A tale by the river : Talakadu

Let me take my readers today to a hamlet called Talakadu. Once a capital city of the Ganga dynasty, now reduced to a ‘heap of sand’. There are many legends, folklore and mysteries surrounding Talakadu.

Legend says that aeons ago in the Jungles of this area lived two brothers (some stories say they were demons, others say they were hunters). One day they were chopping trees in the jungle. One tree started bleeding as soon as it was struck by the axe. The brothers panicked and tried to cover the wound on the tree with the leaves and fruits of the tree. And magically the tree cured itself. It is believed that the tree was a manifestation of Lord Shiva and since he had cured himself a temple was setup in that area. The deity is known as Vaidyanatheswara ( which means god of healers).  The place came to be known as Talakadu because the the brothers were ‘Tala’ and ‘Kadu’.

I believe this legend has a deeper meaning to it than the literal meaning. It shows that trees are divine beings. They not only provide the rest of the world with all necessities but are capable of self sustaining themselves.

Now back to my story. I started from Bangalore at around 7am in the morning.  Took the nice road to get out of the city and got on to Mysore road. This almost took me an hour and stopped for breakfast at Malgudi Vatika. The place has a nice theme that resembles with the India of 1900s, some antique pieces of furniture add to the ambience. At the entrance there is a large stone engraved with A quote by R.K. Narayan ( but that quote does not belong to R.K.N it was by Marcus Garvey).

After the breakfast I continued on for almost and hour to reach Maddur. From there I took the route to Malavalli. The road ahead looked like a black serpent laying on a green velvet carpet. There were lush green farms on both sides of the road. The traffic on these roads consisted of bullock carts carrying loads of sugar cane.

I reached Talakadu by 12PM. There were buses and cars parked on both sides of the road. I could see the Vaidyanatheswara temple. I went a little further and parked a little away from the crowd. As I mentioned earlier this place was the capital of the Ganga dynasty and was later taken over by the Hoysalas and later by the Wodeyars. This place was a bustling city once and as per a folklore, Talakadu was submerged in sand after the curse of Alamelamma. I would not be getting into the details of this story at this point because, the internet is full of references to that story with different versions. The Archeological Society of India very recently excavated parts of a temple from the sands of Talakadu.

We started our ‘pilgrimage’ from the opposite end (Typically people would start from Vaidyeshwara temple). There is a covered walkway that takes you all  the way round the area. We first visited the Maraleshwara temple. This is a small temple with the diety as Shiva. It is located in a trench. This is because the temple was excavated from under the sands. The temple in itself is small. Photography is prohibited inside the temple.

This  is followed by the Pathaleshwara temple, which looks very similar. We then continued our walk and we reached the back side of Kirti Narayana temple one of the most beautiful temples in the area. Unlike the other temples of the area Kirti Narayana temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. This is a huge temple the carvings on this temple is not as detailed as the ones on the Vaidyeshwara temple but still. It is an excellent piece of architecture marvel by the medieval Indians. This temple was built by the Hoysalas to mark their victory over the Cholas. The temple has a “Mahadvara” (main entrance) made fully of granite, which adds to the beauty of the temple. All these parts were recovered from under the sand in recent times.

And finally we have the Vaidyeshwara temple which is full of intricate carvings depicting stories from the Hindu Mythology. The temple is built in a star shaped platform which is quite common with many temples in Karnataka. The star shape gives more surfaces for the sculptors to work on with more details and carvings.

Our final stop was at the river Kaveri. The river was gently flowing. It was a witness to all that has happened at  Talakadu. It was there when the Hunter brothers were cutting down the trees. It was still there when the Ganga dynasty came and established a city and with a subsequent conquerors it was a witness to the creation and destruction that occurred on its banks. Kaveri  has  seen Talakadu changing from a capital city to a heap of sand.


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