Lakshmana temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, was built from 930-950 AD during the reign of King Yasovarman of the Chandella kingdom. It houses a sacred image of Vaikuntha-Vishnu brought from Tibet.
Though the temple is one of the oldest in the Khajuraho fields, it is also one of the most exquistely decorated, covered almost completely with images of over 600 gods in the Hindu Pantheon.
The main shrine of the temple, which faces east, is flanked by four freestanding subsidiary shrines at the corners of the temple platform.
The temple is famous for the explicitely sexual carvings on the southern side of the temple (images 12-13), though these make up only a small fraction of the total.
The temple faces the east and is dedicated to Vishnu, by a rather inappropriate name of Lakshman, the brother of Ram, the hero king ofthe epic poem Ramayana. The temple is as tall as it is long, measuring approximately 25.9 metres in lengtlh.
lt is raised on a high platform which also has some interesting sculptures (royal processions, Court scenes) that you can see before ascending the temple stairs. Moving always around a temple in a clockwise direction (in pradakshina with the right shoulder nearest the temple wall), the band of sculptures unfold like an never-ending picture scroll.
Along the narrow southeast side passage are erotic panels of sexual rituals: of a man engaged in intercourse with a horse, a regal lord being fanned by a female attendant and other court scenes.
There is a lively scene of musicians, a child dancing before the king, a hunting incident in which a wounded deer is being mourned by its fawn as the hunter kneels with his bow and arrow, one of a hunter on horseback pursuing his hapless prey.
The remainder of the panel, as it waves around the Lakshman Temple, depicts caparisoned horses and riders, warring elephant and processions of soldiers.
The lakshman Temple stands like a gaint mountain of stone at the centre, and is unique in khajuraho for its four subsidiary shrines at the four corners of its rectangular platform. Each Subsidairy shrine has a little porch, band of scultpure along the esterior walls.
Once gain you must walk in pradakshina around the Lakshman Temple to see the abundance of sculptural masterpieces on its outer walls. Starting on the south side you will see that the exterior temple wall is divided into several bands, the lowest, the adhishthana, is the base of the temple.
The Lakshan Temple is the only one with a row of elephants that peep out of the base as if they are carrying the weight of the stone universe on their stable shoulders. Between the elephants are warriors protecting the temple: on the north side one elephant has forsaken his duty and naughtily gazes at s couple making love.
Above the elephants, the moulded adhishthana has flower and leaf motifs, a narrow panel depicting court life and erotic scenes.
This tall base of the temple is punctuated by ornamental niches, with an adorable figure of dancing Ganesh in the first followed by images of the seven principal male deities of the Hindu Pantheon and ending on the north side with a gorgeous image of the goddess.
Above the adhishthana are two bands offigurative sculptures that wind in and around the projections and corners ofthe temple. lt is estimated that there are over 230 figurative sculptures on these bands and each band is about a metre high.
There are images of the dikhpalas placed at and facing the ditections that they Protect. One band has figures of Vishnu Rhile another has those of shiva.