Greening the goddess: Sacred landscape, history and legislation on the cāmundī hills of Mysore

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Within Hinduism’s vast collection of mythology, the landscape of India plays a crucial role in the epic stories of divine struggle. The entire subcontinent becomes the playground and battlefield in which the devas (gods) and the asuras (demons) struggle for supremacy. The landscape itself becomes an integral part of the cosmic narrative and is established as a locus of the sacred. As transportation becomes easier and cheaper, these sacred centers become popular sites of religious pilgrimage and tourism; however, they lack the infrastructure to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of devotees every year. The hills and sacred groves are often littered with plastic bags and discarded paper wrappers along with the human waste. The sacrality of landscape gives way to the sheer number of devotees. I explore the modern history of ecological concern in the CÄ « Hills 17 km outside Mysore. The CÄ ÅvarÄ« Temple, which is believed to be the site of the epic battle between the Great Goddess of Hinduism and the great buffalo-demon king, Mahia, had over 700,000 people tour the grounds in 2005 making it one of the largest pilgrimage sites in South India. I discuss the steps being taken to protect the environment of the hill. In the case of CÄeÅvarÄ«, a distinctly secular discourse is produced that effectively implements legislation to protect the region. Only after regulations were ratified did changes occur. Therefore, the relationship between religious and secular concerns in the upkeep of sacred sites will be central to the study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Changing World Religion Map
Subtitle of host publicationSacred Places, Identities, Practices and Politics
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9789401793766
ISBN (Print)9789401793759
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Green pilgrimage
  • Hindu pilgrimage
  • Protection
  • Regulation
  • Sacred sites

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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