Frozen in time, amid shifting sands

Rising from the earth: Massive stone slabs, have been lined up for a restoration exercise that will bring the ruined Keerthinarayana temple back to life. File Photo: M.A. Sriram  

Set amid sand dunes, with the Cauvery flowing close by, one can imagine the past glory of Talakad, with its ancient temples and exquisite stone-chiselled beauty, despite all of it now being buried in sand.

Located in Mysore district and easily approachable from Bangalore via Kanakapura and Malavalli, the journey to Talakad is exhilarating as one travels nearly 130 km along serpentine roads, past green fields and coconut grooves.

Steeped in history

Though legends surrounding Talakad are well-known, nothing prepares visitors for the scene at the site. Strewn with ruins and frozen in time, the place is steeped in history and mythology.

Where else can one come across temples buried in such massive mounds of sand surrounded by verdant greenery? It is a desert in an oasis. Coveted by successive dynasties, from the period of the Gangas between 4th and 10th century A.D., to the Cholas, Hoysalas and the Wadiyars, Talakad has witnessed an endless procession of rulers who shaped its destiny.

Forces of nature

Dig a little deeper and one realises that forces of geology too have been influential in shaping its fortunes.

Scholars believe that the Cauvery changed its course after the construction of the Madhavamantri dam in the14th century, resulting in the accumulation of sand that submerged the town nearby.

It is reckoned that there were nearly 30 temples at one time in Talakad. The place is known for the five temples dedicated to Lord Shiva in whose honour the famed Panchalinga Darshana is held.

Walk along the sand and you come across the tiny crest of a temple sticking out from the ground. It is the ancient temple of Pathaleshwara dating back nearly 1,200 years.

At a little distance from Pathaleshwara are the splendid ruins of the Keerthinarayana temple built by the Hoysala ruler Vishnuvardhana in the 12th century to commemorate his victory over the Cholas.

But the shifting sand and the vagaries of nature led to its collapse, and the temple was finally dismantled by the authorities a few years ago.

Massive stone slabs, all numbered, have been lined up for a restoration exercise that will bring this striking monument back to life.

The curse

In the realms of folklore is the popular ‘Curse of Talakad', which links the sand dunes to a curse by a chieftain's wife named Alamellamma.

It is also used to explain why successive rulers of the Wadiyar dynasty did not have direct progeny.

Do remember there are no facilities for overnight stay; a private resort has come up recently, but that is the only option.


While a day may suffice to explore Talakad, one cannot miss the famed Shivanasamudra or the ‘sea of Shiva' if you are visiting the region during the monsoon.

Located about 25 km from Talakad, one reaches this waterfall by heading towards Sargur handpost on NH 209 and taking a left turn towards Shimsha.

The Gaganachukki and the Barachukki falls are created by the Cauvery branching off into two streams. They plunge into the gorges creating a ravine nearly 300 feet deep.

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Printable version | Jun 13, 2021 9:01:48 AM |

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