The legend of Chamundi and Mahisuru (Mysore)

According to hindu mythology, there once lived a powerful Asur (demon) who could change form from a human to a buffalo. Myth has it that Mahishasur was born of the union of a demon Rambh and Mahishi, a cursed half woman half buffalo. Rambh had obtained a boon from Agni, the God of fire, to have a powerful son who would rule over the three worlds and so Mahishasur was born. When he came of age he obtained a boon of immortality from Lord Brahma, the creator, and soon captured heaven and earth, terrorising the Gods. The Gods, left with little recourse, took refuge at the mercy of the supreme trinity of Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu who seeing the plight of the Gods directed Goddess Durga to slay the demon. She incarnated as Chamundeshwari, a powerful being blessed with multiple limbs and armed with numerous weapons and powers bestowed by all the Gods combined. She fought Mahishasura and his demon army for nine continuous days slaying the demonic army one by one and eventually killing the powerful demon king Mahishasura at the top of the Chamundi hill. To safeguard the people she resided atop the hill which overlooks the kingdom ‘Mahishasurana Ooruu’, which in the local Kanada language means the ‘abode of Mahishasur’. For centuries to this day she is worshiped at the top of this hill on whose foothills rests the city of ‘Mahishasurana Ooruu’ or ‘Mahishuru’ in short. From the city one can see the imposing backdrop of the Chamundi hills with the temple at its peak. The temple was built by King Vishnuvardana of the Hoysala dynasty and later enhanced by the subsequent rulers of the Vijaynagara and the Wodeyar dynasties that ruled the land. The prominent temple tower with a pyramidal shape was constructed by King Krishnaraja Wodeyar III in 1825-26. A one thousand granite steps from the bottom of the hill to the temple at the summit were also carved by the Wodeyars for the pilgrims to reach the summit easily in those days. Along the steps one will come across an imposing stone statue of the bull Nandi, the mount of Lord Shiva.

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Chamundi Hills in Mysore, Karnataka.
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The City of Mysore on the foothills of Chamundi
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The temple of Goddess Chamundeshwari in Chamundi hills

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Monolith statue of Nandi the bull, measuring 16 ft high and 25 ft long.

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This is the mythical legend of the Kingdom called ‘Mahisuru’ which latter got anglicized into Mysore with the coming of the British. Presently one of the main cities of the State of Karnataka in southern India, much of the present city of Mysore owes its existence to the Wodeyars, who initially were the feudatories of the Vijayanagara dynasty but assumed power in Mysore in 1399 AD after the latter’s decline in the southern region. An impressive richly ornamented City palace of the Wodeyars stands today around the periphery of which the city of Mysore has grown into a modern city.

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The City palace in Mysore, Karnataka

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