Talakad first came to prominence in the 3rd century AD when it was made the capital of the Western Ganga Dynasty, which ruled over Karnataka for the remainder of the millennium.
At the beginning of the 11th century, the city was captured by the Cholas from Tamil Nadu when they overthrew Western Ganga rule, only to change hands once again a hundred years later when it was taken over by the Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana, who drove the Cholas out of the Mysore region.
Talakad prospered greatly under the rule of the Hoysalas until the middle of the fourteenth century, eventually comprising a collection of seven towns as well as five large monasteries called mathas.
During this period, the Kirthi Naryana Temple was built by Ramanujacharya, the guru to the Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana. Perhaps not entirely by accident given the fame of the five Panchalinga temples, the Kirthi Naryana is also one of a quintet of temples, though in this instance dedicated to Vishnu, known as the Pancha Narayana Kshetrams. The other four are much more widely dispersed than their Panchalinga counterparts, however, being located in the towns of Melkote, Tondanur, Belur, and Gundlupet.
After the end of Hoysala rule Talakad then came under the control of a viceroy of the Vijayanagara Empire, only for disaster to strike in the early 1600s when the city was almost completely submerged under twenty meters of sand, possibly – at least according to popular belief – as a result of the notorious Talakad Curse.