A part of ‘Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram’ which is considered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Mahishamardini Mandapam is one of the 14 cave temples and other splendid architectures. This mandapam has various stunning reliefs displaying the artistic ability of the sculptors of the times of the Pallava dynasty. This actually is an unfinished temple and thus, does not has any inscriptions. It lies on the base of a hillock, along with Olakneswara Temple that is built on its top.
The front of Mahishamardini Mandapam temple has 2 pilasters and 4 columns, but the ceiling and floor is not complete. The designing on two center columns are different. It is believed this change happened when the Vaishnavites tried to remove these columns. One of them was actually removed and was replaced by a replica that was of low quality.
Placed on the opposite walls of the shrine, the panels are beautifully sculpted. The temple is named after one of the carve depictions that show eight-armed Goddess Durga defeating the demon-king Mahishasura. While the army of 7 demons accompany Mahishasura, the Goddess has 8 ganas.
On the other panel Anantasayan, an incarnation of Vishnu, is reclining on five- headed king of snakes, known as Ananta Shesha. Just below this sculpture is the sculpture of Mother Earrth or Bhu Devi. The divine weapons of the Lord, or four flying ayudh-purushas, surround the carving of Anantasayan. This panel is known to be one of the best examples of ancient art of India.
On the rear wall are 3 shrines, guarded by Dwarapalas (guards). A porch adorns the central shrine which is the largest one. The base of the porch has a pair of pillars that have vyalas or horned lions, carved on it. While the shrines on the side are simple but the central shrine has a huge Somaskanda panel that contains Lord Shiva, along with his consort Goddess Uma, his divine child Skanda and his vehicle, Nandi, placed at their feet. Other gods are in the background.
As Mahishamardini Mandapam in Mahabalipuram has images of both, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva, it cannot be said that to which God, out of the two, the cave temple was dedicated to.
Timings : 07:00 hours - 19:00 hours (open on all days)
Entry Ticket : Free