Leaving Mysore, we drove up Chamundi Hill
to see the 7-tiered Chamundeshwari Temple. The main hill features
an ancient stone stairway of 1,008 steps leading to its summit. We opted
to stay with the bus and had some good views of the city and flatland below.
The Temple is a quadrangular structure. A key feature
before the temple is the statue of Mahishasura bearing a sword in his right
hand and a cobra in the left.
When we reached the temple the queue at the entrance
was so long that none of us wanted to go in, especially since photography
was not allowed. However, when Bill saw the sign for a special line for
seniors over 65 he was keen to take advantage of his senior citizen status.
He thought it would be a speedier way to see the main feature in the temple:
a sculpted depiction of the goddess Chamundeshwari. She sits in the
yoga posture of Lord Shiva and worshippers believe that this powerful posture,
if mastered, provides an added dimensional view of the universe. Bill thought
it very tempting to be able to master this power but Sue-On insisted that
he not hold up the tour -- and that the queue inside was probably just
as long. She reminded him that he was not a believer and hadn't even bought
the coconut and marigold offerings ;-) . . . and besides we were both sort
of templed out.
There are special rituals associated with the temple.
The "cart ritual" has the maharaja pull a cart around the temple. It's
assumed that today some representative of the faith does the pulling. Another
ancient tradition is have the idol of goddess Chamundi carried on a decorated
elephant as part of the celebrations.
About halfway down the hill we stopped to visit the
statue of bull Nandi, the vahana, or "vehicle" of Lord Shiva, which is
4.9m tall and 7.6m long and carved out of a single piece of black granite.
The bull was well decorated and surrounded by vendors selling refreshments
Bill explored the bull site to take photos, but Sue-On
had a bad cought and a bit of a heat headache and was content to a view
of the bull rump through the bus window. Something seemed to have settled
in her chest from when we were at the Tiger Reserve. There was some smoke
in the air from previous burns, and this coupled with the constant hot
and cold we'd been exposed to resulted in a hurting cough and phlegm in
the chest. Luckily she had carried a reserve of Buckley's cough candies.
Sanjay stopped at a vendor's cart and treated everyone
to cups of freshly squeezed sugar cane juice laced with with lime and ginger
-- and he thoughtfully brought a cup back to the bus for Sue-On.