Khajuraho Group of Monuments

Khajuraho Temples

Located 385 miles to the southeast of New Delhi in the Chhatarpur District of Madhya Pradesh, is the Khajuraho Group of Monuments. It is a very popular tourist destination. UNESCO has declared it a world heritage site and it is also included in the seven wonders of India. It is believed that the largest group of Hindu and Jain Temples built during the medieval period and one can find many sculptures which are erotic. The Khajuraho temples were very well maintained by the local villagers and it was noticed by the British Engineer T.S.Burt in the 19th century.

History of Khajuraho

The Northeastern region of Rajasthan, called Dhundhar was ruled by Bargujar Rajputs and they were called Dhundhel. After some time they started calling themselves Chandelas. The ruling classes of the Kashyap Gotra were the vassals of Gurjara – Pratihara Empire of North India and they built major monuments during the period 500 – 1300CE. They built the famous Neelkanth Mahadev Temple and Kalinjar Fort. The temples at Khajuraho were built during a period of 200 years. Though Khaujraho was the cultural capital of the Chandel Kings, Khajuraho has no forts, since they never lived here. One can see very fine architectural styles in the Khajuraho temples and they are very popular due to the representation of erotic scenes depicted in the sculptures.

Architectural Styles

The Khajuraho temples have been geographically divided into three groups: eastern, western and southern. Sandstone has been used to build these temples. A unique feature about these temples is that mortar was not used to keep the stones together. Tenon joints and mortise was used to put them together and gravity was used to hold them in place. Very precise joints are required in this type of construction. The architraves and columns built with megaliths weighed approximately 20 tons. Another temple that has been built just like the Khajuraho temples is the Saraswati Temple, which is in Pilani on the campus of the famous Birla Institute of Technology and Science.

Carvings and Statues

A lot of erotic or sexual art can be seen outside the walls of the Khajuraho Temples and at some places near the deities. Some walls have two layers and the outside layer of the inner wall has small erotic carvings. These erotic carvings are interpreted in many ways. Some people believe that the tantric sexual practices are depicted here. Some carvings depict sexual activities between humans and sexual themes and the changes that take place in the human body. Other carvings show the everyday life of a woman, potters, musicians, farmers etc. Some people refer to this temple as the Kama sutra temple.

Events in Khajuraho

  1. Sound and Light Show – A professional sound and light show is held every evening in the open lawns of the Khajuraho Temples in both English and Hindi. In this one hour show, the philosophy, history and the architecture is explained.
  2. Khajuraho Dance Festival – Another attraction is the Khajuraho Dance Festival, which is held in February every year. One can see various Indian classical dance forms here.


The summers are hot with the maximum temperature touching 47°C. In winters it gets very cold and sometimes the temperature dips to as low as 4°C. Khajuraho experiences heavy rainfall during the monsoons. The best time to visit Khajuraho is from October-March.

Reaching Khajuraho

  • By Air – Khajuraho has its own airport and there are regular flights to and from Delhi, Mumbai, Bhopal, Varanasi, Allahabad and Indore. Foreign travelers can take connecting flights from Delhi and Mumbai
  • By Rail – Mahoba is the nearest railway station, which is 77 kms away. Another railway station near Khajuraho is Harpalpur, which is 90 kms from Khajuraho. Harpalpur is well connected to all major cities of India.
  • By Road – Khajuraho is well connected to major cities of India.

Jaisalmer Fort – The Golden Fortress

Panorama of the Golden Fort of Jaisalmer, RajasthanJaisalmer Fort – The Golden Fortress

The glorious Jaisalmer Fort is located in Rajasthan. It is believed to be one of the largest forts of the world. Rao Jaisal, a Bhati Rajput ruler built it in the year 1156 AD and thats how it is named after him. The fort is located on the Trikuta Hill, surrounded by the great Thar Desert, which has witnessed many a battles. The Fort is also referred to as ‘Sonar Qila’ or ‘Golden Fort’ due to the immense use of yellow sandstone. It is one of the most stunning monuments located right at the heart of City in Rajasthan. The beauty of the fort takes you by surprize and leaves lasting footprints on your mind. It deserves a special mention. The best time to visit Jaisalmer is from October to March.

Climatic conditions – Jaisalmer is typically a desert and has an arid climate. It gets really hot during the summers from April – August. In the winters, it feels pretty cool during the day and pleasant at night. At times, it might also get chilly. Being a desert, the rainfall is negligible.

 How To Reach Jaisalmer -:

  • By Road – Many deluxe and semi-deluxe buses are available from Jaipur, Ajmer & Bikaner to Jaisalmer. The inter-state buses connect Jaisalmer to other cities.
  • By Air – The nearest airport is in Jodhpur and one can take a taxi from here. Jaisalmer is 285 Kms from Jodhpur. Jodhpur is also connected to Jaipur and Delhi by air.
  • By Rail – Railway station is one of the significant stations of Western Railways. It is well-connected to all cities of India.

