Posts Tagged With: Mysore

Talakadu Chronicle

Some of my colleagues proposed the idea of going on a picnic trip to any nearby place. Rest of us agreed. The places chosen were Talakad or Talakadu which is around 130 kms from Bangalore and 24 kms further to Somnathpur. Bus was hired and food arrangements were made which consisted primarily of South Indian dishes. Permission to go on a picnic on a working Saturday was taken from the management. Bus started at 6 am from the first pick up point. At around 8 am we reached Kanakpura to pick up our supplies. At around 10.30 we stopped for breakfast somewhere beside the road. After breakfast, on our way to Talakadu, all of us started playing Antakshari. It was fun!!

On Way

Breakfast break

As soon as we reached the outskirts of the small rural settlement, there was a barrier on road and some kids ran up to us to collect “vehicle entrance fee”. The signboard was extremely dubious. But that is the way it is at many places around Bangalore.

Rate Charge

Kids collecting entrance fee

Talakadu is a small town, with lot of ancient history and mythology related to it, located on the banks of the famous river Cauvery. Remains of pre-historic settlements have been unearthed at Talakdu. The town is peculiarly covered with sand dunes several meters deep and has a folklore behind its appearance. Talakadu is also a centre of pilgrimage. It is also known as Kasi of the South. It is mentioned as Gajaranya meaning Elephant forest in ancient lore of India. Tourists come here mainly for the “darshan” or to offer their prayers to the five sacred Shiv-lingas (representation of the Hindu deity Lord Shiva) and especially in the month of Kartika of Hindu calendar. Talakad has been ruled by several dynasties over the ages (Gangas, Pallavas, Cholas, Hoysalas,Vijayanagar Kings) and recently by the Wodeyars of Mysore.

At the parking area, one can find vendors selling guide books of Talakadu. Those are really helpful in knowing the history of the place and for guiding the religiously inclined to the correct procedure of visiting all the temples in the area. The book has a Kannada section and an English section. If you bargain well, you can get it in Rs 10.

The tale of The Curse of Talakadu goes like this:-

Vijayanagara king had appointed one Srirangaraya as the viceroy of Vijayanagar Empire to Wodeyar kingdom, in 1610. The viceroy’s wife was Alamelamma who used to send her ornaments every Friday to decorate Sri Ranga Nayaki, the consort of Sri Ranganatha of the Srirangapatnam temple. After the death of her husband, the Wodeyar king and his soldiers started to harass the woman for her jewels. The Mysore king sent his force to seize the jewels. Out of helplessness and anger, Alamelamma jumped into the river Cauvery at a place called Malangi with the jewels tied up in a cloth. When she was drowning, she uttered a curse in Kannada saying

“Talakadu managali, Malangi madwagali, Mysooru arasarige makkalu aagadirali”

which translates to ‘Let Talakadu be covered by sand, let Malangi become a whirlpool and may the kings of Mysore not have any heirs’

Now the strange thing is Talakdu is really covered with sand (which scientists attribute to either building of a dam in the 14th century or a fault line  running through the river), the river really has whirlpools at Malangi and the Mysore royal family have faced problem in having a rightful heir to the throne since that time. Apparently the present scion of Mysore Royal Family, Srikanta Datta Narasimharaja Wadiyar, has made amends for the same. I am not advocating any supernatural hocus pocus or superstitions, but one has to admit there is a certain romanticism, charm and curiosity in knowing such folklore. 🙂

Talakadu has derived its name from two hunters called TALA and KADA. They also have a mythological story which goes like this :-

A sage Somadatta with his 16000 disciples was on his way to Siddhashrama situated on Mount Somarka to worship Lord Shiva. Enroute wild elephants killed him. He was reincarnated as an elephant and continued worshiping the god with his disciples at a place where a ‘salmali’ tree stood. In due time the Lord appeared and blessed them all with mukti or emancipation of the soul in human form from the cycle of births and deaths. Now, later in the course of time, two hunters called Tala and Kada, were travelling in the region. They struck the ‘salmali’ tree with an axe and blood gushed out. They fainted. When they regained consciousness, they heard a voice telling them how to dress the wound and heal the tree. The hunters did as instructed and became ‘pramathagana’ (whatever that means). Lord Shiva who suggested medicine to his own illness came to be known as “Vaidyanatheswara” (The Lord of Physicians). The place became famous as Talakadu and the blood which had oozed out got mixed with earth and got the name “moolamrithika”. The sacred mix is supposed to cure all diseases including those caused by misdeeds of previous births.

