December 31, 2014

Thamarassery Ghats...!!


Thamarassery Ghats snaking its way through the green canopy and tea gardens of Western Ghats on a cold misty morning. Kozhikode, December 2014.

Wishing all my readers a Happy New Year. May you travel to all those far flung exotic destinations in 2015!

December 26, 2014

Desolate...!!


The lush greenery, the flowing Cauvery and the hazy hills in the background made for a wonderful landscape. However, what caught my attention was the desolate structure amidst the greens. 

Karnataka countryside. November 2014.

December 18, 2014

Talakad- Land of Submerged Temples...!!

Covered in heaps of sand, an old town lies beneath, waiting to be re-discovered. This is Talakad for you! A prominent town which was once ruled by various empires (Gangas, Cholas, Hoysalas, Vijayanagaras and Wodeyars) from the 8th to the 17th century, Talakad portrays only a part of what it once was. It resembles a desert with beautiful temples amidst the sands. Located by the Cauvery, a detour off the NH- 209 takes you to this popular pilgrim centre, where ASI is still excavating and unearthing temples.



Legend says this land was cursed by Alamelamma, queen of Ranga Raya of Vijayanagar empire, the ruler of Srirangapatana during early 17th century. Ranga Raya who was on a visit to Vaidyanatheshwara temple in Talakad suffered critical health conditions and was on his death bed. Hearing this, Alamelamma left for Talakad handing over the reigns of the kingdom to Raja Wodeyar of Mysore. Raja Wodeyar who was desirous of the jewels possessed by the queen, attacked Talakad sighting the opportunity. Gauging the situation she was in, Alamelamma threw the jewels into the Cauvery and drowned herself in the waters at Malangi. She cursed the land and the Wodeyar family before killing herself- "Talakadu Maralagi, Malangi Maduvagi, Mysuru dhorege makkalagade hōgali" (Translates to- May Talakadu be filled with sand, Malangi be a whirlpool and Mysore Kings shall not have offspring). The curse still holds good as Talakad is always covered in sand and the Wodeyars have never had rightful heirs ever since.

The popular temples in Talakad are Vaidyanatheshwara, Pataleshwara, Maruleshwara, Arakeshwara, and Mallikarjuna. All have Shiva as their deity and is known for its Pancha Linga Drashana which is held once in 12 years. Keerthi Narayana temple which is still under excavation and is rebuilt as per its earlier architecture by ASI has a Vishnu shrine. It is believed that there are about 30 temples beneath those huge heaps of sand waiting to be discovered.

As soon as I got out of my vehicle, authorised guides approached to show me around. Ignored them and went ahead, languorously over the heaps of sand to the once submerged temples of Talakad. Shelters along the walkway is a respite from the burning sun. Talakad gets quite hot during the day and it becomes tough to manoeuver yourself through the sand. One has to walk down the stone cut steps to Pataleshwara and Maruleshwara, the oldest of the temples, both found after extensive excavation. Though small, it gave goosebumps to take blessings at a shrine that was buried in sand not too long ago. One can see the beautifully sculptured Keerthi Narayana temple way down, as you walk along the pathway. The walk further led to Choudeshwri temple and culminated at a temple pond.


Pataleshwara temple
 From the pond I walked across to the most popular temple of Talakad, Vaidyanatheshwara which was never totally submerged in sand. This is the largest of all temples in Talakad, was built during the Ganga, Chola and Hoysala eras and is well known for its wonderful architecture and sculptures. Its intricately carved entrance and wall sculptures display in detail the Dravidian architecture. I lazed around the temple, gazing at the wonderful stone-works and craftsmanship. The huge 'Dwarapalakas' (guards) at the entrance of the inner sanctum, nicely carved pillars and the delicately hanging stone chain from a corner of the roof left me amazed.


Vaidyanatheshwara temple






Keerthi Narayana temple, behind the Vaidyanatheshwara temple is still under excavation and restoration. This Vishnu shrine built in Hoysala architecture is being rebuilt meticulously by the ASI post the excavation. Built in the 12th century, the temple has an impressively sculptured entrance gate. I wasn't allowed inside as the restoration work was under progress and had to be content with the views of the wonderful architecture from a distance. The remaining two temples, Arakeshwara and Mallikarjuna are within a radius of 8 kms.


Entrance gate at Keerthi Narayana temple
Keerthi Narayana temple
All these gorgeously sculptured temples display the reminiscence of a bygone era and also flashes a glimpse into the world beneath the sands. An ideal way to end the visit would be to take a coracle ride on the Cauvery which flows peacefully alongside Talakad.

Signing Note- Stroll through a world of sands and sculptures...!!

Distance- 135 Kms
Bengaluru- Kanakapura- Halagur- Malavalli- Talakad

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