Mysore is the only city in the country to be named after a rakshasa. Mysore was originally called Mahishupura (Mahishasurana uru) as it was said have been the home of an asura (demon) named Mahishasura. Myth, legend and history surround not only the City but also its historic locations.
One such place is the Chamundi Hills, located 13 kms from the heart of Mysore city. Earlier, the main God of this hill was Mahabaleshwara (Eshwara/Shiva) and the hill was called Mahabaladrigiri. The self-manifested Shiva Linga found here came centuries before Chamundeshwari was installed. Later, it is said that Goddess Chamundi killed the Mahishasura and got the name Mahishasuramardhini (‘She who slew Mahishasur’a). When the Wadiyars came into power, Chamundeshwari became their family deity and regular pujas started here and hence the name Chamundi Hill stuck.
|courtesy Google Maps|
Chamundi hill is also known as Trimukuta Kshetra or three-peaked hill. The Hill is said be like the middle bud of a lotus surrounded by eight holy hills (see map: A. Chikkadevammana Betta in HD Kote, B. Gopalswamy Betta, C. Biligiri Rangana Betta, D. Malemadeshwara Betta, E. Kunti Betta, F. Yadugiri in Melkote, G. Mallayana Betta in Pandavpura and H. Karigatta in Srirangpatna.) like petals, hence the name Ashtadala Parvata (hill surrounded by eight petals). Another interesting aspect of this hill is that River Cauvery flows along north and Kapila along south, with Lord Shiva in between.
Wandering about and away from the main temple there are several little known temples on this sacred hill....
The original name of the hill, Mahabaladrigiri was derived from this temple. It is said that Shiva Linga here is self manifested and called as Aarsheya Murthy, meaning that the date of its establishment is not known. But some sources also state that the temple has been constructed in Chola style, and that it came into existence during the time of Hoysala King Vishnuvardhan.
The main deity, Lord Mahadeshwara, is located inside the temple in the form of Linga, along with subordinate deities Kashi Vishwanatha, Sapta Matrukeyaru (seven forms of Devi), Nataraja and Utsava Murthy Chandrashekara Swamy. Outside the temple are the five avtaras of Shiva – Sadyojata, Vamadeva, Aghora, Tatpurusha and Eeshana, installed by Nalvadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar. There are also three small shrines dedicated to Dakshina Murthy, Chandikesha and Durga inside the temple complex and an idol of Prasanna Ganapati adjacent to the main entrance of the temple.
Every year, there is Giraija Kalyana held sometime in Nov-Dec at this temple. An event called Andhakasura Samhara is also celebrated in Dhanur Masa, during which a rangoli is drawn in front of the temple and the Utsava Murthy of Shiva is taken procession on it, indicating the slaying of demon Andhakasura. The idol is made red by applying vermillion powder to indicate the fury of Shiva. Next day, the idol is taken on procession again to the same place indicating that Shiva is going to confirm whether the giant is dead or not. At this time, the idol of Shiva’s wife Parvathi is taken behind showing that she is trying to convince her husband that Andhakasura is dead and calling him back. Other rituals of this temple are the Shiva Deepa during Karthika Masa and Uyyalotsava.
This temple is located behind the Mahabaleshwara temple and is west-facing. Inside the temple, there is an idol of Narayanaswamy, Sridevi (Lakshmi) and Bhudevi (Mother Earth), all of which have been carved from a single stone. However, the idols of Sridevi and Bhudevi are very small and usually covered. The Utsavamurthy is facing north, and the idols of Ramanujacharya and Nammalvar are facing south. There are also idols of Ganapathi, Shiva Linga, Anjaneya and Kurma (turtle avtar of Vishnu). The temple compound houses a unique structure of Hanuman. It is said that a self manifested stone in shape of Hanuman has been growing here for the past 90 years. This idol is not clearly visible during the day and can be seen after dark in the light of a lamp. Legend has it that when Krishnaraja Wodayer came to this place, he asked the sculptor to break this idol thinking it was an ordinary stone. The sculptor hit it a few times with a hammer but was able to make just a hole. Later that night, Lord Hanuman appeared in his dreams and asked him not to break the stone and said that he was growing there. Maharani Tripura Sundari Devi, second wife of Jayachamarajendra Wodayer got silver Kavacha made for this idol. It has now been put up inside the Narayanaswamy temple and dates back to December 2, 1963. Another speciality of this idol is that while normally Hunuman idols face south, this particular idol faces north.
One noticeable feature of this temple is that it has no Dhwaja Stamba, the reason for this being that no three temples in the same place should have one, as it will come in the way of prosperity of the land. Since Mahabaleshwara and Chamundi Temples both have a Dhwaja Stamba, this temple was excluded.
The main rituals carried out in this temple are Vaikunta Ekadashi, Vishnu Deepa in Kartika Masa, Uyyalotsava, and special puja on all four Saturdays of Shravana Masa. During Udupotsava, the Utsava Murthy is taken on procession to various mantaps located on the hill where mahamangalarathi is done, and then taken to Devikere after which the idol is brought back. Four months, starting from Shayanekadashi (time when Lord Narayana goes to sleep) till Utthana Dwadshi (when Narayana wakes up), is of great importance to this temple.
Nandi (Dodda Basava):
The 16 feet high and 24 feet long monolith Nandi was installed by Dodda Devaraja Wodeyar in 1659. The significance of this Nandi is that, while Nandi everywhere faces Shiva, here and only here, Shiva faces east and Nandi faces south. There are said to be around 10 different Nandi idols around the hill installed by the Maharajas as protectors of their empire. Few of them are Neerkal Hatti Basava, Ulluri Basava, Kodi Basava and Kere Bali Basava.
