Updated: Sep 24, 2018
There isn't another place in the world like Khajuraho, depicting Kama Sutra on temples. These sculptures represent the Chandela Dynasty's passion and immense appreciation for the forbidden art, paradoxically, in the land of Kama Sutra. The Khajuraho Group of Monuments cannot be passed off merely as erotic sculptures; the temples host some of the most revered Gods of Hinduism.
I reached Khajuraho at 0520 as planned and a little before Sunrise. The Khajuraho temples are open to public from Sunrise to Sunset and I would get unadulterated views of the area if I reached before the rush began.
The temples of Khajuraho were built between 950 to 1050 A.D. during the Chandela dynasty of Central India (These rulers claimed descent from the moon, hence the name Chand-ela). After the decline of the Chandela dynasty in 13th century, the temples were left under the cover of dense date palm trees for many years, which gave the city of Khajuraho its name, Khajur in Hindi means a date. In the ancient times it was known as Vatsa.
In 1838, a British army engineer, Captain T.S. Burt rediscovered them. By that time only 22 of the original 85 temples had survived, today known as the Khajuraho Group of Monuments, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
As soon as I was out of the station I took a tuk-tuk to my hotel - Zostel Khajuraho, checked in - showered, put my bagged in the locker and headed out. I found a couple from Peru who were from my Hostel and were heading to western group of temples only about 150 meters away. In that 5 minutes of conversation I learnt that they had arrived from Jhansi last night and gave me some tips on places to eat and see.
I reached the Western Group of Temples, bought a ticket for Rs. 10 and entered. The ticket price for foreigners is Rs. 500 which is a little too expensive when compared. The Western Group of Temples is richest and largest of all groups. I had already done my research on this group and hence passed on purchasing an audio guide or booking a guide who would show me around.
Most of these temples looked amazing as the sun rose and brought out the hues of earth from these stones. The surroundings were green and gave a nice contrast to the structures. I walked around looking at the various temples here.
Lakhmana Temple - The largest temple in this group, named after the ruler who built the temple.
Kandariya Mahadeo Temple - It is considered one of the best examples of temples preserved from the medieval period in India.
Devi Jagadambi Temple - is one of the most finely decorated temples at Khajuraho, with numerous erotic carvings.
Chausath Yogini Temple - Unlike the Chausath Yogini temples found elsewhere in Madhya Pradesh this temple ruins have no sculpture. Three large statues of goddesses, found among the ruins, are now located at the Khajuraho museum. The goddess have been identified as Brahmani, Maheshvari, and Hingalaja or Mahishamardini.
Chitragupta Temple - Dedicated to Surya, the Sun God. It faces eastward to the rising sun.
Matanageswara Temple - A temple dedicated to Shiva with a 8-ft lingam adorning it.
Varaha temple - Dedicated to the Lord Vishnu, it houses a statue of a vraha(Boar) with a sheshnaag(Snake) lying beneath it.
Vishwanath Temple - Dedicated to the Master of the universe - Shiva. Universe in Hindi is Vishwa and Master is Nath. In the same premises one can see a temple dedicated to Nandi - The Bull - A close companion of Lord Shiva.
After about 2 hours of breath-taking canvas worthy sights around this complex I headed out and was back to my hostel to freshen up again and have food. There was a nice marwari restaurant that served some buttery aloo parathas right opposite my hostel. Khajuraho has plenty of restaurants that serve decent Mediterranean, Italian cuisine for home-sick foreigners.
After spending some time in the Zostel lobby and chatting up with a few backpackers I headed out to the Eastern Group of Temples, this group is dominated by Jain temples.
Parsvanath Temple - Largest Jain temple among the group, with exquisite carvings in detail. The sculptures on the northern outer wall are the highlights of this temple. The three roofs of this temple depict mixture of Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim influences.
Ghantai Temple - This Jain temple has a frieze which depicts the 16 dreams of Mahavira's mother, and a Jain goddess on a Garuda - Birdlike creature often depicted as Lord Vishnu's Vahana (Vehicle mount)
Adinath Temple - Dedicated to Jain Tirthankar(God), Adinath, the temple is lavishly embellished with sculpted figures, including yakshis.
The group also house temples of Hanuman, Brahma, Vamana, Javari.
I also visited the Southern Group of Temples, they are located slightly away from the other two groups. It consists of Dulhadev Temple, Beejamandal Temple and the Chattarbhuj Temple - the only temple devoid of any erotic figurines. At around 1730 I was back to where I began - The Western Group of Temples, I purchased a ticket to their light and sound show and waited. There are lot of stores with Iron, brass and stone sculptures depicting kama sutra poses or silk and craft emporiums. After a somewhat spectacular light and sound show narrated by Bollywood Icon - Amithabh Bachhan my day at Khajuraho had come to end and I felt a sense of calmness take over me.
Back at the Zostel, Over dinner I was speaking to a pro backpacker, it was amazing learning their experiences in India and around the world. If you are backpacking it's necessary that you live at a hostel to meet fellow travellers. Zostel Khajuraho gave me the opportunity to do that.
We shared a few laughs and later I was back to my Superior 6 Bed Mixed Dorm for a cozy nap so I wake up refreshed and all set to head to Jhanshi & Orchha in the Morning.
How to reach Khajuraho?
By Air - Khajuraho Airport is located 5 kms from the city and is served from Delhi, Arga, Varanasi and Mumbai.
By Train - Khajuraho got a station in 2008. There are direct trains from New Delhi, and the train station is conveniently linked to Mahoba Junction and Jhansi depending on your direction to enter Khajuraho.
By Road - Taxi and Bus services run daily from major cities closeby. Be prepared for a bumpy ride though!
A good way to get around this small town and see the temples as well the village life is by bicycle, which you can easily rent in the bike shops near the main temple complex, Or book a bicycle rickshaw starting at Rs.20 per day.
Where to stay?
Khajuraho is not shy of plush hotels, it has the likes of Taj, Lalit and Radisson it you wish for royal treatment.
There are budget to mid-range accommodation in plenty! For epic breakfast snaps you can choose a hotel close to the complex with a view from the terrace. I personally would suggest a hostel accommodation if you are a solo or group of backpackers.
How many day/nights in Khajuraho?
1 full day and a night is enough to cover the city. If you have time you could spend 2 and explore the village life and architecture in depth.
Delhi Via-Agra | You're in Khajuraho
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