The trek through the cursed sands of Talakad
We piled out of the bus, the wind wafting in all directions sprayed the yellow sand on us. We had just reached Talakad, the desert town of Bangalore (or… let’s just say the cursed town). Located 133 Km away from Bangalore, Talakad, otherwise known as Bangalore’s gourmet valley had been excavated recently.
The sand covered uphill paths, canopied by the eucalyptus trees led to five different Shiva temples built by the Cholas. The Vaidyanatheshwara temple build in the Dravidian style has two Dwarpalaks at the entrance. The walls are decorated with the various forms of Shiva and Vishnu. The granite temple has a beautiful carving of Ganesha riding its Vahana, the mouse. This was the first time that I ever saw a God and its Vahana of the same size.
On exploring the interior of the temple, we saw that the sunlight lazily merged into darkness and the smooth floor of the temple grew a few degrees colder. The friendly bees that are known to never attack the visitors fascinated me the most.
Groups of visitors in varying numbers were being led by guides to the Sri Pataleshwara Temple, Sri Maruleshwara Temple, Sri Mallikarjuna Swamy Temple, Sri Arkeshwara Temple and the Gokarna Tirtha (a holy pond, known for its medicinal qualities).
As we huddled around Srinivasa, our guide filled us up with the history of the Talakad. The intricate carvings on the walls of the monolithic temple did interest us (as our cameras filled up the silent atmosphere with the sound of its shutter), but what interested us more was the mystery behind this cursed land.
With the help of the little English that he knew he started. His stark Kannada accent synchronised with the frequent but strong gusts of wind. According to the legend, in 1610 A.D. Rani Alamelamma, the second wife of the Viceroy of Srirangagapattanam wanted to go and see her husband who was nearing death. Sri Ranga Raya, the Viceroy had gone to the pleasant town of Talakad to recover. Before leaving for Talakad she handed over the responsibility of Srirangagapattanam to Raja Wodeyar of Mysore.
The covetous Raja Wodeyar not only took over their Kingdom but also wanted to possess the jewels of the Rani. To covet her jewels he sent his army behind her. The Rani in order to protect her jewels escaped her palace through a secret tunnel and ran to the Kaveri. The humiliated but enraged Rani threw in her jewels into the churning waters of the Kaveri and drowned herself in its torrents. But before dying she cursed Raja Wodeyar that Talakad would be submerged under creeping sands, a cruel whirlpool would be the scourge of Malangi and the kings of Mysore would wither away in the pangs of childlessness.
And as they say that ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’, the banes hit the land and engulfed it in sand.
Srinivasa had walked us through the tales of Talakad leaving us standing on the banks of the Kaveri River. The churning dark waters of the river provided an epilogue to the story that we had just heard.
As we stood there the strong wind continued to blow the sand towards the recently unearthed temples – threatening to submerge them – like an eerie reminder of what had happened ages ago.