The Kaveri river makes a sharp bend and on the left banks at this turn is Talakad, also known as Talakadu. It is 45 km from Mysore and 185 km from Bangalore in Karnataka, India. A historic site and of archaeological importance is Talakad, as once it had over 30 temples that today are buried in sand. It’s not only a spiritual pilgrimage center but is a scenic beauty with vast spreads of sand.
History : The illustrious and powerful Western Gangas ruled from 350 to 1050 AD until they were overthrown by the Cholas in the 11th century. Talakad came under the Hoysala Empire in the 12th century. The Hoysala ruler built the impressive Vijayanarayana Chennakesava Temple at Belur. Subsequently, after the Hoysalas, the powerful Vijayanagara Kingdom rulers and the Maharajas of Mysore ruled the place. Somw famous temples here are the Panchalingeshwara Temple, Vaidyeshwara Temple, and Vaidyeshwara Temple.
Temples : The temples were submerged in sand. Among the temples of Talakad, the five Lingams believed to represent the five faces of Shiva form the Pancha Pathi are famous. They are Pathaleshwara, Maruleshwara, Arkeshwara, Vaidyanatheeshwara and Mallikarjuna temples. As a tribute to these five Shiva temples, a festival is held once every 12 years called Panchalinga Darshana, last held in 2006.
The Panchalinga Darshana is held on a new moon day in the month of Karthika when two stars conjoin, the stars of Khuha Yoga and Vishaka. On this day, tradition has it that pilgrims should first bathe in the Gokarna theertham, worship Gokarneswara and Chandikadevi, and then worship Vaidyeshwara, Arkeshwara, Pataleshwara, Maraleshwara and Mallikarjuna finally worship Kirtinarayana and conclude the pilgrimage in one day.
According to local legend, Ramanujacharya during his sojourn in Karnataka (also called Melnadu), established five Vishnu temples of Lord Narayana known as Pancha Narayana Kshetrams, one of the this is at Talakad known as Keerthi Narayana temple.
Curse of Talakad: Talakad is also tagged to the curse called “Curse of Talakad” by Alamelamma on the Wodeyar dynasty (erstwhile Maharajas) of Mysore.
Raja Wodeyar, ruler of Mysore State, conquered Srirangapatna fort from Srirangaraya, then viceroy of Vijayanagar Empire, in 1610. The viceroy retired to Talakad and his wife, Alamelamma, is said to have fled with jewels of Adi Ranga temple in Srirangapatna to Talakad.
Raja Wodeyar sent his soldiers to Talakad. Alamelamma assumed the king’s men had come to capture her and make her a slave. She tried to escape to T Narasipura. She found no way to escape from the solders but to jump into Malangi river. Legend says that when the king’ soldiers tried to get at the fleeing Alamelamma, they got her hair before she disappeared into the water.
At that moment she cursed “Talakadu managali, Malangi madwagali, Mysooru arasarige makkalu aagadirali” which translates to “May Malangi become a whirlpool, Talakad turn into a desert and the Rajas of Wadiyar not beget male heir”. Till today whatever she has said stands true.
Nearly 400 years after the Mysore royal family was cursed by the Alamelamma, Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wodeyar made amends. He will construct a temple in Talakad near Mysore dedicated to Alamelamma. The deity of Alamelamma is now in a box and opened only on Navami (ninth) day during Dasara. She is adorned with jewellery and finery, worshipped and replaced in the box.
The cue to dedicate a temple came from a well-wisher of Wodeyar, who had a clairvoyance of Alamelamma. Wodeyar said “In April 2007, my friend dreamt of seeing the image of a woman trying to emerge from a watery grave. He is said to have asked her what she wanted and the woman sought to know why the King (Wodeyar) is not treating her pitra or matra”.
During clairvoyance, Alamelamma is supposed to have said that miracles will happen to him. Wodeyar said a curse uttered will stay for seven generations. The curse was uttered in 1610. Since 2003, Wodeyar has had strange experiences. He used to get the smell of a cigar and perfume his father used. In 2006, he felt the woman was trying to tell him to light ghee lamps besides the oil ones before her portrait.
Wodeyar has not visited the room where the woman’s idol is kept in a box along with her hair. Alamelamma’s presence in Mysore Palace was supposedly witnessed by the guards, when the place was taken over by the state government in 1976-77 and they informed Wodeyar. It is believed during Navami night, the guards heard the jingling of anklets starting from the bridge which connects the palace and its annexe. The jingle grew louder as it neared the throne, reached the durbar hall where the armoury is kept, went up to the Ganapaathi temple before dying down at the room where the deity is kept.
Some other legends : Several other interesting legends also surround this shrine. It is believed that an ascetic Somadatta headed out to Siddharanya Kshetra Talakad to worship Shiva. Having been killed by wild elephants enroute, he and his disciples re-incarnated as wild elephants and worshipped Shiva in the form of a tree at Talakad.
Two hunters Tala and Kada, are believed to have struck the tree with an axe to find blood gushing forth, they dressed and healed the wounded tree. Hence hunters became immortal. Since Shiva is believed to have healed himself through this incident, he is referred to as Vaidyeshwara. The Panchalingams here are all associated with this legend.