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Khajuraho Temple of Love - The Erotic Sculptures of the Khajuraho Temples

Khajuraho Temple of Love - The Erotic Sculptures of the Khajuraho Temples

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Have you heard about Kamasutra? What do you think about Satisfaction in Sexual intercourse? Let’s answer these questions with details. Today I m here with my new interesting blog about the famous Khajuraho Sculptures and wondering place World UNESCO heritage Khajuraho.

Khajuraho is one of the famous and attractive tourist places in India. It’s situated at chhatarpur district in Madhya Pradesh, which is also an important state of India having historical places. Some people believe that this place was found by Mahatma Gandhi. Khajuraho has the largest group of Middle Ages Hindu and Jain temples. The name Khajuraho is derived from its famous garden of dates(Khajhur)

This place has many temples, now famous for its wide range of history and erotic sculptures with a unique history. Most of them were built between 950 AD to 1050 AD by the Chandela dynasty. There are many myths and stories about this place. Tourists from the whole globe visit there and enjoy its beauty and it is also an important place for history seekers. All temples mostly dedicated to Bramha, Vishnu, and Lord Shiva. Khajuraho’s famous in the world, the book was also written over Kamasutra.

So it was the intro of this place in upcoming paragraphs I will briefly discuss its history, places to visit, the best time to reach, things to do, the lifestyle of people, stories related with this place, modes of transportation, historical temples, and many more things which will surprise your thinking about daily life.

Best Places To Visit

As the sun sets, drenching the entire sky in shades of pink and purple, I understand the true meaning of sensuality. Surrounding me are several beautiful sculptures, locked in embraces, making love. For a moment, you can almost feel the passion in the air. I am standing amidst the temples of Khajuraho, looking at the carvings cast in stone where love alternates with lust. The men and women are in various stages of love making and the erotic sculptures fill the walls of the temples. The amorous couples are lost in each other’s arms and even as these private moments are out here for public display, they are not making any attempt to hide their feelings for each other.

Erotic sculptures of Khajuraho

There is more to the temples of Khajuraho than just erotic sculptures though which are apparently only one -tenth of all the carvings on the walls of the shrines. Built between the 10 th -12 th centuries by the Chandela Rajputs, the temples of Khajuraho were hidden in dense forests and were discovered much later, only in the 19th century. Located on the banks of a tributary of the Ken river, these medieval monuments are today one of the World Heritage Sites. The Western Group of temples are the largest here and then you have the Eastern and the Southern Group and a few Jaina monuments as well.

My guide is a wise old man who goes by the name of Mamaji and he tells me that there were 85 temples at one time, however only 22 stand today. And these temples he says go beyond religion and eroticism. The Khajuraho sculptures may be synonymous with erotic art, but there are several different kinds of carvings here.

Only 22 temples survive today

Standing here, I see tall towers lit up by the glow of the evening sun touching the sky. The birds are on their way home. The red shades of the sandstone stand out amidst the dusky sky as Mamaji tells me a little story. And the moon has just risen.

Passions are always running high when it concerns the moon and no wonder, the descendants of the celestial moon God have built shrines for love. The story goes that the moon seduced a beautiful woman called Hemavathy when was bathing in the dark under moonlight. However he apparently told her that their son would one day establish a kingdom. Hemavathy ran into the forests and raised her son Chandravarman who eventually grew up to establish the Chandela dynasty . According to Mamaji , one theory says he was influenced by his mother’s story and built the temples of Khajuraho with sculptures depicting human passions and probably, the futility of the same.

However there are many theories regarding the erotic sculptures of Khajuraho but I visit the oldest temple here, which is actually empty. I am at the Chausath Yogini temple built in 900 AD . Built In an open sanctuary all the sixty seven cells are empty. None of the 64 Yogini along with Goddess Durga are around , but I can feel a mystical aura around the temple.Mamaji my guide believes that the essence of Khajuraho lies in tantric cult and the erotic sculptures are manifestation of the same. Whatever the reason may be, Khajuraho ‘s temples go beyond the kamasutra.

The Kandariya Mahadev temple towers above the rest in the Western Group with almost 900 sculptures jostling for space on its walls. Mamaji says that it represents Kailash as the temple resembles a mountain range. The main tower is like a mountain, reaching out to 30 metres tall and there are several miniature towers popping out like smaller hillocks. Besides erotic sculptures you can see several different carvings here as well. Dedicated to Shiva, the temple is believed to have built by King Vidhyadhara after a successful war campaign.

Lakshmana Temple has one of the largest set of erotic carvings

The Lakshmana temple dedicated to Vishnu built by Yashovarman is one of my personal favourites among the temples of Khajuraho. The Vaikunta image of Vishnu seems to have three different faces – those of a lion, boar and a man. The carvings here depict social and cultural lives of the Chandelas .Facing this temple is a Lakshmi temple, that once housed a Garuda and next to it is an intricately carved monolith of Varaha , the incarnation of Vishnu built of sandstone. Along the same platform of the Kandariya Mahadev temple is a Mahadev temple, another shrine dedicated to Jagadhambi, a Chitragupt temple for Surya, the sun god, a shrine for Parvati and the massive Vishwanath temple.

