Located 18kms North East of Thanjavur on the Southern banks of Cauvery is the over 400years old Varadaraja Perumal Temple in Melattur dating back to the 16th Century and the rule of Achuthappa Nayak. Historically, this place was referred to as Unnatapuri, an indication that this was a ‘Town in an elevated place’.
It is believed that, centuries ago, Sri Varadaraja Perumal was brought from Asthagiri in Kanchipuram Divya Desam.
In centuries gone by, there were 450-500Brahmin families with a traditional agraharam around the temple. However, this has come down to just a few families now, with most of them having moved out looking for ‘better opportunities’. Seetharama Bhattachar is the 7th generation priest taking care of this temple.
The Bhagavata Mela at Melattur is an annual event through which historical and mythological events and stories are presented through the night in an art form involving music, dance and drama. The story goes that the Nayak Kings in the 16th and 17th Century gifted a village to 500Brahmins to enable them to practice and present this rare art form of theatre every year during the Narasimha Jayanthi celebrations. In memory of Achutha Nayak’s contribution to the temple, this place is even today referred to as Achuthapuram (ennum Melattur).
Beginning on Narasimha Jayanthi day every year, the story of Prahalada, Harishchandra and Kamsa, among others is presented on a specially erected stage in front of the Varadaraja Perumal temple.
Every evening, during the Bhagavata Mela, Lord Narasimha comes out on a procession and watches the presentation of the historical stories through the night that goes on sometimes even till 5am the next morning. Towards the end of the Prahalada Charitram, a centuries old mask of ‘Lord Narasimha’ that is seen inside the temple is worn by the artiste playing the role of Narasimha as he prepares to display his true aggressive form to Hiranyakashipu.
The age old belief is that the spirit of Narasimha is invoked through this enactment by the actor on the night of the Prahalada Charitram (This year, Prahalada Charitram will be enacted on the night of May 23 at Melattur)
Some of the well known episodes from the Bhagavata Purana have been composed into a Music-Dance-Drama form of presentation by Venkatarama Bhagavatar of Melattur in the 18th Century AD.
The story also goes that Narayana Theertha, a great exponent of the Bhakti Movement in the 16th and 17th Century AD composed Paarijaataa Paharanam for the enactment by Bhagavatars of Melattur through the Dance-Drama form.
A 10 day Brahmotsavam in Chitrai- Vaikasi ( ending on Akshaya Thrithi day) with street processions every morning and evening during this period.
Lakshaarcharnai for Perumal and Thaayar during Navarathri
Lakshaarchanai for Anjaney is also performed
Moolavar : Sri Varadaraja Perumal East Facing Sitting Posture with Sri and Bhoo Devi
Thaayar : Sri Perundevi Thaayar
Special Sannidhi: Sri Narasimhar
Time : 8am-12noon and 6pm-8pm
Contact : G Seetharama Bhattachar @ 99449 94691
How to reach ?
Direct Town bus from Thanjavur – Route 34 and 48 (bound for Thirukarugavur). There are also Mofussil buses that ply between Thanjavur and Kumbakonam through Melattur.
Melattur is just over 25kms from Kumbakonam on the Aavoor- Karugavur- Thittai-Thanjavur route between Thirukarugavur and Thittai.
From here Oothukkadu Sri Krishnar Temple is 13kms.
Taxi (both ways) from Thanjavur will cost around Rs.450 and from Kumbakonam will cost around Rs.550
Courtesy: Sri Prabhu