In India, just as a person’s name usually has a symbolic meaning, names given to places also have a meaning behind them. Chamundi Hills in Karnataka are named after the Goddess Chamundeshwari.
The hills lie at a height of about 1000 meters above sea level and are 13 km east of Mysore. The Chamundeshwari Temple dedicated to the Goddess after whom the hills are named is the highlight of this place.
The Chamundi Legend
According to popular legends, many years ago, a buffalo demon named Mahishasura was wreaking havoc in heaven and earth. He had been gifted a boon by Brahma that he could be killed by no man.
For this reason, Mahishasura was slowly winning every battle he started. The Gods found a loophole to Brahma’s boon and goddess Durga was given divine powers to make her stronger than Mahishasura.
Goddess Chamundeshwari is a form of Durga. With her new powers and a lion as her vehicle, she fought Mahishasura atop a hill for ten days and finally killed him.
In her honor, the hill was named as Chamundi Hill. This day is celebrated throughout India as Dasara and symbolizes the victory of good over evil.
Sightseeing In and Around Chamundi Hills
The Chamundeshwari Temple
The Chamundeshwari Temple is the biggest attraction of this area. This temple sits on the top of the main Hill and can be reached by a series of 1008 stone stairs. The temple houses a statue of Mahishasura with a sword in one hand and a cobra in the other.
A sculpted statue of Chamundeshwari sits in the temple’s sanctum. The Goddess is portrayed in a cross-legged posture with her right heel pressed against the 7th chakra. It is believed that anyone who can master this yogic posture will have a deeper insight into the universe.
The Nandi Bull
This is one of the oldest icons of Mysuru. Halfway up the hill is a statue of a bull. This is Nandi, Shiva’s vehicle. The statue is 7.6 m long and 4.9 m tall. It is carved out of single black granite rock. This status was commissioned by Dodda Devaraja Wodeyar and portrays the Nandi bull in a seated position with the left foreleg folded upwards as if the bull were about to get up.
This is the oldest temple on the Chamundi hills. It dates back to 950AD. Before the Chamundi temple became popular, the Chamundi hills were called Mahabaladri in honor of this temple.
The temple features workmanship of three dynasties including the Hoysalas and the Cholas. It houses images of the Sapta Matrikas, Parvathi, Nataraja, Bhairava, Bhiikshatana Shiva and Vishnu. It also has statues of Mahishamardhini and Dakshina Murthy.
The Godly Museum is a divinity themed museum located opposite the Chamundi hills bus stop. It has a series of spiritual paintings on display that stimulates self-introspection.
Kishkinda Moolika Bonsai Garden
The Kishkinda Moolika Bonsai Garden has a collection of over 450 miniature trees. It was established in 1986 and is spread over 4 acres. The garden also houses a deer park.
Trekking In The Chamundi Hills
The top of the hill offers a panoramic view of the Mysore Palace, smaller temples and the Karanji Lake. This is one of the reasons why the hills are very popular with trekkers.
The steps are easier to climb than going cross country though the latter offers beautiful views at every step of the way. The best time to start a trek up the hills is in the early morning.
How To Reach Chamundi Hills
Chamundi hills are well connected by road to Mysore and Nanjangud. One may choose to travel by car, taxi or bus. Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation from Mysore to the Hills run every 20 minutes.
Mysore is the closest railway station. This is at a distance of 13 km. Buses and taxis ply regularly to the hills from here.
Tourists coming in from other parts of Karnataka and India can fly into Bangalore. From Bangalore, Chamundi Hills is about 160 km.