February 20, 2010

A historic town buried under sand - Talakad, Near Mysore, India

Talakad a.k.a Talakadu is a small town on the banks of the river Cauvery (Kaveri) located at a distance of about 45 kms from Mysore, the heritage city of Karnataka state in South India. Talakad once had around 30 temples, which are buried under sand today. Only 4-5 ancient temples are remaining now.

Talakad is a historic site. It was ruled by various dynasties such as Gangas, Cholas, Hoysalas and Vijayanagara Kings. Talakad, famous for its sand dunes resembling deserts, ancient temples, Panchalinga Darshana sites and the river, has interesting legends. As per a legend, one of the Wodeyar kings conquered and captured Srirangapattinam from the king named Srirangaraya. Srirangaraya, after losing his kingdom, settled down in Talakad along with his two wives. He subsequently died due to some ailment. One of his wives named Alamelamma, a staunch devotee of the Goddess Ranganayaki of Srirangapattinam Temple, used to provide her big pearl studded nose ring to the idol on every Tuesdays and Fridays. The jewelry was in the safe custody of Alamelamma otherwise. The Wodeyar king wanted to bring the jewelry under the custody of the temple by force. Alamellamma uttered the historic curse which caused Talakad to turn into a barren expanse of sand. Also, due to her curse, the Kings of Mysore never had children, it is said. She jumped into the river along with her jewels and died.
As per another legend, an ascetic Somadatta along with his disciples were killed by wild elephants on their way to worship Talakad Shiva. They were reborn as wild elephants and worshipped Shiva in the form of a tree. Two hunters named Tala and Kada struck the tree with an axe and found blood coming out of the tree. Upon hearing the heavenly voice, they dressed the tree's wound with leaves and fruits. Thus the hunters healed the tree and became immortal. Since Lord Shiva healed himself through this incident, the idol of main temple in this town is named as Vaidyanatheswara.

Talakad town is famous for Panchalinga Darshan (Darshan of five Shiv Lingas). The main temple Vaidyanatheswara temple is completely buried under sand dunes during certain period depending on the water level in the river Cauvery. The temple comes to life when it is excavated for the Panchalinga Darshan festival held once in every twelve years. Out of five Shiva temples, three temples namely Vaidyanatheswara, Pataleswara, and Maruleshwara are loacated at Talakad. Arkeshwara temple is located in a nearby town named Vijapura and Mallikarjuna temple is located at a nearby place called Mudukuthore. Talakad town also has an ancient temple for Lord Vishnu - Kirti Narayana temple.

There are buses to Talakad from Mysore city. The best way to travel is either by car or taxi from Mysore. For hotels and good restaurants, you need to go to Mysore city.

Overall, you will get a spiritual as well as historic feel when you visit Talakad town.

Happy travelling.

Fast Facts:

Site Name: Talakad or Talakadu
Site Type: Architecture, Temple, River, Sand dune
Location: 50 kms from Mysore, Karnataka state, India
Highlight: Ancient temples buried in sand, Panchalinga Darshan which happens once in every 12 years
Nearest Railway Station: Mysore
Nearest Airport: Bangalore
Local Transport: Easily reachable from Mysore; It is better to travel by car or taxi rather than depending on public transport
Hotel: It is best to stay at Mysore (50 kms from here)
Restaurants: Good restaurants are available only at Mysore

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