The Brahma temple is one of my favourites

The following day, we visit the Eastern and Southern groups. Mamaji takes me to a small Durga temple , where the deity was believed to have been discovered during an excavation. Our next stop is the Brahma temple, a small shrine by a lake. Although a lingam is housed here , it was initially meant to be built for Vishnu.Every temple has an interesting name. A Vishnu temple is called Javari as millet or Javar was cultivated close by. Another temple called Ghantai refers to the bells depicted on the pillars.

As we drive around Khajuraho, the village is quiet and clean. The locals live in a world of their own, however oblivious to the heritage surrounding them, except for the vendors who try to cash in on the “erotic” imagery and sell crude representations of the sculptures. More than guide books , the kamasutra is sold locally in front of every temple.

The Jain temples take yur breath away

My final stop is at a few Jaina temples dedicated to the Teerthankaras – Adinatha, Parshwanatha and Shantinatha. We move on to the Chathurbhuj temple to see the last rays of sun falling on the feet of a charming idol of the four armed Vishnu . Finally Mamaji takes me to one of his favourite temples, probably the last built by the Chandelas. The Dulhadeo temple , where Shiva is a bridegroom is a temple dedicated to weddings, fertility rites and cults .

The Varaha is one of its kind here

The day finally ends as we see the spectacular sound and light show and head to the Lalit Khajuraho who has hosted me. The silence in the air is soothing. The stars look down and I can feel the magic. And then I realize that no one will ever know what was in the sculptor’s mind as he carved these erotic sculptures of Khajuraho. Perhaps the charm of the destination lies in this mysticism.

Some believe that in ancient times these temples were built for imparting sex education. It is believed that after seeing those amazing figures, people will get proper education of sexual intercourse. In ancient times, the temple was the only place where almost everybody used to go. That is why the temples were chosen to provide the perfect education for sexual intercourse.

It is also believed that for salvation, every person has to go through four paths – religion, meaning, yoga and work. It is believed that naked images have been installed outside the temple. Because this is the work, and after that only the refuge of God is available only. This is why it was conceived to go to God’s shelter after seeing it.

Apart from all this, some other people have been told to protect Hinduism behind this. According to these people when the temples of Khajuraho were built, then the spread of Buddhism was very fast. Chandel rulers tried to save the existence of Hinduism and for this, they resorted to this path. According to him, in ancient times, it was believed that everyone on the side of sex is pulled up. That is why if idols will be placed outside the temple and in the currency of sexual intercourse, people will visit the temple to see it. Then they will go to see God inside. This will promote the Hindu religion.

A Brief History of the Khajuraho Temple

The Khajuraho Temple complex was built as a vast place of worship for both Jains and Hindus, two of India’s most widespread religions.

Much more extensive when they were first constructed, the temples were built in the 10th century AD by the Chandela dynasty, who ruled until the 13th century.

The Chandela’s built the temples at Khajuraho, as this was at the time the kingdom’s capital. Over a period of 100 years, the Hindu rulers added more and more temples as their power and wealth increased across the region.

They built as many as 80 in and around the city, using their unique designs and architectural styles to create an incredibly unique religious location.

Fortune wasn’t to favor the Chandela’s though, as increasing invasions and pressure from Muslim kingdoms arriving in India from Persia and Central Asia led to the city of Khajuraho being taken by the Delhi sultanate in the 13th century and the dynasty fell from power.

With ever-increasing Muslim influence, the temples of Khajuraho fell into disuse and disrepair. The former capital never again achieved the size and scale it had under the Chandelas and many of the temples, artwork, and sculptures were even destroyed under Islamic rule.

The Khajuraho Temple complex was lost to the jungles, slowly consumed by vines and trees until the arrival of the British in the 19th century, and their eventual clearing of the forests and excavations that allowed the temples to once again be visited.

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How To Travel to the Khajuraho Temple

The Khajuraho Temple is found in the modern-day state of Madhya Pradesh, in the town of Khajuraho, the last surviving legacy of the former capital of the Chandela kingdom.

Khajuraho is isolated and remote, a fact that helped the temples to be hidden in the forest for so many years after their abandonment.

Now, with their UNESCO World Heritage inscription and their popularity amongst tourists, despite the isolation, Khajuraho can still be visited relatively easily by travelers.

A purpose-built airport has facilitated tourism in the region, allowing passengers to travel domestically from Delhi and a few other large Indian cities, directly to the temples.

If you are looking to travel overland, then although the journey here is rather long, it is still a well-connected destination.

There are several direct, long-distance buses to Delhi or Gwalior, however, most travelers are likely to transit through Jhansi, which is anywhere from 3-5 hours away by car or bus.

From Jhansi, you can travel to almost anywhere else in India. Jhansi is also the best place to transit from if you are traveling by train, as a direct rail link exists between the two destinations.

From Jhansi, there are express trains to many other cities. Khajuraho and the nearby Khajuraho Temple Temple complex are best explored by either bicycle or by hiring a rickshaw for the day, as the religious sites are spread over a large area.

