Travelling to quite a handful of places in South India let me edge how mysterious history of South India is. History and ancient India brings in a platter of hidden myths, stories, mystic illustrations and sense of modernity. Dwelling into the past and knowing about how enriched our history was makes me think if we are rightly technologically advanced or a generation with artifacts into oblivion. The height at which art and thoughts reached thousands of years back is a dream for today’s artist. Throughout periods and under various dynasties the Group of Temples at Talakadu is undoubtedly one of the few places bolstering the level of ancient India to a different segment. Also, having been to places like Halebidu and Beluru, walking the floors of Hoysala architecture wouldn’t have been a complete look at the entire album without ending at Somnathpura.
Talakadu and Somnathpura happened to be our schedule on a Saturday. Neither too hot nor sensation of chillness in the wind, the day was warm enough to keep you perspire less and tired. Talakadu is approx 131 kms away from Bangalore by road and the best way to reach it is by private transport. Many unwandered places in Karnataka makes it difficult to deploy public transport may be. Luckily, we had the blessing of a car to rage out. The road trip is a mixed bag of comfort and inconvenience. As you try to sneak out of Bangalore’s busy areas, you ought to be driving at a break and clutch speed for almost an hour due to the heavy traffic on Kanakpura road. For those who would be interested to enjoy a nice day of zooming on the road with a scope to grab few bites, opt for the NICE road.
Finding the main attractions of Talakdu is a tough task if you don’t keep your eyes out or over-smart enough to ignore technology. Completely dependent on GPS we found our way to the Group of Temples. The Kaveri flows like a necklace around the small town and the sobriquet is “a desert like town”. The town saw dominance and rule by ensemble names from the great empires down south ranging from Gangas, Cholas, Hoysalas, Vijayanagara to Wodeyars of Mysore. Therefore, it had immense development in terms of construction of temples from the ancient periods of 2nd century to 14th century.
One can get a guide at 250 bucks who can speak English and Hindi as well. Perfect enough, Hinglish. The attractive summary of the place are the number of temples which once built are buried under heap of sand keeping mysteries covered more mysteriously. Incidentally, the place has presence of sand giving you the hint of sea-beach in and around. As of now, 6 temples built during the 1000 years of rule by various dynasties has been excavated out from the swallowed jaws of sand for public view and more importantly enriching the historical impression of the country.
Of the six, Pataleshwara and Maraleshwara temples looked significant because of the ground level construction during the 10th century. The tower of it’s shrine was built during the Chola period as part of renovation.
The Mahadwara of Kirtinarayana temple
The magnificent structure of the lot is the Vaideshvara temple holding important inscriptions of Hoysala method of art along with Gangas and Cholas.The temple points checked resemblance with that of the glories inscribed in the temples of Halebidu and Beluru. It comprises of a Vesara tower at the entrance. It is entirely built on a platform and the outer walls of the temple are covered with actions and practical articulations during the period when the construction took place. Words can’t describe the sheer brilliance of thoughts that prevailed before gunpowder age.
Kirtinarayana Temple which was the last and significant watch during our tour of the temples holds great historical importance. The temple was built in 12th century by Vishnuvardhana to celebrate the victory of Hoysalas over the Cholas. It was built out of granite with a mahadwara in the front. The sanctum is a star shaped structure mounted on a platform called Jagati. At present, the place is mostly under restoration phase by the ASI.
The entire stretch is a walk of almost 6 kms on sand which might sound like rolling on a skateboard, but in reality it’s like walking with shackles around your feet. The distance doesn’t seem to end as you would be entirely doing a doge walk over the sand. The best part of the stretch is the shades above you bringing a sigh of relief. You will be disturbed by elderly homeless women asking for alms who would follow you wherever you go. Although, shouldn’t be a matter of complaint but after few kms of tiring walk, it indeed looks disturbance even though you have already offered them some part of your social gratitude. Also, one should be careful enough to carry sunglasses and water to fight the heat while the sun is at the top of the axis.
We spent almost 2.5 hours at Talakdu and headed towards Somnathpura. It was a place last left untouched from our trip to Halebidu and Beluru. The place is famous for the Chennakeshava Temple which lies at the bank of the Kaveri and is 25 kms away from Talakadu. It took us almost 45 minutes to reach with a racing monkey inside our plump part of the body.
Somnathpura Temple gets more focus in terms of maintenance upon the visibility present out there. The temple is built inside a surrounding courtyard on a high star shaped platform with three sanctums in symmetrical shape. The place was built by Somanath Dandanayaka, a general of Hoysala King Narasimha II during 13th century. The interiors of the temple carry minute and detailed inscriptions.
the lotus almost bloomed the lotus taking shape
One such example is of a blooming lotus on the ceiling forming in several blocks bracketed by styles of artisan’s imaginary ideas. It is a Vaishnava temple with a Panchalinga temple constructed in the northeast corner of the courtyard. The Keshava temple is one of the 1500 temples built by Hoysalas. Of them many are in ruins or damaged during the frequent attacks by Delhi Sultanates. This temple was also damaged during the reign and was repaired in 16th century with financial assistance from Vijayanagara Empire. It was again repaired back during 19th and 20th century by Mysore government but the peck of perfection is poles apart than the original. Best way to discover such presence is by visiting them and taking help of a guide. Tourist attractions are in huge number but they only raise eyebrows at the sculptures without knowing why it was made and the historical significance behind it. One of them happened to describe a damaged part of an art cut out as poor artistry by the creators of the temple which is making a silent fool out of oneself. Had he known the reason behind a damaged structure, such words wouldn’t have reached ears. I can remember few of the details from what I learnt from the guide. Getting a guide comes at a rate of 300 bucks because upon paying them you get to know the opulent inscriptions of the periods of Ramayana, Bhagavad Puranas like that of Krishna’s tale, Mahabharata, Dancing Saraswati, the avatars of Vishnu, Durga’s mahishasuramardini etc. The stories and tales never seem to end. It’s almost centuries of histories are enclosed in a courtyard being protected by the able bodies of the government with growing modern architecture outside. The place doesn’t have a sea of crowd, but is good enough to appreciate interest of people. The best advice is to listen more before you grab few shots of the place.
Visiting a historical place have very less to cultivate about the surrounding nature or talk about own experiences. Having said that, the drive from city to our place of interest and back home was pleasant amongst a variable humble village environment. Sudden occurrence of tree shades while on the move ringed a sense of picturesque frame which can be missed if your camera is not ready. Satisfying part was a good meal in the evening at a roadside dhaba under the open sky which we missed during breakfast because of a road we took supposedly not to be taken.