One of the attractions in Mysore that you absolutely should not miss is climbing the steps to the Chamundeshwari Temple on top of Chamundi Hills. Many people take a car or auto-rickshaw, but I think they’re missing the best part. The climb up the steps is beautiful and full of families, groups of young people, grandmas, vendors, and cool stuff to see. After our success with the 1200 steps of Sigiriya, Sri Lanka, we knew this would be no problem!
The steps start near the Jayachamaraja Wadiya Golf Club, any rickshaw driver can get you there. The bottom of the steps is a bit chaotic, with people arriving, leaving, unloading lunches and picnic supplies. Don’t forget a few cows wandering around and watch out for the monkeys! They will grab anything that isn’t nailed down.
Once you get going up the steps things quiet down, unless it’s a holiday when you can expect an unbelievable number of step climbers. We were there mid-week, no holiday, so we had periods of relative calm where we felt like we were all alone on the ancient stairs.
The first thing you’ll notice is the colours. One of the most common purchases at the bottom of the stairs is little pots of coloured powder called Kumkuma in red, purple, yellow, pink, and orange.
Local people buy a couple of different colours, and then mark EACH STEP with a schmear of colour. 1000 steps, and they’re bending down and schmearing EACH ONE!
I’m not sure how many of the steps are numbered, but we spotted 200, 300, 600, and 1000 carved into the granite.
On the way up the Chamundi steps you’ll encounter fruit and toy vendors, and guys pressing fresh cane juice with lemon and ginger. That stuff is delicious, and I recommend the sugar rush to keep you going.
There are also shrines with holy men to bless you for a few rupees. There’s even a big, giant, really huge granite statue of Nandi the bull. Add in local people in their best sarees and gangs of young men asking to take selfies with the kids. Never a dull moment.
The top of Chamundi Hills is even more chaotic with food and toy stalls, several temples, construction, and garbage tractors driving around.
For INR 200 per adult, you can ask the goddess Chamunda for a blessing. This is one of the big attractions, so be prepared to be squished like a sardine getting to her.
After the goddess, we had a quick lunch and headed down. The kids were practically skipping down, the adults less so. From there we went straight to the Mysore Rail Museum which was another highlight for us. Tune in next time for that story.