A place full of natural beauty, Menal is famous for its ancient Shiva temples, picturesque water falls and dense forests. The word Menal is derived from mahanal, a great chasm or cleft.
Prithviraj Chauhana, who also ruled Delhi for a while, had set his heart on Menal, and it became his favourite mountain retreat when the scorching Rajasthan summer would set in. For this he built a palace on the banks of the Menal river which runs over granite slabs before finally plunging into a gorge over 122 meters deep. The entrance to the mansion is via a two storeyed gateway carved with images of the gods Ganesha and Bhairava. The square courtyard beyond the entrance houses a huge Shiva temple of stone, built in the ancient Hindu style with a carved pagoda and pillars. The walls of the temple are carved with motifs of Hindu dieties and various other themes, interspersed with images of elephants. of special mention are the images of Shiva and Parvati which form the chief subject of the engravings. Shiva and Parvati are depicted in various postures and surrounded by dancers, musicians, lesser gods and animals. Halfway up the pagoda is a large stone lion, perhaps depicting victory. A number of smaller ruined temples lie around the Shiva temple.
The 11th century Mahanaleshvara temple is a perfect example of the western Indian style of stone temple architecture. The entrance is embellished with a seated stone lion, and there are number of guardian deities carved on portruding panels in the walls. The inner sanctum is dominated by projecting balconies while the roof is a pyramidical array of ribbed and finely carved stone.