Shivasamudra falls was a long pending trip, so my husband and I planned to hit the road. Vrooming into the Dimbam Ghat section we found a lone tusker in the middle of the bamboo forest. The tusker looked young and was kind enough to pose for the bikers’ selfies. On reaching Chamrajnagar we had our breakfast at the Ruchi sagar, the only decent hotel that we found on the main road.
Talakad was our first stop; we decided to visit the Pancha Linga temples. The Dravidian styled Vaideshwara temple was Shiva temple.
Talakad is a deserted town on the banks of the Cauvery River. Once when Sage Somadatta and his disciples were performing a yajna, they were interrupted and killed by wild elephants. Reincarnated as elephants, the sage along with his disciples was offering his prayers to a tree. On seeing this, two hunters (named Tala and Kada) became suspicious and tried to cut down the tree with an axe. As soon as they cut down a branch, the tree started bleeding. A voice from the tree asked them to heal the tree with its leaves, as soon as they placed the leaves in the bleeding area the blood turned into milk (Prasada). Later Vaideshwara temple was built.
From Vaidehswara temple you walk for 2 km to reach Pathaleshwara Temple. The sand dunes are not going to help with the walking, so I would suggest you use flip-flops.
This temple has been excavated in recent times; the temple also has another name Vasukeswara. It is said that Vasuki, the king of snakes reached nagaloga worshipping this Shiva Linga. The colour of linga keeps changing – red in the morning, black in the noon and white in the evening.
Maruleshwara Swamy Temple
Heading towards Maruleshwara Swamy Temple, one can find an old man sitting on the bench with incandescent sticks that stirs up the atmosphere.
The huge Shiva Linga is said to be installed and worshiped by Lord Brama. Ganga dynasty king built this temple; there are other idols of Maheswara, Perumal, Ambigai, Surya, Ganesha, Murugan, Veerabadhrar and navagrahams in the temple. Like Pataleshwara, one must get down the stairs to reach the temple.
Keerthi Narayana temple
Like the Pancha Linga temples, vashinavites dedicated 5 Pancha Narayana temples to Lord Narayana. Keerthi Narayan is one of them established by Ramanujar, the temple was built by Hoysalas after defeating Cholas in 10AD. We will find Lord Vishnu in his standing position
We missed out the other two panchalinga temples – Lord Mallikarjuna and Lord Arkeshwara which is not located in the same temple complex.
Lord Mallikarjuna temple’s existence goes way back to Mahabharata period. When Arjuna was spending his penance near Mudukuthore on a hill, he carved an image of Lord Shiva in the hill and worshiped it with Malika Pushpa. Few people say after this incident only Lord Shiva bestowed Arjuna with Pasupastra.
A wild boar interrupted Arjuna during his prayer; he got infuriated and shot an arrow at the wild boar. The arrow missed hitting the boar. He tried for the second time; this time an arrow that hailed from an other archer hit the boar before Arjuna’s arrow could hit. The arrow was shot by a hunter; later the hunter reviled himself as Lord Shiva and bestowed him Pasupatra. However, Arjuna never used this powerful weapon in the Kurukshetra war.
Talakadu is a temple town which had more than 30 temples in the vicinity, most of which is buried in the sand now.
Curse of Talakad
Talakad was ruled by Ganga kings, then by the Cholas and later by Hoysala. In the 14th century as the Vijayanagar dynasty expanded and Talakad was taken over by them.
Tirumala Raja viceroy of Vijayanagar kingdom was ruling of Srirangapatna in the 17th century. He was inflicted by an incurable disease, he visited Vaideshwara temple for offering prayers leaving his second wife in-charge of the kingdom. Alameallama (second wife of Tirumala Raja) rushed to Talakad after receiving the news that her husband was on the verge of death. She left the kingdom under the charge of the Wodeyars before leaving Srirangapatan. The raja of Wodeyar who was a lustrous king desired for the jewels of Alamellamma, thus sent his army to capture her. Alamellamam gaining knowledge about Wodeyars’ departed ideas; she threw her jewels in to river Cauvery and drowned in the river cursing Wodeyars.
Let Talakād become sand;
Let Mālangi become a whirlpool;
Let the Mysore Rājas fail to beget heirs.”
People of Talakad still believe that her curse haunts the place. Talakad which once was a lively place has now drowned itself in the sand dunes; Malangi has become a whirlpool. The Wodeyar family has also carried her curse through generations. When the King does not have a direct heir he adopts his nephew or the king’s own brother takes up his lineage (the curse skipped one generation). Trishika Kumari Devi — wife of current Mysore king Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar will be the first family to break this curse.
