These are part of Siva’s Retinue. The most important of them are Nandi, Bhringi, Virabhadra and Chandesvara.
Nandi, the Bull, is Siva’s vehicle. Nandi is invariably found sitting right infront of the sanctum sanctorum in every siva temple facing the image and looking at him all the time.
In fact no one is supposed to see the chief deity in a siva temple without paying homage first to the seated Nandi and looking at Siva from a far through the space between the ears and the top of his head.
There are some temples in India which are exclusively built for Nandi like the famous Nandiswara temple in Karnataka. Nandiswara in his anthromorphic form appears just like Siva, with three eyes and four hands of which two are permanently dedicated to the veneration of Siva while the other two carry his weapons.
Symbolically Nandi represents the passion and love of Siva for beings. Nandi is well versed in all scriptural knowledge. Nandi is the first disciple of Lord Siva and he imparted the teachings of Siva to this world. He is the Guru of the great saint Thirumular and he imported the knowledge of devotion to Hanuman. It is a tradition in many parts of rural India to let a Bull roam free in each village as a mark of respect to Nandi and to inseminate the cows in the village.
He was originally a demon named Andhaka, who was transformed by Siva into a humble devotee and admitted into his force as a commander of his armies.
Bhringisa was so loyal to Siva that in his state of devotion he would not offer his worship to any one including Parvathi. It is said that when he saw once Siva in his Ardhanariswara form, he tried to bore through the middle of the body in the form of a bee to complete his obeisance to only the Siva side of the form, much to the annoyance of Parvathi. Bhringi who got his name thus was made to realize his mistake and change his behavior by Lord Siva.
He is Siva in his ferocious mood. Siva manifested himself as Virabhadra, when Daksha, his father in law, ill treated and insulted his wife Sati, Daksha’s own daughter, infront of a large gathering.
Unable to cope with the insult, Sati immolated herself. This angered Siva so much, that he descended upon the place of Daksha with his large army and beheaded Daksha’s.
The images of Virabhadra depict the anger and ferocity of Siva in that destructive mood, wearing a garland of skulls, and with four arms holding four different kinds of weapons.
Virabhadra is a warrior god who was worshipped during wars in ancient and medieval periods. He is also the principal deity of Virasaiva movement and still worshipped by many in the Karnataka region of India.
He is an aspect of Chandi in human form later elevated to the status of divinity, to signify the connection between Siva and Chandi, or Durga.
Chandesvara is a ferocious god, holding weapons of war and ready to do battle for a divine cause. His images are generally found in a corner in all the Siva temples.
As in case of Nandi, devotees usually visit him and pay their respectsat the worship of the Sivalingam in the sanctum sanctorum.