A day trip to Talakadu, Shivanasamudra and BR Hills from Bangalore


Within 150km radius from Bangalore, Somnathpur is a great place for a day-trip from the silicon valley of India.  It is famous for two reasons –first, the Shivanasamudram falls that is popular among youngsters, and second, the less famous, but way more intriguing - Talakadu, a mini-desert in Karnataka. Somnathpur is in itself famous for the beautiful temples representing the Hoysala architecture but I have been harping about going to Talakadu, a village near Somnathpur, ever since I heard the mysterious story of how a desert-like landscape came to exist in what should have been marsh lands beside the river. Chayan wanted to drive longer hence the plan – Talakadu- Shivanasamudram- BR Hills – all in one day. Add to that a delightful coracle ride in Kaveri, and you have the recipe for a complete epic weekend condensed into one-day round-trip.

The Beginning

We started at 6:15am from Koramangala (south Bangalore) and picked up our friends from Gopalan at 6:30 am. Covering 9km in 15 minutes on a route that takes 1.5 hours on a regular working day is a positive start indeed. I knew from my research that there was no proper food joint in the area, so we stopped at Kamat as usual to have our South-Indian brunch. For the starters, Kamat, A2B and Saravana Bhavan are the three most popular food-chains in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, and they are what I like to call, the food authority in the national highways. Unlike our route to Bekal or Chikmagaluru, this route had quite a lot of traffic so the average speed of the car wouldn’t cross 60 kmph throughout the journey to Talakadu. Now here you can take a detour to Srirangapatna if you have plans to stay for one night. But this was a day-trip, so we continued straight to Talakadu about 137km from Bangalore.

Enter Talakadu – The Legend of the sand dunes

Temples at Talakadu, Karnataka
Temples under the sand at Talakadu, Karnataka
Also known as the Benaras of the South for a large number of old Hindu temples and their religious significance, Talakadu is an interesting place for the seekers and believers alike. How the river changed it’s course and came to circle around the heaps of sand has been a topic of research about many archeologists and historians for years, but if you ask the common people here, you will get a very simple explanation for this peculiar landscape. Here goes the folklore-cum-history of Talakadu’s sand:
Four hundred years ago, the Mysore kingdom was a part of one of the most prosperous empires in the world – the Vijayanagara empire. Srirangaraya, the king of Mysore who lived in Srirangapattana, fell sick due to herpes and came down to Talakadu to pray in the Lord Vaideshwara temple. Vaideshwara, which means doctor in Sanskrit, is the Hindu God of medicine. Srirangaraya did not survive and the throne was taken over by Raja Wodeyar, the ancestor of the present royal family of Mysore.  Srirangaraya’s wife Alamelamma was a pious woman who used to worship the Goddess in Sriranganatha Temple at Srirangapatna by decorating the idol with her own jewelry. After the king’s death, she left the capital and settled in the village Malangi near Talakadu. This entire area was a pilgrimage site of the Mysore kingdom at that time. It is said that Raja Wodeyar ordered for all the ornaments of Alamelamma, be snatched from her by force and sent to the capital, to which she denied. When the forces marched towards Malangi she packed all her ornaments in her sari and jumped into the river Kaveri uttering three curses-
“ Let Talakadu become a desert of sand
Let Malangi become a whirlpool
Let the Kings of Mysore go without progeny”
Raja Wodeyar felt sad after hearing the news and made an idol of Alamelamma and decorated it with special ornaments. Even to this day, the pooja (worship) of Alamelamma is performed at the Mysore Palace during Dusshera. Whatever be the truth behind the story, half of Talakadu was buried in the sand, the Wodeyar family did not bear children and they continued the lineage by adopting from close family. 
(source: – wiki, tourism booklet, and many other resources)
According to geologists, in the 15th century, a boulder dam was created to slow down the Kaveri river and divert the flow to nearby villages. As a result, the sand from the river deposited on the banks at Talakadu. The lack of heir in Wodeyar family is often explained by marriage between close relatives. None of these scientific explanations are fool-proof, so even in this age, the legend of Alamelamma lives on as the most popular answer to the riddle of sand dunes.

