Madhava Mantri Dam to enter the pages of history

  • Second oldest dam next only to Grand Anicut, built by Chola King Karikalan
  • Govt. approves the construction of new dam at a cost of Rs. 67 crore
  • Foundation stone for the new dam laid by Minister Dr. H.C. Mahadevappa
  • New dam, with a total length of 527 metres, can irrigate 5,824 acres

T. Narasipur:  The Madhava Mantri Dam built across river Cauvery near Talakadu in Tirumakudlu Narasipur (T. Narasipur) Taluk will soon enter the pages of history as a new dam will be constructed in its place. The foundation stone for the development works was laid by District In-charge Minister Dr. H.C. Mahadevappa yesterday.

The State Government has given administrative approval for construction of a new dam following numerous complaints on frequent breaching of a portion of the dam and its canals. The present Madhava Mantri Dam is in a dilapidated condition and the State Govt. has approved an allocation of Rs. 67 crore.

The reconstruction of the dam has been recommended by Chief Engineer, Irrigation, Mysuru (CER No. 894/2016-17) and has given his technical approval. Once the new dam is constructed, it can irrigate 5,824 acres Acchukattu area, said sources.

A few years back, a portion of the Madhava Mantri Dam collapsed and had destroyed crops grown in thousands of acres. As per the new plan, a cement concrete dam will be built with a total length of 527 metres. The old structure will be pulled down and according to villagers, once the new dam comes up, T. Narasipur will lose a piece of history.

Though there is a dispute regarding the exact date of the Madhava Mantri Dam (according to government engineers, it was built in the year 1140 AD), records say that it was built in 14th century AD by Madhava Mantri, an eminent Minister and Viceroy in the Vijayanagar period.

The structure has been built by mud and earthwork and offers a wonderful topography for River Cauvery to create a miniature Falls over it. The dam, which is used for irrigation purpose, doubles as a picnic spot during monsoon. The Madhava Mantri dam is located at Hemmige, some four kilometres from Talakadu. Normally, a portion of the dam breaches whenever there is a major release of water from the Krishna Raja Sagar (KRS) Dam in Mandya.

FROM THE PAGES OF HISTORY

Legends say that the Madhava Mantri Dam was built by the Vijayanagar kings. Talakadu and all of Mysuru and South Karnataka were once part of the famed Vijayanagar Empire and Bukka was the ruling Emperor. One of his many Ministers was Madhava Mantri.

A signboard on the structure says that the dam was built in 1140 AD making it the second oldest dam next only to the Grand Anicut, built by Chola King Karikalan during the first century, on the Cauvery further downstream at Tiruchirapalli in Tamil Nadu.

Madhava Mantri was a Brahmin and was as apt at debates and war. Bukka deputed him to conquer Goa from the Bahamani kings. Madhava Mantri seized Goa and built a Gommateshwara Temple. Bukka then ordered Madhava Mantri to look after the Mysore province. Madhava Mantri then decided to build a dam across the Cauvery a little upstream Talakadu. He did so as he wanted to divert the water for irrigation purposes.

The dam led to the river bank splitting into two. The swift south-westerly winds that blow across this region regularly began depositing sand at Talakadu which lay directly in the path of the wind. The first incidents of sand blowing towards Talakadu occurred sometime in 14th Century and they continued for several decades. And now Talakadu lies buried under sand.

Satellite imageries have shown historians and archaeologists that the construction of a dam across the Cauvery by Madhava Mantri resulted in the river changing its course over centuries. Satellite data clearly proves that the river has shifted its course by four to five km in the last 300 to 400 years, resulting in the accumulation of sand.

Though there is a scientific evidence of Talakadu being buried under sand, the popular belief is that it is the curse of Alamelamma that caused sand to fill Talakadu. This still holds sway in public conscience.

Tamil inscription on the structure

An inscription found on the structure of the dam says that a stone was taken from a temple at Talakadu while the dam was being built by Madhava Mantri.

The fragmented inscription in Tamil language does not have a starting portion.

The inscription belongs to the reign of Rajadhiraja I and it mentions the donations made to God at Talakadu that was then called Rajapuram.

The inscription has been published in Epigraphia Carnatica Vol. III with the number NJ 48.

(Epigraphia Carnatica is a set of books on epigraphy of the Old Mysore region of India, compiled by Benjamin Lewis Rice, the Director of the Mysore Archaeological Department. Over a period of about ten years between 1894 and 1905, Rice published the books in a set of twelve volumes.)

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