History, Heritage, and Myth

Local Historical Imagination in the Fight to Preserve Chamundi Hill in Mysore City

In: Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology
Caleb Simmons University of Arizona

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This essay examines popular and public discourse surrounding the broad, amorphous, and largely grassroots campaign to “Save Chamundi Hill” in Mysore City. The focus of this study is in the development of the language of “heritage” relating to the Hill starting in the mid-2000s that implicitly connected its heritage to the mythic events of the slaying of the buffalo-demon. This essay argues that the connection between the Hill and “heritage” grows from an assumption that the landscape is historically important because of its role in the myth of the goddess and the buffalo-demon, which is interwoven into the city’s history. It demonstrates that this assumption is rooted within a local historical consciousness that places mythic events within the chronology of human history that arose as a negotiation of Indian and colonial understandings of historiography.

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