Discover the Incredible Stories Behind The Khajuraho Temples
Long before visual mediums of art were developed, societies and cultures demonstrated their passion through monuments, intricate designs on walls, and complicated sculptures on temples. The Khajuraho temple is a relic of ancient wisdom, of stories told through the carvings on walls, and with a history worth exploring.
Located in the heart of India’s mainland, in the state of Madhya Pradesh, is the ever-magnificent Khajuraho. The Khajuraho temple was actually a complex of 85 temples built between 950 and 1050. Today, 25 of those temples remain and are truly worth seeing for their intricate designs and architecture.
History Of The Khajuraho Temples
From the 10th to 12th century CE Khajuraho was the capital of the Chandella kings. Khajuraho temples are famous for their sculptures, that depict men and women in various sensual positions. They tell the story of love and sexual manifestations in various ways, and are reflective of a time and culture which was perhaps more liberal in acceptance of these sensations than the society today. If not for the Khajuraho sculptures, a major part of the learnings from the Chandela dynasty of Central India would have been lost to the world today.
The Chandela dynasty built Khajuraho temples for two religions, Hinduism and Jainism. Much of the temple complex was destroyed when the Delhi sultanate attacked the region in the 13th Century. It was not until the 19th Century that the remaining temples were found by the British, who then made them known by the erotic nature of the sculptures. Interestingly though, the erotic sculptures were only a small part of the entire repertoire, and the temples were supposed to be a testament for all aspects of life in Hinduism.
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Architecture Of The Khajuraho Temples
The temples of Khajuraho are most famous for their intricate carvings, and designs depicting aspects of life during that period. The erotic depictions have been popularised over the years, making it apparent that the culture of the time was open to sensual texts and visuals. The carvings on the temples were often inspired by Vedic scriptures and the lifestyles of the kings of those times. It was under strict accordance to these scriptures that the sculptures made the male and female forms, as well as the deities. Apart from the erotic, tantric positions, the majority of the stone carvings actually depict the day to day lives of people in the dynasty at the time. The temples were the canvas on which the culture and lives of the Chandela dynasty were recorded, and can be studied till today. It is a sign of true artistic genius and the vision of those great rulers, who patronised the creation of such magnificent works of art, that attracts visitors from the world over today.
Places To Visit In Khajuraho
Today, the Temples of Khajuraho, are a UNESCO World Heritage site, and thousands of tourists make their way to visit these ancient architectural marvels. There are 25 temples, built in a radius of around 6 kilometres, that form the temple complex. The temples are dedicated to several Hindu and Jain gods, and are divided according to their orientation (West, East and South). The largest of the temples is the Kandariya Mahadeo Temple, which is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The intricate stone carvings, depicting a variety of scenes from life thousands of years, is a magnificent sight to see.
One can also visit the four Jain temples, The Parasvanath, Adinath, Shantinath and Ghantai. Jainism was just flourishing at the time the Khajuraho temples were being built, and the rulers from the Chandela dynasty included them in the complex as a symbol of inclusion and diversity that they wished to promote during the Golden Period of Central India.
Around the temples are a number of water bodies, as is usual with Hindu temples. Currently, one can visit the three remaining water bodies that surround the temples – Sib Sagar, Khajur Sagar or Ninora Tal and Khudar Nadi.
The Khajuraho temples are an experience of stories told through stone carvings. For those in search of history, and a deeper understanding of the origins of Hinduism, the temples offer a live demonstration of those ancient times. Today, the Khajuraho temple complex is one of India’s most prized heritage sites, apart from being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and calls out to be seen for its sheer artistic value.
How To Reach Khajuraho
Located in the district of Chhatarpur in Madhya Pradesh, the town of Khajuraho which is fairly well connected domestically. There is an airport in Khajuraho, that has connections from the major cities in India. The city, being a popular tourist destination in Madhya Pradesh, is also well connected by bus and taxis.
Best Time To Visit Khajuraho
Although, winter months are a good time to visit the Khajuraho temples, there is an added attraction to visit in February, which is the annual Khajuraho Dance Festival. This festival features stunning classical dances, performed against the backdrop of the historic temples. It really is a sight to see!
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Neha Mathur loves to explore the stories behind places and people. She believes travel is the best form of education, and loses no opportunity to visit a new place. Neha writes to express stories that touch her heart or entice her mind. She’s a foodie and nothing gives her more happiness than delicious local food! She has a deep love for poetry and music, and swears by the artistic genius of Mirza Ghalib and R.D. Burman.