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ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design

45. The battle of Durga

the rock panel with the battle of Durga and the buffalo demon

This is the story of goddess Durga, who raised to defeat the buffalo-demon as it is told in a temple of Tamil Nadu.

An ancient engraved panel inside one of the stone-carved temples of Mamallapuram (Tamil Nadu) tells the story of the epic battle between Durga, the warrior goddess, and the demon Mahisha. This is one of the first representation of the myth of the Durga Mahishasura Mardini, carved in a delicate and dramatic style. The fierce battle on which depends the safety of the world shows a graceful and fair Durga. To understand this, we need to explain the origin of the myth.

Dark times came upon the gods. The asura Mahishasura, the buffalo-looking demon, ran around the universe destroying everything that was in his way. The palaces of gods were crushed by with power, and so were their armies. To the earth left nothing but prayers and hope.
So the gods assembled around Vishnu and Shiva, looking for help and protection. But this time Mahiashura was too strong to be handled by the supreme powers.
The world was on the verge of a crisis, and the weight of the evil forces was crushing the Creation. Powerless, the gods were seething with anger. The more they were angry, the bigger they became. When their power was at a maximum level, the world was covered with fire pillars of indignation. The fire produced by the gods became a scorching cloud that, condensing, gave birth to a beautiful young woman: and so Durga was born, the only one capable to defeat Mahisha.
The gods kneel, surrendering their weapons to Durga – in order to carry them all, she was created with eighteen arms.
Riding a lion that was gifted by Himalaya, king of the mountains, Durga started the hunt. It was not hard to find the demon, and so the great battle began. Mahishasura was doomed, and he knew – but the strength of his strikes did not falter. Durga was winning even when he started to change forms. Durga jumped and gave the killing blow with her trident, decapitating Mahishasura.
The battle was over, and Durga, with serenity in her eyes, accomplished her task.


Artits serving the Pallava rulers who commissioned the panels of Mamallapuram did not represent the bloody victory upon the demon – that was however obvious, and celebrated all over the world in the end of the Navaratri festival. Durga was represented as a young amazon in the middle of action, surrounded by the jubilee of the gods and challenged by the fierce and grotesque minotaur.

The panel is located in the Mahishasura Mardini Cave, under the Olakneswara Temple near the lighthouse.
GETTING HERE: Mamallapuram (or Mahabalipuram) is located at 58 km from Chennai and 95 from Pondicherry. You can reach it by taxi (an hour) and public transportation.
The nearest airport is in Chennai, and the nearest train station is in Chengalpattu, around 29 km far from there.




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