The Truth About Mahishasura Mardini Idol

Is the original idol of Chamundeshwari taken on procession on top of the elephant?

Elephant Abhimanyu carrying the golden howdah adorned with the idol of Mahishasura Mardini

The idol that now adorns the 750 KG golden Howdah is not the original utsava murthy of Goddess Chamundi.

The idol was carved as “Mahishasura Marini” – The one
who killed the demon Mahishasura. And this is the main reason why Mysuru got its name.

After the decline of privy purse, the kingdom of Mysore was unable to spend huge amount of money to celebrate yearly dasara activities. Hence, the then erstwhile king Sri Chamarajendra Wadiyar wrote to the govt of Karnataka to take care of these huge celebrations from 1972. When His Highness passed away some time later, the govt of Karnataka decided to takeover the Dasara Celebrations. Since a responsible govt cannot conduct any religious activities, the Dasara Festival was raised to the state festival rank – “Nada Habba”

The original utsava murthy from the chamundi hills could not be brought down to Mysuru to place her on the golden howdah due to agama shastra impositions. Hence, another small Mahishasura Mardini idol was required to be carved. When the work was finished, the idol was small and resembled chola style of sculpting rather than Karnataka’s own Hoysala Style. People were quite angry at the govt for the grave mistake and demanded another idol be built to suit the grandeur of the Nada Habba. This task was taken over by a famous sculptor of Mysuru who used about 72 kilos of Panchaloha to erect this beautiful idol of the goddess that we see today.

Once the procession is over, the idol is carefully unmounted from the elephant & howdah and is kept in Bombe Thotti for visitors to see. She will remain there till the next dasara festivities unfold.

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