"If poetry is worship, mine would be Khajuraho temple."
Khajurao, the medieval kingdom of the Chandelas, with its exotic temples and intricate architecture is famous among scholars and students alike for its history, structural design, and architecture. It represents a long history, as is represented by the different monuments located all over Khajurao. But for the lesser informed mortals, it is a popular weekend destination. Located in Madhya Pradesh, this cultural bonanza is just an air ticket away.
Ken Gharial Sanctuary
While the temples steal all the limelight, the Ken Gharial Sanctuary, located on the confluence of Ken and Khudar River, is definitely worth the visit. Spread over a vast stretch, the visit is usually combined with Raneh waterfall. Also called the Grand Canyon of India due to its landscape that includes deep gorges, canyons, and waterfalls, this place is home to the native crocodiles and gharials which have been brought from outside. Time your visit well, since this place is closed during monsoons.
The partially excavated temple is considered to have the biggest foundation among all the temples constructed at Khajurao. However, due to its destruction at the time of construction, it was deemed unsuitable for offering prayers and therefore lies unfinished. However, holy oil lamps lit by the villagers can be seen here every evening. Regular excavations are undertaken at the site and one can even find excavated stones and sculptures here.
Group of Temples
The main attraction that has made Khajurao a famous tourist destination is the beautiful temples with their complex structure and exquisite carvings on the walls. The illustrations, with minute attention to detail, chiseled on the Kaimur Sandstone, represent the happenings of a well-developed civilization. While the temples are famous for their erotic sculptures, they form a very small part.
Divided into Western, Eastern, and Southern groups of Temples, the Western Group is the largest and most important among them. Among the western group, Lakshman, Jagdambi, Vishwanath, Chitragupta, and Kandariya Mahadev are the more important temples. In this group, with the exception of the Chitragupta Temple, which is the only Sun temple at Khajurao, all the temples belong to either Shiva or Vaishnava. Matangesvara Temple, which is said to have a natural ‘shivling’ towering over 8 feet, is the only temple of worship at Khajurao.
The eastern group of temples, located near Khajurao Sagar, include the Brahmanical and Jaina temples. The Brahma temple is unique in the sense that it’s the only temple in the group made of granite. The Parshwanath Temple is the largest Jain temple at Khajurao.
The Southern group comprises the Duladeo Temple and the Chatrabhuja Temple. The Chatrabhuja Temple is a little different since it’s the only local temple that does not have any erotic illustrations. The female lion-headed carving along with the Ardha-nariswara image of Shiva is truly a magnificent representation.
There is a reason why Khajurao attracts numerous tourists throughout the year. Other than admiring the splendid work done on the temples, the Khajurao Dance Festival, held during the first week of February, is something that shouldn’t be missed. Maestros and talented artists of the Indian Classical dance, performing in the praise of the Gods and Goddesses in front of the Chitragupta Temple, lit with fiery lamps, give you a natural high. The intoxicating beauty of the temples comes alive with these dance performances.
No trip is complete without shopping for a few souvenirs, is it? Famous for its erotic displays of affection, the souvenirs mirror the same. Other than the little magnets and playing cards, sarees made of the bamboo seem to be quite a Khajurao specialty. Available in vibrant colors and temple art prints, they make for excellent gifting options for a more conservative acquaintance.
So next weekend, instead of feeling guilty about not reading the book you initially had planned on, book your tickets for Khajurao and have some interesting stories to brag about, on Monday.