Talakkad is a town known for its sand dunes, located near Mysore
in Karnataka. A historic site, Talakkad once had over 30 temples. It stands at a sharp
bend of the Kaveri river eastwards from a southerly course. Sand dunes are formed here
persistently, extending over a mile, burying a large number of monuments. Talakkad houses
the imposing temple to Vaidyeshwara - Shiva.
Talakkad was patronized by the Western Gangas
in the first millennium CE, and then by the Tamil Cholas from the 11th
through the 12th centuries. Talakkad came under the Hoysalas in the 12th
century. It was then patronized by the Vijayanagar rulers and the
Maharajas of Mysore.
The Vaidyeshwara temple is built in
the Dravidian style of granite. Much of the structure is here is
attributed to the Vijayanagar period (14th century), although several Hoysala features are
seen in this temple. The eastern doorway of the Navaranga is beautifylly
sculptured. Collossal dwarapalakas adorn the entrances.
The Vaidyeshsara temple along with four others - Arkeshwara,
Vasukishwara or Pataleshwara, Saikateshwara or Maraleshwara and Mallikarjuna
constitue the Panchalingams here. These five Lingams are said to represent the five faces
of Shiva. The Pataleshwara Shivalingam is said to change colors during the day (red in the
morning, black in the afternoon and white in the evening).
Panchalinga darshana is a rare
pilgrimage occasion, occuring once in every few years. Tradition has it that pilgrims
should first bathe in the Gokarna theertham, worship Gokarneswara and Chandikadevi, and
then worship Vaidyeshwara, and then bathe in the northern eastern southern and western
stretches of the Kaveri and then worship Arkeshwara, Pataleshwara, Maraleshwara and
Mallikarjuna, returning to Vaidyeshwara after each worship, finally worship Kirtinarayana
and conclude the pilgrimage in one day.
Several interesting legends surround this shrine. It
is believed that an ascetic Somadatta headed out to Siddharanya
Kshetra Talakkad) 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 Talakkad.
Two hunters Tala and Kada,
are believed to have struck the tree with an axe to find blood gushing forth, and upon the
bidding of a heavenly voice, dressed the wound of the tree with thre tree's leaves and
fruits. The tree healed, and the 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.
Also located at Talakkad is the Kirtinarayana
temple constructed by the Hoysala ruler Vishnuvardhana.