Khajuraho Temples - A Spectacle of Passion, History and Creativity
Situated nearly 50 kilometres away from Chhatarpur city of Madhya Pradesh, there lies a cluster of temples, famously called the Khajuraho Temples. This site is considered by some as an embodiment of human imagination, history, architecture, heritage, love and passion. Khajuraho is not only a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but is also believed to be one of the Wonders of India. Rich in historical myths, stories, artistic creativity and architectural marvel, these temples are a representative of the art and architecture of ancient India.
Built between 950 AD and 1050 AD by the rulers of the Chandela Dynasty, the Khajuraho Temples were a cluster of 85 Hindu and Jain temples, out of which only 25 are still surviving. These temples are intricately and beautifully embellished and decorated with sculpture and art. Carved from hard river sandstone, one of the main allures of these walls is the erotic art. But this world famous erotic art constitutes only 10% of the total sculptures of Khajuraho.
These sculptures are not chiselled but are mobile and liquid, representing the people who exult in the joy of living, with all its fascinating variety. In fact, there is hardly any other place like Khajuraho where sculptures portray all kinds of human emotions with such great excellence. These temples also seem to celebrate women in her varied forms. They are depicted as yawning, scratching, disrobing, removing thorn from feet, playing with babies and pets like parrot, looking at mirror to do make-up etc.
There are two special sculptures that feature women playing the flute and the veena (Indian musical instruments) and writing letters, depicting women’s education and rich culture in those days.
The temples are divided into three complexes-the Western, the Eastern and the Southern. Among these the Western complex is the largest and best known, containing the magnificent Shaivite temple, Kandariya Mahadev.
It is believed that the temples were not made by a single Chandela ruler, but the building of temples was followed as a tradition. Every ruler built at least one temple in their lifetime. This continued until the fall of the Chandela Dynasty in 12th century, after which foreign invaders caused much destruction at and around the temples, forcing the citizens to leave the area. The temples were under forest cover from the 13th to 18th century, and were later discovered by a British engineer, T.S. Burt.
It is believed that during the 11th century, each gate of Khajuraho was flanked by two date/palm trees. Due to the presence of these date trees,Khajuraho got its name Khajura-Vahika. In the Hindi language, “Khajura” means ‘Date’ and “Vahika” means ‘Bearing’.
By air: Khajuraho Airport, officially known as Civil Aerodrome Khajuraho is only 5kms away from the main temple.
By rail: Khajuraho Railway Station is also 5 kms away from the main temple, but it is connected to few major cities like Bhopal and Delhi, and towns directly. Various other railway stations like Satna, Jhansi and Katni, located around 130-200 kms away, can be good alternatives.
By road: Well-built roads are connected to the most of the major cities of India, and are easily accessible.