Khajuraho

Eternal Expressions of love

The fascinating temples of Khajuraho, India's unique gift of love to the world, in the state of Madhya Pradesh, were built between 950 and 1050 A.D. Khajuraho derives its name from the Khajur tree (the date palm tree) which can be found in abundance in the area.The divine sculptures in these temples, are a tribute to Life itself, embodying everything that is sublime and spontaneous about it. The murals depict the life and times of the Chandelas, and celebrate the erotic state of being. They not only testify to the mastery of the craftsman, but also to the extraordinary breadth of vision of the Chandela Rajputs under whose reign, these temples were constructed.

With the wane of the Chandela empire, these magnificent temples lay neglected, and vulnerable to the ravages of Nature. It was only in this century, that they were rediscovered, restored and granted the recognition that they justly deserve. Originally there were 85 temples, of which only 22 still exist. Their style of architecture was also rather peculiar to their times. Each structure stands on a high masonry platform with a distinct upward direction to their build, further enhanced by several vertical projections to simulate the effect of an overall lightness. The three main compartments are the entrance (ardhamandapa), assembly hall (mandapa), and the actual sanctum (garbha griha). The temples are grouped into three geographical divisions : western, eastern and southern.

Sightseeing

Western Group

Kandariya Mahadeo: This is the largest, and most typical Khajuraho temple. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, it soars 31 m high. The sanctum enshrines a lingam, while the main shrine is ornately carved and depicts various gods, goddesses, apsaras (heavenly maidens) in elaborate detail. The entrance arch, the massive pillars and ceilings are adorned with exquisite carvings, that leave the visitor spellbound.

Chaunsat Yogini: The oldest surviving temple in the group (900 A.D.), this is the sole granite temple dedicated to Goddess Kali. Another Kali temple, which was originally dedicated to Lord Vishnu, is the Devi Jagdambe temple.

Chitragupta Temple: Dedicated to the sun-god, Surya, this temple faces eastwards to the rising sun. The inner sanctum boasts of an impressive image of the presiding deity - the majestic sun-god looming 5 feet high, and driving a chariot. The other group scenes depict royal processions, group dances and other scenes of sheer luxury, typical of the Chandela court-life.

Vishwanath Temple: The temple enshrines a three-headed image of Lord Brahma. Lions guard the northern entrance to the structure, while elephants flank the southern flight of steps that lead upto it. A Nandi bull faces the shrine.

Lakshamana Temple: The lintel over the entrance of this temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, shows the holy trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva with Goddess Lakshmi, Vishnu's consort. The sanctum is adorned with a three-headed idol of Vishnu's incarnations, Narasimha and Varaha. The latter, the boar incarnation also appears as a nine-feet high statue at the Varaha Temple.

Matangeshwara Temple: This temple, which happens to be outside the precincts of the western group, is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It boasts of an eight feet high lingam.

Eastern Group

Parsavanatha Temple: The largest in the group of three Jain temples, the Parsavanath image in this temple, was installed in 1860. The sculptures on the northern wall depict everyday activity, in awesome detail. Within the temple, a throne faces the bull emblem of first tirthankara, Adinath.

Ghantai Temple: This Jain temple has a frieze depicting the 16 dreams of Mahavira's mother, and a Jain goddess perched on a winged Garuda.

Adinatha Temple: The last of the Jain temples, is dedicated to the Jain saint, Adinatha, and is gorgeously adorned with sculptures of yakshis among others.

The three Hindu temples in this group are the Brahma temple, which has a four-faced lingam, The Vamana temple which is embellished with images of ravishing apsaras at their alluring best; and finally the Javari temple, with its ornate gateway and lavish carvings.

Southern Group

Duladeo Temple: Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the highlights of this temple are the sensuous images of the apsaras, and other exquisite sculptures.

Chaturbhuj Temple: This temple sports a huge, elaborately carved image of Vishnu in the sanctum.

Festival

To mark the true spirit of Khajuraho, a dance festival is held here in March, every year, wherein, ace artistes of various dance forms participate.

Access

By air: A daily Boeing 737 service links Khajuraho with Delhi, Agra, Varanasi, and Kathmandu.

By rail: The nearest railheads are Harpalpur (94 km), and Mahoba (61 km). Jhansi (176 km), is the railhead for those coming from Delhi, Mumbai and Madras.

By road: Khajuraho is connected by regular buses with Satna, Harpalpur, Jhansi and Mahoba.

Accomodation

A few premier hotels run by M P S T D C are Hotel Jhankar, Hotel Payal, Hotel Rahil, Tourist Village, and Circuit House.

Madhya Pradesh