Located on banks of Kaveri River in Karnataka is an extremely interesting place – Talakadu or Talakkad. For the uninitiated, at first glance, the place doesn’t appear special, but its intriguing past and curious phenomena soon grab attention. The religious significance of Talakkad also makes it one of the most important destinations to visit in Karnataka.
Talakkad is a convenient 45 km drive from Mysuru and around 133 km from Bangalore. It is a good choice for those looking for a day trip from both destinations. Talakkad trip can also be done on the way by those travelling between Bengaluru to Mysuru.
Our initial plan too was to cover Talakkad in this road trip. However, exploring other attractions left us with very little time. More so because it was a Sunday, we had to reach Mysore to see the beautifully illuminated Mysore Palace. Hence, we re-scheduled our visit to Talakadu from Mysuru for next day and reached there after exploring the Kesava Temple of Somanathapur.
We were joined by our guide who briefed us about the history of the place. Talakkad was the capital of the Ganga dynasty for a long period of time – 4th to 10th century A.D – before it came under the Cholas in the 11th century AD followed by the Hoysalas in the 12th century AD and the Vijayanagara Empire in the 14th century AD.
Legend of Talakkad
Like a lot of other places, Talakkad also has a quite a few legends associated with it. According to one of these, Talakkad owes its name to two brothers. The brothers – hunters- once came across a tree that was worshipped by a group of elephants. Curious, they cut the tree to find a bleeding Shivalingam. A heavenly voice instructed them to minister the wound with the leaves and fruits of the same tree.
The brothers followed the directions and the tree healed. Since Lord Shiva healed himself here in the form of a tree, he is called Vaidyesvara. The elephants, rishis in previous birth, attained moksha and the place came to be known after the two brothers – Tala and Kadu –Talakadu or Talakkad.
Our first stop on Talakkad trip was the temple dedicated to this form of Shiva – the Vaidyesvara Temple. The temple is an amalgamation of the Ganga, Cholas and Hoysala style. The temple, built of granite, is close to the parking lot. Worship still carries on here. The temple complex is big and at the either side of the main temple entrance there are two huge dwarapalaks, one belonging to Devagana and Raksha gana each. A closer look at the chest and the stomach part of the Dwarapalaks clearly reveals the face of a bull.
Right next to it is the carving of Lord Ganesha who appears to be riding a horse when the tail is covered and a mouse when the front portion is covered. People worship here before going inside. The exterior of the temple is intricately carved with images of Lord Shiva and Vishnu. There are many smaller carvings on the pillars all around as well.
Vaidyesvara Temple is one of the five Panchlingam temples in Talakkad, the other being Pathaleshwara temple, Maraleshwara Temple, Malikaarjuna Temple and the Arkeshwara temple. The five lingams are believed to represent the five faces of Shiva. To worship these five forms of Shiva, a festival Panchlinga Darshan is organized once in every twelve years.
We moved towards the next temple through a sandy pathway. It was a tiring walk (difficult for elderly and not so fit). The good point though was that it was shaded. That really prevented the direct sunlight from hitting us down. Our guide continued about Talakkad and this time narrated another famous legend associated with it (and the belief as to why the area has so much of sand).
Another Legend- The Curse of Talakkad
So, the legend goes that in the early 17th century, Tirumala Raja or Sri Rangaraja, the representative of the Vijayanagar king, governing Sri Rangapatnam visited the Vaidyesvara Temple in Talakkad. He was suffering from an incurable disease and was close to his end. His second wife, Alemelamma who was in charge in his absence, proceeded to meet him, leaving behind Sri Rangapatnam in charge of the Mysore King.
When Tirumala Raja died, the Wodeyar Raja of Mysore took control of the area and sent soldiers after her to get some precious jewels she possessed. Alemelamma, humiliated, threw the jewels in the Kaveri and uttered a curse before drowning herself in the river. The curse, now known as the curse of Talakadu, stated
May Talakkad forever remain under sand
May Malingi be lost in a whirlpool
May the Raja of Mysore never get an heir.
Talakkad, indeed, for a long time was covered in sand. Even now one can see huge mounds of sand all around. The efforts of ASI have resulted in excavation of few temples; however still many of them lie beneath the heaps of sand. As per our guide it was only during the last 50 years that these temples have been excavated.
The legendary curse apart, experts point out to other ecological reasons for the sands in the area.
We visited two more temples after this. The first one – Pathaleshwara Temple – is a small temple accessed by descending down around 20-30 steps covered with sand. Built by the Gangas, it is one of the oldest temples here along with the Maraleshwara temple. The locals say that the Shivalinga here changes colour at different time – red in the morning, black in the afternoon and white in the night.
We proceed further on our Talakkad temple trail. The walk on the sandy path was now becoming a little difficult. The pace was rather slow and we also had Shivanasamudra falls in our itinerary. So we hastily decided to take a short cut and visit the Keerthi Narayan Temple and then conclude our Talakkad trip.
Keerti Narayan Temple
Keerthi Narayan temple is a huge temple built in Hoysala style and one of the Paanch Narayan temples in Karnataka. It was constructed in the 12th century by King Vishnuvardhana to mark Hoysala victory over the Cholas. It stands on a star shaped platform. The sanctum houses an eight feet tall statue of Keerthinarayan.
Talakkad, is without doubt intriguing. We missed visiting the other temples, the Kaveri River and a coracle ride on it. Nonetheless, the visit was good and there is always a next time.
A small tip for anyone visiting for the first time – a guide is a great help in spotting and understanding details. Do hire one on your Talakkad Trip.