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Having a Pouranic background, Chamundeswari is the main subject of ‘Devi Mahathme.’ It describes of this ‘Shakti’ Goddess of slaying the monster, Mahishasura, who lived atop the hills. Therefore, Chamundi Hills bears her name.

A temple of great antiquity with over 1,000 years of background, it was a small shrine initially and assuming importance over the centuries it became a big temple as seen today. It assumed significance after the Mysore Maharajas, the Wodeyars, came to power in 1399 A.D. Great devotees and worshippers of the Devi, Chamundeswari became their home deity and thus assumed religious importance.

In the historical background of Chamundi Hills, the contributions made by three dynasties, i.e., Hoysala, Vijayanagar and Mysore rulers, are traced. The famous 12th century Hoysala king, Vishnuvardhana, and the 17th century Vijayanagar rulers have made contributions to it. In the Mysore history, an incident relating to Chamaraja Wodeyar, who turned bald after a lightning struck him while going to the temple in 1573 A.D., is narrated. There are also records of gifts made to the temple by the rulers of Mysore.

The temple is of a quadrangular structure. Built in Dravidian style, it consists of the Main Doorway, Entrance, Navaranga Hall, Antharala Mantapa, Sanctum Sanctorum, and Prakara. There is a beautiful seven-tier Gopura or pyramidal tower at the entrance and a ‘Vimana’ (small tower) atop the sanctum sanctorum. Atop the ‘Shikara’, the tower at the entrance, are seven golden ‘Kalashas’.

Krishnaraja Wodeyar III repaired the shrine in 1827 A.D and built the present beautiful tower at the entrance (Gopura). Blessed by the Goddess, Krishnaraja Wodeyar, an ardent devotee of the mother Goddess, presented to the temple a ‘Simha-vahana’ (A lion-shaped vehicle) and other animal cars and jewels of value. The cars are used even now for processions on special religious days.

The tower at the entrance has a small image of Lord Ganesha on the doorway. The doorway is silver-plated and has the images of the Goddess in different forms. On either side of the doorway are the images of ‘Dwarapalakas’ or door-keepers. As one enters inside, on the right hand side is a small statue of Lord Ganesha, the remover of all obstacles. After a few steps, there is a flagstaff, the footprints of the Goddess and a small statue of Nandi, facing the sanctum sanctorum. On the right side, before approaching the flag staff, there is an image of ‘Anjaneya’ attached to the wall. On either side of this entrance are two Dikpalakas, Nandini and Kamalini.
 



In the ‘Antharala’ prior to the sacred sanctum sanctorum are the images of Lord Ganesha on the left side and of ‘Bhyrava’ on the right side. To the left of Ganesha, there is a beautiful 6-foot statue of Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar III. He is standing with his hands folded in his religious clothes. On either side of him are his three wives, Ramavilasa, Lakshmivilasa and Krishnavilasa. Their names are carved on the pedestals.

In the sanctum sanctorum is the stone statue of the Goddess, ‘Mahisha Mardhini.’ Having ‘Ashta Bhujas’ or eight shoulders, she is in a seated posture. According to the local leged, the image was established by sage Markandeya and hence it is said to be very old.

The idol of the Goddess is decorated every day and worshipped by a number of priests. The Mysore Maharajas have made a number of valuable gifts to their family deity. Human and animal sacrifices were in vogue in old times. However, they were totally stopped from 18th century onwards. Now only coconuts, fruits and flowers are offered.

On top of the sanctum sanctorum, a small tower or ‘Vimana’ is seen. In the ‘Prakara’ or enclosure, behind the sanctum sanctorum, are small images of a few deities, which are also worshipped. After going round the sanctum sanctorum through this ‘Prakara’, a devotee can return to the main entrance, which leads him outside.

With the Goddess residing atop, Chamundi Hills has become a famous religious centre. What was a small temple of a local deity, Chamundi has come to assume great religious significance due to the ardent devotion and development the Mysore Maharajas have contributed to the place. Consequently, Chamundeswari has become a Goddess of great religious tradition and the temple has grown into a big temple assuming importance for all its devotees and others.

Location
The Chamundeshwari Temple is located on the top of Chamundi Hills about 13 km from the palace city of Mysore in the state of Karnataka in India. The temple was named after Chamundeshwari or Durga, the fierce form of Shakti, a tutelary deity held in reverence for centuries by Mysore Maharajas.

