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My driver and guides were as wonderful as the sights. In addition to the amazing temples--works of astonishing architectural beauty--there was generous clean food, an amazing countryside drive, and friendly, colorful people everywhere. I liked that the temples on this excursion were mostly live--still open for worship--regardless of their antiquity. It's very immersive and left me feeling more local than any other excursion I had in India. Remember that shoes are not allowed in temples in India, so be sure to wear sandals or slip-ons for convenience. Also, keep a batch of small denomination rupee coins for shoe minders and small bills for making polite donations at the temples.
This trip was phenomenal. Before this tour, I hadn't really considered the age of the Indian culture. This tour takes you to a pair of temples that are 1,500 and 1,000 years old. In fact, Somnathpur, the older of the two, is part of an archeological site that has been covered by sand for centuries. This site is outside a small village, roughly a 2 1/2 hour drive from Bangalore. You do have a sense of having gone backwards in time. Also, please be aware that this is an active place of worship and the final destination of a pilgrimage for many. One of the charms though not for locals of this small village is that you will see monkeys running about. It's also located fairly close to the Chauvery River, a place we also stopped and visited. You have the option there of going on the river in a small, circular shaped boat.
Talakdau is not quite as remote. It's a youngster at a mere 1,000 years old. The architecture will remind you of Angkor Wat. As my guide pointed out, it was not unusual for the architects to move between palace/temple projects. You'll find the detail in the temple's friezes incredible. Regrettably, some of these were damaged hundreds of years ago during Moslem invasions. As a result, the site is no longer a place of worship.
This tour makes use of local guides. This means that you will be driven to the site and there meet a local person who will guide you through the site. This is part of the strategy of the tour company to encourage sustainable tourism. The company utilizes local people who are familiar with the site in their village and able to speak about the cultural and local significance of the site. This also helps to create jobs in that locale. This is a terrific strategy that we travelers should encourage.
I've also posted three photos. One of each of the sites and one of the river. Please note that some parts of the Somnathpur have been restored, due to damaged sustained while they were embedded in sand. These restored sections are the lighter colored roofs of the building.
I encourage people interested in learning more about Southern India's history and culture to take this tour.