he ancient and sacred temple of Sri Male Mahadeshwara is a very popular Shaiva pilgrim centre and one of the most powerful shiva temple. It draws lakhs of pilgrims from the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Male Mahadeshwara Betta is a pilgrim town located in the Kollegala taluk of Chamarajanagaradistrict of southern Karnataka. It is situated at about 150 km from Mysuru and about 210 km from Bengaluru. Amidst dense forest, the temple attracts not only the pilgrims but also nature lovers. The height of the hill is about 3000 feet above sea level.
The Mahadeshwara Temple at Male Mahadeshwara Hill was built by Junje Gowda Rich Kuruba Gowda Landlord.The Lord Sri Mahadeshwara is believed to be the incarnation of Lord Shiva. Historical evidences suggest that the Saint Mahadeshwara must have lived during the 15th century. About 600 years ago, he came here to perform penance and it is believed that he is still performing penance in the temple's garbha gudi in the form of a linga.
The linga, worshipped now in the garbha gudi, is a self-manifested (swayambhu) one. Sri Male Mahadeshwara Swamy was moving on a tiger known as Huli Vahana (Tiger as a vehicle) and performed a number of miracles around the Betta to save the people and saints living there. The Lord Sri Mahadeshwara's miracles are beautifully sung by the village folk in Janapada Style.
The story of Mahadeshwara
According to legends, Lord Male Mahadeshwara was born in the Kaliyuga to a fair coloured virgin woman known as Uttarajamma. In his boyhood, he has spiritually guided by then pontiff of Suttur Mutt and Kunthur Mutt. The young saint is supposed to have come from Srishaila to this part of the state. He is said to have performed several miracles in his life, in these places. Afterwards he went to the hills of Male Mahadeshwara. It is a dense forest area surrounded by seventy seven peaks in seven circles. It was not a safe place for human habitation. It was about six centuries ago that the young saint went in to the forest area, to save the saints who were performing penance and were taken captive by an evil king known as Shravana who possessed abundant black magic power.
Apart from this there were tribes living here and there in small groups who were devoid of any rays of human civilization. It is said that Sri Mahadeshwara destroyed the black magic power of Shravana and released the saints who were in his prison. The place where they were kept captive is also a holy place, called Thavasere and the place where Shravana lived is called Shravana Boli.
According to tradition there are seven peaks identified in the legend, which are as follows :
Anumale, Jenumale, Kanumale, Pachchemale, Pavalamale, Ponnachimale and Kongumale. These seven peaks together form the M.M.Betta. It is said that the saint Lord Mahadeshwara established a Mutt here for looking after the religious and cultural affairs of the people of this area. It is also said that, through his miracles, he enlightened and uplifted the hill tribes & made them his disciples. The people coming from these families have become hereditary 'Archaks' of the Mahadeshwara temple. The temple was under the control & management of Sri Salur Mutt established by the Lord Mahadeshwara himself until it was handed over to the Madras Government in the year 1953. After the formation of the state of Karnataka, the administration of the Temples is done by the trust committee, appointed by the Karnataka Government under the Muzrai Department.