Search for Flights: Priceline and Skyscanner offer great deals to India.

When to Visit the Khajuraho Temple

Khajuraho experiences a hot, dry climate throughout much of the year. Summer can be scorching hot, with monsoon weather adding humidity to the air from June through to September.

This is the low season, but torrential rain can affect your travel plans to Khajuraho Temple.

Most visitors aim to visit in the dry winter season, which runs from November through to March. There’s almost no rain and the weather is beautifully cool in comparison to the summers.

Things can get busy this time of the year though, so you are best trying to get out of the town and to the temples early in the morning to avoid the worst of the crowds.

Where to Stay When Visiting the Khajuraho Temple

Within the town of Khajuraho, there is a great range of accommodation for travelers, however, during peak season it’s best to try and book in advance as beds can be limited, particularly at the most popular hotels.

Backpackers will find plenty of cheap accommodation options, however, standards can be mixed when paying on the lower end of the spectrum at Khajuraho.

There are some great local homestays run by families that offer a unique experience and an insight into local life as well as lots of cheap hotels, with budget private rooms.

On the higher end of the accommodation spectrum, there are a growing number of luxury hotels and a few international chains popping up in Khajuraho.

The Radisson may well be one of the most reliable hotels, but this can get quickly booked out by tour groups.

Read reviews and check prices with our Hotel Search Engine , that gives you the best hotel deals found on the web. Our search engine pulls results from all of the major booking places, including Expedia, Hotels, Booking and more. All the options, all the deals, all in one place and just for you.

Khajuraho Temples are more than just erotic here are some interesting facts

It is, supposedly, said that Mahatma Gandhi found the sculptures in Khajuraho temples very disheartening and persuaded his supporters to wash and chip the temple walls clean of "embarrassing and indecent" portrayal of Indian culture. However, they were unsuccessful in committing such a blunder, and thankfully, the temples stand tall gracefully till date.

The famous Khajuraho temples of Madhya Pradesh have been hogging the limelight every now and then for various reasons. And the most popular psyche is that many find the carvings on the Khajuraho temples as offensive pornographic scenes. Perhaps, in all this, we tend to miss the most important point, i.e., the basic purpose of building these temples. This UNESCO World Heritage site is far from being a petty representation of the Kama Sutra. The temples here, in fact, illustrate the idea of life that engaged aesthetic objects to create something inspirational.

So, let’s go beyond the erotic sculptures, which comprise only 10 per cent of the Khajuraho complex of temples, and shed light on more interesting facts surrounding them.

What led to the creation of Khajuraho temples?

As per the legends, Hemvati was a beautiful woman, after whom the Khajuraho temples were built. One day, when she was bathing in a pool in Benaras, the Moon God was swooned by her beauty, and could not wait any longer to see her. They conceived a child and named him Chandravarman. However, she feared that her child might have to face harassment as he was born out of wedlock. She was so distressed that she cursed the Moon God, who later prophesied that the child will grow up to become a great king.

Just like the prophecy, the child indeed grew to become a great king, who founded the Chandela dynasty. One day, after Hemvati passed away, her son saw her in his dreams, where she asked him to construct temples that would depict human passions.

Just 10 per cent of all the cravings found in the complex of Khajuraho temples are erotic

Quite interestingly, only 10 per cent of the carvings on the temple complex depict sexual themes. The rest of the cravings depict everyday life of the common man that existed during those times. While some sculptures display women applying makeup, there are others that showcase potters, musicians, farmers, and other common folks. The most common belief, which has no basis, is that since the carvings are in Khajuraho temples, this means the carvings are depicting sex between deities.

How many temples have survived to date?

Khajuraho had 85 temples until the 12th century. When during the 13th century, central India was seized by the Delhi Sultanate, some of the temples were destroyed and the rest left in neglect. Now, only 22 temples managed to survive and stood the test of time.

From where did it get the name, Khajuraho?

As per the legends, the temples had, as their gate, two golden date-palm trees. And this is how Khajuraho was derived from the word ‘khajur’, which means date palm.

Who built these temples and when?

The Khajuraho group of temples were built during the rule of Rajput Chandela dynasty. They started building the complex as soon as they rose in power throughout their kingdom, which later came to be known as Bundelkhand. Most temples were constructed between 950 and 1050 AD during the reigns of Hindu Kings Yasovarman and Dhanga.

Fascinating Khajuraho Travel Guide – Kamasutra in Stone

Designated as one of the seven wonders of India and one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of the country, the Khajuraho temples are a collection of about 20 structures that were once part of a larger complex of about 85 buildings. These splendid monuments, spread over a nine square mile region, deliver antiquity, intrigue and solitude in a rugged, rural environment. And sculptures of theirs? Well, there is an explanation why and how they have been called “Kamasutra temples” . Read this Khajuraho Travel guide to know more.

Khajuraho Travel Guide – Kamasutra Temples – Things to Do in Khajuraho

While Khajuraho is a little out of the way on the popular tourist trail, on this basis, do not offer it a miss. You’ll find such special temples with meticulously crafted carvings nowhere else. For erotic sculptures, the Khajuraho temples are well known. More than that, though, they reflect a festival of passion, life, and worship. They also deliver an uninhibited glimpse into ancient Hindu religion and Tantra rituals.

