Talakad is an ancient town where remains of pre-historic settlements have been unearthed. A large part of Talakad is covered by sand dunes. Scientists speculate various causes like the building of a dam in the 14th century which is supposed to have displaced sand from the river bank. There is also the idea that a fault running through the river Kaveri caused the sand dunes. Whatever the reason, the phenomenon is still a bit of a mystery.
Sand covered temples – history and mythology
This place was part of the Ganga Empire, and then it came under the rule of the Cholas. Then the Hoysalas ruled it. It was also under the rule of the Vijayanagara kingdom for a good while.
The talakad legends
According to a local tradition, there was an ascetic named Somadatta who was on his way to visit the Shiva temple here. On the way, he and his disciples were killed by wild elephants. They were themselves reborn as elephants and worshiped Shiva in the form of a tree in the forest.
Once, two hunters named Tala and Kadu tied to cut down this tree, but were shocked when blood flowed out of it. They were ordered to stop cutting down the tree and to heal it with leaves and fruits from the tree. They did so and the wound was healed. Because Shiva in the form of the tree healed himself, he was known here as Vaidyanatha, the lord of Doctors.
Later, a Chola King built a Vaidyanatheswara temple here. The town came to be called Talakadu after the two hunters.
The sand dune curse legend
During the Vijayanagara period, Talakad was ruled by Srirangayya on behalf of Vijayanagara’s King. His wife Alamelamma was an ardent devotee of Sri Ranga Nayaki, The consort of Sri Ranganatha of the Srirangapatnam temple. She used to send all her jewels once a year to adorn Sri Ranga Nayaki and then the jewels would be returned to her. Once, when her husband was sick, she and her husband went with him to offer prayers at Vaidyanatha temple.
During this time, the Mysore Raja Wadiyar took over Talakad. He saw the beautiful jewels that had been given by Alamelamma adorning the Goddess in Srirangapatnam. They were returned to Alamelamma after the function.
But the Wodeyar decided to seize the jewels. Meanwhile Srirangayya died, and the soldiers of the Mysore Raja started harassing the widow. Angered, she sent her nose jewel to Sri Ranga Nayaki and jumped into the river Kaveri at a place called Malangi with the rest of the jewels tied up in a cloth.
When she was drowning, she uttered a curse in Kannada saying “Talakadu managali, Malangi madwagali, Mysooru arasarige makkalu aagadirali” which translates to ‘Let Talakad be covered by sand, let Malangi become a whirlpool and henceforth, the Mysore Rajas will not produce heirs’. From that time on, it is believed because of the curse, the once fertile land of Talakad became covered in sand, and the River Kaveri at that particular spot suddenly developed a whirlpool. And till now, the Mysore Rajas have had problems with producing heirs to the throne.
Current status of curse
Nearly 400 years after the Mysore royal family was cursed by the Alamelamma, Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wadiyar is making amends. He will construct a temple in Talakad near Mysore dedicated to Alamelamma. The deity of Alamelamma is now in a box and opened only on Navami (ninth) day during Dasara. She is adorned with jewelry and finery, worshiped and replaced in the box.
The cue to dedicate a temple came from a well-wisher of Wadiyar, who had a clairvoyance of Alamelamma. Wadiyar said “In April 2007, my friend dreamt of seeing the image of a woman trying to emerge from a watery grave. He is said to have asked her what she wanted and the soman sought to know why the king (Wadiyar) not treating her pitra or matra”.
During clairvoyance, Alamelamma is supposed to have said that miracles will happen to him. Wadiyar said a curse uttered will stay for seven generations. The curse was uttered in 1610. Since 2003, Wadiyar had strange experiences. He use to get the smell of a cigar and perfume his father used. In 2006, he felt the woman was trying to tell him to light ghee lamps besides the oil ones before her portrait.
Wadiyar has not visited the room where the woman’s idol is kept in a box along with her hair. Alamelamma’s presence in Mysore Palace was supposedly witnessed by the guards, when the place was taken over by the state government in 1976-77 and they informed Wadiyar. It is believed during Navami night, the guards heard the jingling of anklets starting from the bridge which connects the palace and its annexe. The jingle grew louder as it neared the throne, reached the durbar hall where the armory is kept, went up to the Ganapaathi temple before dying down at the room where the deity is kept.
A few other interesting legends
Several other interesting legends also surround this shrine. It is believed that an ascetic Somadatta headed out to Siddharanya Kshetra Talakad to worship Shiva. Having been killed by wild elephants enroute, he and his disciples re-incarnated as wild elephants and worshiped Shiva in the form of a tree at Talakad.
Two hunters Tala and Kada, are believed to have struck the tree with an axe to find blood gushing forth, they dressed and healed the wounded tree. Hence hunters became immortal. Since Shiva is believed to have healed himself through this incident, he is referred to as Vaidyeshwara. The Panchalingams here are all associated with this legend.
Sand covered temples – architecture
There are a lot of temples in Talakad most of which have been unearthed from below the sand dunes. There are five Shiva temples here and the Pancha Linga Darshan is believed to be very auspicious. The most prominent of the Shiva temples is the Vaidyanatha temple built by the Cholas. It is a beautiful temple with incredible sculptures and carvings.
There is also a Vishnu temple here built at the behest of Shri Ramanujacharya. It was built by the Hoysala King Vishnuvardhana. The Keertinarayana Temple was recently excavated and restored at a site a little away from the original site. Most of this temple is still buried under the sand. The sanctum has an eight foot tall idol of Keertinarayana. This temple is built in the Hoysala style, but archaeologists have recently discovered some earlier structures. These include a carved mandapa with a figure of Ugra Narasimha, a Garuda Kamba and stone inscriptions.
How to get to sand covered temples, Talakad
Talakad is located at a distance of 185 km from Bangalore and lies a very short distance from Mysore. It is easily accessible through bus services. The nearest railway station is the one at Mysore.
Temples and sightseeing in Talakad
- Vaidyanatheswara Temple
- Talakadu Panchalinga Darshana – A Rare Phenomenon
- Talakad: The City Partially Submerged into Sand
History and Dynasties of Karnataka