Serenity at Tonnur

Travel

VISUAL TREAT A stone pavilion in the paddy fields. Below: The Gopalaswamy temple. photo by Varna ShashidharThe paddy fields that surrounded us were pooled with water, bordered luxuriantly by swaying coconut trees. A 12-km picturesque drive from Melkote brought us to the small town of Tonnur. Mysore and Srirangapatna are the larger places in close vicinity to Tonnur where boulder landscapes, temples and the tranquility are contrasted by agriculture and water-related activity.

We stopped at a verdant paddy field with a white mantapa and admired the commonplace sights that seemed uncommonly beautiful in the slight afternoon drizzle.

Tonnur is said to have been the place of residence of the Srivaishnava saint, Ramanujacharya, before he established Melkote as a centre for Srivaishnavism. A dam was constructed and an expansive lake was built by Ramanujacharya (the lake was later referred to as Moti Talab). The lake has been used for centuries to irrigate the surrounding agricultural lands.

Tonnur is among the most popular water spots for families from nearby towns and cities to visit during summer. In spite of the steady drizzle, we witnessed tens of children with their families enjoying the water experience. The lake itself was filled to the brim. The beauty of the agricultural landscape and the striking boulder composition created magical vistas. Tonnur has extremely beautiful temples and we visited two of them.

The Narayana Swamy temple is a stark and unadorned temple with a beautiful idol of Narayana Swamy. The temple prakara consists of a powerful experience of space and a poetic interplay of light and shadows created by the colonnades around the pradakshina patha (circumambulatory) and the dramatic contrast of the structures against a boulder backdrop. The view borrowed and seamlessly integrated the boulder landscape into the experience of the temple. A large and exquisite ancient wooden horse rested within the mantapa which is dilapidated, while a series of idols of various acharyas were placed beyond the entrance.

The Gopala Swamy temple, built across the street from the Narayana Swamy Temple, has been constructed in a manner similar to the Narayana Swamy temple, and is a largely unembellished temple.

The walled enclosure space within the temple complexes have large trees.
A columned space surrounds the pradakshina patha. The serene spaces within the temple gave us the feeling of being in a walled garden. A series of line paintings in earth tones on the walls were remnants of a recent film shooting, we were told. The sanctum sanctorum was dark with oil lamps illuminating the beautiful idols.

The temples in Tonnur are less ornate although they are architecturally quite beautiful.

They seem to be less frequently visited by tourists who seem more engrossed in the nearby water experiences.

Tonnur appeals to people for different reasons, the presence of water, the landscapes, the history and architecture, providing good options to spend a summer day away from the city!

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