malE mahAdEshwarA temple, MM Hills, Karnataka, 120114

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The malE mahAdEshwara temple

is the Wiki entry for this beautiful temple, near which we stayed as part of the first Cauvery Wild Life Sanctuary (CWLS) survey, from 10th to 12th January, 2014.

Chandra Shikara:

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(Shiva is known as Chandra Shekhara, One Who Holds the Moon Atop His Head, so I found this image appropriate!)

I’ll be writing about the Survey, and our adventures during, and after it….but to me, one of the bonuses of participating in such surveys is the opportunity to know this land of mine, her people, and her heritage, a little better.

Male Mahadeshwara Hills (Kannada: ಮಲೆ ಮಹದೇಶ್ವರ ಬೆಟ್ಟ) is a pilgrim town located in the Kollegal taluk of Chamarajanagar district of southern Karnataka. It is situated at about 150 km from Mysore and about 210 km from Bengaluru

click here for info about MM Hills.

Now…the Maley Mahadeshwara temple….apparently,this is not a temple to a god, but a human saint!

The temple complex was built by a rich Kuruba Gowda landlord called Junje Gowda.According to legend, Lord Male Mahadeshwara was born in the Kaliyuga to a fair coloured virgin woman known as Uttarajamma. In his boyhood, he has spiritually guided by the then pontiff of Suttur Mutt and Kunthur Mutt. The young saint is supposed to have come from Srishaila to this part of the state. He is said to have performed several miracles, living in the dense forest area surrounded by seventy sevehills in seven circles. Six centuries ago, it was not a safe place for human habitation. The young saint went in to the forest area, to save the saints who were performing penance and were taken captive by an evil king known as Shravana who possessed powers of black magic.

Shiva-Parvathi:

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Three chariots:

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The chariots are pushed into the temple at dusk:

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The professional singers of the epic story of Lord Mahadeshwara are called “Devara Guddas” (God’s mountain) and ‘Kamsaleyavaru’ (those singers who keep time with ‘Kamsale” –bronze cymbals). The song and dance routine is called Kamsale.

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Kamsale putting their Sloth Bear caps on people’s heads to bless them, and ask for money:

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Kamsale is closely connected with a tradition of Shiva worship. The artistes are drawn from the Haalumatha Kuruba Gowda community and are initiated into this profession very early in their lives and after initiation, they are required to lead a very discipllined life, as prescribed by tradition. Only those who have vowed to live a life of devotion to Mahadeshwara are supposed to perform kamsale. The dance is a part of a ‘deeksha’ or oath and is taught by a teacher or spiritual leader. Kamsale artists are illiterates and have no printed literature. They learn those songs orally. They participate in fairs, which are held in Mahadeshwara hills during ‘Diwali’, ‘Shivaratri’ and ‘Ugadi’ festivals.[3] Hence, Mahadeshwara is also known as Kurubara Devaru or Badawara devaru Madappa
“Chellidaru Malligeya” is a famous folk song that describes the devotion and worship of lord Mahadeshwara.

There are a lot of shops in the temple courtyard.

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We went looking at the brassware:

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Here are the bells for cattle (gejjE):

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Votive torches are lit and carried around:

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Another view of the temple:

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and at night:

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My country is dotted with such treasures…

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