|City : Khajuraho
Location : Central India
Language : Hindi, English.
When to Visit : October to March.
Khajuraho's art is a manifestation of the essence of the philosophy of Indian aesthetics. The erotic sculptures of Khajuraho depicting Kama Sutra are unique in the world. These sculptures representing the Indo-Aryan architecture, congeal in stone a lyrical paean to love and passion and reflect the Chandela dynasty's passion and immense appreciation for the forbidden art, paradoxically, in the land of Kama Sutra. They cannot be passed off as just erotic sculptures, the temples have some of the most revered Gods of Hinduism.
The temples of Khajuraho were built between 950 to 1050 A.D. during the Chandela dynasty of Central India (These rulers claimed descent from the moon, hence the name Chand-ela). After the decline of the Chandela dynasty in 13th century, the temples were left under the cover of dense date palm trees for many years, which gave the city of Khajuraho its name, Khajur in Hindi means a Date. In the ancient times it was known as Vatsa.
In 1838, a British army engineer, Captain T.S. Burt rediscovered them. By that time only 22 of the original 85 temples had survived.
Khajuraho's climate is quite extreme, with wide variation in day and night temperatures along with minimal rainfall. Summers are hot at 45°C and winters pleasant at 27°C. Rainfall of 114 cms annually. As summer is too hot, winter is a good time to visit. A good time to visit is March, when the annual Dance Festival takes place. So the best time to visit Khajuraho is from September to March.
Temple of khajuraho
The Khajuraho village surrounded by the mountains of Chatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh is 395 Km southeast of Agra. Today this village remains with 22 temples, which give us a glimpse of a golden time of art and devotion at their peak. Out of 22 temples, two were made from sandstone. The stone blocks were first carved and then the interlocking pieces were assembled to form a temple. Each temple is different from one another.
The 31m high temple is the largest and most typical Khajuraho temple with exquisite carvings and intricate and detailed craftsmanship in stone depicting divine deities, celestial maidens, eternal lovers, gods and goddesses. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and enshrines the 'linga'.
The temple is the earliest temple of the group that has survived. It belongs to 900 AD and is dedicated Goddess Kali. It has the distinction of being the only granite temple here.
This temple is dedicated to the Sun God (Surya Dev). It faces towards east or the rising sun and the imposing image of the image of the deity in the inner sanctum is as high as five feet and is shown driving a horse-drawn chariot. It is in front of this temple and the Vishwanatha temple that most of the dance performances take place during the Khajuraho Dance Festival.
This temple has impressive entrances with magnificent stone guarding its northern steps and royal masonry elephants taking care of the southern steps. The three-headed image of Lord Brahma in the temple is not less captivating.
A pretty Vaishnava temple flaunts a lintel over its entrance depicting the divine trinity of Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva along with Goddess Lakshmi, the wife of Lord Vishnu.
Situated outside the premises of Western group of temples, this Lord Shiva's temple is known for the daunting eight-feet high lingam (male organ representing the natural process of reproduction and the continuity of human life form) that it enshrines.
The largest Jain temple of the Eastern group, Parsvanath temple has intricate stone carvings, especially, the sculptures on the northern outer wall of the temple are certainly praiseworthy. It enshrines a throne facing the bull emblem that represents the the first tirthankara, Adinatha.
This Jain temple has remarkable frescos depicting the 16 dreams of the mother of Lord Mahavira at the time of his birth and a Jain goddess mounted on a winged Garuda.
This temple is richly ornamented with delicate and pretty scultures including those of yakshis. It is dedicated to the first Jain tirthankara (saint), Adinath.
Most of the temple here belong to Jain faith but there are three Hindu temples of the group, namely, the Brahma temple enshrining a four-faced linga; the Vamana temple with divine carvings of sensuous celestial maidens in various poses adorning its outer walls and the Javari temple with a opulently carved doorway and ostentatious sculptures on its exteriors.
This Shaiva temple is known for flaunting the striking images of the celestial maidens or apsaras and richly ornamented figures.
It is the huge imposing intricately carved image of Lord Vishnu in the temple's sanctum, which is the chief attraction of the temple.
Light and Sound Show at Western group of temples - After visiting the temple complex is over, the sound and light show, narrated by the Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachhan, is held every evening. Entry ticket Rs. 50/- for Indians and Rs. 200/- for foreigners.
The two distinctive group of temples of Khajuraho have dozens of souvenir stalls, hotels and restaurants at their entrances from where one can buy mementos and gifts for their loved ones back at home. Since it is the second most visited tourist destination in India (after Taj Mahal), it is not surprising to see signboards posted here in different languages as little boys efficient in number of languages peddling handicrafts and mineral water. It is even surprising to note how these little peddlers switch from Spanish to German to French, trying to sell a trinket to you almost forcibly.
How to Reach
Khajuraho has daily domestic flights to and from Agra, Varanasi and Kathmandu.
The nearest railway stations to Khajuraho are Mahoba, Satna and Jhansi. All of these are well connected to most of the major cities of India.
Khajuraho has frequent bus services and good roads to and from the major cities of India including Panna, Mahoba, Satna, Jabalpur, Bhopal, Gwalior, Indore, Agra and Jhansi.