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Ardhanarishwar Temple – Mandi – Himachal Pradesh

Ardhanarishwar Temple is a very popular temple dedicated to half-male, half-female form of Shiva in Mandi, Himachal Pradesh. Ardhanarishvara temple is attractive with profusion of carvings, but the real attraction is the murti in the sanctum sanctorum – Shiva with matted hair, wearing a necklace of skulls and holding a snake, joined with Goddess Parvati, beautifully bedecked with ornaments.

Situated inconspicuously in the heart of a residential area, the temple brings a haunting aura to its concrete neighborhood. The temple is intricately carved – three faces of Shiva on the shikhara, an image of Ganesha above the entrance gateway; beautiful geometric motifs on the entrance to the garbhagriha (sanctum sanctorum).

The mandapa is open to the skies and birds often fly in. In the four corners, there are sculpted figures covered in silk; while its arched, open windows are decorated with floral designs. The four pillars of mandapa give it an ascetic air; their capitals bear soothing, symmetrical designs.

There are many figures of birds also, including ducks and peacocks, carved on the outer walls, along with tigers, elephants, divine and demonic figures and beautiful musicians and dancers.

The temple is under the jurisdiction of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

The legend about the half-man half-woman form tells that Shiva assumed this guise when he found Brahma unable to proceed with the process of creation. This fusion of male and female principles is one body. Shiva to the right and Goddess Parvati to the left, is among the wonders of the sculpture of Himachal Pradesh.