Ruins of Ganthai temple, Khujraho
Photographer: Dayal, Deen
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the remnants of the Ghantai Temple at Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh, taken by Deen Dayal in the 1880s, part of the Bellew Collection of Architectural Views of 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 preserved 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. An example of the many ruins of temples here, the Ghantai takes its name from the chain-and-bell (ghanta) motifs carved on its pillars. It dates from the late 10th century and the only part that has survived is the entrance porch and the mandapa or hall, supported by tall pillars covered by a flat ceiling.