Pathaleshwara, Maruleshwara, Arkeshwara, Vaidyanatheeshwara and Mallikarjuna temples - Talakadu, Karnataka
The Panchalinga Kshetrams (considered to represent the 5 faces of Lord Shiva) - Pathaleshwara (or Vasukhishwara), Maruleshwara (or Saikateshwara), Arkeshwara, Vaidyanatheeshwara and Mallikarjuna temples dedicated to Lord Shiva are located at Talakad, Karnataka
Vaidyanatheeshwara - The lord is Vaidyanatheeswara and the Goddess is Manonmani
Mallikarjuna - The Lord is Mallikarjuna Swamy and the Goddess is Brahmaraambigai
Talakad (45 kms from Mysore and 185 kms from Bangalore) is a town on the left bank of the Cauvery river. The river Cauvery forms a garland around Talakadu as it flows from Thirumukkoodal and Sivasamudram. The place was also known as Gajaaranyam (Gaja-elephant ; aaranyam-forest) because of the elephants that roamed the forests here. Another interesting legend is that Somadatta, from sage Vasishta's lineage (vamsam) did penance here along with thousands of his disciples in the form of elephants and hence the place came to be known as Gajaaranyam - Somadutta, with his disciples performed penance at Kasi wishing for moksham. Lord Siva gave him darshan and asked him to reach Rushiga rishis' hermitage at Talakaadu. The rishi and his disciples were however killed on the way by elephants. Since they were calling out "Elephants" as they were dying, they reincarnated as elephants. They continued to worship Lord Siva as elephants and attained moksham. The idols of the two hunters Tala & Kaada can be seen in the Veerabadra Swamy temple adjacent to the Vaidyanatha temple. Talakad was once a temple region with over 30 temples, but these are buried under sand dunes now. Talakad enjoyed the patronage of various dynasties - the Western Gangas, the Tamil Cholas, the Hoysalas, Vijayanagar rulers and the Maharajas of Mysore.
There are two huge beautifully structured and ornamented dwarapalakas at the entrance of the Vaidyanatha temple, a Ganesha idol on his munjur vahanam on the right. It is said that the royal family entered the temple for worship through an entrance to the south of the front mandapam. In the inner mandapam, there are idols of Lord Nataraja, Durgai, Badhrakaali, Kaaligambal, Shaaradaambigai. On either side of the main sanctum are the idols of Lord Ganesha and Muruga. The goddess is Manonmani. Shiva healed himself
An elephant daily performed the ritual of bathing in the Gokarnam pond. It took water & lotus from the pond & performed pooja at a particular spot. Two hunters Tala and Kaada, were curious. They struck at the tree with an axe, but to their horror blood gushed out from the cut. They realised that they had struck at a Siva lingam and begged forgiveness. The blood soon turned to white milk. They heard a divine voice instructing them to dress the wound with the leaves and fruits of the tree. And soon the wound healed. They drank the milk and attained moksham. Since the hunters Tala & Kaada attained moksham here, the place came to be know as Talakaadu. Since the Sivan lingam had shown ways of healing himself, the Lord is known by the name Viadyanaatheeswarar. .
Pathaleshwara, Maruleshwara built by the Ganga kings are considered to be the oldest.
The Shivalingam at Pathaleshwara - Pathaleshwarar or Vasukheeswarar changes color - appears red in the morning, black in the afternoon and white in the night. Near the Pataleeswarar temple, to the north is the Keerthi Narayana temple built by the Hoysala king Vishnuvardhan. He was initially a Jain known as Bittideva, but converted to Vaishnavism following the preaching of Ramanujar. His queen Shantaladevi however continued to follow Jainism. He built thousands of temples during his reign. The Keerthinarayanar temple along with 4 other Vishnu temples are called the Pancha Naaraayanar temples. (Keerthi Narayana temple at Thalakaadu, Veera Narayanar at Kadhagu, Kesava Narayana temple at Belur, Sriman Narayana temple and Vijaya Narayana temple). This temple was excavated from under the sand in 1911. Originally there was a sannidhi for Sundaravalli Thaayar to the south of the main sannidhi. Since that was covered with sand, the vigraham was installed in the navaranga mandapam. There are idols of Ramanujar, Vedhandha Desikar, Nammazhwar in the navaranga mandapam and Yoga Narasimhar and Viswasenar in the Ardha mandapam. The nine feet high standing form of Lord Vishnu on a garuda peedam is an imposing structure. He is seen holding the changu, chakram, mace and lotus. In the sanctum is the idol of Keerthi Narayanar & outside to the west of the sanctum is an idol of reclining Ranganathar. There is an interesting story behind this. Tippu Sultan had great respect for Ranganathar and so in times of war, the Hindu kings had taken the precaution to cover the main sanctum of Keerthi Narayanar with a huge boulder showing only the Ranganathar idol to protect the temple from destruction. The processional deities of the Keerthi Narayanar temple are placed in a temple in the same street as the Vaidyanatha temple.
Half a mile to the North of the Keerthi Narayanar temple is the Maruleshwara temple. The huge Siva lingam here is considered to have been installed and worshipped by Lord Brahma. In the front mandapam there are idols of Maheswara, Thirumal, Ambigai, Surya, Ganapathi, Shanmugar, Veerabadhrar and navagrahams.
This temple is slightly isolated. Near the Arkeshwara temple is the Kottai Vinayagar temple. There are idols for Bhairavar, Durgai and abhayangara lingam in this temple. There is a rock at the entrance with a Vaastu yantram. It is believed that tying deceased cows to this rock will cure them.
The Lord at the Mallikarjuna temple at Mudukuthurai is a small lingam - Mallikarjuna Swamy and the Goddess is Brahmaraambigai. The foot marks of Kaamadhenu are seen on the lingam.
Pancha lingams can be worshipped in a mandapam opposite the Vaidyanatha swamy temple. There are also sannadhis for Chamundeeswari, Veerabadrar, Sandhyaa Ganapathi. There are several small temples under worship - Veera Anjaneyar koil and Anaadhi Vaigundanaadhar temples. There are eight hills surrounding Thirumukudal. Somagiri (Mudukuthurai) on the east, Akkaparvatham on the southeast, Devesaparvatham on the south, Janakagiri (giri, parvatham-hill)on the southwest, Mahaabalagiri (Shaamundi) on the west, Dindukaasalam in the northwest, Mallikasalam in the north and Guptagiri.
Panchalinga darshanam is an occassion celebrated every 12 years on a new moon day. The last was in 2006. Devotees should start the ritual of the day by bathing in the Gokarna theertham. Then they have to worship Gokarneswara, Chandikadevi and then Vaidyanatheeshwara. They then have to bathe in the northern, eastern, southern and western stretches of the Kaveri, worship Arkeshwara, Pataleshwara, Maraleshwara and Mallikarjuna, returning to Vaidyanatha temple after each worship. Finally they have to worship Kirtinarayana and conclude the ritual of the day.
Legends regarding the formation of the sand dunes
Curse of Talakad by Alamelamma on the Wodeyar dynasty, Maharajas of Mysore
The cue to dedicate a temple came from a well-wisher of Wadiyar, who had a clairvoyance of Alamelamma
Karnatka Payanam by Baraneetharan, published by Kalaignaan Pathipagam, 1989