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The Erotic Temples of Khajuraho

Updated on February 8, 2013

India's Magnificent Artistry

Blushing is mandatory during a visit to these historic temples located in the state of Madhya Pradesh in central India. A UNESCO world heritage site these temples graphically depict the abundance of life and worship through elaborate carvings.

Hidden from the rest of the world, these magnificent works of art were ‘re-discovered’ in the 19th century by British Captain T.S. Burt.

Built to Last

The temples at Khajuraho were built during the reign of the Chandela dynasty. The kings established a large realm beginning in the 9th century that continued for five hundred years. Between 950 and 1050 AD they constructed 85 temples of which 20 are still well preserved. They are divided into three distinct groupings: The Eastern, Western and Southern Temples.

Made of different varieties of stone and sandstone the ornate designs are an expression of wild creativity. Every square inch of the facades and inner sanctums display intricate details and exquisite craftsmanship.

Erotica and Religion

The temples of Khajuraho have garnered worldwide interest mostly because of their sexually explicit pictorials. Overtly sensuous and passionate these are the friezes that have offended, amused, titillated and intrigued tourists to the region. They display in graphic detail tantric sex practices and other forms of earthly desire.

However, though they are the most well known of the carvings, they actually comprise only a small percentage (%10) of the work at Khajuraho. The overall vision is a portrayal of the ecstatic nature of life. Singing, dancing, heroism, worship and love are all represented. It is a celebration of the divine contained within earthly existence.

Each temple is dedicated to a particular God or Goddess of the Hindu and Jain traditions. Shrines to these deities are hidden within inner sanctums. Dark, quiet spaces designed with devotional worship in mind. It is this strange journey from the erotic to the divine that illustrates so beautifully the complexity of Indian culture and makes a trip to the temples at Khajuraho a compelling experience.

The Basics

Khajuraho is serviced by air and flying is certainly the most comfortable option. Flights leave to and from Delhi, Agra and Varanasi. The best time of year to visit is September to March when the weather is moderate. There are a variety of accommodations available to suit any budget and taste, although make sure to book ahead as rooms fill fast during the height of the tourist season.

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