Male Mahadeshwara Hills
|Male Mahadeshwara Hills
ಮಲೆ ಮಹದೇಶ್ವರ ಬೆಟ್ಟ
Mahadeshwara Temple at Male Mahadeshwara Hills
|Time zone||IST (UTC+5:30)|
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. The ancient and sacred temple of Sri Male Mahadeshwara is a very popular Shaiva pilgrim centre. It draws lakhs of pilgrims from the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The area of the present temple surroundings is 155.57 acres (0.6296 km2). In addition, the temple has lands at Talabetta, Haleyuru and Indiganatha villages. Amidst dense forest, the temple attracts not only the pilgrims but also nature lovers. The height of the hill is about 3000 feet above sea level.
The Lord Sri Mahadeshwara is believed to be the incarnation of Lord Shiva. Historical evidences suggest that the Saint Mahadeshwara must have lived during the 15th century. About 600 years ago, he 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 a linga. The linga, worshipped now in the garbha gudi, is a self-manifested (swayambhu) one. Sri Male Mahadeshwara Swamy was moving 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 there. The Lord Sri Mahadeshwara's miracles are beautifully sung by the village folk in Janapada Style.
The story of Mahadeshwara
According to legends, 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 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 in his life, in these places. Afterwards he went to the hillside. It is a dense forest area surrounded by seventy seven hills in seven circles. It was not a safe place for human habitation. It was about six centuries ago that 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 abundant black magic power. Apart from this there were tribes living here and there in small groups who were devoid of any rays of human civilization. It is said that the Lord Sri Mahadeshwara destroyed the black magic power of Shravana and got released the saints who were in his prison. The place where they were kept in prison is also a holy place, called Thavasere and the place where Shravana lived is called Shravana Boli.
According to tradition there are seven hills identified in the puranas as Anumale, Jenumale, Kanumale, Pachchemale, Pavalamale, Ponnachimale and Kongumale. All these hills form the M.M.Hills. It is said that the saint Lord Mahadeshwara established a Mutt here for looking after the religious and cultural affairs of the people of this area. It is also said that, through his miracles, he enlightened and uplifted the hill tribes & made them his disciples. The people coming from these families have become hereditary 'Archaks' of the Mahadeshwara temple. The temple was under the control & management of Sri Salur Mutt established by the Lord Mahadeshwara himself until it was handed over to the Madras Government in the year 1953. After the formation of the state of Karnataka, the administration of the Temples is done by the trust committee, appointed by the Karnataka Government under the Muzrai Department.
About 50 years ago there was no road facilities to this place. People used to reach the place by walking. At present there are road connections from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu States. More than 100 buses are plying in this route everyday. There are several places of historical interest in this area to which the devotees often pay their visits. 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 mountain) and 'Kamsaleyavaru' (those singers who keep time with 'Kamsale" --bronze cymbals). The song and dance routine is called Kamsale. 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. Hence, Mahadeshwara is also known as Badawara devaru Madappa
"Chellidaru Malligeya" is a famous folk song that describes the devotion and worship of lord Mahadeshwara.
The epic story of Mahadeshwara describes the life and miracles of the saint. The outer structure of the epic resembles the pan-Indian Ramayana : Shiva incarnates himself on earth as Mahadeshwara 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 some pilgrims on their way to the annual fair on the Mahadeshwara hills; and it may last for seven consecutive nights.
The epic (single-narrator version) has seven parts. After traditional invocation, the first part narrates the immaculate birth, childhood, and spiritual quest of Mahadeshwara. The second part narrates the ways through which Mahadeshwara gets a wealthy farmer, Junje Gowda (Kuruba Gowda), as his devotee to build him a temple on the Seven Hills. The next part is devoted to the destruction of the evil king, Shravanasura. Next we have the longest and most moving episode called 'Sankamma kathe'. This episode dramatises the suffering of a proud woman called 'Sankamma,' and the ordeals that she successfully undergoes in order to retain her dignity as a virtuous wife. The fifth episode, slightly comic in tone, depicts the rise and fall of a vainglorious and miserly woman, called 'Bevinatti Kalamma.' The last but one episode narrates how Mahadeshwara gets two simple and god-fearing people, Moogayya and his wife, as his devotees. The concluding part, besides traditional ending with benediction, gives a brief summary of the entire epic.
Apart from being a pilgrimage centre, M.M.Hills possess 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. M.M.Hills is bound by the river Kaveri to the north-east and by the river Palar to the south. Thus, it forms an extremely important catchment area for both these rivers.
The forests of M.M.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. The latest 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 a few small villages like Ponnachi, M.M.Hills, Kombadikki, Kokkebore, Doddane, Tokere, Tholsikere, Palar, Gopinatham, Indiganatham, etc., as enclosures within the reserve forests.
According to media reports a decision to declare 906.18 km2 (90,618.75 hectares) of 1,224 km2 of the Kollegala Range forest as Male Mahadeshwara Wildlife Sanctuary was taken during the fifth meeting of the Karnataka Wildlife Board held on December 15, 2012. The then chief minister Jagadish Shettar, who presided over the meeting, approved this under Section 26A (I) (B) of the Wildlife Conservation Act, 1972, (Amendment 2006) on May 7, 2013. But the same information is yet to reflect on the website of the Karnataka Forest Department.
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- "Kamsaale". Janapada loka.
- "Indian Folk Epics: The Story of Madeshwara". Dr.C.N.Ramachandran.
- Mahadeswara Hills
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