Khajuraho Temples in Central India
Idols Exhibiting Erotic Pictures
Carvings at Khajuraho
About Khajuraho Temples
In the deep confines of the State of Madhya Pradesh lay hidden, precious architectural marvels for centuries. These were the Khajuraho Temples, lost deep within the annals of forgotten history. The ancient temples were rediscovered by engineer T.S. Burt during British Raj.
The temples are situated in the district of Chhattarpur in MP. By the time of their rediscovery in 1838 a large number of temples were destroyed due to lack of upkeep and the vagaries of the weather. The monuments are now under the supervision of ASI or Archaeological Society of India. About twenty five temples remain intact. Their enigmatic appeal and sensuous intrigue attracts thousands of visitors from all over the World. The archaeological marvels defy the codes of sexuality in a conservative India. They stand testimony to creative genius of artisans during the Golden Rule of Chandela Rajput Kings. The Jain places of worship do not contain these erotic carvings.
The monuments are preserved by ASI or Archaeological Survey of India. This Government initiative preserves and maintains all monuments of historical and archaeological importance in India.
A visit to the temples is a lifetime experience especially for foreigners not familiar with the mystical leanings of the East. The exuberant feature of these monuments is not only the erotic - the architecture and carvings are spell binding as well.
Video Khajuraho Temples
History of Khajuraho
The Temples were built by the Chandela Rajput Kings who drew their ancestry from the Moon God. The temples dedicated to Hindu Gods, Goddesses and their consorts were built in a period of two hundred years between 9th and 11th century AD.
In that span, about eighty temples were built of which some were Jain Temples. The erotic sculptures have been carved out on the outer walls of Hindu Temples. The inner walls and sanctum contains carvings of Gods and Goddesses but do not contain any erotic elements. Not all the monuments depict sexuality. The erotic carvings could well be based on the ancient treatise of sex known as Kamasutra in India.
This destination has become a World Heritage Site as declared by UNESCO. No wonder these monuments have gained popularity among the travellers from all over the World. In order to explore these monuments you have to spend at least two days in the township. They are situated at three complexes within the Khajuraho township. They are situated not very far and can be reached on foot or on a cycle rickshaw.
Some of the most visited Hindu and Jain temples in Khajuraho are as follows:
- Kanderiya Mahadeo
- Nilkanth Mahadeo
- Brahma Temple
- Lalgun Mahadeo
- Adinath Temple (Jain)
- Parasvanath (Jain)
- Chitra Gupta
- Laxman Temple
The carvings that depict the heavenly apsaras (damsels) engaged in various day to day act. These are most popular sight on the temple walls. Their voluptuous bodies are sensuous in nature, and are placed besides bizarre animal figures and entangled couples in sex acts.
The sensuous carvings have had the purpose of educating young princes and nobles grow into adulthood. The emphasis on sex offers insight into one of the most intricate part of human life, and celebrates the spirit of procreation and associated pleasure.
The temples offer and interesting spectacle for quizzed traveller who folk here in large numbers every year. They act as a window to India's esoteric past. For those with little or no understanding of Oriental societies, the visit is an eye opener.
The Khajuraho temples exhibit Nagara style of architecture, much prevalent in Northern India. The primary feature is the shikhara or central built dome right over the main deity. The temples are based on a raised platform made of stone called adhisthana.
The arches are made using corbel, where as the dome is created by overlapping masonry. The access to the mandapa or central hall is given through the porch. This layout separates the garbh grah or central shrine from the external World. The access to the main shrine is separated by antarala a small vestibule. Further addition in form of Mahamandap and ardh mandap following the entrance is often built in order to distance the main shrine further.
There are usually more than two smaller towers that function as eye catchers and draw attention to the main tower. The main tower has a stone rim, a disk like structure which is usually rimmed. This is called Amalaka and crowned with a golden kalash or a pot which supports the banner as well. The stone rim possibly symbolises the Sun as a getaway to the cosmic realm.
All these elements are usually found in large temples, but small ones do not have some of these elements, though the basic structure remains the same.
The temple architecture in the country is unique in the sense that they are all based on principals mentioned above. Nevertheless these places of worship differ in their outward appearances in different regions of India.
The Place & Tourism
Khajuraho village has been transformed from a sleepy hamlet to a top tourism destination in India. The amazing mix of ancient and modern monuments placed in each others vicinity is unique in the World.
Travellers have turned this into a modern tourism hub with hospitality industry flourishing every year. The temple town is well connected by flights from New Delhi, Varanasi, Mumbai and Chennai. The rail connection is Jhansi, Mahoba and Khajuraho Railway Station. Many trains ply from major towns in India.
The town lives way back in its old attire totally ignorant of the tourism here. The touts are the most active elements in this destination of twenty thousand, with a busy airport and a railway station. The local markets are not affected by hustle bustle of the tourists, and by the presence of large number of hotels and resorts.
The standard mode of travel to the groups of temples is by an auto or a cycle rickshaw. You can also hire a taxi for greater comfort. Stay away from guides, touts, masseurs and yoga teachers. If you need to interact with any ask your hotel in Khajuraho for guidance.
There are many accommodations in this town that offer a budget stay. The wealthy prefer luxurious and five stars hotels scattered all along the town. Some of the well known properties are:
- Hotel Lalit
- Ramada Khajuraho
- Jass Oberoi
- Jass Trident
Some of the well known eateries are:
- Raja Cafe
- Bamboon Treat
- SunShine Restaurant
- Bella Italia
Travellers seeking luxury stay should chose the hotels and restaurants named in the list. Semi luxury and budget properties abound and offer fair price.
Though people travel independently, it is much better to travel in group. There are all inclusive Khajuraho packages organised by the tour operators in MP. These are affordable and well conducted.
Options: Panna National Park is nearby to the temple town. Hence those staying there for tiger safaris can visit the temples by travelling a short distance. This way they will be able to enjoy tiger safaris as well as visit the World famous monuments.
You can travel to many places from here on as per your plan. In India, MP tourism destinations are increasingly becoming popular. There are large number of tour operators who can customise and arrange your trip.
Dance Festival at Khajuraho
Annual Dance Festival
Khajuraho Dance Festival takes place every year in spring. The shows are based on Indian classical dances enacted by star performers from all over India and the World. The colourful presentation is dazzling bonanza of the finest art form.
The festival is attended by the connoisseurs of Indian performing arts, critics, rich and celebrities and regular tourists who flock here in thousands. The Event is managed by MPTDC which is a State Government Enterprise. Many tour operators offers khajuraho tour packages which are affordable and well organised.
The event is held for one full week. But you can choose the package which offers at least three days attendance at the festival. This would be the most satisfying moment of your tour of Madhya Pradesh.
Khajuraho Dance Festival
It is said that every Chandella Ruler built a temple at Khajuraho which had became their religious and cultural capital. The political capital of the dynasty was at Mahoba town in MP State.
Khajuraho Temples in India
© 2012 Uday Patel
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