If you look closely, the amount of detail and expertise you can see is incredible, particularly given the age and weathering these sandstone sculptures have experienced. This are probably some of India’s most magnificent temples. In reality, while the temples are most notable for their erotic sculptures, these account for only 10% of the various sculptures. Most of the Khajuraho sculptures portray every day medieval life with scenes depicting gods and goddesses, war, peasants, agriculture, travels, elephants and other actual or mythical creatures.

How to Get There

Khajuraho Airport is linked to Delhi, Mumbai, Varanasi, Bhopal, and Mumbai, as well as many major Indian cities. From Mumbai and Delhi, foreign travelers can get direct flights.

You can also take the Uttar Pradesh Sampark-Kranti (12448) from Hazrat Nizamuddin Railway Station, Delhi (departure 20:10 arrival 06:35) or the Mahamana Superfast Express (22163) from Bhopal to enter Khajuraho by train (departure at 06:50 arrival 13:30).

Khajuraho is well linked to all of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh’s major towns by road. From Lucknow (310km) and Bhopal, it is around an 8-hour drive (376km).

The road has been improved from Jhansi to Khajuraho. The trip now takes around 5 hours. Mostly tourists reach Jhansi by train (Shatabdi Superfast Express) from Delhi/Agra and then take a taxi to reach Khajuraho.

Brief History of Khajuraho Temples

The temples of Khajuraho are a collection of Hindu and Jain temples decorated with complex descriptions, symbols and ancient Indian architecture, but they are better recognized for the explicit erotic sculptures that adorn the ancient stone buildings and are considered to be some of the world’s most fabulous temple art.

The Khajuraho temples were founded by the kings of the Chandela family, who controlled most of central India’s Bundelkhand region between the 9th and 13th centuries. The dynasty is renowned, particularly the Khajuraho temples, for its art and architecture.

Up until the end of the 12th century, when the Delhi Sultanate seized possession of central India, the temples were actively used for worship. Until the 18th century, Muslim rule remained in the region, during which period many of the temples were demolished or fell into ruin.

Only 20 of the initial 85 temples exist today. In the 19th century, they were rediscovered by the British surveyor T.S. Burt.

How to Visit Temples

From sunrise until sunset, the temples are open everyday. It is ideal to go from November to March during the colder months.

Tickets are needed only for the Western community of temples to join. Free for children younger than 15 years of age. You can also have access to the archaeological museum.

Although the Western group of temples (the main & famous) are located near several hotels, the Eastern group is a mile or two away in another village and the Southern group is near the airport. Hiring a bicycle or auto rickshaw are common ways to move between them. Best to go at sunset time to the Eastern and Southern group of temples.

What to See

There are three temple classifications: Western, Eastern, and Southern. The western group features the majestic and main temples Kandariya Mahadev and Vishwanath temple. These temples in the Nagara style are where most of the famous erotic sculptures you’ll find. A handful of exquisitely crafted Jain temples are located in the Eastern Group. The Southern party has just two temples. They’re not that impressive, but they’re worth seeing. The temple of Dulhadeo is devoted to the form of the bridegroom of Shiva, while the temple of Chaturbhuj has an uncommon form of Vishnu as the presiding deity.

Every evening after sunset at the Western community of temples, a sound and light show in Hindi and English, narrated by the Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan, is performed. Tickets may be bought from the counter there in advance.

Why all this Erotica?

It’s normal to ask, of course, why hundreds of pornographic sculptures have been created. They are very explicit, and also show animal-sex and group sex positions. What is noteworthy is that there are other temples in India (such as the Konark Sun Temple in Odisha) that have identical erotic sculptures dating back to the 9th-12th centuries, even though the Khajuraho temples have the maximum number of these sculptures.

There is no widely accepted explanation, however, as to why they remain! Some consider it to be auspicious, since on the temple walls there are even carvings of supernatural beings. Others view it as sex education, targeted at rekindling desire in the minds of individuals that at the time might have been affected by Buddhism. Another reason is taken from Hinduism, and the need before entering the temple to leave lust and desires outside. Some claim the sculptures are intended to illustrate how humans leave their animal and basic instincts behind, as they rise to more blissful and serene states of mind.

There is also , most definitely, a connection with the Tantra cult. The 64 Yogini Temple, the oldest temple in Khajuraho, is a Tantric temple devoted to 64 goddesses consuming demons’ blood. In India, there are only four temples of this type.

I personally believe that erotic art displayed on these temples have a very subtle hidden message for personal development – “From Sex to Salvation”. One can attain the higher state of consciousness to be one with the God through the physical satisfaction.

