This giant image of Nandi (Bull) is located at the top of Chamundi hills in Mysore. More than 350 years old, this is one of the oldest icons in Mysore.
According to Hindu mythology Nandi is considered as the vehicle (mount) of Lord Shiva, the lord of destruction. In front of every Shiva temple, on the court facing the shrine, you can see the image of a Nandi.
About 16 feet in height and 24 feet long, this Nandi atop the Chamundi Hills is the third largest in India. The creation of this colossal image is attributed to Dodda Devaraja Wodeyar (1659–1673) on of the illustrious Maharajas of Mysore. It is the same maharaja who also commissioned the 1000 stepped stairway to the hilltop.
Originally this was a colossal boulder. The image of the Nandi was carved out of this boulder in situ. When you visit this Nandi just look around to see similar boulders around this site. In fact right behind the Nandi image is small cave temple under an overhanging boulder dedicated to Shiva. These boulders are painted with white and ochre stripes.
The Nandi is portrayed in sitting position with its left foreleg folded in an about to get up posture. While the image is in great proportions, the finer details are executed equally brilliant. You can see many sequences of bells and garlands dexterously carved over the Nandi. With his ears pointed in rapt attention, the expression on the face is something not to be missed. The whole image sits on a 4 feet or so heigh platform.
This Nandi is in active worship possibly ever since from its creation.
Tourists are welcome to visit the Nandi site. Follow the etiquettes deemed for a place of worship. Footwear need to be removed before going close to the Nandi. You can go around the Nandi (clockwise) to see it close.
There is an elevated place in front of the Nandi image. You'll even find a granite bench over there. This is a vantage place for view the upper portion of the Nandi and also a great point for taking photographs.
There is no specific timing as it is an open site by the side of the trek path. However visit it during the day time, for obvious reasons though the Chamundeshwari temple atop is open till around 9 in the night.
The Nandi is located almost at the ¾th the way to the hilltop. The main road to hilltop arrives at a "View Point" junction. The right fork leads to Nandi (2km) and the straight road leads to the main shrine of Chamundeswari further at the top of the hill. There is no bus service to the Nandi site.
If you have come to the hill top by the bus, the only way to reach the Nandi site is by walk (rather a mini trek). You can easily get to the paved trek path (steps) from the bus terminus (get behind that guest house) or from the Chamundeswari temple area (path starts near where they sell tender coconut). Ask for the steps to Nandi.
If you are reasonably fit its about 20-30 minutes walk till the Nandi site. You can either trek back to the bus terminal or continue down till the base of the hill (another 30-45 minutes). After the Nandi, the steps goes down to the foothill close to where the JLB Road joins the Nilgiri road. At the foothills you'll find auto-rickshaws waiting for those come by the trek path. If not, another 2km walk till you hit the busy main road. Alternatively, trek up and catch a bus from hill top to city center.
A word of caution, avoid the trek path after dark and also if you are alone. This goes through the bushes. Mornings are busy with many regular joggers.
For those driving to the Nandi, there is a short route to the base and also to the NH212. Instead of returning to the "View Point" just continue on the road from Nandi. A little after the Nandi you will see a sharp right branch. This rather steep route called the Bull Temple Road will take you quickly to the base where the arch is located. On the other hand the left fork takes you to the road to the Tripura Sundari temple road. Turn right as you come out of the hill to reach the NH212. This will join NH 212, turn left towards Nanjangud, right for Mysore city. See also the route map.