Khajuraho, India: Mysterious and Erotic Ancient Temples

By on 10/07/2014

Vishvanath_temple_khajurahoTime travelling is the feeling one gets when visiting Khajuraho’s erotic ancient temples. While there are over seven recognized religions in the country with thousands of temples to visit, arguably these are one of the most spectacular and magnificent group of temples.

Located in Madhya Pradesh (central state of India), the Indian Government and the United Nations, together have termed this site as a UNESCO World Heritage site because of their architectural brilliance and intricate carvings. The ancient temples, popularly known as the ‘Kama Sutra Temples’ by many Westerners is much more than just an astonishing courtship and love making guide.

These temples are beautiful. Their impressive and eye-catching beauty rests in extensive bas relief stone temple carvings that provide the only detailed record of the culture and society of the Chandella Rajput clan that built the complex of 25 temples between 950 – 1150 CE. As there is no written history records left behind, the mystery and beauty of the temples is heightened.

As per the local legends, originally there were 85 temples of which only 25 remain and are scattered over an area of about 9 square miles. It is believed that every Chandella ruler built at least one temple in his lifetime. The remaining temples are divided in three groups: western, southern and eastern. The western temples boast of the most important temples, while the southern temples only feature two temples and the eastern temples feature a number of exquisitely carved Jain temples.

The temples give a poignant representation of life in the 11th century and the divine sculptures are a tribute to life3.Khajuraho_Laksmana_siva-_apsarases itself and embody everything that is sublime and impulsive. The temples and sculptures are built using sandstone with different shades of pink, pale yellow and buff and each contain an entrance hall, an atrium and a sanctum.

The isolated location saved the temples from devastation of Islamic invaders but also led to its abandonment after the Chandella Rajput clan’s decline in the 13th century. The temples were re-discovered in 1838 by the British. The temples had been hiding in the thick lush forests for over hundred years. The British then found their eroticism shocking and many termed it as indecent and obscene.

However, while they are known for their erotic carvings, the temples depict much more than just sex. Not only are the sandstone sculptures truly exquisite, they possess joy, elation, variability and lack of embarrassment and reticence that is rarely found in modern India. The erotic art at Khajuraho is well thought-out to symbolize the apex of love and passion.

Most temples during the reign (Hindu, Buddhist and Jain temples) featured some form of erotic art. However, these were carved at the plinth level, below the eye level and hardly ever got noticed. It is only at Khajuraho that these sculptures were so outstandingly displayed on the chief wall of the temples.

The Chaunsath Jogini Temple, positioned on the bank of the Lake Shivsagar is supposed to be the oldest temple in Khajuraho. This temple is unlike other temples at Khajuraho and portrays a style dissimilar from the Chandella style of architecture.

4475317396_71a7b7fb9e_zThe most impressive temple is the Kandariya Mahadev temple that boasts of superb sculptural ornamentation and majestic size. More than 800 sculptures featuring gods and goddesses, beasts and warriors, musician and dancers and of course erotic scenes cover the temple. Almost every surface of the temple’s peripheral is covered in confrontational carvings and is believed to celebrate the marriage of Lord Shiva.

One of Khajuraho’s most iconic carvings is a panel portraying a couple locked in intercourse, with a maiden supporting on each side. It emerges to rebel gravity, with the male figure poised upside down on his head.

The ideal time to visit the temples is at sunrise or sunset so as to catch them in their most excellent illumination. However, don’t forget to watch the Sound and Light Show that is held every dusk. Khajuraho is easily accessible via domestic flights from Delhi, Varanasi or Agra as well as train and road. The closest airport is located 2 km south of Khajuraho city and the closest railway station is Mahoba Junction which is situated just 75 km away. A superb way to ascertain around the location and see the sacred temples is by renting a motorcycle of simply on foot.

Where to Stay in Khajuraho: The 5-star Lalit Temple View or the 4-star Chandella A Taj Leisure Hotel are located just few kilometers away and assure magnificent views from the gardens, swimming pool and several rooms. You can book both or other hotels in the area from www.expedia.com.

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