Mahishamardini of Kadiyali

Kadiyali,part of Udupi or Shivalli in the district of South Kanara, has claimed to be regarded as one of the most ancient and reputed centres of Shakti worship in Karnataka. This claim for recognition is not based on the magnificence of any architectural execution in this area, for a historian or archaeologist will have hardly anything to be seized with spectacular physical expression. An ordinary stone structure of the medium size with slanting roofs covered by thick granite slabs, very characteristic of the Western Coast, particularly of the Kanara Districts and Kerala, is the abode of Goddess Durga. This edifice is ascribable to circa 10th century A. D.


In the Sanctum Sanctorum is installed the Mulasthana deity, the Mahishamardini form of Durga. The real greatness of the monument lies in the iconographic significance of the sculpture. Undoubtedly, this image is an early type of this class of Durga representation.

Sri Mahishamardini fully decorated

It is assignable to circa 6th century A. D. Nearly two feet in height, Devi is carved out of black hard but smooth stone. The trident is held almost in the vertical position, the head of Mahisha being pierced by the end of the trident Karanda Mukuta is seen mounted by a lotus, which is rarely seen in figures later than the 8th century A. D. This is an indication of Divine Power. The loin cloth is shown just in the form of a modest underwear. The Kati-sutra presents the features of a belt. The beaded necklace and the ribbon-like ananta clearly testify to the antiquity of the image. There is the clear depiction of severity on the face, perhaps borne out of the determination to vanquish Mahisha.

It is befitting that this ancient Temple dedicated to Mahishamardini should be raised in Shivalli, for here we have

also one of the most ancient and magnificent Shiva Temples of Karnataka in the popularly know Sri Ananteshwara Temple, Udupi. The worship of Shiva and Shakti has been contemporaneous.

Another feature of this centre of worship is the association of Subrahmanya with Shakti. Here, Subrahmanya is worshipped in the form of Naga itself. This is, indisputably, an ancient practice.

It is also worthy of note that the worship of Subrahmanya (Naga) is associated with Sri Ananteshwara Temple, thereby suggesting the Soma-Skanda sanctity.

In recent years, there has been remarkable improvement in the management of the Temple as well as in archana, with the result that the devotees are drawn to this sacred place in large numbers.