It was a chance visit to Khajuraho for me. In March’2017 I was in a border town of Uttar Pradesh in India, Mahoba. It was the wedding of my cousin that got me there and in between the festivities we were told to go to Khajuraho which is situated in the neighboring state of Madhya Pradesh. This was the place where the groom and his family were staying in a hotel and we had to go there for a small pre-wedding ceremony called Tilak. We seized the opportunity and immediately decided that we would surely visit the famous Khajuraho temples even if only for an hour! For all those who do not know Khajuraho temples are super famous for their depiction of eroticism. If you thought it was only Kamasutra that Indians gave to the world…well they had a visual guide too only it stayed back amongst these temples in India!
Drive with Michael Schumacher
So if any of you have been to India ever and driven in a cab, you would know what I am talking about here. Since it was seven of us, we split into two vehicles, an SUV and a sedan. I had the bad luck of being in the sedan which was forgetting that it was not an SUV but just a sedan! Our driver had a strange phobia of losing his way and so kept close to the SUV whose driver was supposedly familiar with the roads here. Only issue was that the guy driving SUV was driving over a 100 miles and our friend was trying to keep up. It was a roller coaster and the kind that scares the hell out of you. The roads were fine but narrow and at times there were these big trucks that would suddenly appear from nowhere. Then of course since we were negotiating a highway which went through villages, there were occasional goats and cows. There was a moment when this truck dodged goats and headed straight for us! Yep! one of those moments in life when you start questioning as to whose life is more important- mine or that goat’s?
When my eyes popped out at the unbelievable Splendor
With heavy heads and nausea, we reached Khajuraho. The road became wider and better. We got down of the car, relieved! The ceremony was a small one and we were on our way to the temple complex dressed in white sarees and flower arrangement in our hair, people kept staring at us!
I still remember being stunned by the gorgeous temple complex, it was like love at first sight! Sprawling verdant lawns with a wild splash of Dahlias that were in full bloom and amidst the natural lush rose the magnificent stone temples. The colors are crazily contrasted and soothe your eyes even under the dazzling sunshine.
The story behind the Beauty
These magnificent temples were built by royal clan of Chandelas in 10th Century AD who were then the rulers of this region. Khajuraho was their capital city and about 85 temples were erected initially, today only about 25 have remained standing. These temples are built with Sandstone except the Chausath Yogini, Brahma and lalguan Mahadeva temples that are made with granite. Khajuraho temples have very distinct architecture which is marked by absence of enclosed outer walls, high platforms and three chambers or parts- Garbhagriha (the sanctum where statues of deities are kept), Antarala which is the vestibule or lobby and the Ardhamandapa which is the entrance porch. Quite contrary to popular belief, only about 15-20% of the sculptures are erotic, rest depict war scenes, deities, devatas and apsaras (mythological beauties or nymphs). The Kandariya Mahadeva temple is the grandest of all and is dedicated to Lord Shiva and his consort Goddess Parvati. The cave-like interiors have given it the name “Kandariya” which means cave in local dialect.
One has to remove the footwear at every temple at the start of the staircases and negotiate the remaining way barefooted. On hot days, these stone temples can feel like heaven with the cool interiors welcoming you and the stone cold floor soothing the scalded (well almost!) feet. Very little sunlight filters through the tiny ventilators thus keeping the insides of the temples quite dark and cool. Different types of sculptures greet you inside. Some statues have lost their heads nevertheless they are really attractive to look at!
The fun part
Amidst the appreciation for the intricate detailing on these temples and marveling how people from the 10th century could achieve something like this, there was wonderment. And wonderment was really about what was the damn sculptor thinking while creating such impossible sexual positions! Our word of advice, don’t take all of them seriously unless you want to nurse an injury later on and imagine the lengths you would go to explain how you injured yourself in the first place! Do hire a guide, half of the fun lies in when the guide explains important facts and depictions on the temples….trust us it is not your usual biology class! We had suppressed giggles and it was fun to eavesdrop on people who were roaming and discussing the statues!
My visit to Khajuraho was a hurried one so when I left I promised myself that I would return. Not for the erotica silly, but because these temples are really a splendid piece of art. They also have these cultural and night shows here. Visit the temples during these cultural fests to witness a world that is surreal, stunning and quite out of this world. For me the visit to Khajuraho was really to see the so-much-talked-about Kamasutra poses but my perception changed as soon as I entered the complex.
We would love to hear about your experience at this marvelous place. And if you have never been here…don’t wait up, book your flight and accommodation right here!