After reaching bank of the river, we chose a spot under the shade of a tree and settled down. Most of my colleagues went for a ride on the special round boats or “parisals” across the river. Parisals or Indian coracles are primitive, light, bowl-shaped boats with a frame of woven bamboo, grasses, reeds or saplings covered with hides. They are used commonly in South India and are a major tourist attraction. After the boat ride, all of them went for a swim or to just play in the water. There are changing rooms available near the river. There are various food items and refreshments vendors also. I and my friends ate watermelon pieces to cool off. It was so hot in February!

On way to beach

Cauvery Riverside

Changing rooms

Parisal Boats

Boat Ride Across Cauvery

Birds on Cauvery

Expanse of River Cauvery

Frolicking in water

Buried in hot sand, drunk perhaps? (not my colleagues)

After everybody returned reluctantly from the water, we had lunch. After lunch all of us went for the tour of temples around the area on foot. And my appreciation for the “Ship of Desert” i.e. the camel increased manifolds. It is really so difficult to walk on sand. After visiting the first temple (where I bumped my head due to low height of the entrance) and walking some more distance to the next one, some of us gave up. We were sweating profusely and were so thirsty. Thankfully a watermelon seller rescued us. We reached the end point of the tour by a shortcut and relaxed in the bus while the more energetic and religious colleagues completed the tour in that hot weather.

There are about 30 temples at Talakadu, some of which have been excavated and some of which are still buried under sand. Among the temples, the Pataleshwara or Vasukishwara, Maruleshwara or Saikateshwara, Arkeshwara, Vaidyanatheshwara and Mallikarjuna temples form the famous “Panchalinga Darshana” which is held once every 12 years. The Panchalinga Darshana is held on a Monday falling on a new moon day in the month of Karthika (November/December) when the sun is in the Scorpius constellation. Apparently the last Panchalinga Darshana was held in the year 2006. The Pataleshwara Shivalingam is said to change colors during the day (red in the morning, black in afternoon and white in the evening).  Apart from these, there is also the Keertinarayana temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It is built in Hoysala style of architecture. The sanctum has an eight foot tall idol of Keertinarayana, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.

Roadsign

Pataleshwara Swamy Temple

Half Buried Temple

On way to second temple

Restoration work in progress

Keertinarayana Temple

All the visible temples have exquisite carvings and sculptures. The ancient structures always manage to fill one’s mind with awe at the workmanship, isn’t it? The town has an atmosphere rich in history, mythology, religion, belief and faith with the river Cauvery quietly flowing agelessly, a witness to the rise and fall of several kingdoms, to the fervent prayers and resonant chants of devotees, to the happiness and sadness in their hearts and to the progress of human civilization over time.

Religion in every heart

Faith in every grain of sand

We left Talakdu at around 4.30 pm for Somnathpur but by the time we reached there, the place had closed for the day. Maybe I will visit that place on my own someday. There was an excellent shop of antiques and artifacts at Somnathpur. After tea and refreshments, we started for Bangalore and returned by 10 pm.

Talakadu Temple Timings:- 08.00 am – 06.30 pm. Entrance is free.

