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Mahishasuramardhini Cave

The Mahishasuramardhini Cave Temple also known as the Mahishasuramardhini mandapa or the Yampuri is an excellent example of rock cut temple architecture that traces its roots back to the later days of the 7th century during the Pallava era. This rock cut temple is located near the other rock cut caves in Mamallapuram and is one of the finest examples of the genre of Vishwakarma sculpture.

Mamallapuram or Mahabalipuram is a village located to the southern part of Chennai. This temple like the other Mahabalipuram monuments is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Featuring exclusive architectural finesse, this temple has three reliefs carved on the walls, signifying the three prominent sanctums. Three sanctums are dedicated to Lord Vishnu with Adishesha, Goddess Durga with Mahishasura (the demon) and the third sanctum also features Lord Vishnu. The cave further depicts many incidences from the Puranas, going back to 5th century A.D.


Dating back to the reign of Narsimhavarman Mahamalla, the architecture of the cave is clearly a reflection of the western Indian religious architectural themes. Also revealing a unique transitional style, the cave architecture makes use of frescoes on the wall carvings. This style in the south emerged and evolved in the reigns of Mahendra Varman I and Narsimhavarman and continued by his son Parameshwaravarman. In this temple, you can also catch a glimpse of the famous Somaskanda Panel.
The Mahishasuramardhini mandapa is one of the most prominent caves in the line of cave temples. Carved from a granite rock part of the hill, the verandah at the entrance displays a unique constitution of the three chambers. The central chamber back wall features the Somaskanda Panel where you get to see Shiva Parvathi with their son, Skanda. This panel also has images of Nandi, Shiva's vahana and the images of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, the trinity Gods in Hindu mythology. The top portion of the panel has the image of the Sun. Most of the panels are dominated by the Shiva sculptures to indicate the lineage of the rulers who shifted from Vaishnavism to Shaivism.

Visitor's Information

This cave temple is considered to be one of the best architectural works of the Pallava period. The goddess Durga with eight hands, riding a lion is seen slaying the Mahishasura formed demon. She is armed with a sword, arrows, bow and bell in her right hand while in her left hand you can see pasa, sankha and dagger.
On the whole, Mahabalipuram is a beautiful town with a humid climate for most part of the year. The months between October to March are considered to be the ideal times to visit this small village in Chennai. Famed as Mamallapuram in the early days, this town saw the Pallava dynasty attain its pinnacle in the form of the Golden Age. You are recommended to avoid the monsoons in Mahabalipuram.

How to Reach

If you are travelling by train, then the nearest railway station to Mahabalipuram is the Chengalpattu Railway Station.

For the ones availing the fight, the airport closest to this destination is the Chennai International Airport.

Further, Mahabalipuram is properly interconnected with the various cities in and around Chennai. Taking a short 60 km drive along the East Coast road links Chennai to Mahabalipuram.

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