Khajuraho: Exotic Temples Of India
Khajuraho is a town located in the State of Madhya Pradesh in India and is famous for its exquisite temples, their carvings and the architecture. The place is a very popular tourist attraction not only because of the temples but also due to the presence of the erotic carvings that adorn the walls of some of the temples. Originally there were 85 temples but many were destroyed by Muslim invaders and only 25 temples remain. These Hindu and Jain temples were built somewhere between 250 and 1030 A.D and many are still intact. Hundreds of tourists as well as worshipers throng the place to admire the art and architecture that this unique place has to offer.
As it is a popular tourist destination, Khajuraho is well connected by Air, railroad and by roads as well. The nearest airport is five kilometers or three miles away and the nearest railhead is connected to the city of Jhansi. Jhansi is further connected to all the major cities in India such as Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, and Trivandrum. It is also possible to reach Khajuraho by road but it is not advisable since the ride from even the nearest city of Jhansi takes about five hours. On the other hand, a bus journey from Delhi to Khajuraho takes about 12 hours. The best option is to reach Khajuraho by air; Delhi, Varnasi, and Mumbai are well connected to this place.
What to see in Khajuraho
The temples of Khajuraho are very popular in India and around the world for their exquisite and erotic carvings. However these erotic carvings are only present in a few places in only selected temples. Furthermore many carvings are misunderstood and wrongly interpreted; however there are some erotic carvings that provide a glimpse into the carnal aspect of the lives of people in that era.
Kandāriā Mahadevā Temple
The Kandāriā Mahadevā Temple is the largest among all the temples in Khajuraho and is a fine example of architecture in the middle ages in India. This temple is famous for its Shikarā or the upper dome of the structure that is directly above the statue of the idol inside the temple. The Shikara is 31 meters in height and depicts Mount Miru, the holy mountain of Shiva. The interior of the temple has a Shiv Linga, which is phallic symbol of lord Shiva that is worshipped in the Hindu religion. Moreover there are 646 statues that surround the temple making it a center of attraction for many tourists and pilgrims.
Devi Jagdambā Temple
This temple is located on the western side of the site and is a place of worship for goddess Kali. According to some sources the temple started as a place for worship of Vishnu but was later converted. This temple also has some erotic carvings; however they are located on the highest of the three houses of it.
This temple is the oldest of all the temples in Khajuraho and is the only one that is made of local granite. All the other temples are made up of sandstones; the temple was originally built for the worship of goddess Kali in 900 A.D. However there is no idol of Kali as many were destroyed by Muslims and some withered away due to natural causes. The name Chaunsat Yogini actually translates to sixty four attendants of Goddess Kali and there are sixty five cells in the temple; however only 25 of those have remained intact.
This temple is dedicated to the sun god and therefore faces east; the temple has an idol of the sun god and a chariot with seven horses. The outside of the walls are dotted with exquisite erotic carvings which are beautifully chiseled in the sandstone. Also among these carvings is the famous 11 headed carving of Lord Vishnu among other carvings of processions and beautiful women. Located in the vicinity is a small water body known as the Choprā which is also a place of interest for many tourists.
The Matangeswar Temple is dedicated to lord Shiva and is adjacent to the Laxman temple. This is the only ancient temple where Pooja or religious ceremonies are performed which is not possible in any other temples due to their dilapidated state. A yellow flag fluttering on top of the temple indicated that a ceremony is underway in the temple. The main attractions of this temple are the eight feet long Shiva Lingam and the ten day fair held here during the festival of Shivaratri.
This is also one of the most famous of the temples in Khajuraho and is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The structure of the temple is similar to the Mahadeva Temple but the exterior has two bands instead of three and is decorated with some exotic art. The inside of the temple is dotted with carvings of Apsarās (angels), scenes of battles, processions, and hunting. The front of the temple is beautified by a carving of the sun god holding two lotuses in his hand. There are hundreds of carvings that adorn the inside and the outside of the temple making it one of the most sought out by tourists and worshipers alike.
The Pārsvanath Temple is the largest of the Jain temples of its kind and one which has been heavily renovated. This temple has the least erotic art compared to all other temples in Khajuraho; however is noted for its carvings of Sura Sundaries (heavenly nymphs) in various enticing positions. Even though this is a Jain temple it also has carvings depicting various Hindu gods and goddesses.
The Ghantai temple is renowned for its carvings of bells and thus the name Ghantai (where Ghanta means a bell). This temple is noted for its chain and bell motifs that are chiseled in its walls and also has a carving of a Jain goddess on an eagle. The temple depicts the sixteen dreams of Mahavir’s mother who is worshipped by Jains Unfortunately the temple is mostly in ruins and only some part of it is still intact.
The Adinath Temple is dedicated to Adinath who was a Jain saint; the temple is adorned with many carvings of musicians with limestone masonry and elegant archways. Unfortunately many of the original carvings have been destroyed and only a part of the temple is still intact. The temple was built in the 11th century A.D and is one of the famous temples for Jain people and worshipers.
This temple is dedicated to lord Vishnu and is the only temple that is devoid of any erotic art. The temple is named after the idol which has four arms thus the name chattra bhujā or the four armed one. The massive idol of Lord Vishnu is 9 feet in height and is well preserved compared to the other idols and temples in Khajuraho.
Dulhadev Temple is the last temple of Khajuraho and is exquisitely carved with images of Apsaras or heavenly nymphs. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is located near the Ghantai temple. The interior of the temple has a Shiva Lingam or the phallic symbol of Shiva who is considered as the god of destruction by Hindus.
There are many hotels located near Khajuraho if you plan to stay more than a day; however the entire trip to this place can be completed within one day. Having said that, there is other nearby attractions for tourism such as the Bandhavgarh National Park which is also famous and has many options as far as staying is concerned. Some of the best hotels include Hotel Chandela [Ph: (91-7686) 272 355-64], Hotel Clarks Khajuraho [Ph: (+91-7686) 274038, 274056, 274421-25], Hotel Holiday Inn [Ph: +91 7686 272301], Hotel Greenwood [Ph: +91 124 3252035], and Radisson Hotel [Ph: +91 7686 272777].