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Khajuraho Temples of India – Amazing Stone Monuments of the Past
Khajuraho temples are situated in the state of Madhya Pradesh in India. These temples were built between 950 and 1050 AD by the Chandela dynasty who ruled central India between 900 and 1130 AD. Khajuraho was the capital of the Chandela dynasty. Originally 85 temples were built in an area spread over 20 square kilometers, but now only 22 temples are survived in an area of 6 square kilometers. Khajuraho temples are devoted to Hinduism and Jainism, two different religious schools in India. Khajuraho temples attract a large number of visitors every year and it is the second largest tourist center of India after Taj Mahal.
The artworks and its erotic nature have gained excessive amount of attraction from a large number of art lovers and tourists all over the world. Purpose of the carving of these erotic pictures in a religious place like this is unknown because of the unavailability of sufficient written records of that time. But these art works are of highest quality and it required a good amount of dedication and patience for the creation of such complicated sculpture works.
History of Khajuraho Temples
Though no written records are available, an interesting legend is available specifying the history of the construction of these beautiful temples in Khajuraho. Hemavati, the beautiful daughter of a Brahmin priest in central India was seduced by the Moon God, resulting in the birth of Chandravarman, who was the founder of Chandela dynasty. Hemavati advised his son Chandravarman, through a dream, to build a temple that is capable of revealing the different aspects of sexual fantasy of human beings to the people of the country.
Kings of Chandela dynasty constructed 85 temples in Khajuraho which itself was a mammoth work and it required a large number skilled manpower and expertise. Out of these 85 temples, only 22 temples are remaining at present. The details of some of these temples are as below:
Kandariya Mahadeo Temple: This temple was built between 1025 and 1050 AD and it is dedicated to Lord Siva. This is one of the largest among the Khajuraho temples and it has a height of 31 meters. The temple consists of an entrance, a mandapa, a vestibule and a sanctum. The Kandariya temple is full of beautiful carvings of celestial maidens, divine deities, gods and goddesses.
Chitragupta Temple: This temple is dedicated to Sun God and it the only temple that is dedicated to Sun God in Khajuraho. The temple faces towards east (towards rising sun) and an eleven headed Vishnu is placed in the central niche. The position of Chitragupta temple is between Kandariya and Vishwanatha temples. The temple consists of a sanctum without ambulatory, a vestibule, a maha mandapa and an entrance porch. The walls of the temple are carved with the images of erotic couples and beautiful maidens.
Vishwantha Temple: This temple was built in 1002 AD and it is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It consists of an entrance porch, an ardha mandapa, a mandapa, a maha mandapa and a sanctum enclosed by an ambulatory. The position of this temple is between Lakshmana and Kandariya temples. The three-headed image of Lord Brahma is the main attraction of this temple. The entrances of the temple are decorated with magnificent stone carvings of elephants.
Lakshmana Temple: This temple was built by King Yashovarman between 930 and 950 AD. It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The temple consists of an entrance porch, a mandapa, a maha mandapa, a vestibule and a sanctum. At the entrance, a lintel is placed presenting the figures of divine trinity of Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva along with Goddess Lakshmi.
Matangeshwara Temple: This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is famous for the eight feet high lingam (male reproductive organ, representing natural process of reproduction) for worshiping.
Parsvanatha Temple: It is a Jain temple and it is also one of the largest among the Khajuraho temples. It enshrines a throne facing the bull emblem that represents Jain’s first tirthankara Adinath. This temple was constructed in the middle of 10th century AD, as per the records.
Adinatha Temple: This is another Jain temple and the deity of worship is the image of their first tirthankara Adinath. It is believed to be constructed in the later part of 11th century AD. In plan and elevation, the temple bears similarity with Vamana temple, another important temple in Khajuraho.
Duladeo Temple: This is a Lord Siva temple and it was built in the early half of 12th century AD. The temple consists of a sanctum without ambulatory, a vestibule, a mahamandapa and an entrance porch. Duladeo temple is famous for its outstanding art works of many apsaras (beautiful heavenly ladies) decorated with crowns and ornaments.
Chaturbhuja Temple: This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and was constructed in 1100 AD. The huge carved image of Lord Vishnu, in the sanctum is the main attraction of this temple. The temple consists of a sanctum without ambulatory, a vestibule mandapa and an entrance porch. The exceptionality of Chaturbhuja temple is the absence of any erotic pictures among the sculpture works on the walls.
Varaha Temple: Varaha temple was constructed between 900 and 925 AD. A colossal image of varaha is the deity of this temple. Varaha is the believed to be the incarnation of Lord Vishnu. This varaha shrine is completely built of sand stone.
Jagadambi Temple: Jagadambi temple is famous for its beautiful sculptures. The temple is originally dedicated to Lord Vishnu and now an image of Parvati enshrined in the sanctum. The temple consists of a vestibule, a maha mandapa and an entrance porch.
Nandi Shrine: Nandi is the bull of Lord Siva and a massive image of Nandi is placed on a square pavilion which rests on twelve pillars. The architectural works of this temple have similarity with the works of Vishwanatha temple and the position of Nandi shrine is that it faces the main deity of Vishwanatha temple
Javari Temple: Javari temple was constructed between 1075 and 1100 and the walls of this temple are beautifully filled with amazing sculpture works. The temple consists of a sanctum, a vestibule, a mandapa and a portico.
Vamana Temple: According to the Hindu mythology, Vamana is the incarnation of Lord Vishnu and this temple is dedicated to Vamana. The temple consists of a sanctum vestibule, a mahamandapa and an entrance porch. An image of four armed Vamana enshrines the sanctum.
Khajuraho Temples Tour
Khajurao temples are the largest Hindu and Jain temples and famous for their creative sculpture works based on the sexual thoughts and beliefs prevailed at that time. Though these temples were built for the worship of Gods, now they are famous for the erotic works created on its walls. Some scholars, who have studied the artistic value of these works in detail, believe that these erotic art works are the visual portrayal of Kamasutra (an ancient text in Sanskrit written by Vatsayana unfolding the details of human sexual behaviors). UNESCO has recognized Khajurao temples as a World Heritage Site in 1986 and Khajuraho temple monument is considered as one of the “seven wonders” of India.