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I recently visited a place called Talakad/Talakadu about 40 km from Mysore, India. Its an amazing place where a whole city has been covered by sand about 15 m deep. The local myth is that a curse turned the once thriving town to a barren dune. Does anyone have any scientific explanations?

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It appears the sands at Talakad are the result of a ecological disaster that occurred in the 17th Century. At the time, a dam was constructed north of Talakad on Kaveri River which caused the river to be diverted. This exposed a sand deposit in the river which was subsequently moved to Talakad by monsoonal winds. The following quote is from this source AB Roy & MS Sethumadhav, 2014:

It is thought to have originated due to an ‘eco-disaster’ that lashed the region during the 17th century. That was the time when the normal flow of the Kaveri River was impeded because of the construction of a dam on the up- stream side, north of Talakad and subsequent diversion of water in a different direction. As a result, the water level at the point bar on the concave side of the Kaveri meander southwest of Talakad was significantly lowered leading to the buildup of sand at this place. The accumulated sand was then actively reworked and carried by the northeasterly monsoon winds, which were subsequently deposited around Talakad engulfing the temples and other settlements in the region. The yellow coloured, uniformly fine-grained and homogeneous nature of the sand without any clay material in it provides further proof that the air-borne sand deposited as dunes

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