Skipped our lunch as we did not find any restaurants, an ice cream from a seller near the Shivasamudra falls did help our dry throats. I was a bit disappointed looking at the falls, the photographer told the best season to visit was Aug and Sep to see the full flow of the falls. The Cauvery River spits into twin fall – Gaganachukki and Bharachukki in the rock path. Shivasamudra is the oldest and first hydropower project of Indian govt. There was a staircase to see the down view of the falls, but it was blocked as a bunch of teenagers drowned recently into the water.
When Shiva and Parvati noticed Cauvery making a huge basin around a rock which was blocking its path, Parvati named the island as Shivasamudra. Shiva blessed Cauvery and named it Dhanya Cauvery.
Just like Sirangapatna and Srirangam the Cauvery River adjusts its course in its rocky path and creates an island for Ranganathaswamy in Shivasamudra. In Srirangapatna the deity is called Adhi Ranganatha as Caveri touches Srirangapatna first, Madhya Ranganathan Shivasamudra and Anthya Ranganatha in Srirangam.
Sri Ranganathaswamy temple – Shivasamudra
The Ranganathaswamy temple Gopuram rework was going on. It seemed like one of those poorly maintained old Kumbakonam temples or even worse than that. One must be careful not to step on dog poop; the temple campus is as big as our Perur temple. This 1600yr old temple was built by Cholas; Ranganathar here is made of saligrama stone. Unlike Srirangapatna and Srirangam, Adisensan here has 7 heads. Cauvery is seated near his feet; the bronze idols of Sridevi and Boohdevi are present along with Vishnu. There is a separate shrine for Ambal.
When Lord Bramah was performing his penance (for the moksha of his son Daksha), a rock deviated the course of the river thus helping Bramaha perform his penance without any disturbance. It is said that this is the place where Daksha(son of Brahma) got his moksha on Vaikundha yekadesi, the deity is decorated with butter on Vaikunda Ekadasi. Visiting all the 3 Rangas on Vaikunda Ekadasi is auspicious. Few people say it was Devendra who was worshipping Ranganatha here, when the river flow was growing high, he placed a rock to divert its course.
I am a normal human being who gets agnostic thoughts when things don’t happen the way I plan, strangely I felt the vibe of a superior power in this temple after a very long time. This is maybe because I had ample time to stare at the deity without being mangled or pushed like other Vishnu temples. The queer silence kindled my inner peace as I looked into Ranganathan’s face. The next split second everything went blank when I heard “meow”, the very second I darted out of the shrine as quick as possible. I’m ailurophobic( fear of cats), my husband told that there was a huge cat along with its 4 kittens right beneath my leg. He told, “Had I cautioned; you would not have stepped into the shrine”.
In the Ambal Shrine, there was a middle age Iyer lady singing a devotional song, here 2 yr old toddler was mopping the floor crawling.
Someshwara ancient Shiva temple is also present in the same area, but we skipped it.
We thought we would end the day visiting Somnathapura.
Though the name Somanatha refers to Lord Shiva, the temple built here was a Vishnu temple – Chennakeshva. This temple was built in 1258 AD (ie after the Chennakeshava Belur temple) by Somanatha Dandanayaka, the Hoysala King Narashima III‘s general. There 3 deities in the temple – Venugopala, Keshava, and Janarthana. The guide told us the temple functioned for 40+years only, later in the 15th century the temple was damaged by Delhi Sultanate. In the 16th century Vijayanagara Kings funded for the repairs.
The ceiling may look like a single stone but those layers are interlinked with clamps. Full bloomed lotus, half bloomed, lotus bud, banana tree flower enchanted the ceiling.
Somnathpura temple is really a marvel of Hoysala architecture. Somanatha was an ardent follower of Shiva so he designed the Vishnu temple in Shaivism tradition. There are 3 sanctums for 3 deities, the inner and outer wall are filled up with complex carvings that depict various incidents from Ramayan and Mahabharat. Similar to the Belur temple, Hoysalas have used soap stone for sculpting the deities. Kehshva is in the middle; Venugopala stands on his left with his broken flute and Janarthana stands with his damaged toenail opposite to Venugopala. The original Keshava idol is in a London museum, shame that we just hold a replica of it.
Somanatha designed Venugopala beautifully; the outer border gives the look of Shiva Linga. When you look at Janarthana’s chest and stomach, one can find the face of a Nadhi.
I think discussing sex was not a taboo in those days.
From this sculpture it evident that Cholam/Millet was their main crop.
As the sun descended, I took a final shot of the temple and headed to Mysore.
The Mysore palace was glistering on the Diwali night. I wonder how the govt is managing the electricity bill; I bet the whole of Mysore was in the palace that night. What worried me was finding a hotel for dinner, as all the restaurants were full.