The Best of Khajuraho Temples

Some of the best maintained, most fascinating and most breathtaking sculptures in the Western Category of Temples are situated in peaceful, green gardens and are the only ones you have to pay an admission fee for. There is an audio guide available (sometimes) that helps you to walk the temples at your own speed while listening to the guide and learning about the background and purpose behind the temples

Highlights include the temple of Lakshmana- roam around the base to see some of the most explicit artwork of Khajuraho, including orgies and even a man being really close with a horse! Kandariya Mahadev is the biggest temple in Khajuraho where you can find the infamous handstand position. There are other temples beyond the Western Enclosure, including Matangesvara, the only one still in service, and the Chausath Yogini ruins that make a good place for sunset.

With naturalistic details of ornaments, jewellery, hairstyles and even manicured nails, the extraordinary talent of the artisans is noticeable throughout. The temples subtly shift colour as the day passes, passing from a warm pink at sunrise to white at midday and back to pink at sunset, to contribute to the charm of the whole outfit. They are highlighted throughout the nighttime by dramatic floodlights, and they shine bright while the moon is out.

For the exceptionally energetic and suggestive erotica that ornaments its three layers, covering almost every facet of the exterior, Kandariya Mahadeva is particularly popular with tourists. It is still likely to see admiring crowds in front of an especially fine picture of a couple locked in sexual intercourse with a maiden on either side assisting. It appears to contradict nature, with the male figure suspended upside down on his shoulders, one of Khajuraho’s most common motifs only when seen from above the entangled limbs tend to make some sense.

The Erotic Temple Art

Ever after its’ rediscovery’ in February 1838, the conservative minds have been hypnotized by the unabashed erotica of Khajuraho. T.S. Burt, a young British Bengal Engineering Officer, had deviated from his official itinerary when he stumbled across the ancient temples, nearly covered by the forest all around.

Frank’s depictions of oral sex, masturbation and copulation with animals may have fitted into the thoughts of the Chandellas of the tenth century, however, as Burt relates, the approval of Queen Victoria’s upstanding officers was hardly calculated:

“I found… seven Hindu temples, very beautifully and exquisitely crafted in terms of workmanship, but at times the sculptor had enabled his topic to develop a little warmer than some utter need for his doing yes, some of the sculptures here were extremely indecent and offensive… Nevertheless, the palki (palanquin) bearers seemed to take great pleasure in those, to point out.”

On the steps of the Vishvanatha temple, Burt found the inscription that helped historians to assign the site to the Chandellas and to compile their genealogy, but it was many years before Major-General Sir Alexander Cunningham created Khajuraho’s comprehensive plans, drawing the distinction between the ‘western’ and ‘eastern’ groups. All the sculptures Cunningham felt were “highly indecent, and most of them disgustingly obscene.”

Tantric cult of Divine Entertainment

Erotic photographs appear to be the topic of a disproportionate amount of speculation and discussion amongst researchers and interested visitors alike. The role of clarity is rendered more complicated by the fact that in their literature, even the Chandellas themselves scarcely listed the temples, and the very name “Khajuraho” could be inaccurate, taken literally from that of the nearby village.

Proposals of associations with tantric cults, which utilize sex as a central aspect of religion, have been among attempts to account for the erotic content of the carvings. Some assert that they were influenced by the Kama Sutra and were equally meant to act as a love manual, whereas others contend that the sculptures were intended to entertain the gods, divert their wrath and thereby shield the temples from natural calamities. Alternatively, as proof that each reflects a yantra, a pictorial version of a mantra, for use in meditation, the geometric qualities of such images have been placed forth.

Kandariya Mahadeva, Lakshmana and Vishvanatha, the sixteen wide panels portraying sexual union that appear along the northern and southern sides of the three major temples, are often concerned with the junction of the temples’ male and female elements, the mandapa and the garbha griha (the ‘womb’). Therefore, they may have been meant as a visual joke, drawn up through artistic liberty.

The Jain Group of Temples

Parsvanath’s temple, which occupies the Jain group’s walled enclosure, is possibly older than Khajuraho’s major temples, judging by its comparatively straightforward ground plan. Its sources remain a mystery although formally listed as a Jain monument, it might have been a Hindu temple that was donated at a later date to the Jains who settled here. Certainly, on the two horizontal bands across the walls, the animated carving of Khajuraho’s other Hindu temples is well depicted, and the upper one is packed with Hindu gods in intimate positions.

Best Things to Do in Khajuraho

Temple Tour

A place that fills the heart and soul is Khajuraho. It is not only the artistic magic it presents, but the in-depth insight it gives on the rich cultural history of the lives of the citizens of the past. To feel and appreciate life in its real essence, visit Khajuraho.

Light & Sound Show

The Light and Sound show played by the Western Group of Temples is a sight to behold and cherish for a long time, among all the things to do in Khajuraho at night.

Panna National Park

A must-do day trip from Khajuraho is Panna National Park. The park includes Pench Tiger Reserve, the setting of The Jungle Book, the popular work of Rudyard Kipling. After taking a hit from poachers, the tiger population has recently rebounded to 40. Some of the rarest types of wildlife are housed in a common tiger reserve. In the Chattarpur district of Madhya Pradesh, this park is located about 57 kilometers away from Khajuraho. It can best be explored by jeep safari, boat trip or elephant safari.