Chamundi Hill is named after Goddess Chamundi who is believed to be the incarnation of Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva. A large number of devotees from all over the country and even abroad visit the temple every year. Pilgrims strongly believe that the Goddess helps them to fulfill their needs.

The Chamundi Temple on top of the Chamundi hills is the most famous temple in Mysore, since Goddess Chamundi or Chamundeshwari is the presiding deity of Msyore. Initially the temple was a small one, but over the past few centuries, as a result of the patronage and expansions made by the Mysore Maharajas it has become a big temple. In the olden days, human and animal sacrifices were regularly made at this temple, but were stopped in the 18th century.

The temple has a quadrangular structure. The Gopura or pyramidal tower at the entrance is intricately decorated in the Dravidian style and has a small statue of Lord Ganesha on the doorway. The doorway is silver-plated and has the images of Goddess in different forms on it. As one passes through the main gate, on the right hand side is a small statue of Lord Ganesha, the remover of all obstacles. Climb a few steps and there is a flagstaff, the footprints of the Goddess and a small statue of Nandi, facing the sanctum sanctorum.

In the sanctum sanctorum is the stone statue of the Goddess that is decorated everyday and is worshipped by a number of priests. The Mysore Maharajas have made a number of valuable gifts to their family deity. In the room in front of the sanctum sanctorum, there is a beautiful 6-foot statue of Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar III. He is standing with his hands folded in his religious clothes, with his three wives; their names are carved on the pedestals. Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar repaired this temple in 1827 and built the enormous tower on it. He also gifted the temple with a large wooden chariot known as the Simha Vahana, which is now used during the Rathotsava or car festival.

On top of the sanctum sanctorum is a small tower or Vimana that can be seen from outside the temple. During the 10 daylong Dasara festival special prayers are offered to the Goddess. The Vedas are chanted in the temple and various music performances are held here. After Dasara, on the auspicious Ashwayuja Pournime, a Rathotsava or car festival is conducted during the Jathra or annual festival on top of the hill. This is followed by Theppotsava (floating festival) that is held in the night. All these festivities attract devotees by the thousands.

The Chamundeeswari temple is located on a hill in the vicinity of Mysore and is accessed through a motorable road. Chamundeeswari the tutelary deity of the Mysore Maharajas has been held in reverence for centuries, and the Wodeyars of Mysore have made extensive contributions to this shrine.

A flight of one thousand steps built by the Maharaja Dodda Devaraja in 1659 also leads up to the summit of the hill which is at a height of about 3000 feet. Chamraja Wodeyar IV is said to have worshipped here in 1573 and was miraculously saved from a lightning hit. Krishnaraja III (late 18th century) built the temple tower and presented the Nakshatramalika jewel with sanskrit verses inscribed on it.

Thus much of the current temple is the result of renovation efforts carried out in early nineteenth century, although the original shrine is much older. Chamundi Hill has been associated with the Hoysala ruler Vishnu Vardhana (12th century) and with the Vijayanagar rulers of the 17th century.

Chamundeeswari, or Durga is the fierce form of Shakti who vanquished the demon Mahishasuran. A colorful image of the demon greets visitors as they reach the summit of the hill.

Also on this temple are several images of Nandi (the bull mount of Shiva). The best known of these is the collossal Nandi on the 800th step on the hill. This Nandi is over 15 feet high, and 24 feet long. It was created during the reign of Dodda Devaraja, who also built the steps leading up the hill.

There are also shrines dedicated to Shiva - Mahabaleshwar (attributed to Vishnu Vardhana the Hoysala ruler of the 12th century CE) and Lakshmi Narayana - Vishnu on this hill.

Other Interesting Places
Besides the Chamundeswari, Mahabaladri, Narayanaswamy temples and Mahishasura and Nandi statues, there are a few other interesting spots on the Chamundi Hills. Among them the Lalithadri Palace is one. It belongs to the Mysore royal family. The Maharajas were making a short stay in this Palace whenever they visited the hills. Built on the hill-top, it offers an attractive bird’s eye view of Mysore city and far off places. Lalithadri Palace was built during the reign of Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV.

To the south of Chamundeswari temple, a Maramma temple is located facing north. Special annual worship is conducted to the deity in the month of Magha Bahula. A large number of villagers conduct their customary worship to Maramma.

While descending the steps, an Anjaneya shrine is seen. Half way the 1,000 steps, the Mantapa is said to have been built by Maharaja Chamaraja Wodeyar.

 

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