Immensely popular for its intricately sculptured temples, motifs and architecture, Khajuraho is inscribed as World Heritage Site by UNESCO because this ancient city has so much to offer. There are 85 original temples, which are divided into three massive complexes, each adorned by vignettes of eroticism, music, dance and various other creative pursuits. It is believed that the sculptures and carvings in temples depict the motifs of Kamasutra, the famous Indian text-book on carnal pleasure. There are many magnificent carvings in these temples, which shed light on the important aspects of life, related to the higher levels of spirituality and abstinence. The brevity and elegance of these sculptures highlight the value and fleetness of different phases of life. According to these sculptures, one must follow some rules in life to attain enlightenment and salvation.
Khajuraho has three groups of temples with Western, Eastern and Southern parts. The Western group has all the main temples including the majestic Kandariya Mahadeo Temple, which has a collection of some stunning sculptures. The Eastern group has Jain Temples, while Southern group has only two temples. Nestled amidst the Vindhya Range of mountains, these temples were constructed by the rulers of the Chandela dynasty between 950 AD and 1050 AD. According to popular belief, these temples are renowned across the world for their erotic sculptures, but interestingly, only 10 percent of the art is erotic in nature. In fact, there are various theories, which are related to these sculptures. According to some historians, these sculptures depict the various poses related to tantric erotic practises, while others believe that they are related to Hindu tradition of celebrating sex as an important part of daily life.
A sound-and-light show is hosted every evening in the temple complex, which is narrated by the Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachhan. Besides that, an annual dance festival is also organized here in the month of February every year.
Next Khajuraho Dance Festival: 25th February – 2nd March 2016
The three most popular temples in the complex are the Kandariya Mahadev Temple, the Vishwanath Temple and the Lakshmana Temple. Let us explore the places and other attractions of Khajuraho:
Devi Jagdamba Temple
This temple is dedicated to the Goddess (Devi) of ultimate power and has some of the most exquisite sculptures of Khajuraho. There is a huge idol of the Devi in the Garbha Griha (Womb) complex. The temple is adorned with three bands of sculptures, while the first two bands depict different postures of the Goddess, the third band has erotic carvings.
This is the only granite temple in Khajuraho, which is dedicated to the Sun God. The main door of the temple faces eastward to the rising sun. The nearby Matanageswara Temple is dedicated to Shiva (the Hindu God of destruction), and adorned by a huge 8ft Lingam.
It is one of the oldest temples, which is named after the king who built it. It is a Vaishnavite temple, which has a beautiful sculpture, dedicated to the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh.
This temple was built in 1100 A.D and it is hugely popular for its architecture. This is the only temple in Khajuraho, which does not have any erotic sculpture. There is a massive 9 feet carved idol of the Lord Vishnu in Chaturbhuja (four-armed).
This temple is situated in the south of Khajuraho and has an intricately carved Shiva lingam. There are other sculptures in its vicinity dedicated to various apsaras or heavenly beauties, carved beautifully to depict elegant poses.
Temple Opening Times
The temples are open from sunrise until just before sunset.
The Tourism Ministry of India promotes Khajuraho as one of the most alluring and safest tourist destinations in India, but sometimes tourists complain about the persisting and nagging behaviour of the local touts. There are many trained guides in Khajuraho. Thus, one can hire a guide to avoid touts.
Where to stay in Khajuraho
There are many luxury hotels in Khajuraho and most of them are located on the Airport Road. In fact, there are some mid-range hotels also, which are located along the Bamhita Road, near the Western group of temples.
Best places to eat in Khajuraho
There are many restaurants in Khajuraho, which serve a variety of Indian cuisines. There are a few Italian cafes and in-house restaurants, which serve Indian, Continental and Chinese cuisines.
How to reach
By Air: Khajuraho Airport is located 5 km from the city. Air India conducts flights from Delhi, Varanasi and Mumbai.
By Train: A train station was opened in Khajuraho in 2008. This station is linked to Jhansi, which is 175km away from Khajuraho, on the Delhi-Chennai/Bangalore/ Trivandrum mainline.