Khajuraho Dance Festival

Each year, in late February, a week-long classical dance festival takes place in Khajuraho. The festival, which has drawn crowds since 1975, exhibits the theme of classical dance from around India. It provides a captivating way of seeing Indian dance’s diverse classical forms, including Kathak, Bharat Natyam, Odissi, Kuchipudi, Manipuri, and Kathakali. In the western community of temples, dances are held. At the event, a major arts and crafts fair also takes place.

Fort Ajaigarh

Among the region’s main attractions is Ajaigarh Fort. It stands alone in the district of Panna on a hilltop and is quickly reached from Khajuraho. This fort offers truly breathtaking views of Ken River. Not many people are aware of this fort, and it’s relatively abandoned. Remember that you’re going to need to do quite a bit of climbing and a guide is worth taking here


In Khajuraho, there are two archaeological museums the old one is located in front of the Western Temple Community and is very small. Approximately 500 meters from the Western Group, the new museum is home to a strong selection of sculptures that help tell Khajuraho’s tale. It is possible to easily view the museums and give a good mid-day escape from the sun. With drawings, sculptures and other objects, there is also a Tribal and Folk Art Museum that offers a lively glimpse into the region’s tribal cultures.

Fort Kalinjar

Mentioned among the eight forts of the Chandela kings, on a flat-topped rocky hill of the Vindhyanchal Mountain Range, the Kalinjar Fort rests above the plains. In fine artwork, sculptures and stone images, tourists can find the mark of each king who governed the fort.

Raneh Falls

These falls with breathtaking rock formations are situated some 20 km from Khajuraho, providing an abode for nature lovers in a picturesque environment surrounded by lush woods. During the rainy season, the place can be visited to appreciate the view it has to give of waterfalls gushing through the rocks in different sizes. Sunset here is better observed.

Pandav Falls

Pandav waterfalls are concealed behind the drapes of Panna National Park, falling from a height of 30 meters. There is a pond below the waterfall, created by a steep gorge that stores all the water from the waterfall.

Mastani Mahal Ruins

In Madhya Pradesh, Mastani Mahal is located in the Dhubela district situated 60 km away from Khajuraho. The Mastani mahal was established in 1969 by Maharaja Chhatrasal for a dancer whose name was Mastani.

Beni Sagar Dam

Spread over an area of roughly 7.7 sq. Km., Beni Sagar Dam gives tourists what only a few places can give – the peace and serenity.

Where to Stay in Khajuraho

Khajuraho has many options suiting every budget – from hostels to homestays and luxury hotels, you have it all.

Where to Eat in Khajuraho

Outside of the hotels, Khajuraho has minimal dining choices. The most reliable of these are the Raja Café and the Maharaja Restaurant.

Raja café is popular for its continental and European offerings such as pizzas, pastas, brownies, and sandwiches, with its leafy courtyard, al-fresco seating, and ideal venue. On the other side, Maharaja Restaurant is better adapted to simple North Indian cuisine. Both are found within a few steps of each other in the main square.

Where to Shop in Khajuraho

Khajuraho is a remote town with no high streets, shopping malls or labels. However, what it does have are many tiny art shops that offer locally produced trinkets, souvenirs, figurines, and replicas of the erotic statues for which the temple city is renowned.

The MP State Emporium, Mrignayani, where you can be assured of service and costs, is the best spot to shop here.

Be prepared to negotiate if you enjoy shopping at the nearby stalls in the market square near the Western group of temples.

The charm of the statuary remains undiminished by the passage of time, whatever the true message behind the temples of Khajuraho.

Designated as one of India’s seven wonders and one of the nation’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the temples of Khajuraho are a group of around 20 structures that once formed part of a larger complex of around 85 buildings. Scattered over a nine square mile site, these intriguing monuments offer antiquity, mystery and isolation in a remote, rural stetting. And their sculptures? Well, there’s a reason they’ve been dubbed the “Kama Sutra temples”.

Built by the Chandela dynasty in its golden age between the 10 th and 11 th centuries, these holy places are special for a number of reasons. Not only are they dedicated to two religions, Hinduism and Jainism, but they also possess a series of unusual erotic panels. Located in Madhya Pradesh, about 109 miles south-east of Jhansi, the temples are relatively isolated today and were situated over 35 miles from their capital, Mahoba, in their heyday, too. A fact that no doubt contributed to their falling out of the pages of history when Turkic Muslims seized the kingdom in the 13 th century, an absence that was only rectified when a British army Captain, T. S. Burt, rediscovered the complex in the 1830s.

Named mysteriously after a ‘date palm bearer’, the structures are carved from a sandstone that lay buried almost 20 miles away on the banks of the River Ken, and must have required gargantuan levels of capital and labor to move. Shining various shades of pink, yellow and burnished brass, each temple consists of an entrance, hall, vestibule and sanctum, all constructed without the aid of mortar.

But despite the architectural brilliance of these buildings, the real stars of the show are still undoubtedly the nubile apsaras (heavenly maidens), brawny kichakas (commanders) and lithe nayikas (mortal women) caught forever in innumerable scenes of passion. And although not unique – nudity is seen in some of the earliest Buddhist cave art and the Sun Temple at Konark is endowed with similar scenes – the sculptures are very rare.

