Lost Cities 1

Friday, November 18

Lost Cities

Today after practice, several friends and I went on a day trip to visit two historic sites: Talakadu and Somnathpur.

Our car seated 7 of us comfortably; our driver spoke little English but was cheerful and helpful, and pointed out interesting sights along the way.


The road to Talakadu was rough, often unpaved and with many large potholes, but we were treated to beautiful scenery and a glimpse of Indian country life not seen in downtown Mysore.


At one point, we were driving behind an overloaded three-wheeled truck.


Shortly after this photo was taken, one of the boxes fell off as it hit a bump. The truck driver didn't realize his loss, but our driver collected the box, caught up with the truck and returned it, much to everyone's amusement. After nearly two hours of bouncing in our car, we reached Talakadu.

The first impression was a little disappointing... a fairly ordinary looking temple next to a hill.


Inside the temple, as we were looking around, several people offered to guide us, we eventually hired a very helpful local man.


He told us that the temple, which was about 1500 years old and dedicated to Vishnu,


one of the 3 main Hindu gods, was buried under a giant sand dune about 500 years ago-the hill next to the temple was actually this sand dune! He explained that this city had once been the capital of the Ganga and Chola kings who ruled this area, but after one of these kings tried to force himself on the wife of another man, she cursed the king; he was left without a successor and his city was buried under the sands.

Other temples are still being uncovered by the Archaeological Survey of India, and as our guide led us to the top of the 50 foot (about 15 meter) high sand dune, he explained that an entire city was buried underneath our feet!


Here, Ayuco stands on the roof of one temple that has not yet been excavated.


Here is another small temple. From the top of the sand dune, we walked down a steep flight of stairs to reach the entrance.


The entrance must have been above the original ground level-here we can see the top of a column, and our guide says that this column extends another 10 feet (about 3 meters) down into the sand.


At the temple entrance, we bought supplies for a puja (blessing/purification ceremony). Inside the temple, the priest placed the offerings in front of the god, burned incense and prayed.


Our guide showed us another much larger temple that is currently being excavated; the stones have all been removed from the temple grounds and will eventually be reassembled. The stones were expertly cut by the ancient builders, and carefully fit together without using cement.


After an interesting but hard day of climbing sand dunes under the splendid Indian sunshine, we were ready for some refreshment, and fortunately, there was a coconut seller nearby, operating from his bicycle. The coconuts here were some the of sweetest and tastiest I have ever had! We enjoyed them under the shade of a large tree, next to the shadow of a sand dune which conceals a buried city.


To be continued
by dcaplan | 2006-01-18 18:53 | Lost Cities 1
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