ಮೈಸೂರು ದೊರೆಗಳಿಗೆ ಮಕ್ಕಳಾಗದೆ ಹೋಗಲಿ”
“May Malangi turn into an unfathomed whirlpool,
May Talakad turn into a barren expanse of sand,
May the Rajas of Mysore not have children for all time to eternity”
Anyone visiting Talakad is bound to have heard the above quote. Born and brought up in Mysore, I have known about this curse from ‘Alamelamma’ and the story behind it. But, there is much more to Talakad than one such story.
Geographical: The biggest fascination for me has been the presence of such vast amounts of sand, akin to a desert, right at the river bed of Cauvery. Also interesting are the temples submerged (till recent times) about 20-30 feet below the sand level. Naturally, the question arises, ‘did the temples come first, or the sand?’
The bottom right portion (covered in sand) is Talakad. If I want to believe that the Temples came first, there is sufficient proof for the sand deposition – the river snakes its way around Talakad, because the river takes a tight bend at this point, sand from the river bed might have been pushed towards Talakad. More support comes from the claim that there are still numerous (close to 30) temples buried underneath. But until this claim is proven, one never knows.
Talakad from ‘tala’ and ‘kada’: Talakad has got its name from the hunter brothers ‘Tala’ and ‘Kada’. Once (i.e. long time back), Tala and Kada were fascinated seeing Elephants shower flower petals and water on a Buruga tree, intrigued they started clearing the bushes around the tree, while doing so they stuck a ‘Shivalinga’ and blood started oozing out of it. Realizing their mistake they started trembling in fear, then, a heavenly voice (shiva’s) guided them to treat the wound on the ‘Shivalinga’ by preparing a paste from the leaves and fruit of the Buruga tree. As Shiva treats himself he is known as ‘Vaidyeshwara’ and this temple dedicated to him. Also, when Tala and Kada stuck the Shivalinga the linga is supposed to have been fragmented into five pieces, three of them at Talakad (Vaidyeshwara, Pataleshwara, Maruleshwara), and two others (Vasukishwara, Mallikarjuna) within 10-20 kms of Talakad. Every 12 years there is a pilgrimage called ‘Panchalinga darshana’ [the viewing of five shiva lingas] where thousands of people throng these places to take a glimpse of these five lingas in the same day.
The Vaidyeshwara temple has been built in the Dravidian style. This temple though claimed to have been built by the Western Gangas has had much of its structure built by the Vijayanagar kings. Even the Hoysalas are supposed to have added some features to this temple.
The eastern entrance is adorned by intricately carved enormous ‘dwarapalakas’.
‘Dwarapalakas’ – Nandi and Mahakala
The tummy and chest portion of these two sculptures are shaped in the form of ‘Nandi’, lord Shiva’s carrier.
One of the few rare sculptures where the rat (Ganapthi’s carrier) is in the same scale as that of Ganapathi.
Outer wall of Vaidyeshwara temple.
Historical: Talakad has been in prominence from the age of Western Gangas when they chose it as their capital in 390 A.D. Though Talakad has been under the influence of Gangas till the early 11th century the Western Gangas were mostly feudatories to other powerful dynasties in the Deccan. Till 750 A.D, they maintained close relations with the Chalukyas of Badami constantly campaigning against their arch enemy, the Pallavas of Kanchi. In 753, when the Rashtrakutas replaced the Chalukyas as the dominant force in the Deccan, the Gangas offered stiff resistance for about a century, and later became staunch allies of Rashtrakutas till their downfall in the year 1000. Thereafter Talakad was ruled for about a century by the Cholas before it was wrested out by the Hoysalas (Vishnuvardhana). The Keerthinarayana temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, was built by the Hoysolas to celebrate the victory of Talakad over the Cholas.
Keerthinarayana temple entrance.
[The above building is actually only the entrance, the main temple is supposed to be behind it. Scattered stones in front of the entrance are the stones used for the main temple which have been brought down as the roof fell down, these stones are going to be placed back in their place and the temple re-constructed by the Archaeology dept. of India – who seem to be taking forever.]
Later when Vijayanagara rulers rose to power in the 13th century, Talakad came under their influence. Talakad was governed by the viceroy of Vijayanagar to Srirangapatna, Srirangaraya. Raja Wodeyar, the ninth ruler of the Wodeyar dynasty from Mysore conquered the Srirangapatna fort from Srirangaraya, who later retired to Talakad along with his two wives. One of them Alamelamma was known to be a staunch devotee of Sri Ranganayaki- consort of Sri Ranganatha the presiding deity of the famous Adi-Ranga temple in the island fortress of Srirangapatna. She is said to have fled to Talakad with the jewels of Sri Ranganayaki. Traditionally every Friday and Tuesday, Sri Ranaganayaki was being decorated with a big pearl studded nose ring and other precious jewellary. Temple authorities requested Raja Wodeyar to provide them as was the practice hitherto. Treasury officials informed the king about truth. Raja Wodeyar sent emissaries to malangi where Alamelamma was staying, with a request to return the jewels. But Alamelamma was adamant and refused to accede to the request. Thence Raja Wodeyar sent his army to Talakad to request her once again and if she still refuses to get them by force. To escape the wrath of the Mysore Army, Alamelamma just returned the Pearl studded nose ring to the army and uttered the legendary curse on Raja Wodeyar and jumped into the whirlpool with the rest of the jewels and escaped unscathed.
Hearing of this extreme step taken by Alamelamma, Raja Wodeyar was truly repentant. All he wanted to do was to return the jewellery to the temple and not confiscate them for his own use. In grief, he had an idol of Alamelamma made in gold, installed it in the Palace and worshipped it as a deity. Even to this day, Alamelamma’s idol can be found inside the Mysore Palace and is worshipped by the Royal Family. Dasara Festivities inside the Palace ends on the evening of Navarathri with a formal pooja to Alamelamma.
Plastic Nandi near the Keerthinarayana temple.:
We had started this Talakad trip pretty late in the day, as a result by the time we were finished with all the temples at Talakad it was 4:00 PM. We had thought of having our packed lunch at the riverside in Talakad, but the vast sea of humanity at the river side made us decide otherwise. We drove along the river side towards Mudukutore and found an idyllic place along the river bank where we settled for our meager lunch of ‘Upama’ and chocolate cake.
On our way back we visited the Mallikarjuna temple of Mudukutore, which is on a small hillock with an excellent view.
One can see the river Cauvery in the distance (the view of the river seen is after the Sangama of Cauvery and Kapila at T.Narsipur).
We had visited four of the five Shivalingas listed in the Panchalinga darshana, the other Shivalinga has to wait.
Date: 1st June 2008
Place: Talakad, Mysore, Karnataka