The Vaikunthanatha or Lakshmana temple is one of the earliest, best preserved and most typical of evolved and finest monument stands in the centre of a large cluster of ancient temples, Wester Group of temples of Khajuraho, variously known as Ramachandra or Chaturbhuja of Chandella dynasty. This is the only temple which preserves all the principal elements of sandhara prasada of the panchayatana variety, namely mukha-mandapa, mandapa, maha-mandapa with transepts, antarala and garbhagriha with an inner pradakshinapatha and the four subsidiary shrines are placed at the four corners on the jagati or the platform terrace. Its mature plan and design, grand dimensions and symmetrical proportions, superb sculptural embellishment and architectural elaboration, marks the most evolved and finished achievements of the Central Indian building style and one of the sublime creations of Indian architecture.
This temple is dedicated to Vishnu in form of Vaikunthantha, distinguished by three heads respectively, Lion (Narasimha) and Boar (Varaha) on either side with human face in the centre. This temple was constructed by the Chandella king Yasovarman between circa 930 and 950 A.D., and dedicated for worship in 953- 54A.D. In this book, the Chapter I and II deals with location and general history of Chandellas. The Chapter III deals in details with general description and architecture of Vaikunthanatha or Lakshmana temple. The Chapter IV deals with the sculptural art, iconography, social life and society as depicted in sculptures, erotic sculptures and surasundaris. This work aims at presenting a detailed and systematic study of the temple and sculptures in particular.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Dr. K.M. Suresh (born 1952) presently working as Director (Museum) and worked as Registrar in the Kannada University, Hampi, Vidyaranya-583 276, Karnataka, obtained his Master's Degree in Ancient Indian History, Culture and Eipgraphy from Karnataka University, Dharwar in 1974 and Post-Graduate Diploma in Archaeology from the Institute of Archaeology, Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi in 1986. He obtained Ph.D., Degree from Utkal University, Bhubaneswar, Orissa in 1992 on "Sculptural Art of Hampi-Vijayanagara".
Since his joining in the Archaeological Survey of India in 1976, he has served in various capacities in the Archaeological Museums, at Bijapur, Hampi, Khajuraho, Aihole and Badami. He has been an active field worker in the Excavation Branch IV of Archaeological Survey of India, Bhubaneswar in Orissa State and actively participated in the major excavations at Ramapurana, Banahalli, Khalkatapatna, Thakurani Tilla, Shamsundar Tilla, Udayagiri and Barabati Fort.
Dr. Suresh's other works are Sculptural Art of Hampi; Saivite Sculptures of Khajuraho; Monograph on the Kandariya Mahadeva Temple at Khajuraho; Iconography of Vishnu from Khajuraho; Temples of Karnataka Vol.! & II (Ground Plan & Elevations); Temples of Hampi; Temples of Bellary District; Temples of Koppala District; Ramayana Sculptures from Hampi. He is one of the Chief Editor and Convenor for Shri C.T.M. Kotraiah's Felicitation Volume entitled "Hemakuta : Recent Researches in Archaeology & Museology; Late Dr. C.S. Patil's Commemoration Volume entitled "Panchatantra : Recent Researches in Archaeology"; and Late Dr. H.R. Raghunatha Bhatt's Commemoration Volume entitled "Raghusmriti : Recent Research in Archaeology" and forthcoming Prof : Lakshman Telagavi's Felicitation Volume entitled "History and Culture". His forthcoming works are Vijayanagara Sculptures at Hampi; Early Chalukyan Sculptures at Badami, Aihole, Pattadakal; Temples of South India; Vijayanagara Forts; Jaina Monuments in Karnataka; Saptamatrika Sculptures from South. He has contributed several research papers for leading Journals, Felicitation and Commemoration Volumes on Iconography, sculptural art; epigraphy; temples etc. He is memeber of several academic societies and a guide to M.Phil and Ph.D., scholars in the Kannada University, Hampi.
Khajuraho, is a small but modern village situated on the left bank of river Khudra Nala, a tributary of the Ken river, in the Chattarpur district of Madhya Pradesh. This place played an important role as one of capitals of the Chandellas. With its group of magnificent temple, it was the religious city of the Chandellas. These temples were built between 9th and 12th century A.D., and are most exquisite specimens of Hindu architecture and sculpture in medieval Northern India. The Chandellas were great builders and worshippers of both Siva and Vishnu. In their inscriptions, Siva is invoked as Mahadeva, Vishvanata, Mahesvara, Kedara and so on. Likewise Vishnu is invoked as Vaikunthanatha, Vamana, Trivikrama, Adimurti, Hayagriva, Krishna, Visvarupa and so on. The temples dedicated to Siva are Matangesvara, Visvanatha and Kandariya Mahadeva and the temples dedicated to Vishnu are Lakshmana, Vamana, Javari etc.
