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Talakkad - Panchalinga Temples
Temples of Karnataka

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.

Also See:
Chamundi Hills