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“Mahisshasurana Ooru” is the expansion of the word Mysore and it means Mahishasura’s town. Mythologically it is said that Goddess Chamundeshwari killed the demon named Mahishasura on the top of the Chamundi Hills close to Mysore. Mysore was ruled by the Wodeyar family since the 14th century except in the later 18th century when Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan took over the Mysore dynasty for a span of 40 years. Mysore is considered to be the hub of heritage and culture of Karnataka and at present it is also found to convert into a burgeoning town that is very good at trade and technology. The city is growing very quickly and it is also taking a new phase with the upgrades that it is making in every sphere. There is no doubt in the fact that Mysore has several historical features but the city is also making positive efforts in modern development and expansion in a grand manner. The palaces and the Temples in Mysore speak about the rich heritage and the culture of the city in the ancient times. They also speak about the quality of benefaction that Mysore received in the hands of its rulers.
The city is truly a city of palaces, gardens and most importantly of sacred temples that play a very important role in setting up the heritage of this city. It is only because of its festivities and its palaces and gardens that Mysore is able to draw a large number of tourists every year.
Mysore - The Temple City
Thousands of people all over the world are of the view that Mysore is the “City of palaces” but there are a large number of sacred temples also found in Mysore. Mysore was previously under the rule of the Maharajas constituting the royal families and these royal families were very religious. They had a strong belief in their God and it is only because of this reason that they built a large number of temples, renovated them and also expanded the ones that were already built. Most of the temples in Mysore are found located around the Mysore palaces and within the fort. Few temples in Mysore are said to exist before the rule of the Wodeyars while some were built during the reign of the Wodeyars. There are many important temples in Mysore namely the Chamundeshwari temple, the Lakshmiramanaswamy temple, the Prasanna Krishanswamy Temple, the Shwetavarahaswamy Temple, Bhuvaneshwari Temple and the Trineswaraswamy Temple. All these temples are within the Mysore fort except the Chamundeshwari temple which is located on top of the Chamundi Hills. Most of the temples are located within the Mysore fort in order to allow easy access for daily prayers of the members of the royal family. An elaborate description of some of the most important Temples in Mysore has been provided below:
Chamundeshwari Temple Mysore
The Chamundeshwari temple is considered to be the most important of all the Temples in Mysore. This temple is located atop the Chamundi Hills near Mysore and goddess Chamundi is the presiding deity at the temple. The temple is a dedication to goddess Chamundi who killed the demon named Mahishasura. Previously the temple was very small but during the reign of the Wodeyars in Mysore, the temple was renovated and at present it stands as one of the grand temples in Mysore. In the olden times, animal and human sacrifices were made regularly at the temple but they were completely banned in the 18th century.
Structure of the Temple: The temple possesses a structure that is quadrangular and a pyramid tower or Gopura at its entrance. Dravidian style in art and architecture has been used in the temple which has been designed quite intricately. The doorway of the temple is silver-plated and it consists of a small statue of Ganesha along with the images of different forms of the Goddess. On climbing some steps, one will find a flagstaff, the Goddesses’ footprints and even a small statue of Nandi.
Main Hall of the Temple: The main hall of the temple consists of the statue of the Goddess made out of stone along with the statue of Maharaja Krishnarajasagara Wodeyar III. The statue is six foot high and is found standing with its hands folded and in religious attire. The statue shows the king standing with his three wives with their names encrypted on the pedestal.
The top of the main hall possess a Vimana which is a small tower that is visible from the exteriors of the temple. There were many precious gifts gifted to the temple by the Wodeyar rulers and they are still found in the temple premises. In 1827, the temple was renovated by Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar and he also order the construction of an enormous tower on the temple. A chariot made out of wood was gifted to the temple by Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar which is called the Simha Vahana and is used during the car festival in Mysore known as Rathotsava. Location: Chamundeshwari Temple Chamundi Hill Road Mysore, Karnataka 570010
Mahabaleshwara Temple Mysore
There are many people who do not know that the Mahabaleshwara Temple in Mysore is also located on the Chamundi Hills and it is a temple that is found to be older than the Chamundeshwari Temple. The Mahabaleshwara temple was considered to be very important in the past but with the emergence of the Chamundeshwari temple, it started losing its importance.
After the rulers of the Wodeyar dynasty started patronizing the Chamundeshwari temple, the prominence of the Mahabaleshwara temple started declining. Mahabala Thirtha is the lord of the Mahabaleshwara temple and previously the Chamundi Hills was called Mahabaladri after the Lord at the temple. Chamundi Hills got its name recently after the origin of the Chamundeshwari temple on the hill top. This temple is not able to attract a large number of devotees every year because it is located towards the south of the Chamundeshwari temple and often people are not able to get a proper view of the temple. Historically, it has been proved that the temple also existed during the reign of the Gangas in Mysore.
The records of the temple are very old and they date back to 950 A.D. The temple was expanded by the Hoysala King Vishnuvardhana. It is supposed that the kind added the Nava Ranga and the Ardh Mantapa in the temple which did not exist previously. Both the structures possess pillars that are lathe-turned as is found in the other Hoysala temples. The interiors of the temple have been decorated with attractive images of Nataraja, Bhairavi, Parvathi and Sapta Matrikas. The interior of the temple has been built using the Hoysala style and the image of Vishnu is inspired from the Ganga period.
The Prasanna Krishanswamy Temple was built by Krishnaraja Wodeyar III and is dedicated to the founder of the Yadu dynasty that is Lord Krishna. In 1825, the construction of the temple started and the temple was completed in 1829. The king gifted the temple with 40 statues made of bronze and they portrayed saints, Gods and Goddesses. The name of Krishnaraja Swamy Wodeyar is found inscribed along with the name of the statue. Sage Atri’s figure is found enshrined in a cell and is found in the temple enclosure or the prakara. The sage’s figure is found installed because the sage is the gotra-rishi of Maharaja Krishnaraja Swamy Wodeyar. Ramanujacharya’s shrine consists of stone figures that are very small and the figures are of Rajamannar, Anathasayana and Paravasudeva. The Nava Ranga consists of beautiful murals decorated on the walls and they represent some stories from the epic Bhagvat which is related to Krishna.
The murals in the temple and the ones which are found in the Varahaswamy temple are perfect examples of the exceptional and distinctive paintings of the 19th century. The central hall of the temple possess a beautiful statue of Lord Krishna in a crawling stance. The statue of Lord Krishna is made out of chlorite schist having a butterball in his hand and possessing a childish expression. The Krishna Janmashtami celebrations are very grand at the temple which gets over with a religious procession on the eighth day.
Lakshmiramana Swamy Temple Mysore
The Lakshmiramana Swamy Temple is considered to be an inscription found at Banni Mantapa and it comes as a grant for God Lakshmiramana in 1499 by the King of Vijayanagara, Narasa Nayaka. There is also an inscription found within the temple which speaks about the renovation of the temple on 30th November, 1851 by Krishnaraja Wodeyar. Krishnaraja Wodeyar renovated the tower that was found over the main entrance known as the Mahaswara. The temple consists of a statue of maharaja Wodeyar on the right hand side of the Prakara and the statue is 2 feet high. Nambinarayana who is considered as one form of Vishnu is the presiding deity in the temple. The central hall of the temple possess a statue of Nambinarayana holding a conch and a discus. One will also find a cell on the right hand side which holds the statue of Goddess Lakshmi, his consort. The temple also possesses a beautiful statue of Lord Venugopala which is 4 feet high.