Khajuraho is a town in the Indian state of Madhyam Pradesh, located in Chhatarpur District. One of the most popular tourist destinations in India,about 175 kilometres southeast of Jhansi. They are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temples are famous for their nagara-style architectural symbolism and their erotic sculptures.Most Khajuraho temples were built between 950 AD and 1050 AD by the chandela dynasty.Historical records note that the Khajuraho temple site had 85 temples by the 12th century, spread over 20 square kilometers. Of these, only about 25 temples have survived, spread over six square kilometers.The Khajuraho group of temples were built together but were dedicated to two religion's Hinduism and Jainism.

The famous Khajuraho temples of Madhya Pradesh have been hogging the limelight every now and then for various reasons. And the most popular psyche is that many find the carvings on the Khajuraho temples as offensive pornographic scenes.

As per the legends, Hemvati was a beautiful woman, after whom the Khajuraho temples were built. Interestingly these sculptures have many theories to their existence and are based on the Hindu iconography and are a part of the core belief system which hinge around the four tenets of Hinduism: karma, dharma, kama, and moksha.
The temples follow the design sensibilities of the Nagara-style architecture and are made out of sandstone and granite. Barring the temple of Chaturbhuja all temples are sun-facing, a common aesthetic found in Hindu temples. The deities of male and female deities exhibit a co-dependence of the male and female power. The temples run on the basic mandala design comprising a square and circles. The entire precinct is divided into three zones combining to form a pentagon. The three zones house the following temples.
As per the legends, the temples had, as their gate, two golden date-palm trees. And this is how Khajuraho was derived from the word ‘khajur’, which means date palm.

There are three groups of temples—Western, Eastern, and Southern. The main temples are in the Western group, which features the magnificent Kandariya Mahadev and Vishwanath temples. These Nagara-style temples are where you'll find most of the famous erotic sculptures. The Eastern Group contains a handful of exquisitely carved Jain temples. There are only two temples in the Southern group. They're not as spectacular but they're worth seeing. The Dulhadeo temple is dedicated to Shiva’s bridegroom form, while the Chaturbhuj temple has an unusual form of Vishnu as the presiding deity.these erotic sculptures are only on the outer walls of temples. Secondly, as I mentioned, in the beginning, these sculptures are only 10% of the total statues on Khajuraho temples. It can be overwhelming or annoying for some people to see different sexual positions on temples walls. There seem to some myths, reasons, and stories behind these sculptures on temples walls.


The most popular story is associated with the Chedela king Chandravarman. According to the legend, a beautiful lady named Hemavati was taking bath in a pond full of lotus flowers on a full moon night. The Moon God Chandrama got fascinated with her beauty and approached her.After their romantic encounter Hemavati got pregnant and to hide her shame of being unwedded mother, she went into the jungle and gave birth to a male child. When Chandrama came to know about the child he gave him a boon that he will become a king. Hemavati named the boy Chandravarman after the moon God and raised the child single handle.
Chandravarman knew about her mother’s story and when he became king he built the temples. He ordered to engrave erotic sculptures on temple walls. Some say it is to portray sex as a natural act among human beings and others say these are just to show the pointlessness of these acts.
Khajuraho Temple
The second story comes from the local guide we engaged for our temple tour. According to him, the erotic statues on temple walls were carved due to the “Tantric” influence.This temple of “Devi” is also in Western group of temples and has mystic around it. Chausath Yogini temple is considered as one of the most important temples among the Tantric cult.He told us that men and women showed in different mating positions are the “Maithunas”. The Maithuns were the people who followed Tantra and Tantric practices in which sexual union is one of the important rituals. These sculptures of Maithuns were made to show their religious believes.Maithuns also believed that these relations among men & women are not just the physical union, but it is a union in which men and women transfer their internal energy to each other which is a very important part of Tantric practices. Guide told us that during the mating time they attain the divine form of Shiva and Shakti. Maithuns considered it the ultimate bliss which gives spiritual energy and a way to attain Moksha.

The Khajuraho temple complex preserves 22 of the 80 temples that were originally located . Among them, the majority are Hindus , although there are also Jains . It is divided into three zones:
–     West Zone : It is considered the most important nucleus of the entire collection of temples, located next to the archaeological museum. The Kandariya Mahadev temple stands out, one of the most spectacular with more than 30 meters and almost 1,000 statues. Not forgetting the beautiful Lakshmana temple, dedicated to Vishnu; the small Varaha temple; the Matangesvara temple, today still used as a place of worship; Visvanatha, with some perfectly preserved sculptures …
–     East side: They are smaller temples than the western zone. There are six, three Jains and three Hindus.
–     South zone : Somewhat away from the rest of the complex, there are two other small and less visited temples.

