This temple is the earliest of the fully formed temples in the Western group, dating from 950AD. On the right and left are two of the four subsidiary shrines that share the platform with the temple.
Lower frieze (2)
The journey to battle continues. Above there is a drainage gargoyle in the form of an elephant head.
Lakshmana Temple viewed from the ground
The depictions on the temple are of the celestial realm, as opposed to the human realm shown in the frieze on the plinth.
Exterior detail of Lakshmana Temple
Here Hindu gods and goddesses are attended by apsara, or celestial nymphs.
More gods and goddesses
A further view of the upper reaches of the temple. Notice the dancing elephant-headed god Ganesh on the right.
Lower frieze (8)
The soldier certainly seems to be enjoying himself-- but notice the shocked and shamed figure in the background.
Lower frieze (12)
The orgy continues. Perhaps there is an ashamed figure after all -- in the background on the right?
Lion over kneeling warrior with drawn sword.
This motif repeats itself throughout Khajuraho, and may have been an emblem of the Chandelas.
External Niche-shrine with dancing Ganesh
Ganesh is considered the patron of arts and sciences, and the god of intellect and wisdom. Myths differ, but he is usually the offspring of Shiva and Paravati, born with a human head. In a fit of anger, Shiva beheaded him, and later replaced the old head with that of an elephant.
Celestial Nymphs and Vyalas
Vyalas, or mythological creatures with the body of a lion, and various other animal heads, are a favorite theme in medieval temple decoration. They represent violent human passions, and the tiny figures beneath them show attempts to tame these passions.
Lakshmana Temple detail
If you know what this represents, please let me know. Especially, what are the noodle-looking things above the figures? (Surely, not His Noodley Appendage!)
Mithuna is from the Sanskrit for "coupling". It was believed that such putting such imagery on temples would bring good luck.
Figure of child and gecko
The gecko didn't move at all as he sat there sunning himself. Rainer was convinced he was made of metal.
Another view of the mithuna pairing
The central pair are quite sensuous. This image seems more erotic than pornographic, as opposed to the images from the frieze. Nonetheless, the figure on the left, holding something that looks like a toilet plunger, is inspired to a cheeky wank.
Apparently, the medieval Chandelas viewed large, rotund female breasts as erotic imagery just as we do -- this is by no means universal among cultures. The figure on the right would put many a modern-day porn star to shame.
Vyalas, Figures, and Ganesh
Ganesh is on the far left. The god of fire, Agni, holding an axe and a torch with flames behind his head, is on the right.
Agatha sits on the stairs leading to the ardha-mandapa
Between the pillars, the makara-torana (crocodile garland) can be seen.
Detail of Makara-Torana
Here one sees the "crocodile" head, and the garland covered in human figures. In the background there is a glimpse of the abstractly carved ceiling of the ardha-mandapa.
Ceiling of the Mandapa
The wedding ceremonies conducted in this hall included a ritual where the bride and groom circle a fire lit in the center of the hall. Above, one can see a vent for the smoke in the highly carved ceiling above.
Ceiling and Pillars of the Maha-Mandapa
Due to low lighting, it is extremely difficult to get a good photo of the ceilings. It is doubly hard to get photos of this like we did - without a tripod.
View from the Maha-Mandapa into the Sanctum Sanctorum
Inside one sees a three-headed image of Vishnu. The central head is human, while the other two are those of a boar and a lion.
Images from the Outside of the Sanctum Sanctorum, seen from the Circumambulatory
The main figure here is that of Hayagriva, yet another avatar, or incarnation, of Vishnu. He has the head of a horse, and represents knowledge and wisdom. At one time, the statue held a book in its right hand.
On the Sanctum Sanctorum, as seen from the Circumambulatory
The central figure is probably another avatar of Vishnu. Unfortunately, with the head missing, I cannot identify which one.
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