Do you know the reason why I love India? Because India is a country with so many mysteries and stories, at every corner to be explored and discovered. Its absolutely amazing and mind boggling to hear each one of them. One such story is of the Talakadu town in Karnataka. The legends and the stories make is so interesting and mysterious.
Want to know more stories about Karnataka? Refer the section Travel in Karnataka.
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With just a population of 9000 people (accroding to the 2011 census), Talakadu, located on the banks of River Cauvery, is a desert like town which had at least 30 temples. Most of the temples are now buried under sand. Among all the temples, there are five temples dedicated to Lord Shiva representing the five Lingas. The five temples are Pathaleshwara, Maruleshwara, Arkeshwara, Vaidyenatheshwara and Mallikarjuna. The temple timings are between 6 AM and 6 PM every day. Currently, the sleepy town of Talakadu has made its name in the wine making and horticulture. It is budding with many eco-sustainable resorts.
It is believed that the Linga at Pathaleshwara appears red in the morning, black in the afternoon and white at night.
In honour of these five Lingas, there is a fair that is held once in 12 years during the month of November for 5 days in Talakadu on the banks of River Cauvery. The fair, known as Panchalinga Darshana, is held on a new moon day in Karthika maasa. The last fair was held in the year 2009.
Karthika maasa is a month dedicated to Lord Shiva and is celebrated when the two stars Vishaka and Khuha Yoga conjoin.
Tradition of the pilgrimage is a series of steps where the the visitors (pilgrims) are required to do the below one after the one in the mentioned sequence:
- Bathing in Gokarna teertha (holy water).
- Worshiping Gokarneswara and Chandikadevi.
- Worshiping Vaidyeshwara.
- Bathing in River Cauvery facing in all directions (North, East, South and West).
- Worshiping Arkeshwara, Pataleshwara, Maraleshwara and Mallikarjuna.
- Returning to Vaidyeshwara.
- Worshiping Kirtinarayana.
- Concluding the pilgrimage in one day.
One can also go for coracle ride in the river when visiting the temple.
How to get to Talakadu?
Talakadu is around 135 kilometres from Bangalore city and 45 kilometres from Mysore. The drive from Bangalore is around 3 hours by car, towards Mysore.
The best way to reach Talakadu from Bangalore on a public transport is by taking a bus. Take the bus to Mysore, Srirangapatna or Mandya and then taking a local bus or catching a rickshaw (tuk tuk) to Talakadu. The distance between Srirangapatna and Talakadu is around 60 kilometres.
Legends of Talakadu
The town of Talakadu has many stories and legends. There are stories of how the name Talakadu came by as well.
- One legend is that the name Talakadu was derived from the twin brothers Tala and Kadu. When they were cutting down a tree, they saw that the tree was being worshiped by wild elephants. They discovered the statue of Lord Shiva in the tree and the elephants transformed themselves into rishis (saints). Somehow the tree was miraculously restored and all of them including the twins and rishis obtained moksha and hence the name Talakadu, which means Dala-vana in Sanskrit.
- The other legend is that a rishi was headed out to Talakadu to worship Shiva. But he was unfortunately killed by wild elephants on the way. He and his followers reincarnated as wild elephants and worshiped Shiva in the form of a tree. Two hunters Tala and Kada, struck the tree with an axe. The tree bled and a heavenly voice was heard. Realising what they had done, the hunters then dressed the wound with leaves and fruits. The tree healed and the hunters became immortal.
Curse of Talakadu
“Talakadu Maralaagi (Talakadu become sandy).
Malingi Maduvaagi (Malingi become whirlpool).
Mysore dhorege makkalagade hogali (Mysore kings never have children).“
Above was the curse, also known as the curse of Talakadu, spoken by Rani Alamelamma towards Raja Wodeyar of Mysore in the 17th century. The story goes that during the reign of Mysore Raja Wodeyar, Srirangapatna was left in charge with the representative of Vijayanagara family, Tirumala Raja also known as Ranga Raya. Ranga Raya came to Talakadu after getting an incurable disease. His second wife Rani Alamelamma was taking care of Srirangapatna. She soon left Srirangapatna and headed towards Talakadu with an objective of seeing her dying husband.
It is believed that Raja Wodeyar wanted to obtain the Rani Alamelamma’s jewelleries. Because he could not obtain them, he levied an army and proceeded against the Rani. Rani Alamelamma thereupon went to the banks of the River Cauvery, threw all the jewels in the river, drowned herself while uttering the curse.
The curse has established itself in the folklore and the two events from the curse are still visible:
- Talakadu is submerged in the sand several metres deep.
- The Mysore Royal family have not had the rightful heir to the throne since the 17th century.
I am not sure if the curse is true or it was a story that was told to fit in the situations of Talakadu. But whatever it is, it is truly interesting and mysterious, especially how coincidently it matches with the two events that are part of the curse.
Safety for solo female travelers
Visiting Talakadu is definitely safe for solo female travelers. However, be cautious and know your surroundings while traveling alone, especially at nights. I suggest visiting and leaving the temple before it gets dark. And be extra careful while traveling on the public transportation.
The road trip to Talakadu makes a perfect one day trip from Bangalore. It is an interesting place for people who love stories and architecture. I wish to go back there someday and learn more about the temple.