sri Ramanujacharya who is in the form of Adi shesha.
Parathasarathi temple is next to Nambinarayana temple. The deity of Parthasarathi was installed by Yudhistira Maharaja in Dwapara Yuga.
History of the Place.
During the reign of King Bitti Devaraya, his daughter suffered from severe health problems. The worried King tried his best to get her cured by the best physicians. when they failed, he went to Jain monks for help but they too failed to cure his daughter. The King, though he was a staunch Jain became desperate and decided to seek help of vaishnava scholars who had come from the east.
The Vaishnava scholars were invited to the palace and were honored. Sri Ramanujacharya who was the leader of Vaishnava scholars cured the King’s daughter just by his glance. The amazed King then became a devotee of Sri Ramanujacharya and followed the school of Sri Vaishnava siddhanta. He was later named by Sri Ramnujacharya as Visnuvardhana.
Thondanur has the prestige of being the first place in Karnataka from where Sri Ramanuja propagated his doctrines and helped the growth of Sri Vaishnavism.
The deity of Yoga Narasimha was installed by Prahalada Maharaja. After the King accepted Sri Vaishnavism, the Jains became unhappy and decided to confront Sri Ramanuja in a debate. The number of Jains who confronted him is unclear, some stories saying 12,000 Jains and others saying 1,000 Jains. When he was confronted, the condition was that he had to answer all their questions simultaneously to which he agreed. His condition was that he would do it behind a curtain to which the Jain monks agreed. After the Jain monks had finished asking all their questions, to their surprise Sri Ramanuja started answering all their questions simultaneously. When one of the Jain monks went to see how Sri Ramanuja was doing this, he was marveled when he saw that the Acharya had taken the form of Adisesha and with his innumerable mouths he was answering all their questions and thus he defeated all the Jains and they all accepted Sri Vaishnavism. Therefore, the deity of Ramanujacharya in the temple is in the form of Adisesha.
There are also few of Ramanujacharya’s belongings and clothes preserved in the temple.
As for the Parthasarathi temple, before the Pandavas went to the battle of Kurkeshetra. Yudishtira Maharaja installed the deity of Krishna in the form of Parthasarathi and worshiped him.
There are more details and history to these temples. Just some years ago, these temples were almost abandoned. But now the temples are being taken care of and there has been more funding. One would have to only visit this beautiful place and witness the glorious charm it holds the beholder.