One of the Seven Wonders of India and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Khajuraho, in the Central Indian state Madhya Pradesh, is an outstanding display of ancient Indian sculpture and architecture. Khajuraho travel takes you to a different world where physical and spiritual affairs come together.
Khajuraho Temples, apparently depicting eroticism on their outer walls, indicate a deep philosophy, of leaving all worldly emotions and actions like sex outside, while trying to unite with the Supreme Power, worshipped inside the temple.
The splendidly carved temples were created between 950 and 1150 AD, in the rule of Chandel Dynasty. Though the city was the cultural center for the dynasty, the rulers didn’t dwell here and so there is no fort in the city. The place derived its name from Sanskrit word Khajurvahaka, meaning ‘Place with Date Palms’, as there were abundant Date Palms here in those times.
The temple complex covering 20 sq. km is surrounded by a wall having eight gates, each flanked by two golden Date Palms. Out of the original eighty temples, 25 are in a reasonably maintained state. The sandstones used to construct the temples have been joined by mortise and tenon joints, without any mortar. Such a construction requires a huge accuracy and so, it is assumed that the artisans who created the temples were highly talented and were in hundreds. Each megalith used for building the columns and architraves weigh about twenty tons.
Today the temple premises have been adorned with lovely lawns and flowering plants and you should travel to Khajuraho for viewing these splendid temples.
As wrongly assumed earlier, the erotic sculptures don’t include any deity, but common men and women, and the fleshy female figurines depicted in the sculptures are Apsaras, i.e. mythic courtesans in the heavens.
The most ornate and largest Hindu temple in the complex is Kandariya Mahadev Temple. It was commissioned in 1050 by the great Chandel King Vidyadhara and is dedicated to Lord Shiva.
The oldest temple on the western side of the complex is that of Chaunsat Yogini, i.e. sixty-four Yoginis. It is a 900 AD temple and is dedicated to Mother Goddess Kali. The main deity’s image doesn’t exist now. This is the only granite temple in the complex.
In the splendid east-facing Chitragupta Temple, image of Sun God has been shown riding a chariot.
Vishwanath Temple is dedicated to Lord Brahma, the Creator God amongst the Hindu Trinity. Its northern gateway is guarded by carved Lions and southern by Elephants. There is a shrine of Nandi, mount of Lord Shiva, in front of this temple.
Other remarkable Hindu temples in the complex are Lakshmana Temple, Devi Jagadamba Temple, Matangeshwara Temple, Beejamandal Temple, Dulhadeo Temple, Chaturbhuj Temple/Jatkari Temple, Vamana Temple and Javari Temple.
There are many outstanding Jain temples in the complex too. They are Parshwanath Temple, Adinath Temple, Shantinath Temple and Ghantai Temple. There is a remarkable 12-feet tall idol of Lord Shantinath in the Shantinath Temple. Ghantai Temple depicts outstanding carvings of the sixteen dreams of mother of Lord Mahavir.
Every evening, an hour-long amazing light and sound show is conducted in the lawns of the temple complex, which is a must-see. There are two shows, one in English and the other in Hindi. The rich history, philosophy and information of the temples are showcased during this show.
Miniature erotic sculptures are something which you may wish to shop for in Khajuraho. You can also buy some Mughal and Pichhwai paintings at some good shops.
Khajuraho hotels serve all types of food, some of them being really good.
Every February/March of Khajuraho is marked by the Khajuraho Dance Festival, which is an extravaganza of Indian classical dance presentations on the beautiful backdrop of temples of Vishwanath or Chitragupta.