Under the sand dunes lies the ancient Talakad, a town 45 km from Mysore on the left bank of the Cauvery river. The town will return to its religious glory after a lapse of three years.
The finishing touches are hurriedly being given to welcome the thousands of pilgrims who will pour into the town of sand dunes for the famous ‘Panchalinga Darshana’ or viewing of the five Siva temples of historic and religious significance, from November 16 to 21. The ceremonies began today and the most auspicious day for the Darshan is November 16, after which the concluding ceremonies are to be held for five days, with curtains coming down on November 21.
Three of the five temples, Vaidyanatheshwara, Pathaleshwara and Maruleshwara, need to be covered on foot on the sand dunes as they lie below the sand hill in excavated pits and are protected around from sand covering them. It takes about two hours to cover these three temples amidst the sand dunes.
Of the remaining two, the Mallikarjuna is atop the 250-ft high Mudukuthore hillock, five kms from Talakad, where on the Cauvery banks relics of the stone-age man have been unearthed and is also associated with the Mysore royal family and the curse of ‘Alamelamma’. The last one Arkeshwara is also about 5 km from the town.
The religious festival is generally held once in 13 years. But, this time the auspicious dates have come again within three years, throwing up opportunity for more pilgrims to visit the temples scattered in the town, another major temple being the Keerthinarayana.
The state has taken up a number of works, including improvement of roads leading to the pilgrim town from Mysore and Bangalore, temporary and permanent facilities for devotees like cloak rooms, change rooms, toilets, drinking water, information kiosks and parking facilities.
Initially, it planned the celebrations on a grand scale, but the flood havoc in Northern Karnataka has compelled it to make it a low-key seven-day religious festival. The Public Works Department is spending Rs 120 crore on permanent works and places around Talakad are being spruced up at Rs 10 crore. Temporary sheds have been erected for devotees at bus stand and the Cauvery River bathing ghat.
As visiting all the five temples is strenuous and time consuming, the KSRTC is offering travel within the Panchalinga circuit free of charge. The major circuit covering the five temples will be served by 60 KSRTC buses round the clock.