Mystic Talakadu temples of great antiquity, Karnataka

Keerthinarayana Temple in Talakad, Karnataka. GoRoadTrip

Talakadu temple. Native Planet

Situated on the banks of  the Cauveri River, 24 Kms from Somnathpur, 32 Kms from Sivanasamudram & 49 Kms from Mysore, Talakadu is not only  a historical place surrounded by temples but also a holy place replete with myths and legends. It is a haven for those who have keen interest in the Hindu temples and architecture. In Karnataka, it is one of the famous pilgrimage centers where more than 30 temples lay buried in the sand dunes in the past. However, some of them have been excavated by the archaeology department and are  being visited by a lot of 
tourists. There are five temples dedicated to Lord Siva - Pathaleshwara, Maruleshwara, Arkeshwara, Vaideeshwara and Mallikarjuneshwara Temples, each representing the five faces of Shiva. The Keerthinarayana temple, a beautiful place of worship,  is  dedicated to Lord Vishnu.

The temples at Talakadu silently witnessed the reign of famous rulers of  various  dynasties - Gangas, Hoysalas, Rashtra Kootas and Vijayanagara. Consequently, the temple design is not homogeneous and you could see the influence of the  style and design of various dynasties on them. The inscriptions in the temple throw light on the benefactors of the temple.  Talakadu has the dubious distinction of being referred to as the 'Curse of Talakad' by Oueen Alamelamma on the Wodeyar Dynasty of Mysore and this mystery has attracted lots of tourists to this place where the sand dunes played havoc in the past.
Vaidyanatheswara TempleTalakadu.
Sri Vaidyanatheshwara Swamy Temple is of particular interest. Here the stone carvings on the wall seem to be of Hoysala origin and  are fairly good despite the full force ofabrasive wind 
action. At the entrance to the temple, six foot tall stone images of Dwarabalaka -God's sentinels are quite impressive. The origin of this place -Tarakadu has an element of myth that focuses on  a pair of  elephants worshipping Shiva in the form of a tree. According to sthalapurana, sage, Somadatta and his disciples were killed by wild elephants when they were doing their penance. It is believed that they were reborn as elephants in the same forest and  carried on the daily ritual of offering prayers to a  cotton  tree. One day when they were praying  to the tree, two hunters - Kitatata twin brothers by the name of  Tala and Kada saw this strange incident  and out of arrogance, cut down the tree  that the elephants were praying daily. To their surprise, they saw the chopped tree bleeding as if they were humans, an unexpected thing no one could ever dream of. Suddenly, a voice  from above (Asiriri) advised them to  heal the wound by using the tree leaves. They did it as instructed and, surprisingly,  the blood  had turned milk. In the wake of this incident, both the hunters  and the elephants attained immortality. In view of the presence of divinity in this place, later a temple  was built around the tree, and the place became known as Talakadu. One can see the  two stone images of the twin brothers brothers in front of Lord Veerabadraswamy temple here. 

Dwarapalakas in relief in Vaidyeshvara temple/

Talakadu location

At Talakad the  five Lingams of the temples are believed to represent the five faces of Shiva and form the Pancha pathi. This place is famous for the festival called Pancha Linga Darshana  
that is celebrated  once in 12 years. It is held on  a new moonday amavasya  - in the month of Karthika when two stars-Khuha Yoga and Vishaka come to gether  according to the Lunar or the Hindu calendar.    This five-day festival  commences at the exact same time in  all five temples with the ritual dip in the holy lake adjoining the temple of Vaidyanatheshwara.  Theertham -water from the same lake is brought to the temple to bathe the Gods.  This festival attracts people from many parts of Karnataka  and is marked by various events and chariot processions. Tradition has been that on this day, the pilgrims are required to take first bathe in the Gokarna theertham, worship Gokarneswara and Chowdeswari, and then worship Vaidyeshwara, and then bathe in the northern eastern southern and western stretches of the Cauvery and then worship Arkeshwara, Pataleshwara, Maraleshwara and Mallikarjuna, returning to Vaidyeshwara after each worship, finally worship Keerthinarayana and conclude the pilgrimage in one day.The last temple was excavated in the recent past from the sand dunes.

The presence of a large amount of sands that buried lots of temple in the past  is a subject of discussion. Where is the source of sand? What force brought the sands and dumped  them here? An important relevant fact is there is no desert area nearby where the action of  wind  can make the sand dunes move to a farther distance over a period of time. The thickness of sand in and around Talakadu is more than 12 meters and it shows the sustained aeolian activities.  In the absence of a desert environment which natural force was responsible for dumping a huge layer of sand  over a vast area here? The logical answer lies in the political history of this place and the then ruler.   Madhav Mantri, a minister of the Vijayanagar Empire in 1336 wanted to have a dam built across the river. The constructed dam served the community well. The speculation is that  because of continuous neglect of desilting in the water storage area vast amount of sand accumulated over a long period of time and it became exposed to  strong wind action that moved the sandes toward Talakadu area, causing the burials of temples and the town. Later the town became a neglected area - a sort of ghost town. Yet another plausible explanation is Geomorphologically speaking, the East flowing Cauvery, because of its meandering course, shifted the course to one side exposing a vast amount of sand  bed near Talakadu. The suatained wind action on the sand was so severe, it literally dumped a huge layer of Sand and silt over  a period of time and buried the temples and the town. The origin of sand dunes needs further research in the absence of valid evidence. Till  a valid scientific reason is offered, the source of sand dunes will remain a mystery.

The five Vishnu temples of Lord Narayana known as Pancha Narayana Kshetrams are believed to have been established by Ramanujacharya during his visit to Karnataka (Melnadu). At Talakad,  the Keerthi Narayana temple was established and the presiding Deity in this temple is Keerthi Narayana.

Set aside all the myths and legends associated with Talakadu, the variety of architecture and sculptures may leave a lasting impression on your mind. Paradoxically, this place brings out the transient nature of ruling dynasties and their  artistic creations
- a continuum between nature and man's creation.