Categories: Historical, Karnataka, Nature, Religious, Road Trips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Mysore Chronicle

Continued from the Srirangapatna Chronicle

So after lunch, we proceeded on our Mysore sight-seeing trip. Mysore is the Karnataka’s second biggest city. It was the erstwhile capital of the Wodeyar dynasty and is considered the cultural capital of the state. It is also known as the City of Palaces. From what we saw, Mysore appeared to be a clean and well planned city with a heritage feel and quaint charm to it. The places we visited are

# St.Philomena’s Church – This church is dedicated to Saint Philomena, a 3rd century saint from Greece. The twin spires of the Cathedral, 175 feet in height, are visible from a distance making them a distinctive city landmark. Apparently there was a smaller church in the same place dated back to 1800 A.D. This larger church was built in its place in 1956 and is one of the largest churches in the country. I found the statues of Mother Mary and others dressed in sarees little strange. But the interior of the church is so serene and beautiful. There are steps leading down to a beautiful catacomb right below the main altar which houses the relic of Saint Philomena. The exit is through a tunnel way which opens at the back of the church. Entry Timings 05.00 am – 06.00 pm. Free Entrance.

# Chamundi Hills – Chamundi Hills is the prime landmark of Mysore city, visible from anywhere in the city center. There is a temple dedicated to goddess Chamundeshwari, situated on the top of Chamundi hill which is about 3,489 ft. above sea level. Goddess Chamundeshwari is the guardian deity of the Mysore royal family of Wodeyars. The goddess is just another incarnation/name used to describe Goddess Shakti or Durga or ‘Mahishasura Mardini’ who killed the buffalo headed demon Mahishasura (the ruler of this region and from whom the name Mysore is derived). There are two other temples dedicated to Lakshmi Narayana Swamy and Mahabaleswara (Lord Shiva) which is the oldest temple on the hill dating back to 9th century A.D.

Near the parking lot there is a brightly painted statue of Mahishasura, built in 1659 by Dodda Devaraja Wodeyar. A popular spot for tourists to pose and take photos. 🙂 There is a spot marked “View Point” from where a panoramic view of the city is visible from the top of the Chamundi hills. One can see the Race Course, the Lalitha Mahal palace, Mysore Palace, Karanji and Kukkarahalli lakes. After visiting the temple, on our way back, we took a detour to visit the huge monolithic statue of Nandi, the bull (vehicle of Lord Shiva). This statue of Nandi is one of the largest in India, 16 ft. tall at the front and 25 ft. in length with exquisite pendant bells carved around the neck.

Chamundeshwari Temple Pooja Timings: 07.30 am – 02.00 pm, 03.30 pm – 06.00 pm, 07.30 pm – 09.00 pm

No Entry Charges 

# Mysore Zoo – Mysore Zoo or Shri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens is one of the oldest zoo in India. The zoo is spread over 250 acres providing large enclosures for animals and abundant natural vegetation. There are battery operated tour vehicles available till 5 pm. We were late and the last vehicle was full. So we covered the entire zoo on foot which was no problem as the weather was very nice. It was great seeing toucans, tropical parakeets, macaws, pink flamingos, giraffes, gorilla, two-horned rhinoceros, hippos, tigers, tapir, gaur, jaguar and many other exotic species. Also we came to know that Mysore zoo has a lot of programs for conservation of endangered species, rehabilitation and captive breeding. One such program is the Animal Adoption to inspire the visitors to the Zoo and generate empathy for wild animals and for maintaining ecological balance, in a way to involve people in Wildlife Conservation. It was wonderful seeing so many animals already adopted in the zoo. There are restaurants, tender coconut outlets and toy/souvenir shop too inside the zoo.

To learn more about the Animal Adoption Program click here. Mysore Zoo Entry Timings: 08.30 am – 05.30 pm, Tuesday Holiday. Entry Charges: Adults Rs. 40/- Children (5-12yrs) Rs.20/- Camera charges: Rs 20 for still camera and Rs 150 for video camera. Tour vehicle charges Rs 100 for adults. Children (5-12 yrs) and Senior Citizens Rs 50.

