Mahisasuramardini cave temple stands as a great example for Pallava style of architecture. It is one of the well known monuments in Mamallapuram, the city of monuments. The nearest landmark is light house.
The east facing cave shrine has three cells. The facade has ten incomplete horse shoe shaped windows on the cornice. Above the cornice, there is an outline of five incomplete mini shrines. The front facade is supported by four pillars two pilasters. The central cell has a small mandapa in front of it, which is supported by four lion base pillars.
The central cell has the bas relief panel of Samaskanda – a form where Shiva, Parvati and Skanda are found together. Apart from Shiva and Parvati with baby Skanda in between, all three of them in the sitting posture, Shiva’s mound Nandi (the sacred bull) is shown near Shiva’s feet on the ground. Chandikeswara (most probably), the devotee of Shiva, is seen on the right side of Shiva. Vishnu and Brahma are seen on the left side of Shiva. Surya is found between Brahma and Vishnu. The entrance has two dwarapalak images on either sides.
The left cell and right cell are empty. Both the cells have dwarapalaks images at their respective entrance.
The most astonishing part of the entire monument is Mahisasuramardini bas relief panel. It stands as an excellent example of Pallava style of sculpture art. The north wall of the monument has this panel against which the entire monument is named after. In this panel, the Goddess Durga is depicted with eight hands carrying various weapons and fighting with the demon Mahisasura. Durga is known as Mahisasuramardini as she killed the demon, Mahisasura by name. She is mounted on lion; she is accompanies with female warriors and dwarf Ganas. The righ side of the panel has the image of the bull faced demon with carrying a heavy gada. His soldiers are also found behind him; one was falling with his head down and another who has fell down already depicting fear in his face.
The southern wall of the monument has the bas relief panel of Ananta – Vishnu in the sleeping posture. He is shown as stretched over the coil of Sesha, the divine serpent with five hooded head. Two demons, Madhu and Kaitabha are found near the feet of the Lord. Vishnu’s shankha Panchajanya and gada Kaumodaki are shown in the human forms (as male and female) above the image of Vishnu. Beneath Vishnu’s image, his chakra Sudarshana and his sword khadga are depicted in human forms. The femal image found is of Bhoo Devi, the earth.
This monument is one such monument in Mamallapuram which you should not miss. When you get a chance to visit the city, ensure that spend enough effort and time to visit this little but beautiful monument.Happy travelling.