|Mysore(Mysooru) is the second biggest city
in the State of Karnataka. It lies 130 km's from the State
Headquarters, Bangalore. It is the erstwhile capital of
the Mysore(Mysooru) Maharajas, who ruled Mysore(Mysooru) State from this
royal city. It is now the headquarters of Mysore(Mysooru) District
with a population of over seven lakhs. The chief language
of the people, as in the State of Karnataka, is Kannada
and original Kannada is spoken in this part of the area.
It covers an area of more than 40 sq.km. and is administered
by the Mysore(Mysooru) City Corporation. Situated 763 meters above
sea level surrounded by hill ranges from north to south,
it is known as the 'Garden City' and the 'City of Palaces'.
The famous Chamundi Hill, which is mythologically associated
with the name of the city, is to its southeast.
Mysore(Mysooru) is associated with the Pouranic story that is found
in the Devi Bhagavatha. According to this story in the
mythological Devi Purana, Mysore(Mysooru) was ruled by the demon-king
Mahishasura. He was called Mahishasura, because he was
a buffalo-headed monster. Hearing to the prayers of Gods
and Goddess to save them from the monster, Goddess Parvathi,
wife of Lord Siva, took birth as Chamundi or Chamundeswari
and killed the monster. Hence, this place came to be known
as Mahishuru, the city of demon Mahisha. After killing
the demon, the Goddess resided atop the Chamundi Hills
where she is worshipped with reverence and devotion even
today. However, the original name of the hill is 'Mahabaladri
Hills' and it derived the name Chamundi Hills at a later
period, after 17th century.
The earliest mention of Mysore(Mysooru) or Mahishur historically
is referred to the time of King Ashoka in 245 B.C. On
the conclusion of the third Buddhist convocation, Ashoka
is said to have despatched a monk to Mahishamandala
for the purpose of spreading Buddhism. However, some
historians have viewed that this Mahishamandala does
not relate to Mysore(Mysooru) or Mahishur. Some edicts of Ashoka
have been found in the northern parts of the present
Karnataka State. Similar reference is also found in
the epic work, Mahabharata. According to this legend,
King Yudhishtira is said to have sent an expedition
and Sahadeva made an attack on Mahishmati. However,
experts are of the opinion that the reference made in
this epic, one of the oldest legends of an historical
character, is not related to Mysore(Mysooru).
Till the rise of Gangas in 10th century we find very
little or no evidence at all relating to Mysore(Mysooru). The
Ganga dynasty established its reign in the 2nd century
and the Ganga kings ruled over the greater part of Mysore(Mysooru)
till about 1004. They established their capital in the
3rd century at Talakad, on the bank of the Cauvery river
in T.Narasipur Taluk. One of their inscriptions has
been traced in the Chamundi Hills. The inspection of
950 A.D. is the earliest inscription found in Mysore(Mysooru).
After Gangas, Cholas rose to power and ruled for over
a century. The Chalukyas followed them. Mysore(Mysooru) was a
part of Chalukya Prince Narasinga's kingdom in the 10th
century. The Cholas built a few temples in Mysore(Mysooru). Hoysalas
drove out the Cholas from Mysore(Mysooru) region in the 12th
century. Hoysalas, who are known for their famous temples,
built or expanded the existing temples in Mysore(Mysooru) and
on the Chamundi Hills. Their 11th and 12th century inscriptions
are found in Mysore(Mysooru).
The Mysore(Mysooru) Yadu dynasty came to power in 1399 A.D.
They were feudatories to the Vijayanagar kings, who
followed the Hoysalas. They also contributed to the
development of temples in Mysore(Mysooru). Bettada Chamaraja
Wadiyar, the raja of Mysore(Mysooru), rebuilt the small fort
of Mysore(Mysooru) in 1584 A.D. He made Mysore(Mysooru) his headquarters
and called the place as 'Mahishura Nagara' or the city
of Mahishur. Several inscriptions of 17th century and
later period make reference to Mysore(Mysooru) as 'Mahishuru'.
Raja Waidyar shifted the capital of his kingdom from
Mysore(Mysooru) to Srirangapatna in 1610 A.D. However, after
the fall of Srirangapatna and death of Tipu Sultan in
1799, Mysore(Mysooru) became the capital of the Wadiyars again.
The transformation of Mysore(Mysooru) from a small town confined
to the limits of the Fort to a modern township began
at the period of Krishnaraja Wadiyar III. It was Krishnaraja
Wadiyar IV who developed Mysore(Mysooru) into a handsome city
with excellent planning. He brought fame to Mysore(Mysooru) as
a city of wide roads, imposing building and fairy parks.
Several Kannada works make reference to Mysore(Mysooru). But
it is the famous Kannada work, "Kantirava Narasaraja
Vijaya", written in 1648, which gives a beautiful
description of Mysore(Mysooru). Poet Govinda Vaidya, author of
the work, describes King Kantirava Narasaraja Wadiyar
as "Maisoora Narasarajendra". He exhorts the
beauty of "Maisooru", the "Sriman Mahabalachala"
(Sri Mahabaladri Hills), "Bettada Chamundi"
(Goddess Chamundi atop the hills), the Palace, the fort,
the streets, the parks and the people in the town of
Mysore(Mysooru). The very first chapter is dedicated to this
beautiful description, the landmarks of which are to
be found even today. Similar references to Mysore(Mysooru) are
also found in Kannada classics like "Chikka Devendra
Vamshavali" (1680 A.D.), "Soundara Kavya"
of Noorondayya (1740 A.D.) and "Krishnaraja Vilasa"