 The Story Behind Jaisalmer Fort

The city played a key role in trade with countries like Arabia, Persia, Africa and Egypt during the medieval period. There are three layers of walls in the fort. The lower layer or the outer-most layer is made of solid blocks of stone and it strengthens the unconsolidated fragments of the Trikuta Hill. The middle or second wall serves as a boundary all around the fort. This is how the fort is protected by three walls. It is believed that the Rajput warriors had once thrown boiling hot water and oil along with solid blocks of rock at the enemies, who became entrapped between the middle and outer most walls.

In the 13th century, Alaudin Khilji captured the fort and held it for nine years. Many Rajput women committed Jauhar during this period. In 1541, the second battle took place in this fort when it was attacked by Humayun, the mughal emperor.

 Important Places To Visit-:

  1. Raj Mahal (The Royal palace) – Constructed in 1500 AD, it is one of the most spectacular structures, in terms of architecture. It is surrounded by beautiful green lawns and graceful gardens. It has seven storeys. It is best known for its lattice work. Members of the royal family used to live here.
  2. Jain temples – These were built between the 12th and 15th century. They are devoted to the Jain hermits (Tirthankars)- Shambhavdev ji and Rikhabdev ji. They have been built in the Delwara style and have human and animal figures carved on the walls.  These temples are also made from yellow sandstone.
  3. The Laxminath Temple- The Laxminath Temple is devoted to Lord Vishnu and Goddess Laxmi. Tourists and devotees flock to this temple in large numbers to view this marvelous temple which has a spartan look. It has a beautiful entrance which has been decorated with silver framework. This temple was built in 1494 during the reign of Rao Lunkaran. Maharaja Ganga Singhji later renovated it but the deity of Vishnu and Lakshmi were installed by a Brahmin – Sen Pal Shakdvipi.
  4.  4 Massive Gateways – These gates have been named Hava Pol, Ganesh Pol, Akshaye Pol and Suraj Pol. The Akshaye Pol which is situated on the eastern side of the fort is the main entrance. Suraj Pol which is across the road was built by Maharawal Bhim. It is surrounded by 99 heavy bastions, out of which 92 were built between 1633-47. The Suraj Pol adorned with an image of the Sun and Lord Ganesha. The Hawa Pol or wind Gate is a huge gateway which was built in the 17th century. It is connected to the palace and a courtyard which is called Dussedra Chowk. Another massive gateway which is also embellished with a figure of Lord Ganesha is the Ganesha Pol.
  5. Merchant Havelis  – The wealthy merchants of North India used to build large houses often called Havelis and decorated them with carvings of sandstone. There are many havelis which are more than one hundred years old. Some havelis have been converted into museums, while there are others where the original families still live. One such haveli is the Vyas Haveli of the 15th century and another is Shree Nath Palace. Many of these havelis have innumerable rooms and many floors. These havelis were designed by Muslim and Hindu craftsmen.


The Jaisalmer Fort is the only fort in the world, where people still live. It is also believed that at one point of time, the entire population of  Jaisalmer had stayed in this fort. Due to the increasing population, some people shifted outside and found space at the tip of Trikuta Hill. This magnificent fort is a must visit since it gives a glimpse of Rajasthan’s rich cultural heritage

Qutub Minar a World Heritage Site

Qutub Minar, a World Heritage Site

Qutub Minar, the pride of Delhi, is the tallest minaret in the world. It is 234 feet high and has 378 steps. It has been dclared as a world heritage site by UNESCO. It is better known as the Qutub Complex and consists of many other architectural constructions. It attracts tourists from all over the world.

The Qutub – Creation of a masterpiece

Qutb-ud-din Aibak, the first Afghan emperor of Delhi from the Mamluk Dynasty initiated the construction of Qutub Minar towards the end of the twelfth century in the year 1193, after getting inspired by Afghanistan’s Minaret of Jam. The minar was built to celebrate Muhammad Ghori’s victory over the Rajputs. Aibak built the first storey and next three storeys were added by his successor, Iltutmish (who was also his son-in-law) between 1210 and 1235.
Qutub Minar is one of the greatest masterpieces of the architecture of Mughal period. It reflects the Indo-Islamic architectural style, made out of red sandstone. The tower is cylindrical in shape and encircled by stone bracketed balconies, which are designed as honeycombs. The minaret is covered with intricate carvings and verses from the religious book of Muslims – The Holy Quran. A number of Nagari and Arabic inscriptions depicting the history of the minar can be found in the different parts of the tower. It is said that it took 20 years to build the minar and attracted a large number of devotees to offer prayers.

Damage suffered by the Minar

The minar has been bit by lightning and earthquakes from time to time. The top two floors were damaged by lightning during Firoz Shah’s rule and he restored it between the period 1351 and 1388. Inscriptions engraved on the surface indicate that Sikander Lodi repaired the minaret from 1489 to 1517. After the earthquake of 1794, Major R.Smith, who worked in the British Indian Army, also repaired and restored the minar.

Delhi’s first mosque

The Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, which is situated to the north-east of the minar, is the earliest mosque built by the Delhi Sultans, was also built by Qutbu’d-Din Aibak in AD 1198. The mosque was later enlarged by Alauddin Khilji (a famous conqueror and sultan of the Khilji Dynasty) and Iltutmish. It consists of a rectangle -shaped courtyard which is enclosed by open galleris, erected with columns and carved with and architectural designs of many Hindu and Jain temples which were destroyed by Qutbu’d-Din Aibak, as stated by him in the inscriptions. Ala’i-Darwaza, which is the southern gateway of the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque was constructed by Alau’d-Din Khalji in AD 1311.

