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Talakadu is a desert like town on the left bank of the Kaveri River at a spot where the river makes a sharp bend. It is 45 km from Mysore and 133 km from Bangalore in Karnataka, India. A historic site, Talakadu once had over 30 temples that today are buried in sand. Now it is a scenic and spiritual pilgrimage centre. Here the eastward flowing Kaveri River changes course and seems magnificently vast as here the sand on its banks spreads over a wide area.
The origin of the town is lost in antiquity; but one tradition is that its name was derived from two Kirata twin brothers, Tala and Kadu, who, cutting down a tree which they saw wild elephants worshiping, discovered that it contained an image of shiva, and that the elephants were rishis transformed. The tree being miraculously restored, all obtained moksha and the place was named Tala-kadu, which was translated into Sanskrit as Dala-vana. Two stone images declared to represent the brothers are pointed out in front of the temple Veerabadra swamy. In a later age, Rama is said to have halted here on his expedition to Lanka.
The earliest authentic notice of the city of Talekad or Talakadu, in Sanskrit Dalavana-pura, is in connection with the Ganga line of kings. Harivarma, who has been assigned to find a place (247-266 A.D) was, according to an old chronicle, installed at Skandapura (said to be Gajalhatti, in the Coimbatore country, near where the Moyar flows into the Bhavani), but resided in the great city of Dalavanapura in the Karnata-desa. Thenceforward Talkad became the capital these powerful sovereigns and there the subsequent kings of that line were crowned.
At the beginning of the 11th century, the Gangas succumbed to the Cholas, who captured Talkad and gave it the name of Rajarajapura. But about a hundred years later it was taken by the Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana, who drove the Cholas out of Mysore. After this time we find that Talkad was composed of seven towns and five mathas or monastic establishments. The town of Mayilangi or Malingi, on the opposite side of the river, was also a large place, and had the name of Jananathapura. Down to the middle of the 14th century, it remained a possession of the Hoysalas, and then passed into the hands of a feudatory of the Vijayanagar sovereigns, whose line appears to be known as that of Soma-Raja.
At Talakad sand covers the temples, Stone pillars, square at the base and made to fit into a wheel below the abacus, lie scattered about. Among the temples of Talakad, the Pathaleshwara, Maruleshwara, Arkeshwara, Vaidyanatheshwara and Mallikarjuna temples, the five Lingams believed to represent the five faces of Shiva, form the Pancha pathi and have become famous. In honour of these five Shiva temples, a fair is held once every 12 years called Panchalinga Darshana, last held in 2009. The Panchalinga Darshana is held on a new moon day in the month of Karthika when two stars conjoin, the stars of Khuha Yoga and Vishaka. On this day, 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.
According to local legend, Ramanujacharya during his sojourn in Karnataka (also called Melnadu), established five Vishnu temples of Lord Narayana known as Pancha Narayana Kshetrams. Talakad is one of the Pancha Narayana Kshetrams where the Keerthi Narayana temple was established and the presiding Deity in this temple is Keerthi Narayana.
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