Did you know that deserts are not the only place where sand dunes exist in India? Did you know that there is a place in south Karnataka where there are mounds and mounds of sand and some 30 temples are buried under it? Did you know that this place is also called as kasi of the south?
The place I am referring to is situated on the banks of river Cauvery, near Mysore and goes by the name Talakad. Legend has it that Tala and Kada two hunters struck a tree with an axe and blood gushed from the tree. On the saying of a divine voice they applied the leaves and fruits of the tree on the wound and the tree got healed. The divine voice was none other than the deity Vaidyanatheswara (Shiva; The lord of physicians) who suggested the remedy for his own illness.
The place came to be known as Talakad on account of the two hunters. The blood which oozed out mixed with the mud and got the name ‘Moolamrithika’ and is believed to cure all diseases.
Brief history of Talakad:
Talakad was the capital of Gangas when they ruled in Karnataka. Then Talakad was ruled by Cholas, the Hoysalas, the Vijayanagara Kings and the Maharajas of Mysore. The effect of all this is seen in the architecture of Talakad temples.
Temples of Talakad:
The Vaidyanatheshwara temple is one such magnificent temple which is built of granite in the Dravidian style. Most of the structure was built under Vijayanagar kings and several features have been added by the Hoysalas.
The temple has beautiful sculpting on its outer walls. It is east facing and two colossal Dwarapalakas (bodyguards of Shiva) approx 10ft guard the temple entrance. Towards the right of the Dwarapalakas there is a beautiful statue of Vijaya Ganesha seated on a horse as well as a mouse.
Several depictings of Shiva and Vishnu adorn the walls of the temple. Interesting carvings are done on the pillars and walls of the temple. One such carving is two rings of stone latched together in the form of a snake on the right side of the temple. Behind the temple there are a line of Panchalingas (5 Shiva lingas). Here too a lot of sculpting has been done.
Other small temples:
Located 3 miles away from Talakad on the hills of Mudukothore is the Mallikarjuna temple. It is a beautiful temple and the sight of river cauvery from the top of the hill is quite pretty. In this temple there is an imprint of the feet of Kamadenu (cow) on Shiva’s head. The stories of Shiva purana are depicted on the walls of the temple.
Arkeshwara, Maraleshwara, Pataleshwara, Gokarneshwara, Chamundeshwari, KirtiNarayana are other small temples located in Talakad itself. The Shivalinga of Pataleshwara is said to change color 5 times every day.
The significance of Talakad:
Every 7 and 13 years, in the lunar month of kartika thousands of devotees visit this place to worship the panchalingas or the five sacred lingas. The Vaidyanatheshwara temple along with Arkeshwara, Pataleshwara, Maraleshwara and Mallikarjuna constitute the panchalingas (5 lingas) here. These five lingas are said to represent the five faces of Shiva. It is said that a devotee who performs this worship of five lingas is freed of all sins and attains the fruits of the famous Aswamedha Pooja.
The river cauvery flows in four streams in this village. It is said that Shiva appeared on the northern stream as Arkeshwara and removes all the troubles of the devotee. Similarly Shiva appeared on the eastern stream as Pataleshwara to Vasuki (serpent) and appears evil in five different colors. He is said to remove ill effects of poison and serpents. On the bank of southern stream Shiva appeared to Lord Brahma and Saraswati as Maraleshwara and is said to remove the sins of even Brahmahatya (Killing of Brahmins).On the banks of western stream he appears as Mallikarjuna and grants all the wishes of devotee. At the centre of Talakad he appeared as Vaidyanatheshwara and on account of the two hunters he became visible to all.
Every 12 years a special worship of panchalingas takes place in Talakad. During this time all the temples are excavated from the buried sand. As said earlier during this worship a devotee reaps the benefits of Ashwamedha sacrifice and is removed from all sins.
Curse of Talakad:
There is an interesting story behind Talakad’s sand dunes.
“Let Talakad become sand. Let Malingi (a village near cauvery) become a whirlpool and let the Mysore kings not have any children”. This is the curse uttered by the wife of a defeated viceroy of Vijayanagar Empire on Raja Wodeyar of Mysore 400 years ago.
The wife of viceroy the queen Alamelamma who was a widow was a great devotee of the goddess Ranganayaki at SriRangapatna. She used to send her ornaments every Friday to decorate the goddess. On a certain Friday she did not send the diamond ornaments and the King of Mysore sent an army of men to bring the ornaments forcefully. It is said that he had an eye on the diamond jewels.
Being helpless the queen tied all the ornaments to her saree and jumped in to the river Cauvery near Malingi uttering the curse. As she did not want anyone to take the ornaments, she cursed that Malingi become a whirlpool and to prevent the soldiers from reaching her, she cursed that Talakad become sand. To this day Talakad is full of sand and every time there is the panchalinga worship to be done temples are excavated from the sand mounds.
Interesting legends, beautiful and ancient temples and the sparkling river cauvery makes this place a must see for everybody. Besides this boat riding and trekking is also offered. All in all it is worth a day’s trip to this serene place.
How to get there?
Talakad is 185 Km from Bangalore and 45 Km from Mysore. It is just 20 kilometres from Sivanasamudram.
Car rentals, Buses to Mysore are easily available. It is just a 3 hour drive from Bangalore.
Lodging is only found at Mysore and Bangalore.
Where to get down for food:
Talakad does not boast of any good restaurants. You will get some good hotels on Bangalore Mysore highway like the Shivalli hotel, Maddur Tiffany’s etc.
Other nearby excursions which you can plan
Please refer Shivanasamudram for the places to visit. The route taken is the same.
This article has also been published at