Ala’i Minar

Ala’i Minar which stands to the north of Qutub-Minar, was started by Alau’d-Din Khalji, and he wanted to make it twice the size of the earlier minar. However, he could complete only one storey with a height of 25 m.
The tomb of Iltutmish was built in AD 1235. It is loacted to the west of the mosque. It is a plain square chamber made out of red sandstone and is carved with inscriptions.

Iron pillar at Qutub Minar, Delhi, IndiaFamous Iron Pillar

One can also see an iron pillar located near the minar which dates back to the Gupta Dynasty. It is an amazing piece of architecture made out of durable iron. The pillar bears an inscription in Sanskrit in the Brahmi script of the fourth century AD, which depicts that the pillar was set up as Vishnudhvaja alias Vishnu Stambh, which is raised on a hillock named Vishnupad Giri, in memory of a king named Chandra.

Current Status of the Qutub

Before 1981, the minaret was open to the public and one could climb to the top of the seven-storey narrow staircase. On 4th December 1981, during an accident, the tower’s staircase went into darkness and many people got killed in the stampede that followed the electricity failure. Most of the victims were school children. After this incident, public access has been forbidden. Due to wear and tear, the minar is not that erect as it used to be. It seems to be tilted to one side.

Amber Fort – The Jewel of Rajasthan

Amber or amer fort jaipurAmer Fort – The Jewel of Rajasthan

An excursion to Rajasthan would be worthless without visiting the beautiful Amber Fort. It derives its name from the mother goddess – Amba. Located 11 kms from Jaipur in the state of Rajasthan, the Amber Fort is a magnificent fort built by Raja Man Singh in 1592. It is also called Amer Fort. It is a very old fort, built of red sandstone and marble. This fort consists of various structures such as ‘Sheesh Mahal’ – The mirror palace, Diwan- e-aam – Hall for public audience, Diwan-e-khas – Hall for private audience and Sukh Mahal – The hall for pleasure. Influences of muslim as well as hindu architecture can be seen in this fort. The Rajput kings used to live in this fort with their families.

The Story of Amber

During the medieval period, Amer used to be called Dhundar and the Kachwahas ruled it from 1037 – 1727 AD. After this, the capital was moved from Dhundar to Jaipur. Raja Man Singh, who was a commander in Akbar’s Army built it and it was later expanded by Raja Jai Singh I. Many of the old structures have been demolished but this splendid creation remained intact against all odds.

Amer Fort Entrance Layout of the Fort

There are four parts of the Fort and each of them has a separate entrance to it. The ‘Suraj Pol’ is the main entry and it leads to the main courtyard – The Jaleb Chowk. This entrance is in the east, hence the name ‘ Suraj Pol’ wherein Suraj means Sun and Pol means Gate. The armies used to hold victory parades in this courtyard. The Royal women used to watch them through latticed screens. This gate was open only to the Royal blood. Being the main entry, it was always guarded.

The Sila Devi Temple

The Sila Devi Temple is located to the right of the Jaleb Chowk. This impressive temple has a carving of Lord Ganesha, made out of one single piece of coral stone.The small temple has a diety flanked by two lions. The Rajput Maharajas used to worship and perform their rites and rituals here. During the Navratras (Nine day festival), sacrifices were performed in this temple. However, in 1975 the practice of animal sacrifice(Bali – cutting of a buffalo), was abolished.

iskcon devotees in amberDiwan-e-aam & Diwan-e-khas

The Diwan-e-aam, the second courtyard, which is the hall for public audience is a huge hall which is open from three sides. In this hall, the king used to address the needs of the public. The Diwan-e-khas or hall for private audience is a hall decorated with fine mosaic work. This was reserved for the king’s special guests and dignitaries.

The Sukh Niwas

The Sukh Niwas is located opposite the Diwan-e-khas has a sandalwood door. A water pipe is running through a channel in this hall, which helps to keep it cool. The Sukh Niwas or the hall for pleasure derives its name from the fact that kings used to spend time with their queens and mistresses in this hall.

The Sheesh Mahal

The Sheesh Mahal or the Palace of Mirrors is the most popular and beautiful part of Amber Fort. It is a breath-taking view. This hall is entirely made-up of glass and has some beautiful pieces of art on the walls, which are also madeup of glass. In those times the queens were stopped from sleeping under the open sky, so the king asked the architects to design a hall in such a way that one could see stars all around.

The Kesar Kyari

The Kesar Kyaari or Mughal Gardens , which was built by Mirza Raja Jai Singh adds more scenic beauty to the fort. Kesar is the hindi word for saffron. The kings used to plant saffron in star-shaped sunken flower beds.

Amber Fort – A pleasure to the eyes

The Amber Fort is a ravishing structure with exquisite architectural designs and majestic gardens. One can also enjoy an elephant ride at this fort.

All the images on this page are property of Ananta Vrindavan.