Khajuraho group temples
The Khajuraho Group of Monuments in Khajuraho a town in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, located in Chhatarpur District, about 620 kilometres (385 mi) southeast of New Delhi, are one of the most popular tourist destinations in India.
Khajuraho has the largest group of medieval Hindu and Jain temples, famous for their erotic sculpture. The Khajuraho group of monuments has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is considered to be one of the "seven wonders" of India.
The temples are grouped into three geographical divisions: western, eastern and southern. The Khajuraho temples are made of sandstone. The builders didn't use mortar: the stones were put together with mortise and tenon joints and they were held in place by gravity. This form of construction requires very precise joints. The columns and architraves were built with megaliths that weighed up to 20 tons.
Statues and carvings There are many ancient temples here, built by the Chandela kings between 950-1050 AD. The Chandela were a dynasty that ruled this part of India for five centuries before finally being defeated by the Mughals. Only about twenty-five of the original eighty-five temples still exist. About ten percent of the elaborate carvings on the temples are erotic, which is one of the reasons for their fame. This is one of the most popular places in India with foreign tourists, even though it is in the middle of nowhere. The temples are divided into three main groups: west, east, and south.
The western group, especially the Laksman Temple and the Kandariya Mahadeva Temple, is the most interesting. The Khajuraho Dance Festival is held every year in Feb-March for ten days. Celebrated dancers from all over India come to pay tribute to the gods and goddesses enshrined in these temples. Most people stay just one or two days. You can see all the temples in about five or six hours. It can be extremely hot during the summer, with temperatures rising to 42ºC (108ºC), and quite cold in the winter (4ºC, 39ºF). Information You can hire an official guide at the tourist office or at Raja’s Café (where they hang out). Guides charge Rs 200 for half a day and Rs 300 for a full day for up to four people. The guides speak various languages and charge Rs 100 extra for this service.
MP Tourism offers a good walkman tour of the western temples for Rs 50. Western Group This is the main group of temples and should be seen first if your time is limited. These temples are some of the most interesting in India. Laksman Temple (950) is the best preserved of the temples. It is built on a high platform, which has sculptures of elephants, horses, musician, women, and dancers on it. The doorway of the sanctum has a panel of incarnations of Lord Vishnu. There is also a panel of the nine planets and on the walls, carvings of Krishna. The pancha-ratha sanctum has a three-headed, four-armed form of Lord Vishnu surrounded by his ten incarnations and fourteen other forms of Vishnu. On the south wall of the temple is an excellent carving of Ganesh. Varaha Temple (10th century) is dedicated to Lord Vishnu in his boar incarnation. Varaha saved the earth by rescuing it from the bottom of the Causal Ocean and by killing the demon, Hiranyaksha. There is a large sculpture of Varaha—2.6m (8½ ft)—on the altar, with hundreds of other figures carved on it. Varaha is on top of Sheshanaga.
Next to the Varaha Temple is the small Lakshmi Temple. Kandariya Mahadeva Temple (1025-1050) is dedicated to Lord Siva. It is the tallest temple, soaring to 31m (95 ft), and is also the most developed architecturally. The temple contains a marble Siva-linga in the inner sanctum. Beside the main sikhara (tower), there are eighty-four smaller, subsidiary towers, all replicas of the main tower. There are almost 900 sculptures on the temple platform. Jain Temples There are three Jain temples within an enclosure wall about 1½ km southeast of the western group. The Parsvanath Temple (mid-10th century) is the largest. There are many beautiful Vaishnava deities carved on the walls. The temple was originally dedicated to Adinath, but the image of Parsvanath was placed in the sanctum in 1860.
Archaeological Museum This interesting museum has a good collection of deities and sculptures from the area. There is a Vaishnava Gallery that includes a beautiful Bhu Varaha sculpture. Open 9 am to 5 pm. It takes about twenty minutes to see everything. Admission Rs 5
How to Reach: By Air: Khajuraho has daily domestic flights to and from Agra, Varanasi and Kathmandu.
By Train: The nearest railway stations to Khajuraho are Mahoba, Satna and Jhansi. All of these are well connected to most of the major cities of India.
By Road: Khajuraho has frequent bus services and good roads to and from the major cities of India including Panna, Mahoba, Satna, Jabalpur, Bhopal, Gwalior, Indore, Agra and Jhansi.