After two holy days in Varanasi we were ready to fly for nearly one hour to the city of Khajuraho which is located at the heart of Madhya Pradesh, a state called the “Heart of India”. This place is famous for its 1,000-year-old temples full of highly detailed erotic art and stone carvings, which is a UNESCO world heritage site. Khajuraho’s temples were built under the later Chandela Kings between 950 and 1050 AD but were lost for centuries until accidentally discovered by a British Army engineer in 1839. Only 20 of the 85 original temples have survived but those that have are widely considered to be among the finest in India. It is considered that these temples are a celebration of womanhood as they depict sculptures of heavily ornamented broad-hipped and busty but well-proportioned women (apsaras) adorning the temple walls.
The entire monument complex is massive (scattered over an area of about 9 square miles). We didn’t even finish seeing half of it, but we managed to visit the most popular ones which are located on the western side. Set in a parkland landscape with mowed grass, rose beds and ornamental trees, they are a major tourist attraction in Khajuraho. The Kandariya Mahadeva Temple is the largest temple and one of the most important. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is studded with magnificent sculptures. It is one of the most ornately crafted temples in Khajuraho. The Kandariya Mahadeva temple and the Chausath-Yogini temple are made of granite. All the other temples in the western group of Khajuraho temples are made of fine pink or pale yellow grained sandstone.
The Eastern temples are lesser known, but just as important as they reflect a very different side of Khajuraho. The Parsvanath temple is the largest temple located in the eastern group of temples and is certainly worth a visit. Our eyes were heavily saturated with too many monuments. We asked our tour guide if we will ever have the chance to see all the temples, he said “no way” it would take at least two full days to walk around and see each temple in details. At this point, Sabrina was starting to get cranky and asking for her stroller (No strollers were allowed!!). To add more insult to her sufferings, the temperature was rising rapidly. We suddenly felt the heat all over our head. It was time to have a look inside of one of the temples to stay away from the sun. We had to remove our shoes but we kept our socks with us. Inside the temple we could see feminine figures in perfect proportions. You can see that some of the limbs of the sculpture were deliberately destroyed. It is believed that it was done by Muslims a long time ago when they occupied this part of India. Meanwhile Sabrina was entertained by playing hide and seek. She was running around the dark temple hiding in between the wide pillars. At last she was happy proclaiming to herself she wasn’t scared of the dark chambers inside the temple.
Some meaningful comments about the erotic representations…