The majority of temples at Khajuraho were constructed between 950 and 1050 CE and are either Hindu (Saiva or Vaisnava) or Jain. The most famous is the Kandariya Mahadeo built in the early 11th century CE and dedicated to Shiva. The more or less contemporary Laksmana temple was built in 954 CE by King Dhanga (r. 950-999 CE) to celebrate independence from the Gurjara-Pratihara rulers and has a similar layout and exterior to the Kandariya Mahadeo. So too does the Visvanatha temple (c. 1002 CE) which was designed by Sutradhara Chhichchha. Both temples have shrines at each corner of their terrace platforms. The Laksmana was dedicatedvishnu and its terrace is of particular note as it carries a narrative frieze running around all four sides: Elephants, warriors, hunters, and musicians form a procession watched by a ruler and his female attendants.

Other notable temples at the site include the single-towered Caturbhuja and Vamana, the squat Matulunga, and the rectangular, more austere Parshvanatha Jain temple with its unique shrine added to the rear of the building (c. 950-970 CE). Probably the latest temple at Khajuraho is the Duladeo which was built on a star-plan.
        The Kandariya Mahadeo temple is perhaps the most eye-catching building at Khajuraho and it is certainly the largest. Built around 1025 CE during the reign of Vidyadhara (r. 1004-1035 CE), the temple is an excellent example of the fully-developed North Indian temple design. The exterior has a spectacular series of towers (sikharas) which progressively reach higher from the entrance to the tallest sikhara (31 metres) above the temple’s sacred shrine (garbhagriha) at the rear. The main sikhara is also surrounded by quarter and half-sikharas and is topped with a large amalaka - a ribbed circular stone. Thus the building appears like a mountain range of diverse peaks, a deliberate intention by the architect as Hindu temples were representative of the Himalayas and the ‘world mountain’, an effect which would have only been accentuated by its original white gesso coating, now lost.

Some Khajuraho temples have two layers of walls with intricate erotic carvings on outside of inner walls. According to some scholars, these erotic sculptures were built in reference to tantric sexual practices. Well connected by roads, railways and air with all major cities of India; Khajuraho has numerous budget and luxury hotels, lodges for people to stay as per their budget. Numerous restaurants in the city serve not just local delicacies but also North Indian, South Indian, Chinese, and Punjabi cuisine. A few restaurants also serve European cuisine keeping in mind food choices of western tourists.  A couple of bars and wine shops allow people to enjoy their drinks. Best time to visit Khajuraho is from October to March. Several tourist agencies with registered guides regularly conduct guided tours of the temples.
Besides visiting Khajuraho, tourists can visit Bandavgarh National Park and Panna National Park famous for their tigers. Tourists can also visit Beni Sagar dam, Ranguan lake, Gangau dam; as well as Nachna, Orchha, Raneh waterfalls, Ajaygarh fort, Chitrakote, Kalinjar fort, and Pandav waterfalls. Tourist can also visit Majhgavan Panna diamond mines; India's only working diamond mine. Adventure seekers can go on Ken Nature Trail as also day-long bike tours. The state government organizes Khajuraho Dance Festival every year in February; besides a light and sound show every evening. Tourists can also visit Tribal and Folk-Art museum, Archaeological museum, Dhubela museum and Jain museum. Couple of spas and yoga centers allow tourists to rejuvenate themselves. Tourists can buy iron, brass and sandstone sculptures and gold and silver ornaments from local market.

        Quite interestingly, only 10 per cent of the carvings on the temple complex depict sexual themes. The rest of the cravings depict everyday life of the common man that existed during those times. While some sculptures display women applying makeup, there are others that showcase potters, musicians, farmers, and other common folks. The most common belief, which has no basis, is that since the carvings are in Khajuraho temples, this means the carvings are depicting sex between deities.Not only are these ancient temples stunning, they also demonstrate immense architectural skill for their time, and have even been recognized by UNESCO as one of their World Heritage Sites in India. Once every year though, the temples and sculptures are not the only beautiful forms of art that can be seen at Khajuraho. The Khajuraho dance Festival, organised by the Department of Culture of the government of Madhya Pradesh, takes place every year against the spectacular backdrop of these ancient temples.

 Dance has always been linked to the divine in Hindu mythology. Whether it’s Shiva's Tandava, Krishna's Raas Leela with the gopis, or the apsara dancers like Menaka, Urvashi and Rambha in Lord Indra’s celestial court - they were all well versed in the language of dance and music. This is reflected in the expressive nature of Indian classical dances. The Khajuraho Dance Festival began in 1975 to celebrate this art and since then has become one of the most anticipated cultural events in India. Every year dance lovers from across the nation and the world gather at Khajuraho to celebrate life through dance. Renowned dancers from all parts of the country come and showcase various Indian classical dance forms like Bharatnatyam, Kathakali, Odissi, Manipuri, Kathak and Mohiniyattam. This year it took place between 20th and 26th February and was attended by many celebrated personalities from the dance world. Some of the artists who performed were Radha-Raja Reddy, Arushi Nishank and Kadambari Shivaya.
Khajuraho dance Festival

   This year, the grand dancing celebrations will be held at the open-air auditoriums in two of the most popular temples of Khajuraho – the Chitragupta and Vishwanatha Temple, starting from 25th February 2020 to 3rd March 2020.
Khajuraho dance Festival 2020Khajuraho

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