Male Mahadeshwara Hills is situated about 150 km from Mysore and about 210 km from Bengaluru and is a sacred place, with its famous Shiva temple. Mahadeswara, as lord Shiva is called in this place, is a deity worshiped by one and all in the surrounding places. It is a very famous Shaiva pilgrim centre. It draws lakhs of pilgrims from the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The Lord Sri Mahadeshwara s miracles are beautifully sung by village folk in the janapada style. According to tradition there are seven hills identified in the puranas as Anumale, Jenumale, Nagamale, Kanumale, Pachchemale, Pavalamale, Ponnachimale and Kongumale. All these hills form Male Mahadeshwara Hills. Amidst dense forest, the temple attracts not only the pilgrims but also nature lovers. So today, let us have a look at this beautiful place.
Mahadeshwara is the family God of the hill tribals Soligas, Jenu Kurubas, Kadu Kurubas and Kuruba Gowdas of Mysore and Chamarajnagar districts. But, historical evidences suggest that saint Mahadeshwara must have lived during the 15th century. Further, he was the third head of the Haradanahalli Math. About 600 years ago, Sri Mahadeshwara Swami came here to perform penance and it is believed that he is still performing penance in the temple s Garbha Gudi in the form of Linga. The Linga, worshipped now in the Garbha Gudi, is a self developed (Swayambhu) one. As legend has it. Sri Male Mahadeshwara Swami moved on a tiger known as Huli Vahana (Tiger as a vehicle) and performed a number of miracles around the hills to save the people and saints living here. The area of the temple surroundings is 155.57 acres (0.6296 km2). In addition, the temple has lands at Talabetta, Haleyuru and Indiganatha Villages. The temple was built by a rich Kuruba Gowda landlord called Junje Gowda. A pilgrimage to Male Mahadeswara temple also includes a holy dip in the "antaragange", a stream flowing from a perennial source.
The professional singers of the epic story of Lord Mahadeshwara are called "Devara Guddas" (God s children) and Kamsaleyavaru (those singers who keep time with Kamsale" --bronze cymbals). They belong to the Halumatha Kuruba Gowda community and are initiated into this profession very early in their lives and after initiation; they are required to lead a much disciplined life, as prescribed by tradition. The song and dance routine is called Kamsale. Also known as Kurubara Devaru - Badawara devaru Madappa. "Chellidaru Malligeya" is a famous folk song that describes the devotion, worship of lord Mahadeshwara.
The epic story of Mahadeshwara has seven parts. The outer structure of the epic resembles the pan-Indian Ramayana: Shiva incarnates himself on earth as Madeshwara to destroy an evil king called Shravanasura ( The Hero as Saviour motif). The epic has seven parts; and, normally, only certain parts are sung as dictated by the taste of the audience or patron. However, the entire epic is sung by pilgrims on their way to the annual fair on the Madheshwara -hill; and it may last for seven consecutive nights. The first part narrates the immaculate birth, childhood, and instruction of Mahadeshwara.
Apart from being a pilgrimage, Male Mahadeshwara Hills possesses natural beauty in the form of large tracts of forest area. The beautiful landscapes of hills and valleys are covered with extensive forests. These forest types vary from evergreen forests in Ponnachi Boli to Dry deciduous forests in most other parts. Male Mahadeshwara Hills is bound by river Kaveri to the north-east and by river Palar to the south. Thus, it forms an extremely important catchment area for both these rivers.
The forests of Male Mahadeshwara Hills have been famous for wonderful regeneration and stock of sandalwood and bamboo. The forests are inhabited by a variety of animals, birds and reptiles. They are found in large numbers too. Elephants are the most prominent species. This last estimate puts the population of elephants at more than 2500 in the district, which includes Bandipur National Park too. Frequent sightings of guars (Indian Bison), sambars, spotted deer, jackals, sloth bears, porcupine, etc., apart from rare sightings of tigers, leopards and wild dogs are possible in and around this area. The Male Mahadeshwara Reserve Forests has an approximate area of 39361.45 ha and has few small villages like Ponnachi, Male Mahadeshwara Hills, Kombadikki, Kokkebore, Doddane, Tokere, Tholsikere, Palar, Gopinatham, Indiganatham, etc., as enclosures within the reserve forests.
By Air: No direct air connection. Nearest airport is in Bengaluru (which is located at a distance of some 210 kms)
By Rail: No direct railway stations. Nearest railheads is at Mysore (which is located at a distance of some 140 kms)
By Road: Male Mahadeshwar Hills is accessible only by road. There are many private and public transport facilities that take one directly to the place.