# Mysore Palace – Mysore is called the City of Palaces and among all the palaces, the most famous is the Mysore Palace or Amba Vilas Palace in the heart of the city, the home of the Wodeyars who ruled Mysore for more than 500 years. If your itinerary allows just 1 or 2 hours in Mysore, this is the only place to visit. The original palace was built of wood and was got burnt down in 1897. The present one, designed by the English architect Henry Irwin, was rebuilt in 1912 at the cost of Rs. 41 lakhs. The present building is a three-storied structure in the Indo-Saracenic style built with fine gray granite and square towers at cardinal points,with rich pink marble domes. There is a five-storied 145 ft tower which has gold-gilded domes. The palace is surrounded by a large and well-kept garden. The Palace has four entrances – Varaha Gate in the south, Jayarama and Balarama in the north, Jaya Maarthaanda (main entrance) in the east and Karikal thotti and Brahmapuri in the west. One has to give cameras at the entrance and get their bags scanned. There is a supposedly free stand for footwear but the workers ask for Rs 10 tip.

One can opt for an audio tour guide kit which is good unlike Bangalore Palace where it is compulsory and pricey. However the price of the kit is included in the ticket charge for foreigners. Starting from the pavilion of traditional dolls, ceremonial objects, ornate mahogany ceilings with exquisite frescoes, sculpted pillars, intricately carved wooden and ivory doors, costumes, musical instruments, weapons, solid silver doors, white marble floors, stained glasses, glazed tiles, oil paintings, gorgeous chandeliers of Czechoslovakian make to the golden howdah (elephant seat) and the fabulous jewel encrusted golden throne, Mysore Palace is a feast for the eyes. Apparently the erstwhile Royal family continues to live in a portion of the Palace.

The palace complex also has twelve Hindu temples, the oldest being of 14th century and the recent one built in 1953. A silhouette of the Mysore Palace illuminated with ninety-seven thousand bulbs with the night as the background is one of the most famous images of the Mysore city and one which you will come across in any travelogue on Mysore except mine. Sadly during our two visits to Mysore, once we were in a hurry to reach Brindavan Gardens on time and on the second time, it was not Sunday. So we missed seeing the wonderful spectacle of the illuminated Mysore Palace and capturing it in our minds and cameras.

Palace Timings:10am to 5.30 pm daily Illumination 07.00 pm – 08.00 pm Only on Sundays, National Holidays and State Festivals. Entrance Fee: Adults : Rs. 20 Children below 10 years : Free

# Brindavan Garden – The Brindavan Garden is laid out behind the Krishnaraja Sagar dam site at a distance of 24 km from Mysore and is a very popular tourist destination made famous by several Bollywood songs being filmed here in 1960s. One has to leave Mysore by 5.45 – 6 pm if this place is to be covered on the same day. It is a visual delight in the evening only. We were running late and the place was almost closing down when we reached. So we missed seeing the musical fountain show. The garden is laid out in the three terraces, which ends in a horseshoe shape with seating arrangement for the audience. The three terraces contain water fountains (which are illuminated with colored lighting in evening) and various ornamental and flowering plants. The pathway across the boating pond, leading to the garden is very long and may be exhausting especially at the end of the day when all are tired from walking. It is advisable to take the boat instead and save time and energy. But beware! The boat driver will offer to take the boat close to fountains in the pond which kids enjoy a lot but if you are the one to consent, then he will ask you for a tip while dropping off on the other side.

Brindavan Garden Timings All Week Days 06.00 am – 08.00 pm, Saturdays & Sunday 06.00 pm – 09.00 pm
Musical Fountain Show Timings All Week Days 06.30 pm – 07.30 pm, Saturdays & Sunday 06.30 pm – 08.30 pm
Entry Charges -Adult  Rs.15/- Children (5-12yrs) Rs. 5/-

After visiting Brindavan Garden, we started our journey back home and it was 11.30 pm when we reached Bangalore. The places we left out of our itinerary are Railway Musuem, Jaganmohan Palace,  Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion, Lalitha Mahal Palace, Melody World and National Museum on Natural History at Karanji Lake. You can also include the Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary which is 4 kms from Srirangapatna and 19 kms from Mysore.

Categories: Cities, Karnataka, Road Trips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments
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