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Khajuraho Western Temples; Lakshmana Temple

Lakshmana Temple within the Western Temple Group

  • The important Lakshmana Temple was built by king Yashovarman in the 10th centry. It is the first of the temples to display the prototypical prominent Hindu temple architectural features. Built on a platform with four small sub-shrines outside, the style is called panchayatana, or ‘five platformed shrine.’ The main temple has the standard porch feature with two halls and a special type of roof. The inner shrine area houses the honored deity and is surrounded by a stone sanctum that possesses an elongated circumambulatory path. There is a great spire that jets into the sky as seen from the outside but from the inside it is not visible. The great spire, which is one of the most iconic features of Hindu temples from this period onwards, is called a shikhara. It is built on to a superstructure. The Lakshmana temple likely served as the regional inspiration for all of the other major Hindu temples in the area, especially at Khajuraho since nearly all of the other Hindu temples copy its basic form. Inside, the sculptural program is distinctly different from that on the outside. On the outside of the temple the iconography is largely erotic with no known accurate description that fits the historical context. On the other hand, on the inside, the sculptural program is rather regular and embellish the walls with devotional imagery. Some scholars have called it a visual encyclopedia of Vaishnava iconography, as most of the Vishnu incarnations are depicted, along with his famous scenes and ornamentations.

Sculpture on the side of the Lakshmana Temple, troops going to war