Curse that buried a city

When four of us, a group of friends who always love to explore the heritage sites of India, landed at Mysore last month, our intention was just to do a heritage tour as usual. After visiting Mysore Palace – the pride of India and Somnathpur temple – the 13th century architectural marvel of Hoysala kings, we thought of returning back. But a question from our cab driver made us change our minds.

“Have you seen the desert nearby?”

“Do you mean some historical ruins with mud around it?”

“No. A real desert with sand.”

“What is it called?”


We obviously didn’t expect a desert near Mysore. After reaching our hotel, we consulted some travel guides to get over our curiosity. And we discovered that Talakad is a historical place completely buried under sand. As the entire town is buried under sand, it looks like a desert.

Our faces lit up. I proposed a visit. The proposal was met with one word from everyone present – “obviously”. When we visited Talakad the next day, there were more surprises for us than what we read in any of the travel guides.

Talakad is a small town on the banks of river Cauvery. The town once had around 30 temples, which are buried in sand today. The sand dunes give a desert feel. There is an interesting story that depicts why this fertile land changed its course.

The king of Srirangapatna called Srirangaraya lost his battle to Wodeyar king. He settled down in Talakad along with his two wives. Due to illness, he soon died. Alamelamma, one of his wives, was a great devotee of Goddess Ranganayaki of Srirangapatnam temple. She used to provide her big pearl studded nose ring to the Goddess on every Tuesdays and Fridays (supposed to be auspicious days with special poojas every week). The jewel was used to be with her on the other days. However, the Wodeyar king, who had won her deceased husband in the battle, tried to bring the jewel under the custody of temple by force. Alamellama took all her jewels and jumped into the river. Before committing suicide, she uttered the historic curse which made Talakad as barren expanse of land. Also, none of the Mysore king ever had child after this.

The town is otherwise famous for Panchalinga Darshan, meaning visit to five Shiv Lingas. The Panchalinga Darshan festival is held once in twelve years. (The next Panchalinga Darshan will be held in the year 2018). The first temple of Panchalinga series is Vaidyanatheeswara temple. We learnt that it was built by the Chola kings. The temple is huge and has artistically beautiful pillars and well carved sculptures.

After walking through the sand dunes for about three kilometers, we reached Pataleeswara temple. This is a small temple which is completely buried under sand. As we had fortunately visited during some festival season, it was excavated recently; otherwise, it remains buried. It is believed that the idol of the temple keeps changing its color naturally during sunrise, afternoon and sunset. It appears in red in the morning, black in the afternoon and white in the evening. We went there in the afternoon; the idol’s was black.

Another two kilometers walk took us to Maleswara temple, another small Shiva temple. The last two temples of Panchalinga series are located in nearby villages. The last highlight of the site is Kirti Narayana temple, the only temple built by Hoysala kings in Talakad. The temple is stunningly beautiful due to its architecture. The Hoysala style pillars, intricately carved walls and the idols of the deities appeared wonderful. It was built in 10th century AD by Hoysala kings to celebrate their victory towards the Chola kings.

Our heritage tour to Karnataka state could not have been considered as complete if we had missed this historically important town with architecturally beautiful structures.

Site Name: Talakad
Location: 50 kms from Mysore, Karnataka
Highlight: Ancient temples buried in the sand, Panchalinga Darshan which happens once in every 12 years
Nearest Railway Station: Mysore
Nearest Airport: Bangalore
Local Transport: Easily reachable from Mysore; It is better to travel by car or taxi rather than depending on public transport
Hotel: It is best to stay at Mysore (50 kms away)
Restaurants: Good restaurants are available only at Mysore

Author: Editorial Team

Spice Flair Editorial Team


  1. I did not know that there is a temple like this exist near Mysore, the temple has interesting history and heritage. I enjoyed reading it.

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