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.
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.