Carvings of [Parsvanatha temple] Khujraho temples.
Photographer: Dayal, Deen
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the sculptural decoration of the Parasvanatha Temple at Khajuraho, taken by Deen Dayal in the 1880s, part of the Bellew Collection of Architectural Views in India. The small town of Khajuraho in the Chatarpur district is the site of dozens of Shiva, Vishnu and Jaina temples, which were built between the 9th and 12th centuries under the aegis of the Chandella dynasty which ruled in central India. Of about 85 temples said to have been erected at this site only about twenty-five have survived. The compact temples, none of which are very large, stand on high plinths (jagatis) lifting them from their environs, instead of the usual enclosure walls. The sensuous sculptures that decorate them, some of which are explicitly erotic, are among the masterpieces of Indian art. The sculptures have been read as relating to Tantric practices, or illustrations of ancient treatises on sex. The Parasvanatha is a large Jaina temple built in the rule of King Dhangadeva (ruled c.950-1002). Despite the Jaina dedication, its sculpture depicts Vaishnava themes. It does not feature the projecting balconies which are a characteristic of the mature Khajuraho style. The temple is crowned by a tall spire consisting of clusters of miniature towers. Its outer walls have three tiers of sculpture and Jaina figures are carved on the lintel of the interior doorway.