At the top of Mandi town there is a temple of Shyama Kali
deity, which is another manifestation of the consort of Lord Shiva.
THE LEGEND OF SHYAMA KALI TEMPLE
It. is said that the divine 'Sati' use once started dancing and in her joy she lost herself and went on with a fierce dance putting the three worlds in danger. Shiva, her husband, was approached to do something and Shiva quietly laid himself on her route of dance.
When, Kali had put her feet on prostrated Shiva she came to herself and stopped. In this manifestation, the spouse Kali is painted black oil the face and she looks fierce with her garland of skulls and tongue protruding out of remorse for treading on her husband's body.
Raja Shyam Sen ruled Mandi from 1664 to 1675 and he was a great devotee of the deity Kali. Raja Jit Sen of Suket, ruler of the adjoining State, insulted Shyam Sen and Shyam Sen invaded Suket. He prayed and invoked the blessings of Kali before he set out. On his victory he was said to have built the temple and installed the deity. She is popularly known as 'Tarna Devi'.
The Sikh kingdom after the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1839 passed through bad times. During the rule of Maharaja Kharak Singh of the Sikh kingdom the army became almost uncontrollable. Kharak Singh had left all the powers in the hands of his son Naunihal Singh.
Naunihal Singh hit upon the strategy of invading Mandi and Kullu to give an opportunity to the army for fight and loot. Mandi and Kullu had given no cause for the invasion. However, General Ventura led a strong Sikh force to Mandi. General Ventura stopped within seven miles of the Mandi town and demanded some payment, which was made. Raja Balbir Sen of Mandi was called upon to visit the General in his camp on the pretext of receiving a Khilat
On his arrival the Raja was imprisoned and Mandi town was occupied. Balbir's imprisonment was followed by the capture of the Kamlah fortress and the Raja was sent as a prisoner to Amritsar and confined in the fort of Gobindgarh. Kullu was next invaded.
One Goshaon, a clever Minister of Raja Balbir Sen, left the State in the disguise of a domestic servant and went to Lahore. He managed to gain the confidence of the rulers and had himself sent to Gobindgarh fort to work for the prisoner. The clever Minister who gave out that Raja Balbir Sen had great spiritual powers (Sidh Purush) and could cure incurable diseases hatched a plot by his spiritual power.
Some cases came to him and got cured by a touch of the Jhanda Sahib (flag post of the Gurudwara by the site of the fort). Maharaja Sher Singh who had become the ruler of Lahore heard of this and when there was a very heavy rain and floods, Raja Balbir Sen was brought to stop the rains and flood. It is said that Raja Balbir Sen prayed and prayed to the goddess Shyama Kali and took a vow that if the calamity was ended and he was released he would decorate the interior of the deity's temple with gold leaf.
It is said that the prayer of Raja Balbir Sen did work and the rains were stopped. Balbir Sen was released with full honors and Mandi State with all that had been looted was restored to him. The Raja fulfilled his vow. Since then the Shyama Kali is held in very great veneration and the temple is visited by thousands of pilgrims every year.