Male Mahadeshwara Hills (Kannada: ಮಲೆ ಮಹದೇಶ್ವರ ಬೆಟ್ಟ) is a pilgrim town located in the Kollegal taluk of Chamarajanagar district of southern Karnataka. It is situated at about 150 km from Mysore and about 210 km from Bengaluru. The ancient and sacred temple of Sri Male Mahadeshwara is a very popular Shaiva pilgrim centre and one of the most powerful Shiva Temple. It draws lakhs of pilgrims from the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The area of the present temple surroundings is 155.57 acres (0.6296 km2). In addition, the temple has lands at Talabetta, Haleyuru and Indiganatha villages. Amidst dense forest, the temple attracts not only the pilgrims but also nature lovers. The height of the hill is about 3000 feet above sea level.
The Mahadeshwara Temple at Male Mahadeshwara Hill was built by JUNJE GOWDARich Kuruba Gowda Landlord.The Lord Sri Mahadeshwara is believed to be the incarnation of Lord Shiva. Historical evidences suggest that the Saint Mahadeshwara must have lived during the 15th century. About 600 years ago, he came here to perform penance and it is believed that he is still performing penance in the temple's garbha gudi in the form of a linga. The linga, worshipped now in the garbha gudi, is a self-manifested (swayambhu) one. Sri Male Mahadeshwara Swamy was moving on a tiger known as Huli Vahana (Tiger as a vehicle) and performed a number of miracles around the hills to save the people and saints living there. The Lord Sri Mahadeshwara's miracles are beautifully sung by the village folk in Janapada Style.
Apart from being a pilgrimage centre, M.M.Hills possess natural beauty in the form of large tracts of forest area. The beautiful landscapes of hills and valleys are covered with extensive forests. These forest types vary from evergreen forests in Ponnachi Boli to dry deciduous forests in most other parts. M.M.Hills is bound by the river Kaveri to the north-east and by the river Palar to the south. Thus, it forms an extremely important catchment area for both these rivers.
The forests of M.M.Hills have been famous for wonderful regeneration and stock of sandalwood and bamboo. The forests are inhabited by a variety of animals, birds and reptiles. They are found in large numbers too. Elephants are the most prominent species. The latest estimate puts the population of elephants at more than 2500 in the district, which includes Bandipur National Park too. Frequent sightings of guars (Indian bison), sambars, spotted deer, jackals, sloth bears, porcupine, etc., apart from rare sightings of tigers, leopards and wild dogs are possible in and around this area. The Male Mahadeshwara Reserve Forests, has an approximate area of 39361.45 ha and has a few small villages like Ponnachi, M.M.Hills, Kombadikki, Kokkebore, Doddane, Tokere, Tholsikere, Palar, Gopinatham, Indiganatham, etc., as enclosures within the reserve forests.
According to media reports a decision to declare 906.18 km2 (90,618.75 hectares) of 1,224 km2 of the Kollegala Range forest as Male Mahadeshwara Wildlife Sanctuary was taken during the fifth meeting of the Karnataka Wildlife Board held on December 15, 2012. The then chief minister Jagadish Shettar, who presided over the meeting, approved this under Section 26A (I) (B) of the Wildlife Conservation Act, 1972, (Amendment 2006) on May 7, 2013. But the same information is yet to reflect on the website of the Karnataka Forest Department.