Every pilgrimage has something in store for a pilgrim. It may be the calm one is looking for, or the sheer beauty of the site, or profound life lessons. My recent trip to Talakadu–the land of temples, legends, and sand–had wisdom in store for me. This place taught me how our actions impact not only our lives but also the lives of others.
About 50 km from Mysore in the state of Karnataka is Talakadu. Situated on the banks of river Cauvery, Talakadu is home to several temples. Unfortunately, most of them are buried in the sand. As I explored the place, all I could see was the vast stretch of sand and eucalyptus groves. This got me wondering why Talakadu resembled a desert when River Cauvery was flowing in all glory right beside it.
This anomaly has ensued several legends about Talakadu, each attempting to explain how this place turned into a sandy terrain. The version I came across dates back to the 16th century AD when Srirangapatna and Talakudu were ruled by the Vijayanagara Empire. The death of the last viceroy Srirangaraya, prompted Raja Wodeyar, who was then a chieftain of the Vijayanagara Empire, to declare war and form his own kingdom.
The legend goes that when Srirangaraya fell ill, he visited the Vaidyanatheshwara temple in Talakadu with his first wife. His second wife Alamelamma took charge of the administration at Srirangapatna. However, upon arriving in Talakadu, the viceroy’s health worsened. And so, Alamelamma too left the capital and rushed to his side. As fate would have it, Srirangaraya passed away in Talakadu. Taking advantage of the situation, Raja Wodeyar attacked Srirangapatna and crowned himself the king. Alamelamma was thus unable to enter her own territory and was forced to stay in the adjoining village of Malangi.
I found an important lesson in the legend. Perhaps, conquering Srirangapatna was all that had mattered to Raja Wodeyar the moment its ruler passed away. But the consequences of his action changed the course of history for all the Wodeyars who came after him.