The famous Chamundeshwari Temple is located at the top of Chamundi hills, Karnataka, 13 kms from the Mysore Palace. It has been named after the Goddess Durga, a fierce form of Shakti or power.
History Behind the Chamundeshwari Temple
This holy place has a unique significance to it as it has been built at the site where Satis’ hair fell.
The daughter of King Daksha (Son of Lord Brahma) Sati, married Lord Shiva against the wishes of her father. Once Daksha organized a yajna in which everybody except Sati and Shiva was invited.
Adamant to attend the Yajna held by her father, she proceeded alone against the wishes of Shiva. To her surprise, she was humiliated and disrespected by her father. Listening to the insults of her husband Shiva by her father, she became furious. She blamed herself for her husbands’ disrespect, so in rage and about her fathers’ wrongdoing, she immolated herself.
Grief-stricken, and ferocious at the loss of Sati, Lord Shiva picked up the charred body on his shoulders and began the tandava.
Tandava is known as the dance of destruction, and it was a threat to the entire universe. The Gods panicked and appealed to Lord Vishnu to intervene as Shiva gave up on his responsibilities and duties.
The Gods and the Goddesses feared that Shiva would destroy the universe in his rage. So, Lord Vishnu intervened, and with his chakra, he severed the body of Sati into multiple pieces.
The body parts of Sati fell on numerous places, and wherever the body parts fell, those places were converted into holy shrines by devotees. The holy places with the parts of Sati have now been converted into temples, by devotees, over the years. The temples are now known as Shaktipeethas.
The Chamundeshwari temple is one of the 18 Maha Shaktipeethas. It is believed that the hair of Sati Devi fell here when Shiva outraged in anger and distress carried her charred body on her shoulders. The Chamundeshwari Devi Shaktipeetha is known as Krouncha Pitham, as in olden times, the place was known as Krouncha Puri.
History and Architecture
The temple has been standing tall for centuries and has been built in the Dravidian style architecture. It is in the shape of quadrangular shape. The shrine was originally built in the 12th century by the Hoysala rulers. The Vijayanagar rulers built the tower of the temple in the 17th century.
In the year 1659, one thousand steps were built that lead to the 3000-foot summit. The temple consists of several images of Nandi, which represents the bull mount of Shiva. The 1000 steps to the temple, have been built by Dodda Devaraja Wodeyar in the year 1659.
On the 700th step, you can find Nandi in front of the Shiva temple. The grand Nandi statue is over 15 ft. high and has a 24ft. long neck, which is surrounded by exquisite bells. The gigantic structure of Nandi was erected during the reign of Dodda Devaraja Wodeyar. Apart from the magnificent figures of the Gods, you will get to see 7 “kalashas at the top of the tower.
The impressive seven-tier tower is known as the ‘gopura’ or ‘gopuram.’ The exquisite entrance of the temple attracts a lot of attention to the visitors as it has silver gates, which provide a glimpse of the royal past.
Initially, the temple was under the Mysore rulers, and it got it present form due to the expansions offered by the Maharajas of Mysore.
Interesting Facts About the Chamundeshwari Temple
• The temple is an abode for various Gods. When you enter the temple, you can notice the idol of Lord Ganesha. Lord Ganesha is considered to be the remover of all the obstacles. While proceeding further ahead, you will come across a statue of Nandi right in front of the sanctum sanctorum. Just very close to the holy chamber, you can also see an image of Lord Hanuman.
• The locals believe that by climbing the steps of the temple, people can get rid of the past sins. Climbing so many steps to the top of the temple is very challenging, and if you can make it to the top on your own that it is will be a great thing in itself.
The murti of Nandi in Chamundeshwari Devi Temple is the largest in India.
The temple was said to have been built almost 600 years ago. In 1573 Chamaraja Wadiyar was offering prayers when he was struck by lightning, and it almost burnt his hair. After that incident, he was called by the people as Bald Chamaraja Wadiyar.
It is believed, and instead, it sounds true that he was saved by the Goddess herself as he was devotedly offering his prayers or else how can someone stay alive after such a horrific event!
Significance of Mahishasura
While going for the Chamundi hilltop, you get to see a gigantic idol of Mahishasura, and there is a story behind the connection between the Mahishasura and Chamundeshwari Devi. As the tales say, Mahisha Asura stands tall at the top of the 1,000 mt. tall hill, where the Devi slew him.
Mahishasura is a Sanskrit word that consists of 2 words Mahisha and Sura. So Mahisha means buffalo, and asura means demon. Long ago an asura or demon named Rambha was on a walk, in his path, he came across a beautiful she-buffalo. He was immediately attracted to her and desired for her. With the communion of the asura and the she-buffalo, they were blessed with a son who was named Mahishasura.
Upon growing up, Mahishasura became the King of the Asuras. Just like the custom of the Asuras, Mahisha wanted to prosecute upon the cousins- Devas. But, asura knew that to secure victory over the Devas, he must be the most powerful out of the rest. To become the strongest, he resorted to the mountains to dedicate his time to a rigorous penance. He devotedly and rigorously prayed to the creator of all the living creatures- Lord Brahma.
Content and happy with the devotion of Asura Lord Brahma appeared and asked for what he desired. The Mahishasura prayed to be immortal. The Lord replied it to be impossible, as every creation is destined to be dead.
So, Mahishasura thought of demanding not to die of the hands of me, even the trinity. He believed that women are weak and powerless and cannot fight a man, so, also, if he not granted the blessing of being immortal, he will be as powerful and good as an immortal. Although Lord Brahma warned him of his fate to be killed by a woman, he was so filled with the ego that he ignored everything.
Mahishasura began amassing a great army to fight battles and began invading all the neighboring kingdoms. Mahishasura became the overlord of the complete earth, and he wanted to step towards the greater destruction, his ultimate goal to win over the heavens. He envied the Devas, resting in the heavens in ease. He was filled with ego with his blessings received from Brahma, and we wanted to wage war against the Devas.
Devas knew about the blessing of Lord Brahma and resorted to him to seek advice to get rid of the Mahishasura. The Lord asked them to visit Shiva to find a solution and then to Vishnu. The Devas, along with the trinity waged war against the Mahishasura, and everything was in vain. Not only did the Gods lose the battle, but they also fled the place.
So, Vishnu decided to create a woman with the best of abilities to bring the end to Mahishasura. With this, the Goddess was born with the best of all the Gods.
The Goddess on her tiger marched towards the capital of Amravathi, which was the capital city of Indra.
Hearing the uproar, Mahishasura became curious to know who it was, and realizing it was a woman; he sent his people to bring her inside. Mahishasura was interested in making her his wife. After convincing the Goddess a lot, and when everything was useless, he decided to fight against the Devi swollen in pride.
The Devi even warned the Asura that death waited for him if he did not stop troubling the Devas to leave the abode of Indra. Ignorant to what was told to him, he drew forth an arrow and a bow to begin the battle. The Goddess nullified all the attacks made by the Asura with the bow and arrow. Asura changed its form to an elephant, and then it was attacked by the lion on his head. To save himself from the tiger, he turned his shape into a serpent, looking at which Devi again struck him with a sword.
Now, Asura took his form as a buffalo, and Goddess Devi used the clone of Sudarsana Chakra given by Vishnu to kill Mahishasura, which eventually beheaded him and lead to his death. So, it was the hands of Durga, Mahishasura was killed.
The statue you come across while climbing up to the top of Chamundi hill is of Mahishasura, carrying a snake and a sword.
The Chamundi Devi is known for her strength, courage, and divine quality of triumphing over the evil powers of the Asuras. She destroyed Mahisha Asura, and the won the battle by cutting off his head.