The Chamundeshwari Temple holds a special place in the history and culture of the state of Karnataka. It is located on a scenic green hill by the same name that towers over the city of Mysore. It is hard to miss the temple from all parts of the city. The temple is an attraction for visitors both as a tourist spot as well as a religious destination.
The temple finds mention in the Skanda Purana and other old texts as the Trimurta Ksetra that is surrounded by eight hills. The hill atop which the temple is located was earlier known by the name Mahabaladri after the Mahabaleshwar temple of Lord Shiva. The Chamundeshwari temple is the oldest temple on the hills around Mysore.
The Hoysala rulers built the original shrine in the 12th century. The Vijayanagar rulers were thought to have constructed the temple tower in the 17th century. The temple has a huge flight of a thousand steps that lead up the hill that was built in 1659. On the 700th step is a huge Nandi made of granite. This Nandi is over 15 feet high and has exquisitely crafted bells around its neck. The Nandi is probably as famous as the temple itself and is a popular attraction.
The temple became famous when the Mysore Maharajas, the Wodeyars came to power in 1399 AD. As they were worshippers of Devi, they took on the temple deity as their own deity. The temple became prominent as the temple of the royals.
The original shrine was repaired by Krishnaraja Wodeyar III in 1827 AD. He also built the Gopuram or tower of the temple. It is built in the Dravidian style and as is usual with the design has a doorway, entrance, Navaranga hallway, Mantapa and a Sanctum Sanctorum as well as a Vimana atop it. The entry tower has seven Kalashas on an exquisite seven-tiered Gopuram. Krishnaraja Wodeyar also presented the temple with a lion-shaped car / Simha Vahana as well as other cars and jewels. These cars are still in use in the festivals and rituals at the temple.
About The Deity
The deity of the temple Goddess Chamundeshwari is the family deity of the temple of the Mysore Maharajas. She is known as the Goddess of the City of Mysore. Goddess Chamundeshwari is the form of Devi that killed the demons Chanda, Munda and Mahishasura. The Devi Mahatme features the Goddess as the chief subject of the narration. The Goddess Chamundeshwari is an incarnation of Parvati who is the consort of Lord Shiva.
The temple is also said to be one of the 18 Maha Shakti Peethams. Since the area was known by the name of Krouncha Puri in Puranic times, this temple is known as the Krouncha Peetham among the Shakti Peethams. The hair of Sati Devi is believed to have fallen at this spot.
The Legend Of Goddess Chamundeshwari
The Mythology of the temple states that there was a demon who was born of Rambh, a demon and Mahishi, a half woman-half buffalo. Rambh had obtained a boon that his son would be powerful and rule over the three worlds. His son Mahishasur was powerful and also obtained the boon of immortality from Lord Brahma. However, he soon began to misuse his power by terrorising the people. When all the Gods went to Lords Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva the three of them requested Devi Durga to slay the demon. She, in turn, took the form of the Goddess Chamundeshwari and was blessed with many powers and weapons by all the Gods. Devi Durga took on the mighty Asura Mahishasur in a battle for 9 days. She confronted and slew the Asura atop the Chamundi hill and then took up residence there to protect the people.
How To Reach The Temple
The Temple can be reached by road from the city of Mysore. It is 13 kilometres away from the city which is a drive of about 15 minutes. There are buses and taxis that ply to the temple from the city. Those who so desire can alight at the base of the hill and climb the stairs to the temple.
The Mysore Palace is the other main attraction in the city of Mysore. It is the official residence of the Wodeyars. Sections of the palace are open to the public. The best time to visit is during the Dusshera festival at which time the whole city celebrates a 10 long festival with many special rituals and attractions.
The other places of interest near the temple are the Narayanaswamy temples, Mahabaladri Temples as well as the Mahishasura and Nandi statues. There is also the Lalith palace that was built on a hilltop by the royal family. The palace also affords breathtaking views of the city of Mysore. This palace was constructed by Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV.