Places of interest in Tamilnadu

Trip to Mahabalipuram on December 5, 2007
Mahishasuramardhini Mandapam

This is an unfinished monolith, but has two wonderful relief panels. At the top of this boulder is situated the Olakaneswarar temple, a structural temple.

The roof of the Mahishasuramardini mandapam is a simple structure and is unfinished. The rough marking of five pairs of kudus and five salas can be seen. There are four pillars and two pilasters (half pillars adjoining the wall). The two central pillars are broken and different from the others. On the two pilasters are the carvings of Changu & Chakra, probably done at a later period by Vaishnavite rulers, perhaps the Vijayanagara kings.

Of the three shrines on the inside, the central one is more prominent with a portico and two pillars with a seated lion base. In all three shrines there are dwarapalakas. The relief work on the rear wall of the central shrine is a Somaskanda panel – Siva seated with Uma and son Skanda with their feet resting on a bull. Vishnu & Brahma and Surya are depicted behind Siva. A devotee is kneeling down offering worship.

Mahishasuramardhini panel
On the right side of the shrine, is a relief wall panel – an ongoing fight between Durgai and the demon Mahisha – seen with human body and buffalo head. As against the panel seen in the Atiranachanda Mandapam at Saluvakuppam near the Tigers cave, here there is an umbrella above Mahisha too. He is not yet defeated. On the other hand, he is in a very active pose, all ready to strike the Devi with his mace. Durga seated on a lion is also seen in action, shooting an arrow at the demon. On the Devi’s side there are several fighting ganas. There is a woman at the foot of the lion swinging a sword. Just above this woman, a man is falling headlong. Beside the demon, there are a few soldiers but they seem to be retreating in fear & there is one dead warrior between the demon’s feet.
Mahishasuramardhini panel
Anantasayana panel

Anantasayana panel
The Anantasayana relief-panel is seen on the left side of the ardha mandapam. There is a reclining Vishnu as the central figure. He is resting on five headed Adisesha with his head in a slightly raised position. His right arm is outstretched and left arm rests bent at the elbow. His legs are slightly bent at the knee. Above him are two flying figures and below him two figures. At his feet is Lakshmi offering prayers. The four figures are considered the weapons of Vishnu represented as ayudh-purusha-s (ayudha – weapon).
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