Indeed, the stone erotica is scarce enough for several big debates on what exactly they stand for to swirl around the sybarites. Some believe they propound tantric principles, balancing male and female forces in the universe others believe they were placed to protect the temples from lightning others hold that they show ordinary morality as a thing to be transcended while some groups think the statues are meant to demonstrate how humans leave their base, animal impulses behind as they ascend to more blissful and serene states of mind.

Elephants of Khajuraho © Insight Vacations

Whatever the real message behind the temples of Khajuraho, the beauty of the statuary remains undiminished by the passing of time. Fantastically small details, such as jewelry, nails, piercings and hair-dos, can still be distinguished, and the whole place feels hallowed as ladies carrying bundles of flowers and sticks of incense pass to send prayers heavenward.

If the temples of Khajuraho have caught your imagination, book a place on the Classical India itinerary and discover these ancient monuments for yourself.

Khajuraho - Of Love Depicted On Stone

Khajuraho, seated in the Bundelkhand zone of Madhya Pradesh, is a picturesque hamlet set against the backdrop of the captivating Vindhya mountain ranges. Khajuraho has its name inscribed on the world heritage map as the village where the exceptional Khajuraho temples are situated. Khajuraho tourism is peppered with temples, crafted from sandstone, and famous for their unique and explicit rock carvings, portraying passion on stone.

Tourist Places In And Around Khajuraho

Khajuraho tourism boasts of sculptured temples where the theme is the presentation and glorification of love in all forms. Some remarkable temples in Khajuraho are the Chausath Yogini Temple, Javari Temple, Devi Jagdamba Temple, Viswanath Temple, Kandariya Mahadev Temple, Lakshmana Temple and many more.

Another major attraction is the Khajuraho Dance Festival. This festival is organised every year from 25th February to 2nd March. The week-long festival attracts artists and performers from all over India.

Khajuraho - The Bearer Of Heritage . . .

The temples of Khajuraho were constructed by the rulers of the Chandela dynasty that ruled Central India between 950-1050 AD. There were 85 temples at Khajuraho, of which just 22 have succeeded in surviving the devastation of time.

The unbelievable description of human passion on rock and the sensual sculptures have caught the imagination of the world. The temples were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986.

Khajuraho - A Celebration Of Life

Khajuraho&rsquos art and sculpture is, in essence, a celebration of life. The architectural splendour is an ode to the joys of life and creative spirit of human beings. The temples at Khajuraho, though considered to be a canvas of erotic sculptures, in reality are dedicated to some of the most revered Hindu gods. They are rightly described as one of the seven wonders of India.

Khajuraho - A Creative Variety Of Marvels On Stone

The temples of Khajuraho are categorised into three groups: western, eastern and southern groups. The western group consists of entirely Hindu temples. These temples depict some of the finest architectural splendours of Khajuraho. The largest temple in this group is the Kandariya Mahadeva Temple, which is also the largest and the most majestic temple in Khajuraho.

The eastern group consists of Hindu and Jain temples. These temples, though not as elaborately carved as the western temples, have a charm and splendour of their own. The Parsvanath Temple of this group is the largest Jain temple.

The southern group consists of just two temples, the Dhuladeo Temple and the Chaturbhuj Temple. These temples lack the touch of refined sculptures and architectural splendours of other Khajuraho temples.

How To Reach Khajuraho

Khajuraho is widely accessible through all means of transportation. The town has an airport, a railway station and bus stands. There are taxis, rickshaws and bicycles available for exploring the city.

Best Time To Visit Khajuraho

Winter season, particularly October to March, is ideal for visiting Khajuraho.

The tragedy of Khajuraho: A misguided stereotype shrouds an enduring mystery

The allure of Khajuraho, I now realize, lies in its timeless tenacity and the untold stories it is holding within.

Note: This post is published as part of the #ChaloMPwithHolidayIQ campaign and I was hosted by HolidayIQ in Madhya Pradesh, in collaboration with MP Tourism.

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The architecture just blew me over, so intricate it is! Loved your journey here.

Me too! That's the problem with stereotypes, it only tells an incomplete story.

Nicely written, i visited Khajuraho as a school kid and as being in an all boys school it was quite mind boggling as you can imagine. Your story offers some interesting insights about why there could have been erotic sculptures on these temples. Apparently sex sells, even then! Incidentally, the Vishnu temple in Lothal in Maharashtra also has some erotic iconography and makes an interesting addition to a visit to the famous meteorite crater. Lothal, rather interestingly also has a Brahma temple, fairly rare in India. Check it out, I think you will like it. https://rediscoveryproject.com/2016/09/13/why-lonar-crater-needs-to-be-on-your-travel-list/

Ha ha, I can imagine, must've been quite something looking for all the hidden erotica! Seems like a lot of the sun temples have this recurring motif of erotic sculptures, wonder what's the connection. And even Khajuraho has a Brahma temple, although I didn't visit. Also, I suppose you mean Lonar and Lothal?

