Ramanuja traveled eastward and came to Tondanur, the second capital of the Hoysala Empire.
Bitti Deva (Vittala Devaraya) was the name of the Hoysala ruler. His daughter was
suffering from a mental illness. Ramanuja by now had become famous as the man who cured
the illness of the Chola princess. When the king sent for Ramanuja, he did not go at
first. But when a disciple,Tondanurunambi, assured him that the Hoysala king was not a
fanatical tyrant like the Chola king, Ramanuja agreed to go. He cured the illness of the
princess, to the delight of the king. He was drawn to Ramanuja's faith and became a
Srivaishnava. He then onwards came to be known as Vishnu- vardhana. In memory of this
great event, the king built five Vaishnava temples Channiganarayana temple at Belur,
Nambinarayana temple at Tondanur, Kirtinarayana temple at Talakad, Veeranarayana temple at
Gadag and Chaluvanarayana temple at Melkote. These temples are lasting monuments of
Karnataka culture and architecture. Ramanuja built many other temples too in Tondanur. He
also got constructed a huge reservoir called Tirumalasagara'(now called Moti Talab).
He left Tondanur for Melkote, which was also known as
Tirunarayanapura or Yadavagiri. It was a hilly area overgrown with a thick jungle. The
original idol of god Tirunarayana was lying hidden in a molehill. Ramanuja got it dug out
and installed the idol in a specially built shrine.
There is a beautiful legend about the Utsavamoorti of this temple. (Utsavamoorti is a
small idol of the same deity used for taking out in procession.)
Formerly the temple did not have the idol, which is meant for being taken out in
procession. It was said that the idol was in the custody of a Muslim king. When Ramanuja
went to see the Sultan, the Sultan was impressed by Ramanuja's magnificent personality. He
had no objection to parting with the idol if his daughter also agreed. It is said Ramanuja
called aloud - "Come, my king Selvapillay' and the idol came dancing to Ramanuja. The
Sultan's daughter would not easily part with the idol, since she loved it dearly, and she
followed it when it was taken out to Melkote. It is said that when she could not get back
the idol, she put an end to her life at the feet of the deity.
The Harijans ware of great help to Ramanuja in building the shrines and in accomplishing
other public utility works in Melkote.
Ramanuja called them 'Tirukulattar' ('high-born'). He
arranged to have them admitted to the temple on three days in a year, when they could have
free darshan of the deity.