Special pujas are done here during the Kartika Masa.
There is also a small Cave Shiva Temple adjacent to the Nandi which houses a Shiva Linga.
Jwala Tripura Sundari:
About 5kms from Chamundi Hills, there is a place called Uttanahalli which houses the temple of Jwala Tripura Sundari, sister of Chamundi. The idol of the goddess, said to be an avtar of Lakshmi is located little below the ground. Both the sisters are sitting facing each other with Chamundi facing east and Tripura Sundari facing west. The hillock on which this temple is located is called Ramanathagiri as the temple also houses the self-manifested idol of Ramanateshwara (Shiva Linga).
Every year, a festival known as Kanna Kannadi Utsava takes place here. In January, Mari Habba is celebrated in which animal is sacrificed to ease the temper of the goddess. Also, special pujas are carried out on all four Fridays of Ashada Masa.
On the way to Uttanahalli one also comes across Markandeya Ashram. It is a small and quite temple set in the middle of forest. Markhandeya is knowned to have worshiped Mahadeshwara here.
Deva Gange / Devikere:
On the way to the top of Chamundi Hill a board indicating way to Devikere leads to the Deva Gange. Story goes that once Ganga had gone to meet Brahma. Ganga is originally of milky white complexion but seeing her dark and ugly, Brahma asked what the matter was. Ganga explained that everyday people who have committed great sins come to her to wash off their crime and that she did not know what to do to wash it off from her. Brahma asked Ganga to offer prayer and serve Shiva situated here between Cauvery and Kapila to get eternal purity. Hence Ganga created Devikere here to worship Lord Shiva.
Every year during Dasara, Teppotsava takes place here.
Now the main temple of the hill, Chamundeshwari was the family deity of the Wodeyars and all the rituals carried by them have been retained till date. The Mahagopura in front of the temple was constructed 300 years ago by Mummudi Krishnaraja Wodeyar. It is said that the power of this Goddess is so immense that the areas in the direction faced by Chamundi gets very scanty rainfall but those behind have proper rainfall and water resources.
During Ashada Masa in Revati Nakshatra, the Maharajas installed the Ustava Murthy of this temple. Hence every year, on this day Vardhanti of the Devi (birth anniversary) is celebrated.
As one reaches the top of the Hill, they can see a 16ft statue of the buffalo demon Mahishasura which was installed by Krishnaraja Wodeyar. It is this very Rakshas that Chamundeswari killed before being established here. Usually, a sculptor gives eyes to his creation at the very end of his work. The sculptor of Mahishasura statue gave eyes to it the day before the inauguration was to be held. But tragedy was that he died the very night this was done. Such is the power of the statue it is said.
Other places of interest:
Kuntikallu Gudda – it is located to the North East of Nandi. When the Pandavas were banished to the forest, they passed through this hill for darshan of Shiva. When they all had gone out and Kunti was alone, it is said that she would play dice with stones here and hence the name.
Konanare- this is a place where Mahishasura would tie his buffalos and where Chamundi and Mahishasura duelled. The stones here are red in colour indicating stains of blood from the duel.
Chidambareshwara Temple – this temple is seen on the way to the top of the hill. A flight of steps lead down to the 100 year old temple. It houses the idol of Chidambareshwara and Chitkalamba and is open during Abhisheka, on Fridays and during Dasara. The temple was closed for about 20 years and was reopened very recently.
Kodi Linga – Earlier, when there would be plenty of rain, Devi Kere would overflow and form a lake near Uttanahalli. On the way there is a Linga which would drown due to the excess water. This Linga is called Kodi Linga. However, such rain has become an event of past now.
Nagatheertha – it is located inside the forest to the west of Nandi between Mysore and Nandi. Story is that, Nagaraja (King of Snakes) came and did penance here tor Matru Shapa Vimochane (deliverance from Mother’s curse) as Brahma had advised him that only Lord Shiva can relieve him from this curse.
Arkaleti Basava – this basava resides a little distance down from Nandi, between South and West. In olden days, if there was no rain on the hill for long, people would fill the well located here with stones and immerse Nandi in it and it would rain on the immediate next day.
On the way to the top of the hill one also comes across a Mantap. This was built in memory of Jambulingam Dwepa who made roads on Chamundi Hill and offers a panoramic view of Mysore city and the surrounding hill.
Pujas offered at Chamundi Hill during Dussera:
During the very famous Mysooru Dasara (Navratri) there will be nine alankaras for the Devi on each of the nine days. These avtaras are – Bramhi (Bramha’s wife Saraswathi), Mahaeshwari (Shiva’s wife), Vishnavi (Vishnu’s wife), Kaumari (Subrahmanya’s wife), Indrani (Indira’s wife Shachi), Chandi and Varahi (Narayana’s wife). The eight day will be Durgashtami and last will be Kalaratri. On the last day, the Devi will be dressed in white sari with red border with her hair completely scattered. Smoke from dhoop will be filled inside the temple giving only a partial view of the goddess. Earlier, a thread would be tied to the toe of the Devi with the other end tied to a goat kept outside the temple. It is said that as the screen of the goddess would be opened, the goat would die instantly. However this ritual is not being carried out now.
This is the story of the places located only on Chamundi Hill. To get to know the stories behind each of the places in Mysore, it may take even a lifetime. It is the only city in the country where a Khasa Durbar takes place (during Navratri). Such is the speciality of the Royal City of Mysore.
(Published in Star Of Mysore dated Sept. 4, 2010)