Kandaria Mahadeo temple, Khujraho
Photographer: Dayal, Deen
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the Kandariya Mahadeva Temple at Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh, taken by Deen Dayal in 1882, part of the Bellew Collection of Architectural Views. 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 largest, grandest and most famed of the Khajuraho temples is the Kandariya Mahadeva, a Shiva temple enshrining a linga. It was probably begun in the reign of King Vidyadhara (ruled c.1004-29). It represents an apotheosis of medieval central India's architectural and sculptural development. The temple is entered through an ornate portal and is raised on a rectangular plinth decorated with sculptural friezes. The sanctuary with a circumambulatory corridor is preceded by a mandapa or hall, and five verandahs with vestibules allow light into the interior which is lavishly decorated with carvings. The outer walls feature tiers of fine sculptures including an assortment of sexual postures. The temple spire or shikhara rises to 40 metres in height.