Talakadu at present and our guided tour

About thirty old temples are buried under the sand that forms a hillock which the river Kaveri has encircled from three sides. In 1960,  the government tried to prevent the distribution of sand by growing big trees on the sand. Many of these temples were excavated from under the sand and rebuilt but they continue to be buried during sandstorms. The place is still a famous pilgrimage site for the Panchalinga Darshana – the sight of 5 Shiva temples. However, this occasion comes after a gap of several years when all the five temples are freed from sand and are open for pooja. I am not a believer, but history intrigues me and I went to Talakadu for the love of old architecture and the natural view from the hillock. As we navigated to the interiors with google maps, a matured man stopped us and offered to be our paid guide. We at Backpack & Explore encourage people to support local tourism in these remote places of India by taking their services, but at the same time be aware of the fair charges. Our guide quoted Rs.300 for a tour of the temples which we didn’t bargain. He showed us some of the rooms inside the temples that are locked for visitors otherwise. Personally, I was expecting to know some history, like some trivia about who built the temple, if not the architect at least the name of the king of commissioned it (unfortunately the name of architects are not very well-documented in the history of monuments in India). The guide, however, focused on the Gods and the Puranic importance of this place in broken English and Hindi. I think a combination of both is important for a place which happens to be an age-old pilgrimage site. Our friends are more religious than us for sure and quite evidently enjoyed the Puranic stories of the place.

Keerthinarayana temple, Talakad, Karnataka
Keerthinarayana Temple, destroyed by weather and renovated multiple times, one of the sites of Panchalinga Darshana


We ended the tour on a high note with a fun-filled coracle-ride in the river Kaveri. Thanks to the light monsoon, the weather was fabulous and the river was at her brimful best.
Coracle ride in Kaveri river at Talkadu, Karnataka
Enjoying the glorious weather and spectacular views on our coracle ride

Shivanasamudra – Shiva refers to Lord Shiva of Hinduism and Samudra means sea

Our next stop for the day after the amazing coracle ride was Shivanasamudra, the island town of Mandya district in Karnataka which is the home to two beautiful segmented waterfalls – the Barachukki falls and the Gaganachukki falls. A segmented waterfall is formed when the river splits into multiple streams before dropping over the cliff. Shivanasamudra is the island formed between the two branches of the river and is also the location of India’s second hydro-electric power project. The two waterfalls Barachukki and Gaganachukki formed from the Cauvery river lies few kilometers apart here. There were some pleasant views on our way including the vast stretches of paddy fields, the mountains at the backdrop, the river Kaveri and the old footbridge. A lot of people get down and walk on the old bridge for some mesmerizing views of the river, dam and the hills.

Old Bridge at Kaveri River, Shivasamudra, Karnataka
The old bridge as seen from the new modern bridge

But don’t lose your breath yet as you are about to see what is ranked among the top 50 most beautiful waterfalls in the world. We were fortunate to witness the Barachukki falls at its full glory after eight years during the monsoon this year, with the combined discharge from the Kaveri and the Kabini reservoirs in excess of 1,00,000 cusecs. The mist formed due to a wind blowing over the gushing waterfalls lends an ethereal look to the waterfall. Beautiful stairs were built for the tourists to safely step down to the bottom of the waterfall but after some fatal accidents often caused due to the negligence of tourists, the entry has been restricted. There is strict security all the time to prevent people from going down the stairs. The watchtower is the best place to get a panoramic view of the falls. Apart from this natural wonder we also saw two of the three Ranganathaswamy temples at Shivasamudra, the third one being located at Srirangapatna. As mentioned before there was no good place to have lunch, so we ate some bhel (puffed rice mixed with spices, chopped onion, and cucumber), coconut water and freshly prepared sugarcane juice.
Barachukki Falls, Shivanasamudra, Karnataka
Shivasamudra, Barachukki Falls - World's 45th most beautiful falls


Shivansamudram Falls, Karnataka, India
The mist on the falls that lends it an ethereal charm

