The male trinity of Hindu theology is complemented by the female trinity represented by Mahalakshmi, Parvathi and Saraswathi. The trinity are the Goddesses of wealth, strength and knowledge respectively. While all of them symbolise the mother figure in their own way in caring for their devotees, it is principally Parvathi who is most worshipped as the mother or Amba as she is known. Parvathi's various incarnations were primarily to underline her prowess against evil which affected the lives of her devotees. She appeared in the world in various forms of beneficence as Kamakshi, Meenakshi and Visalakshi. Being the consort of Lord Shiva, she was also known by the name Eswari. One such form is that of Chamundeeswari. The Goddess in this form graces the small hill shrine in Mysore.
The legend of Chamundeeswari - how the Goddess got that name is recounted in Markandeya Purana. Long ago, there were two Asura brothers called Sumban and Nisumban. By performing rigorous penance they had acquired rare boons bestowing strength and power on their evil selves. They became a source of great harassment to the Devas.
Hindu lore is replete with such instances where the evil are blessed with boons of power in recognition of their penance and devotion. But when they put the power of their boons to wicked use, the wrath of God descends on them and ends their atrocity. The stories of Hiranya, Mahishasura are instances in point. Coming back to the Markandeya Purana, the devas prayed to Parvathi for a solution. Hearing the pleas of the devas, a beautiful form emerged from Parvathi and went forth towards the Asuras. When the Asuras beheld the surpassingly beautiful form, they were smitten and wanted to marry the beautiful maiden. When certain Asura emissaries approached the maiden with the suit of their kings, the maiden replied that she would only wed the man who defeated her in battle.
Amused by this, the asura kings sent Dumralochanan to entice the maiden with promises of a luxurious life, but all the attempts of Dumralochanan bit the dust and he was reduced to ashes. The Asura kings then despatched Sandan and Mundan. This enraged the maiden who was none other than Parvathi herself and from her forehead emerged Kali.
A fierce battle raged between Kali and Sandan and Mundan. Finally, Kali exterminated the two Asuras and was named by the devas as Samundeeswari, the one who slew Sandan and Mundan. The first thing that one can see as the train pulls into Mysore is the hill with the temple that looms in the eastern direction. This is the Chamundi hill, which has become the foremost landmark in a city that is dotted with tourist attractions. The drive up the Chamundi hill takes about 15 minutes. The hill is just 1000 metres high and at the summit abides the mother. What strikes the eye as you reach the top is the massive statue of Mahishasura with a snake in one hand and a dagger in the other. Mahishan was a demon who was destroyed by Parvathi who is known as Mahishasuramardhini.
The Chamundi temple was renovated in the year 1827 by Krishna Raja Wodeyar III. She was the presiding deity of the Wodeyar kings. The Wodeyar kings did a lot to decorate the deity with gold ornaments, a golden lion throne, and gold armour. The goddess also dons a necklace of star shapes inscribed with some divine slokas in Sanskrit. The ambience in the temple is very unique. It is said that the Muslim kings of Mysore Haider Ali and Tipu Sultan were devotees of Chamundeeswari whose sincere worship works miracles in peoples' lives. On the way down, one can see a small Shiva temple in front of which is the famous 16-foot granite Nandi or Holy bull with exquisite bells around its neck. There is a deep cave near here. A visit to Chamundi hill to pray to Goddess Sree Chamundeeswari is bound to bring good to the devotee.