Talakadu, also known as Talakad, is closer from Mysore than from Bangalore. But like everyone else I along with a couple of friends drove from Bangalore to Talakadu as a weekend getaway. What is now a religious town has its legend way back to being called the cursed town. We went to see what was all the fuss about the temples of Talakadu. The Mysore highway did not spare us that day in spite of it being a Friday and not a long weekend. Somewhere a detour read Shivanasamudram falls and we drove past that looking for Talakadu Panchalinga temples. At a distance, there were coracle rides going on. It was good to see Cauvery flowing in full spate. 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. And I was surprised to see the amount of crowd! Talakadu was more like a picnic destination. Let us go on and explore these temples of India.
Origin of the name Talakadu
Apparently, Talakadu is named after the twin brothers Tala and Kada. It is a folk tale I suppose. Tala and Kada are hunters who one day set out in the forest looking to hunt. They come across a tree being worshipped by elephants. Curious to see animals worshipping a tree, they decide to axe it. Genius right :P But then the tree starts to bleed and our twin brothers realize their grave mistake. They start to address the wounds with fruits and leaves from the tree. Turns out the tree is Lord Shiva and the elephants are rishis (sages) worshipping him. Shiva gives darshan to all, everybody attains moksha and the place gets named after the twin brothers. And the temple at the place of this tree is now called Vaideyshwara temple.
History and the Curse of Talakadu
You got to see Talakadu to believe this curse of Talakad story. Somewhere in the 17th century, there was a chieftain or something similar responsible guy who was taking care of the Srirangapatna temple. He falls seriously ill and goes to Vaideyswara temple to offer prayers and ask for good health. Meanwhile, he hands over the responsibility 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 in the brink of death, she decided to pay him a visit. Raja Wodeyar of Mysore who has been having an eye on the jewels under the possession of Alamelamma looks at this as the right opportunity to seize them. He sends an army to abduct the jewels. Now depending on the guide you speak to, they are either gonna say the king was behind the jewels or the king had an eye on Alamelamma and was behind her. Let us keep it to jewels. Alamelamma, in order to escape from the hands of the king and his army, goes to the banks of the river Cauvery, throws the jewels in and drowns herself. Not before occurring the curse words,
Talakadu maralagali, Malangi maduvagali, Mysuru dhorege makkalilladhe hogali
Meaning, May Talakadu be filled with Sand. Malangi be a whirlpool and let the Mysuru Raja never have an heir. The bend of Cauvery river where she falls is known as Malangi. So Malangi turns into a whirlpool and floods the area. Talakadu to till date is filled with sand. It is terribly 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. And the place was filled with nearly 30 temples. And all went under the sand. It is said that the sand seems to appear and grow in feet and keeps covering the town. Now they have successfully excavated few temples which include the Panchalinga temples and Keerti Narayana Temple. And it is also true that ever since the 17th century the Mysore Wodeyars are finding it tough to have an heir to the throne meaning having a son. So ya, to believe or not to believe the folklore is up to you. But it is fascinating to connect the dots.
The first in the set of five temples is the Vaideyswaran temple. All the temples are functional and the sanctum sanctorum closes by 2 pm and opens again at about 4 pm. This the biggest of all the five temples. Most of them pay a visit to this temple and skip the rest. Cos the rest needs a bit of walking, about 2 km in total. A bit of steps and the path to the temples start. Throughout the way, it is loose beach sand which is much difficult to walk than a level upland. Thanks to the covered walking area otherwise the beach sand would be burning hot. And there are small vendors like fruits and ice cream sellers who along with people manage to litter all through the way.
The first temple in sight is Pathaleshwara Temple. A flight of steps takes you down to the temple. A small shrine. And while talking to the priest he said, the temple will remain closed in the monsoon as water fills up the area and so does sand. In a similar fashion, you walk around the place and come across Maruleshwara, Arkeshwara, and Mallikarjuna temples. All of which below ground level
Keerthi Narayana Temple, Talakadu
Kirti Narayana temple is a job well done by ASI. The excavation has been done so effectively and the temple has also been assembled well! Some of the old pictures in Google shows only the entrance of the temple up and visible. But now ASI has made the entire structure up. The temple was completely dismantled by the ASI and has been reconstructed. Am so glad I went at a time when everything is up and the Keethi Narayana moorthy looks awesomely handsome.
The information board at the temple read that Talakadu was the capital of Gangas (I have never heard of this kingdom till now) and 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. Mostly because I could see scripts around the temple which resembled a lot like Tamil language. But the structure does resemble Hoysala architecture. Maybe they enhanced it in later stage.
The entrance gateway is pretty big, in all probability, it should 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 spacious. The doorways of the sanctum sanctorum look like Hoysala styled. The main idol of Lord Narayana is very impressive about eight feet tall and super handsome. The ceiling is decked with floral, lotus and other designs. The temple walls must have been decked with sculptures once upon a time. That is how it looked to me. This was the temple I spent maximum time at.
Around the temple there are small mess which offer simple lunch to have. Best bet is to have your food there otherwise Mysore is the next destination. Cos everything on the way are villages. A little away from the temple is the bank of river Cauvery. More beach sand and people picnic there. You can also take 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.