Mythology holds that at the Kollur Mookambika Temple lived a demon named Kaumasura, who unleashed terror upon the gods by the special powers he obtained from Lord Shiva. While the gods were trying their best to stay away from him, good news came that the demon would face death. Learning of his impending doom, Kaumasura undertook severe penance. Lord Shiva appeared, asking the demon what boon he would like to be granted. Sensing that grave danger would come of the demon if his boon was granted, Saraswati, the goddess of speech took away his ability to speak. Kaumasura came to be known as Mookasura or the mute demon. Thereafter, the goddess mobilized all the powers of the gods and killed the demon, and hence she came to be known as Mookambika. The place where Mookabika killed the demon came to be known as Marana Katte.
The establishment of the Mookambika temple is attributed to the Supreme, Lord Parameshwara, rather than to an individual person. Historically, the temple is estimated to be at least 1200 years old and is mentioned in conjunction with king Halugallu Veera Sangayya who installed an idol there.
As a legend goes, Adi Shankara, the much revered spiritual leader from Kerala, once offered intense worship to Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom and learning. The goddess appeared before Shankara in response to his prayers. Shankara told her of his wish to have her come along with him to Kerala, where no temple was dedicated to her as yet. Goddess Saraswati agreed to go with him on the condition that Shankara must lead the way for her to follow, without doubting her and not looking back even once to check if she was with him. Should he break the condition, she would stop and stay right where she was at the time. Shankara agreed to the condition. So they started walking down the Kodachadri hills, with Shankara leading the way and goddess’ anklets tinkling and letting him know that she was with him. After walking some distance, the tinkling stopped all of a sudden. Shankara waited a few moments and stole a quick look backwards to find the goddess still with him, watching him with reproach. In keeping with the condition, the goddess stopped right there. Shankara, however, was not one to give up. He apologized profusely for breaking the condition and repeatedly begged and pleaded with the goddess to go with him to Kerala. Impressed by his determination, the goddess finally agreed to be present at the Chottanikkara Temple in Kerala in the mornings and return to the Mookambika temple by mid-day.