Chamundeshwari Temple is found at the top of the Chamundi Hills at about 3,500 ft in elevation. This is the view:
And this is where you can shop for offerings to the goddess:
The temple was named after Chamundeshwari or Durga, a goddess revered by the Mysore Maharajas. This goddess is like Wonder Woman: she is a demon-slayer and is depicted with several arms (up to 1,000!), weapons, etc and often riding a ferocious lion. She dispatched the evil demon Mahishur (from which current day “Mysore” gets its name; originally “Mahishur” before it was Anglicinized). Chamundi is a wrathful incarnation of Parvati (Lord Shiva’s wife). This temple was mobbed the Sunday we visited, so this fierce demon-slayer clearly has tons of devotees.
Inside the temple is a carved statue, a gift by the Mysore Maharaja 1659. The city of Mysore has a huge 9-day celebration, Dasara, for her every year when they take out the statue, put in her a golden throne (real gold!) on an elephant and parade her through town, among other elements of the celebration. This festival has been celebrated for over 400 years — I hope to make it there during my assignment.
The tall pyramid tower crowning the temple is called a “Gopuram” and this one is considered a grand example of the Dravidian school of architecture. Gopurams are typical of Southern India — but they’ve made their marks else where, notably Angkor Wat. The fancy bobbles at the top are called “kalasam” and they are shaped like inverted pots. I’m not entirely sure what they are for, but I gather that they are key to ceremonies for renewing the temple.