Hi Neelima,
Quite an interesting article and liked that you brought out the fact that Khajuraho temples aren't the only ones with erotic sculptures. I'd been to Sun Temple in Modhera near Ahmedabad. There too there was a lot of erotic art on the temple exteriors. Think it's peculiar to Sun temples.
Also didn't know the Khajuraho temple complex has 85 temples. Wow that's a huge number.

I'm surprised how this is not well known, that so many other temples have erotic carvings! There are many posts online listing at least 15 different temples. There surely seems to be a sun/Brahma temple connection. But there are again few anomalies such as Hoyasala temples, Virupaskha of Hampi and Ranakpur Jain temples.

And yeah, I can't get over the fact that Chandelas built 85 temples! And that only 22 of them are left. Wondering if they met their natural end or if they were desecrated by someone. Phew, so many questions about Khajuraho. :D

Great article Neelima. I know I certainly saw beyond the misguided stereotype of this wonderful temple complex. However it a stereotype that gets hammered in the mainstream travel brochures. I relished my time here, appreciating the beauty of all the carvings and looking beyond the small percentage of erotic sculptures I saw a storyboard of life and lives.

Sorry, I didn't mean to post as unknown. I am a real life person :)

Ha ha, thanks Natasha! I wish there was more information to read and learn about the temples of Khajuraho. :)

Article is very interesting to read i love that so much

Fantastic piece of writing. You are surely moving away from promoting a travel destination to starting a need to rethink the way we see the world and culture. Tantra still remains as an exotic lifestyle with few takers. Unfortunately, our society is still stuck in an old age stereotypical time warp. Concepts like these need patrons. Sadly, unlike the older days, we have failed to progress in a collective intellectual capacity.

Thanks Vaibhav! I wasn't expecting to, but I got so involved in all the theories surrounding Khajuraho that I'll forever watch out for any breakthroughs in understanding the purpose and history of these temples. And yes, Tantric cult was a surprise to me. Seems very complex and polysemic but would love to understand more about it someday.

Brilliant piece of writing and excellent information. I was recently in Jaisalmer and was mighty surprised with a few erotic carvings on the Jain Temples there. Haven't been to Khajuraho yet, so do not know about it.

Slow claps for this 'breaking the stereotypes' post.

Oh yeah? See, there are so many more temples with erotic art and no one knows why! Also, even Ranakpur Jain temples seem to have some erotica. Sigh, mysteries, the best and worst part of history. ) I'm glad you enjoyed this post, Shubham. I quite enjoyed writing this.

Love that you've been so honest here (I started to say honest in this post - but "this post" sounded too blah for something so heartfelt). Wouldn't you just love to go back and look at it all again, unbothered by time, a story or a guide? Your pictures as always are stunning!

Thanks Sandeepa, pleasantly surprised by the pictures I got from Khajuraho. It was a place I was least expecting to get good shots from, but turns they are the best I've got from the entire trip. :D

And you know what? I wouldn't perhaps want to go back at all, not unless I'm accompanied by a historian. I'm infinitely intrigued by what we don't about Khajuraho, I want someone to decipher these for me. I've left a huge reply on Deepika's comment below about that, do take a look if you can. It's such a great mystery, I just cannot get over it.

It is true. The temples of Puri, Pattadkal are no less beautiful than the ones in Khajurao. But I also feel that marketing has a big role to play in it. And if that is the case, the credit goes to MP Tourism. The thing is masses today know more about Khajurao, than Pattadkal. And therefore I think it works. But yes- marketing can actually cloud the real essence of a destination.

You are completely missing the point I'm trying to make, Deepika. Also, Khajuraho wasn't marketed so by MP Tourism. It was ignorant western media and marketers(more than media), which brought a huge influx of western tourists but the enigma is now gone(Khajuraho is underwhelming if you look at it only as a temple with erotica) and for the first time in years, domestic arrivals have outnumbers international visits. In fact, the temples were even rediscovered by T.S Burt in early 1800s.

But what we're missing in all this hullabaloo is that we still do not know anything about Khajuraho. Tell me one thing about Chandelas apart from being the builders of these temples. Tell me why they have erotic sculptures on the temples? Tell me why they were showcasing lesbianism, beastiality and orgies, clearly none of which seem to acceptable neither now nor in the past? Tell me what inspired the name Khajuraho, the scorpion or the date palm tree? Tell me why they gave patronage to Jain temples amidst a Hindu complex? Tell me why the Jain temples are built in Hindu architecture? Tell me why the oldest temple in Khajuraho belongs to yogini worship, were the Chandelas indeed followers of Tantric cult?

Countless questions remain unanswered because we refuse to see beyond the narrow prism of our incomplete yet dogged perception. There are countless mounds yet to be excavated, countless inscriptions waiting to deciphered probably. But we are happy stereotyping these invaluable temples of immense historic and architectural value as erotic temples or whatever, and sit like a frog in a well.

I would like to ask you to read the post once again knowing my intention and also do some research of your own, you'll see the tragedy I'm referring to. :)

Watch the video: Khajuraho (May 2022).