Lakshmana Temple in Khajuraho
¤ Well-Preserved Stone Temple of Khajuraho
To the left of the entrance a path takes you up to the famous
Lakshmana Temple, a grand edifice that stands on a high platform. It
is dedicated to Lord Vishnu the preserver of the Hindu Trinity
of Gods. If you are one of those who realise after coming all the way
here that you wont be able to walk so much, take heart
this temple alone will make your trip.
Dating from 930-950 AD it is one of earliest Khajuraho stone temples
going in Khajuraho. Considering its age, the Lakshmana Temple is
remarkably well-preserved; in fact it is one of the best preserved
temples of the whole lot.
According to the inscription on the Lakshmana Khajuraho Stone Temple,
it was built by a certain King Yasovarman to install a
Vaikuntha-Vishnu image (which can still be seen here) gifted to him by
his Pratihara overlord, Devapala. The image was brought originally
from Tibet (or Bhosa as it was known then), where the cult of
worshipping Vishnu in his Vaikuntha (the multi-headed Vishnu) avatar
¤ The Exclusive Carving of Khajuraho Stone Temple
outer wall of the Lakshmana stone Temple in Khajuraho is exquisitely
carved indeed every inch of space bears the mark of the
sculptors artistic flight of fantasy. In front of it are two
open pavilions or mandapas.
The one furthest to the south is the Varaha mandapa with a huge image
of the standing Varaha (the boar incarnation of Vishnu), the preserver
who rescued the earth from primeval floods (the ones that Noah sailed
too, one presumes).
The entire body of the divine creature is carved in low relief along
with the figures of more than 600 gods and goddesses of the Hindu
pantheon. Besides the Varaha mandapa is a reconstructed Devi mandapa
which once contained an image.
¤ The Sculptures
The platform that the temple stands on has a charming sculptural
frieze of elephants and horsemen in procession. On the southern side
are a few of the more explicitly erotic panels. Climbing the stairs
one reaches the broad platform of the temple meant for the ritual
pradakshina or circumambulation.
It is noteworthy in having a boundary railing and a subsidiary shrine
in each corner. The most delectable part of the Khajuraho stone temple
scheme is the bands of sculptural decoration with exquisite figures of
apsaras (celestial courtesans/nymphs), the guardians of the directions
and other divine creatures. Erotic panels take a central position on
the two balconies of the stone temple. On the western side are a few
outstanding sculptures and the voluptuous, curvaceous forms of nude
women with ornate jewellery.
The Khajuraho stone temple faces east and a steep flight of stairs
leads up to the inner sanctum placed high above ground level. There is
an entrance porch, a hall of pillars and interesting sculptural motifs
on the sidewall. The inner ritual passage winds around the sanctum and
is dressed with bands of sculpture in imitation of the temples
external wall. The deitys alcove is raised above floor level and
contains within its dark interiors a large image of the Vaikuntha
Vishnu, bearing three heads representing his various incarnations.