With no option left, we entered Hotel Siddartha, after struggling for about 30 mins we found ourselves a seat. We ordered 2 Mysore masala roast, all I got is a homemade dosa with potato vegetable fry in the middle. I told the waiter I ordered for a Mysore masala roast, he said “This is Mysore masala roast”, I just smiled back at thinking “this is going to cost your tip”.
Next day we thought of visiting Adhi Ranganatha in Srirangapanta, the Ranganathaswamy temple was built by Ganga kings in the 9thcentury. The Hoysalas and Vijayanagara kings made some additions to the temple as the generations passed. Tipu Sultan who is said to have gifted a chariot to this temple, Srirangapatan was is capital. Tipu sultan’s palace, fort, and grave are in the same locality.
Ranganatha was relaxing on Adsheesa, we were just given 30secs to have a peek at him. Laksmi Devi was seated near his feet. Sridevi, Boodevi, and Bramha are also found in the same complex. Other avatar’s of Vishnu: Gopalakrishna, Nagashima and Tirupathi Ventachapalathy have separate shrines inside the temple.
Once when famine hit India, Rishis from North came down to Sage Gauthama’s ashrama near Godavari river. Gowthama welcomed them, provided them food and shelter. Gowthama showed around the ashrama and the beautiful fertile farmlands in the village. The Rishis grew jealous of Gowthama’s wellbeing in the fertile village; they devised a plan to expel Gowthama from the village. So the rishis created a cow and made it graze in the cornfield; when Gowthama and his disciples tried to chase it, the cow ran straight to Gowthama and fell dead on his feet. Gowthama was chased out of the village for killing the cow; he cursed the Rishis for their crooked deeds.
He later went south to Srirangam to server Ranganatha Swamy, the Lord told him to go another holy place (Adhi Ranga) as Vibhishanna was already serving him at Srirangam. Gowathama along with other Rishis in the Mahendra Mountain (birthplace of Cauvery) was performing a yajna for Sri Ranganatha Swami. The lord appeared and blessed them, as instructed by the lord Gowthama found a Ranganatha idol in an ant hill in the Tulasi garden. Gowthama invoked Rudra, Brama, and Kamadenu to witness the avatar of Sri Ranganatha. Sri Ranga Saptha was initiated by Gowthama, even today it is being celebrated as garudastovam.
Finally, we wanted to check our BR hills before leaving Mysore. Nothing much to see, there is a Ranganathara temple on the hilltop.
We wanted to start early as it would be difficult to cross the ghat section in the night. I wanted to try out and see if there was another route to Coimbatore. There was Kollegal- Coimbatore route, the route seemed like it covered dense forest on G Maps. The route was passing by a village named Dhondeling, strange name for a village; we decided to take this route for a change.
There were no proper restaurants in this route; I had a hard time holding my nature’s call. The route takes you through the countryside; on either side, you can see corn fields. No tractors, cattle ploughing can still be seen in this part of Karnataka. For about 10 to 15Km the roads are kinda bumpy, but the road seemed easy to commute without traffic.
Dhondeling is a Tibetan settlement near Karnataka – TN border, unlike Bylakuppe near Coorg this is a very quiet place. Corn fields all over the area, main occupation here is agriculture and food packing business. People are so warm and as you enter the settlement you will find all the faces smiling at you. As we entered the Dhondeling Monastery, a young monk was sweeping the place and another monk was offering food for the crows (must be some kind of a ritual). The temple seemed colourful, there was a huge Buddha idol in the center and there were small idols of other monks placed next to the Buddha idol. The table was filled with offerings; Dalai Lama’s picture was also present there. A young monk insisted on taking some snacks, they did not want us to leave empty-handed. I loved their way of stress-free life; they work, play and pray. There were separate schools and hostels for them; young monks were bursting crackers on Diwali. They don’t know English but one guy understood what we were looking for and directed us to the restroom. After being exiled from China with harsh memories, they found peace in Dhondeling.
Bidding goodbye to the tranquil town, we moved forward into the deep dark ghats. The road became narrow and we could hardly find any vehicles on this route. It was pitch dark by 6.00 in the evening; the tall trees would not let the sunlight reach the ground. I would not suggest you this route if you’re not a good driver. It is not about the ability to drive properly, a good driver must know what is under the bonnet, you must be able to manage situations if something goes wrong with the vehicle like fixing your punctured tyre, etc. For about 35 to 45km you will not find anyone for help if something goes wrong with your vehicle, make sure your vehicle is in good condition before choosing this route esp in the nights. Though it seemed like a dense forest we did not encounter any wild animals. There was zero traffic on the route, we quickly reached Dhimbam. It was almost 8.30PM when we got back home.