A wonder called Talakadu

Out of the sand in Talakadu rise stunningly beautiful temples that offer a visitor glimpses of the past

A temple in Talakadu

O a bright Sunday morning, we packed a picnic hamper and set out to enjoy the day in the open. A motley group of nine, we had no idea as to where we were heading. All that we were looking for was a day filled with fun and adventure. As our vehicle hit the busy Bengaluru-Mysuru Road, we began reading the signboards that announced the picnic spots on the way. Shivanasamudra, Bheemeshwari, Sangam, Talakadu, Mutthatti… the list was quite exhaustive. Not able to make up our minds on the place we wanted to spend our day in, we drew lots even as we bit into steaming hot idlis in an eatery on the road. Guess what? Talakadu was the popular choice.

Back in time

So, off we drove in the direction of Talakadu, carefully reading signposts on the way, so as not to miss the place. As we reached Malavalli and took a deviation to Talakadu, we wondered if it was a good decision to zero in on Talakadu as the roads were quite bad. But, we decided to overlook poor road conditions and drove ahead, braving the hot sun. A few kilometres ahead, we were treated to great sights as we spotted a temple on a hill and a huge tree with as many as 50-60 nests on it. It was indeed a sight to behold!

As we neared Talakadu, we knew what we were in for — an endless expanse of sand. We quickly parked our vehicle and headed out with our sunglasses and caps in place. As we explored Talakadu on foot, we discovered the uniqueness and the fascinating history of the place.

Situated on the banks of River Kaveri, Talakadu dates back to 2nd century AD and was ruled by a host of dynasties. While the Gangas ruled the place from 350 AD to 1050 AD, the Cholas ruled it in the 11th century. Subsequently, the Hoysalas took over, followed by the Vijayanagara kings, and finally the Wodeyars of Mysore.

The picturesque place, famous for the many temples it houses, is a haven for Shiva devotees. In this temple town, Lord Shiva is believed to have manifested himself in five forms, and the five temples in dedication to each of these five forms are the Vaidyeshwara, Pathaleshwara, Maruleshwara, Mallikarjuneshwara and Srikanteshwara temples. As a tribute to these five temples, a festival named Panchalinga Darshana is celebrated in the month of Karthika on a new moon Monday with a rare stellar combination. This auspicious day comes only once every 12 years. In the recent past, it was celebrated in 2018.

On this rare occasion, it is believed that devotees wanting to rid themselves of their ‘bad karma’ should take a dip in the Gokarna Theertham (the pond adjacent to the temple), worship Gokarneshwara and Chandikadevi, and then Vaidyeshwara, Arkeshwara, Pataleshwara, Maraleshwara, Mallikarjuna, and finally Kirtinarayana, the temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The tiny town of Talakadu is full of temples. Other than the ones mentioned above, over 30 temples are believed to have been covered with sand.

A temple in Talakadu
A temple in Talakadu

The famous curse

The golden sands of Talakadu have an interesting tale to relate. According to popular belief, Raja Wodeyar, the ruler of Mysore State, conquered Srirangapatna from Srirangaraya, a chieftain under Vijayanagara kings. Following Srirangaraya’s death, Wodeyar sent his soldiers to get the jewels of Alamelamma, Srirangaraya’s widow. An enraged Alamelamma held on to her jewels and jumped into Malangi River, but not before cursing the Wodeyars. Her curse was:​ Malangi maduwagi, Talakadu maralagi, Mysooru arasarige makkalaagadirali (May Malangi become a whirlpool, Talakadu turn into a desert, and the rulers of Mysore not have children).

No wonder, there’s sand, sand and more sand in Talakadu!

After familiarising ourselves with the history and uniqueness of the place, we set out to play in the waters of Kaveri. The sun blazing over our heads failed to dampen our holiday spirit, and we had the time of our lives playing in the cool, cool waters of Kaveri. As the sun was about to set, we started our temple rounds, exploring one temple after another, marvelling at the architectural splendour of each. Most of these temples are not easily visible as heaps of sand separate one from another, and the services of a guide are essential to cover them all at once.

Very soon darkness descended on the sandy town, signalling us to get back home. As we huddled ourselves back into our vehicle, we realised how fruitful our short trip to Talakadu was. We had learnt so much about the history of the place, its significance, and the reason behind its golden sands. For once, all of us fell silent and didn’t mind the bumpy drive till we hit the main road.

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A wonder called Talakadu

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