Monday, June 26, 2006
More Vicarious Traveling: "The Lost Temples of India"
Someone posted a Learning Channel documentary called "The Lost Temples of India" on Google Video.
It exploits many of of the annoying clichés you would expect, including repeated references to elephants and a near obsession with the phallic symbolism of the Shivalingam.
It also plays a bit of a geographic and historical trick on viewers, by starting and ending with the erotic temples at Khajuraho (which it insists are "lost" and "forgotten"), and shots of the Taj Mahal. But in between it is actually mainly about the South: the temples built by Rajaraja Chola, the city/kingdom of Vijayanagar, and the Meenakshi Temple at Madurai. The attempt to link the Hindu temples of Southern India with Khajuraho is nonsensical, but I suppose the producers felt they had to sex it up a bit (elephants alone would be insufficient!).
Despite its many flaws, it must be said that the cinematography in "The Lost Temples of India" is quite good -- there are some beautiful shots of the temples in question. And there are actually a couple of facts in the documentary, though they sometimes get lost amidst the Orientalist cheese. Since we're traveling vicariously, why not enjoy it a little?