Chamundeshwari Devi temple is one of the Ashta Dasha Shakthi Peethas, also known as Maha Shakthi Peetha. At the temple, Devi Sati’s hair had fallen. Here Devi Sati is worshipped as Chamundeshwari. This Shakthi Peetha is also known as Krouncha Peetham. The temple was earlier known as Krouncha Puri.
The temple is located on a hill top in Mysore city, Karnataka and is about 13 kms from Mysore Palace. There is good road connectivity. State government operates regular bus services to the hill top. Nearest railway station is the Mysore station. From railway station, people have to take buses or hire private vehicles to reach the temple. The temple is at a height of 3489 feet. There are also 1000 steps leading to the temple. These steps were built by Dodda Devaraj Wodeyar in 1659. The hill top provides a panoramic view of the entire Mysore city.
Other places of tourist interest
On the hill top is the Mahabaladri or Mahabaleshwara temple, one of the oldest temples (built prior to the Hoysala rule- 12th century AD) dedicated to Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva is in Linga form in the temple. The other temple is the Lakshmi Narayanaswamy temple on the hill top. There is also the Lalithadri Palace which was used by the Maharajahs of Mysore when they visited the Chamundi hills. Lalithadri Palace was built during the reign of Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV.
Another temple is the Maramma temple located to the south of Chamundeshwari temple facing north. A small shrine dedicated to Lord Hanuman while descending the 1000 steps can also be seen. While proceeding to the temple, the huge statue of the demon, Mahishasura attracts the visitors. This statue was built by Dodda Devaraja Wodeyar in 1659.
St Philomena’s Church, the Mysore Palace, Lalitha Mahal Palace Krishnaraja Sagar Dam, and Mysore zoo are some of the other important tourist attractions.
The Temple and its History
Chamundeshwari temple is an ancient temple, about 1000 years old. The three dynasty rulers namely, Vishnuvardhana of the Hoysala dynasty during 12th Century, Vijayanagara rulers during 17th Century and Mysore rulers have made significant contributions to the temple. The initial temple, a small structure was built in 12th Century by Hoysala rulers. The temple was renovated and gained prominence after Wodeyars, the Mysore Maharajas came to power in 1399 AD.
Half way to the temple, on the 800th step is a beautiful black monolith 16 foot statue of Nandi, carved in granite. The beautiful carved statue was gifted by Dodda Devaraj Wodeyar in 1659. Mysore Maharajas were ardent worshippers of Chamundeshwari Devi. Devi Chamundeshwari also became their home deity.
The temple is a quadrangle structure built in Dravidian style of architecture. The temple consists of the main doorway, entrance, Navaranga Hall, Antharala Mantapa, Sanctum Sanctorum, and Prakara.
There is a seven tier Gopura, or Pyramid tower at the entrance with intricate carvings and a small tower, Vimana Gopura atop the sanctum Sanctorum. There are seven golden Kalashas on top of the “Shikara” at the main entrance. The gopura was built by Krishna Raja Wodeyar in 1827 AD and the shrine was renovated. There is an image of Lord Ganesha at the entrance on the doorway. The doorway at the entrance is silver plated and has the images of goddesses carved in different forms. There are dwarapalakas on either side of the doorway. Inside the temple is a small image of Lord Ganesha on the right side. Then there are few steps leading to a flag post, where foot prints of the goddess and an image of Nandi facing the sanctum Sanctorum is seen. There is also an image of Lord Hanuman attached to a wall on the right side. At the entrance of the Sanctum Sanctorum are two dikpalakas, Nandini and Kamalini. In the “Antharala”, prior to the Sanctum Sanctorum are the images of Lord Ganesha on the left side and an image of Lord Bhairava on the right side. A six foot image of Krishna Raja Wodeyar III in a standing position with hands folded can also be seen. On his either side are his three wives, Ramavilasa, Lakshmivilasa, and Krishnavilasa whose names are carved on the pedestal. Small images of gods and goddess can also be seen in the “Prakara” which are worshipped.
There is an incident when Chamaraja Wodeyar, an ardent devotee of the goddess was miraculously saved, when he was stuck by a lightning on his way to the temple. Krishna Raja Wodeyar gifted a Simha Vahana (a lion shaped vehicle) used during car festivals and other religious occasions. The Mysore Maharajas have gifted a number of valuable jewellery to the deity.
At the Chamundeshwari Devi temple, Chamundeshwari is worshipped as the incarnation of Parvati. She is also worshipped in the Shakthi form the slayer of demons “Chanda” and “Munda” and also “Mahishasura”, the buffalo headed demon. Chamundeshwari Devi is the tutelary (guardian) deity of Mysore. She is also the presiding deity of Mysore. The temple also has a jewel –Nakshatra Malike (diamond studded necklace) with 30 Sanskrit shlokas inscribed on it. Inside the sanctum the deity made of stone is in a sitting position. The goddess has ashta bhujas or eight shoulders. Sage Markandeya installed the image at the temple.
The glory of Chamundeshwari Devi in narrated in Srimad Devi Bhagvatha which is composed by Sage Vyasa. Srimad Devi Bhagvatha consisting of 18000 stanzas describes Chamundeswari as a manifestation of Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva and the all powerful Shakthi of the universe.
There is a mention in Skanda Purana about a place called “Trimuta Kshetra” surrounded by eight hills. Chamundi Hills is one of the eight hills. The hills were referred to as Mahabaladri hills in earlier days.
Another reference is that Chamundeshwari Devi killed the demon, Mahishasura on the Chamundi hills.
Rituals, Festivals and Fairs
Goddess Chamundeshwari Devi is decorated and worshipped daily. Earlier human and animal sacrifices were offered to the goddess. However, since 18th century, only coconuts, fruits and flowers are offered to the goddess, with a complete ban on human and animal sacrifices. Tuesdays and Fridays are considered auspicious for worshipping the deity.
The temple is open for darshan from 7.30 am to 2.00 pm, 3.30 pm to 6.00 pm and from 7.30 pm to 9.00 pm. Ashada Shukravara (the last Friday of the month of Ashada, July- August) is considered very auspicious for seeking the blessings of the deity.
Dasara is celebrated with great fervour during Ashvija masa ( Sep- Oct). Mysore Dasara is celebrated as state festival. Special poojas and yagnas are performed for Chamundeswari Devi during Navaratri. During Navaratri, Chamundeshwari Devi is worshipped as Nava Shakthi in nine different forms. During Dasara festival, Mysore city draws people from all over the country and abroad every year. Mysore Palace illumination during Dasara is a major tourist attraction. Jambo savari on Vijayadashmi day is a big draw among people. On Vijayadashmi day, a procession is taken out, where in an elephant carries the idol of Chamundeshwari Devi in a 700 kg golden howdah. (in the earlier days, the Mysore Maharajah would be carried in the golden howdah. Since the passing away of the Mysore Maharajah, idol of Chamundeshwari Devi is carried in the golden howdah)
Devi Chamundeshwari is believed to fulfil all the desires of her worshippers.