Khajuraho


Situated in the heart of Central India, in the state of Madhya Pradesh, Khajuraho is a fascinating village with a quaint rural ambience and a rich cultural heritage. The fascinating temples of Khajuraho, India's unique gift of love to the world, represent the expression of a highly matured civilization. It is one of the top tourist places of India. An Airport has been built in this small village. Tourists with fat pockets but less time can fly Delhi-Agra-Khajuraho-Delhi in a day! There are a lot of hotels in the area to stay. A few are run by foreigners. The shops in Khujuraho sell a lot of handicrafts and some of them are really good and reasonably priced.

History of Temples
Khajuraho temples were constructed between 950 and 1050 A.D. during the reign of Chandel Empire. Khajuraho derives its name from the Khajur tree (the date palm tree) which can be found in abundance in the area. These temples are considered the "high point" of Indian architectural genius in the Medieval period.

Originally there were 85 temples, of which only 22 still exist. The amazingly short span of 100 years, from 950 AD - 1050 AD, saw the completion of all the temples, in an inspired burst of creativity. With the wane of the Chandela empire, these magnificent temples lay neglected, and vulnerable to the ravages of Nature. It was only in this century, that they were rediscovered, restored and granted the recognition that they justly deserve. The murals depict the life and times of the Chandelas, and celebrate the erotic state of being. They not only testify to the mastery of the craftsman, but also to the extraordinary breadth of vision of the Chandela Rajputs under whose reign, these temples were constructed. Their style of architecture was also rather peculiar to their times. Each structure stands on a high masonry platform with a distinct upward direction to their build, further enhanced by several vertical projections to simulate the effect of an overall lightness. The three main compartments are the entrance (ardhamandapa), assembly hall (mandapa), and the actual sanctum (garbha griha). The temples are grouped into three geographical divisions: western, eastern and southern.

The creators of Khajuraho claimed descent from the moon. The legend that describes the origin of this great dynasty is a fascinating one: Hemavati, the beautiful young daughter of a Brahmin priest was seduced by the moon god while bathing in the Rati one evening. The child born of this union between a mortal and a god was a son, Chandravarman. Harassed by society, the unwed mother sought refuge in the dense forest of Central India where she was both mother and guru to her young son. The boy grew up to found the great Chandela dynasty. When he was established as a ruler, he had a dream-visitation from his mother, who implored him to build temples that would reveal human passions, and in doing so bring about a realization of the emptiness of human desire. Chandravarman began the construction of the first of the temples, successive rulers added to the fast growing complex.

Khajuraho


Yet another theory is that the erotica of Khajuraho, and indeed of other temples, had a specific purpose. In those days when boys lived in hermitages, following the Hindu law of being "brahmacharis" until they attained manhood, the only way they could prepare themselves for the worldly role of 'householder' was through the study of these sculptures and the earthly passions they depicted.

If the temples of Khajuraho can be said to have a theme, it is woman. A celebration of woman and her myriad moods and facets- Writing letters, applying kohl to her eyes, brushing her hair, dancing with joyous abandon playing with her child. Woman - innocent, coquettish, smiling - infinitely seductive, infinitely beautiful. Depicted in a wealth of detail, sharply etched, and sculpted with consummate artistry. The philosophy of the age dictated the enjoyment of the delights of arth (material wealth) and kama (sensual pleasures) while performing one's dharma (duty) as the accepted way of life for the grihastha (householder). Hence, the powerful combination of the visual and sensual pleasures combined with the duty attributed to the worship of the Deities brings about a powerful transformation of the body and the soul. To include all of these aspects of life in one's early years makes it easier to renounce them without regret or attachment as one move on to one's next stages of life toward moksha (liberation).

The temples are a world heritage site and belong not just to India but to the world. The Archeological Survey of India's dedicated efforts towards their conservation rank them against the best preserved monuments of this antiquity. Most of the temples are built of sandstone in varying shades of buff, pink or pale yellow. They each belong to a different sect, the Shiva, Vaishnava or Jaina Sects, but are often indistinguishable from one another to the untrained eye. The temples are lofty with ample walking space separating them. The interior rooms are interring connected and placed in an East/West line. Each contains an entrance, a hall, a vestibule and a sanctum. Windows were added to the larger temples to add a feeling of space and light.

