Nothing like the company of friends and a long drive with friends for a weekend getaway! Would you believe that Talakadu (also known as Talakad), hailed as a religious town, was once believed to be cursed!
So we friends set out to find what is all the hullabaloo about the town. Talakadu is closer to Mysore than from Bangalore. We took the Mysore Highway on a Friday, thereby making it an extended weekend. Somewhere a detour read Shivanasamudram Falls, and we drove past that looking for Talakadu Panchalinga temples.
From a distance, we saw coracles in the Cauvery. It was nice to see such a lovely sight. Google maps didn't help much and security personnel posted there asked us to drive further ahead. We came in front of what appeared to be a huge functional temple. I was surprised to see the huge crowd out there! Talakadu makes for a perfect picnic destination.
Let us go on and explore the temples that there are. But first, a little fun history snippet...
Origin of the name Talakadu
There is a story behind this which goes this way-
Tala and Kada were hunters who once set out in the forest for hunting. They saw a tree being worshipped by some elephants. Curious to see animals worshipping a tree, they decide to chop it down. Genius!
But, lo and behold- the tree started to bleed, and the twin brothers realized their grave mistake. They tended to the wounds with fruits and leaves from the tree. The legend says that the tree itself was Lord Shiva and the elephants were Rishis (sages) worshipping him. Shiva then gave darshan to all, and everybody attained ‘moksha.’ No points for guessing that the place gets its name after the twin brothers. Also, the temple at the place of this tree is now called Vaideyshwara temple.
History and the Curse of Talakadu
Well, that story ends there, but there are more stories.
Somewhere in the 17th century, there was a chieftain who was taking care of the Srirangapatna temple. Once, he fell seriously ill and went to Vaideyswara temple to offer his prayers to attain good health.
Meanwhile, he hands over the responsibility of the temple to his wife, Alamelamma. She takes care of the Srirangapatna government and guards the prized possession of the temple— the jewels of the Lord. Hearing that her husband is almost on the brink of death, she decided to visit him. Raja Wodeyar of Mysore, who had been wanting to lay his hands upon the jewels under the possession of Alamelamma, eyed this as an opportunity to seize the jewels. He sent an army to loot the jewels. Here, different guides present a different version of the story. Some say the king had an eye on the jewels, and some say that he fancied the Alamelamma herself! Let us keep it to jewels. Alamelamma, to escape from the hands of the king and his army, went to a bend of the river Cauvery known as Malangi, threw the jewels in and drowned herself; but not before uttering the curse words—
“Talakadu maralagali, Malangi maduvagali, Mysuru dhorege makkalilladhe hogali”
(Translation: “May Talakadu be filled with Sand; Malangi be a whirlpool and let the Mysuru Raja never have an heir.”)
Since then, it is believed that Malangi turned into a whirlpool and now continuously floods the area. Talakadu is always filled with sand. It is surprising to see the beach-like sand all over the place. It is said that the place was once very fertile and no doubt in that as it is on the banks of river Kaveri.
The place once had nearly 30 temples. Now, all are under the sand! It is said that the sand seems to appear and grow in feet and keeps covering the town. Now the authorities have successfully excavated a few temples, including the Panchalinga temples and Keerti Narayana Temple. It is also true that ever since the 17th century, the Mysore Wodeyars find it tough to have an heir to the throne! To believe or not to believe the folklore is entirely up to you. But it sure is fascinating to connect the dots back to a historical story.
As the name denotes, it is a series of five temples.The first in the set of five temples is the Vaideyswaran temple. This is the biggest of all the five temples. Most of them pay a visit to this temple and skip the rest.
The rest of the temples need a bit of walking (about 2 km in total). There are also a few steps on the way. Throughout the way, there is loose beach sand which makes it difficult to walk. Thanks to the covered walking area; otherwise, the beach sand would be burning hot. There are small vendors, like fruits and ice-cream sellers, who, along with people, manage to litter all through the way.
A flight of steps takes you down to the Pathaleshwara temple. It has a small shrine. The priest informed us that the temple would remain closed in the monsoon as water and sand-filled up in the area.
Similarly, you walk around the place and come across Maruleshwara, Arkeshwara, and Mallikarjuna temples, all of which are below ground level. All the temples are functional, and the sanctum sanctorum closes by 2:00 pm and opens again at about 4:00 pm.
Keerthi Narayana Temple
All the credit for the successful excavation and preservation of the temple goes to India's Archaeological Survey.
Some of the old pictures in Google show only the temple entrance, But now ASI has redone the entire structure. The temple was completely dismantled by the ASI and has been reconstructed beautifully.I am so glad and overwhelmed that I went there when the temple stood in its full glory. Also, the Keerthi Narayana Moorthy looks incredibly handsome!
There was an information board at the temple which read that Talakadu was the capital of Gangas (I have never heard of this kingdom till now). Then it moved to Cholas, Hoysalas, Vijayanagara, and the Mysore Wodeyars.
The temple was built in AD 1117, and I guess it should have been under the Cholas. I saw a lot of scripts around the temple in a language that resembled a lot like Tamil. But the overarching structure does resemble Hoysala architecture. Maybe they enhanced it in the later stages.
The entrance gateway is pretty big, and, in all probability, it would have had a big Gopuram on top of it too. It then opens up to a sanctum for Garuda on the right. The inner sanctum is very spacious. The doorways of the sanctum sanctorum are styled in Hoysala architecture. The main idol of Lord Narayana is very impressive, standing about eight feet tall.
The ceiling is decked with floral, lotus, and other designs. The temple walls must have been decked with sculptures once upon a time. I spent my maximum time at this temple.
Around the temple, there was a small mess that offered simple yet delicious lunch. It is a wise option to have your lunch here because the next destination is Mysore directly. Everything on the way is rural.
A little away from the temple is the bank of the river Cauvery. Sand and picnic again! You can also take a coracle ride down the river.
How to Reach Talakadu from Bangalore
Talakadu is about three hours by road from Bangalore. Follow the Mysore road and once you hit Maddur, take a deviation towards Malavalli. After Mallavali you will see a road deviating to Shivanasamudra, don't take that deviation and keep driving straight. You will eventually land up in Talakadu after some winding roads. Talakadu from Mysore is easier, about an hour drive. So if you are in Mysore do a trip to Talakadu and Somnathpur together.
Video on Talakadu
Here is a short video on touring around Talakadu and the temples.