Tārakāsura was the son of Vajrāṅga and Varāṅgī. He had practised severe austerities, pleased Brahmā the creator and had obtained many boons that had made him almost invincible. Ṣaṇmukha or Subrahmaṇya, son of Śiva and Pārvatī, ultimately killed him in a battle.

He had three sons: Tārākṣa, Kamalākṣa and Vidyunmālī. They too pleased Brahmā and through his grace, had built the Tripura, the three moving cities made of gold, silver and iron. When they became a terror to the gods, Śiva destroyed these cities and the demons with one arrow. Hence he got the name Tripurāri (enemy or destroyer of the three cities).