The openings face East with lavishly carved archways. The interior ceilings are carved with geometrical and floral designs. The roofs are a series of graded peaks that resemble a mountain range and in all probability, represent the possibility of higher levels of spiritual attainment. Erotic scenes represent a relatively small part of the carvings but sensuous eroticism prevails throughout all of the sculptures. In general, lower indulgences appear lower on the temple while the dieties appear near the top. Most of the statues are about a meter high. The goddesses and gods represent the many manifestations of the divine Shakti and Shiva, the female and male principles, the Yin and the Yang.

Khajuraho Temple


The divine sculptures in these temples, are a tribute to Life itself, embodying everything that is sublime and spontaneous about it.. Popularly known as the 10th century temples, they represent a time frame when Khajuraho art was at its zenith. Visit to Khajuraho is a unique experience and is exciting for conservationists, students, environmentalists, culture lovers or simply those in search of an exotic destination with multiple attractions.

Laurence Rogerson a tourist from UK says the statues and carvings cover every inch of every ceiling and wall. The erotic carvings on the temples at Khajuraho give the place it's fame. Erotic or not the level of detail is quite magnificent as these pictures clearly do show. Another tourist from Australia says "these temples depict scenes from elephant fights, mythical lions, gods, and erotic couples. In a frieze that seemed to be an exception a sodomistic scene was depicted where onlookers hold their hands in front of their eyes in disgust. The erotic scenes are sort of a 3-D rendering of the Kama Sutra book, a graphical instruction manual."

One of the Jain temples to the east of the village has a statue and pictures of a nude man. According to the locals some of the Jain Pilgrims celebrate there without even a leaf on them. Pieces of the statues from the temples can be seen embedded in the houses of the village. Statues were used as cheap building material for building the roads too.

The temples are grouped into three geographical divisions: western, eastern and southern.

Western Group
The Western group is certainly the best known, because it is to this group that the largest and most typical Khajuraho temple belongs: the Kandariya Mahadev. Perfectly symmetrical, it soars 31 km high.

Eastern Group
Parsavanatha Temple the largest in the group of three Jain temples, the Parsavanath image in this temple, was installed in 1860. The sculptures on the northern wall depict everyday activity, in awesome detail. A woman sits bent pensively on a letter, a lovely young girl removes a thorn from her foot, the master craftsmen of Khajuraho display here their deep understanding of the trifles that make up a human life. Within the temple, a throne faces the bull emblem of first Tirthankaras, Adinath.

Ghantai Temple this Jain temple has a frieze depicting the 16 dreams of mother, and a multi-armed Jain goddess perched on a winged Garuda.

Adinatha Temple the last of the Jain temples, is dedicated to the Jain saint, Adinatha, and is gorgeously adorned with sculptures of yakshis among others.

The three Hindu temples in this group are the Brahma temple, which has a four-faced lingam, The Vamana temple which is embellished with images of ravishing apsaras at their alluring best; and finally the Javari temple, with its ornate gateway and lavish carvings. A variety of sensuous attitudes: languid, provocative, mischievously inviting, give credibility to the theory that Khajuraho's erotica were meant to test the devotees who came to worship their gods at the temples.

5 km from the Khajuraho village, lays the Southern Group.

Duladeo Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, the highlights of this temple are the sensuous images of the apsaras, and other exquisite sculptures.

Chaturbhuj Temple sports a huge, elaborately carved image of Vishnu in the sanctum.

Khajuraho Dance Festival - To mark the true spirit of Khajuraho, a dance festival is held here in March, every year, wherein, ace artistes of various dance forms participate. Mahashivaratri (Feb/Mar) - Devotees come in huge numbers to the Matangeshwar temple.

The summers are hot with the mercury climbing up to 47°C. Winters can be very cold with temperature dipping to 4°C. The Khajuraho festival of dance is organized in the months of February/March every year.