Of these, the Vaikunthanatha or Lakshmana temple, is one of the earliest, best preserved and most typical of the evolved variety of Khajuraho temples. This temple was constructed by the Chandella ruler Yasovarman between circa 930 and 950 A.D.,and dedicated to Vaikunthanatha in the form of Vishnu for worship in 953-954 A.D. This temple preserves all the principal elements of sandhara prasad of the panchayatana variety, namely, mukha-mandapa, mandapa, maha-mandapa with transepts, antarala and garbhagriha with an inner and outer embulatory and the four subsidiary shrines are placed at the four corners on the jagati or the platform terrace. This temple with its elevation consists of jagati (platform), adhisthana (basement), jangha (wall portion) and sikhara.
This temple displays a large number of sculptures of arresting beauty. They appear on the three bands of its walls and represent gods and goddesses—mithuna and surasundaris, vyalas and nagis. This is the only temple which displays beautiful makaratorana at the main entrance of mukha-mandapa. All the components of the temple have their roofs, each higher than the other and each with a cluster of peaks around the central nucleus. The roof over mukha-mandapa, mandapa and maha-mandapa are of pyramidal pidhas and the highest roof over the garbhagriha, culminates in a tall sikhara of Nagar style to which are clustered four ura-sringas on each side, including karna-sringas and nasta-stringas, constituting minor peaks of smaller sizes, producing a remarkable effect. Although many books on Khajuraho monuments and sculptures have been published, Dr. K.M. Suresh has his own justification to publish yet another. His aims at presenting a detailed and systematic account of Vaikunthanatha or Lakshmana temple, studying its sculptures and iconography with the help of the Agamas, Puranas and other texts. Dr. Suresh is a studious scholar and has done an intensive study of the sculptures and iconography of this temple. His documentation is thorough and his explanation appeasing. I am sure the art historians will appriciate and welcome this as a work of serious scholarship.
Prof. B.A.Viveka Rai Vice - Chancellor Karnataka State Open University Mysore
During my service in the Archaeological Survey of India Museum at Khajuraho from 1991 to 1993, indeed, I was thrilled and fascinated to write a book on the magnificent temple of Vaikunthanatha or Lakshmana temple and its sculptures in and around this temple, which was built by the Chandella ruler Yasovarman between circa 930 and 950 A.D. This is one of the earliest, best preserved and most typical of evolved variey among the group of temples of Khajuraho. This temple marks the culumination of Central Indian building style and fully developed in the form of sandhara prasada of the panchayatana variety with saptaratha on plan and its elevation maim the highest development of Hindu architectural design.
In this monograph, the Chapter I and II deal with location and general history of Chandellas. The Chapter III deals in details with general description and architecture of Vaikunthanath or Lakshmana temple. The Chapter IV deals with sculptural art, iconography, social life and society as depicted in the sculptures, erotic sculptures and apsaras or sura-sundaris and Chapter V is conclusion. Few books on Khajuraho monuments and sculptures comprehensive study of pprticular temple with its sculptures and iconography. This work aims at presenting a detailed and systematic study of temple and sculptures in particular.
I am grateful to Professor B.A. Viveka Rai, Foremer Vice-Chancellor of Kannada University,Hampi and present Vice-Chancellor of Karnataka State Open University, Mysore, for contributing a foreword to this monograph and for his kind words of appreciation. My grateful thanks and gratitutde to Shri C.T.M. Kotraiah of Mysore, who evinced keen interest in progressing of my works and encouraging me at every stage. My thanks would be incomplete without the acknowledgements of my wife Smt. Gauri Suresh, who throughout the process of this work was a source of inspiration to me.
I remain grateful to the esteemed Institution, Archaeological Survey of India, for my posting in the Archaeological Museum, Khajuraho and for extending the facilities to carry out the research work. In the end I will not forget my hearty thanks to Shri Narayana Singh of Dharitri Books International, Delhi, for his kind co-operation and quick printing of this book.
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