Lakshmana Temple

Along w/the Kandariya Mahadev temple, the Lakshmana temple (dedicated to Vishnu ) is one of Khajuraho's most famous temples.  It was built between 930-950 CE, and so is about a century earlier than the other.

Architecturally, it has all the elements of the most developed style: sanctum, antarala, maha mandapa, mandapa, and entrance porch.  It differs from the others in having small temples at each corner of its base platform (two are visible here), and fewer subsidiary towers. 

As with all Khajuraho's temples, the exterior is covered with carvings, as well as a six inch wide band of scenes running along the south, west, and north wall of the base platform (that is, on all the sides except for the front side in the picture). 

At left is the Matangeshvara temple, the only temple in which daily worship still takes place.  Facing the Lakshmana temple is the smaller Varaha temple, from which this photo was taken. 

November 2005


This shows the view from the north, showing not only the manicured grounds (very nicely kept) but also the temple's perfect profile, and the way that the small towers at the edges of the platform echo and lead into the main tower.  The tower with the flag is the Matangeshvara temple, and which here by a trick of perspective seems to be at the rear of the Lakshman temple.



November 2005


Two fine images of deities set in niches in the external walls--Ganesh on the left, and Vishnu (as Varaha the Boar Avatar) on the right.  The Boar figure bears the Earth on his left arm, after rescuing her from the depths of the ocean, and we see at least three of his emblems--club, discus, and conch shell. 

The eight-armed dancing Ganesh image also holds several of his emblems, among them (clockwise from bottom left) the shell, rosary, lotus, elephant goad, and serpent.

November 2005



Two examples of the erotic art here--a "vegetarian" scene of a small boy helping a woman remove a thorn from her foot, and a "non-vegetarian" scene (no bigger than my hand, but pointed out to me by one of the ever-helpful ASI workers)--of a shaven-headed man and his lady friend. 


November 2005



The Lakshmana temple also has a continuous frieze running at head height (if one is six feet tall) around the sides and back of the temple.  Many of these depict animated scenes from everyday life, such as this spirited group of musicians--men on the right women on the left--playing instruments that are immediately familiar (and still recognizable in modern India). 

Troops of soldiers with horses and elephants are also popular (and conducive to sculpting in linear groups).

November 2005


Some of these friezes also depict the sort of erotic art for which Khajuraho is famous.  This group is in a particularly conspicuous place--it is the very first panel on the temple's southern side--and would have been immediately visible to anyone circling the base of the temple, a common ritual practice.  Such placement clearly shows that the temple's creators wanted these scenes to be visible.

November 2005


This is perhaps the most famous image from these friezes--even though it is the size of a hand, and one of the few examples of bestiality.  This image certainly acknowledges this as part of the human sexual experience, but this is a miniscule part of the whole.  One can also read several meanings into the behavior of the woman standing behind the horse--is she covering her eyes in disbelief, or is she sneaking a peek (at either of the men)?

November 2005

On to the Matangeshvar Temple Page



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Last modified 12 January 2006