Biligiriranga hills or BR Hills

It was already 3pm now, we had to take a call whether we should return to Bangalore or head towards BR Hills. Chayan (my husband) was eager to drive more so we drove towards BR Hills. This hill is famous for the Biligiranga temple atop the hill as well as the wildlife sanctuary leading to the temple. It is the eastern-most edge of the Western Ghats of India standing at the border of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. This place was a nature-lovers paradise. It has recently been declared as one of the tiger reserves in the Western Ghats and if lucky you can spot the striped beauty among other wild creatures like sloth bear, deer, and sambhar. We caught a fleeting glimpse of a Sambhar running into the depths of the jungle,  saw some monkeys as usual and some tortoises at the river. We were getting late for our return and being aware of the traffic situation at Bangalore during rains, we didn’t wait much longer in the forests. One unique aspect of this protected forest region is that this is one of the few places where the native villagers also live in the jungles itself. We already have plans for staying at the jungle lodges in BR hills for one night at least. So that’s about it- we skipped the temple and went on our way back to our usual traffic-stuck, pollution-inflicted city life, looking forward to another weekend in the wilderness.
BR Hills at Backdrop, Karnataka
Pulchritude of BR hills
Entry to BR Hills Santuary
Welcome to the jungle!     


BR Hills, Karnataka
Bidding goodbye to the beautiful BR hills- till we meet again

Check out the photo story of our trip on our Facebook Page
Read more about our weekend escapades from Bangalore city.
Here’s the cost estimate of the trip for four-
Total round trip distance

480km
Diesel Rs. 1400 approx
Breakfast and snacks Rs. 800
Talakadu guided tour and coracle ride Rs. 500
Entrance fees to Shivanasamudra and BR Hills +Tolls Rs. 300

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A day trip from Bangalore to Talakadu, Shivasamudra and BR Hills in Karnataka- 15 hours, 500 kilometers and priceless memories. Best Day trips from Bangalore series #daytrips

A day trip from Bangalore to Talakadu, Shivasamudra and BR Hills in Karnataka- 15 hours, 500 kilometers and priceless memories. Best Day trips from Bangalore series #daytrips #bangalore #travel
Have you been to Karnataka in India? What was your favorite place? Share with me in the comments.

Comments

  1. Definitely a place to check out. India has always been in my bucket list. I will probably plan a trip there within these 2 years. Bookmarked the page, it will be helpful for sure!
    Love the Barachukki Falls picture you took!

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    1. Thank you so much. I have travelled South India extensively so will be glad to help you plan if you decide to visit this side

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  2. This is such a gorgeous place. I am planning a trip to southern part of India, as I have never traveled to this part. The coracle ride seems so interesting with these views around! I’ll be sure to add this to my list for a visit!

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  3. We still have not made it to India, but it is definitely on our list. It is such a huge, and beautiful country, with so much to see. Talakadu, Shivanasamudra and BR Hills are now on the itinerary when we go!

    Thank you for posting!

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  4. Bengaluru has so many weekend destinations and day trips one could drive to. We lived there for 2 years and still keep hearing of new places! Enjoyed reading about this one! Costing would definitely be different for us though as we are not living there now! :)

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  5. That waterfalllll.. Is hugeee! Indeed a place that is worth going and I am sure you definitely enjoy the trip there for sure.

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  6. Wow, the falls look beautiful! Who knew you can find it there. Thanks for the informative post, I a really looking forward to visit India one day, and will definitely put Talakadu on my to-go list.

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  7. It looks like you had a super full and delightful day tip. We also like to combine a little bit of everything on our day trips: nature, architecture and a bit of fun. Those waterfalls are truly dreamlike. Thanks for sharing!

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  8. That waterfall looks absolutely stunning! It indeed seems like a place worth visiting and I would surely want to see it with my own eyes one day.

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  9. I had never heard of this mini desert Talakadu in Karnataka. It was quite intriguing to read about it. My kids for sure will love to visit the gorgeous Shivanasamudram falls :)

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  10. Looks like a fantastic day trip! We're hoping to visit India in the next couple of years and will definitely be including this region in our itinerary. Will keep this in mind for our trip.

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  11. It seems like such a beautiful place. All the pictures added make it look even more fascinating to visit. Definitely on my list whenever I will visit Bangalore.

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  12. Such an amazing area! I would have never thought there would be a desert area near waterfalls. Just love the temples.

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