A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the spectacular group of temples at Khajuraho, built by Chandela dynasty between 9th and 10th century, are one of the seven wonders of India, second only to the incredible Taj Mahal.
Built over a span of 200 years (950-1050 AD), there were around 85 temples during that time which reduced to 22 and now it's preserved by the State Government. Sprawled over an area of approx 20 sq.km in the northern eastern part of the state, Khajuraho is a popular tourist destination which are categorized into three sections including western, eastern and southern temples.
The sculptures highlights several facets of Indian life thousand years ago. Lovely stone friezes of gods, goddesses, heroes and kings, concubines, and many more would hail you as you journey to Khajuraho. The erotic sculptures of this place portraying Kama Sutra are completely unique in the world. Above all, it reflects a unique architectural talent which depicts royalty, courtship, marriage, spiritual teachings, meditation, kinship and intimate scenes of human emotions and relationships.
While the brilliant architecture and symmetry remains a point of amazement, the Khajuraho temples mainly in the limelight because of the incredible erotic art and carvings. Although the erotic sculptures make for just 10% of the temples, the temples have become synonymous with love and erotica. A complex of about 25 Hindu and Jain temples, they reflect the best of medieval Indian architecture.
There are 3 groups of temples -- Western, Eastern, and Southern. The main temples are in the Western group, which features the magnificent Kandariya Mahadeva Temple. The Eastern Group contains a number of exquisitely sculptured Jain temples. There are only two temples in the Southern group.
The most refined temple in the complex, the Laxman temple, built in 954 CE, is the seat of Vishnu. The temple is structurally and architecturally remarkable. The sanctum has a three-headed and foru-armed image of Vishnu as the avatar Vaikuntha; its central head is a human one, while on the either side is a boar head and lion head. On its base are the depictions that include marching armies, domesic life, dancers and orgies. The façade is decorated with panels of sculptures; the middle panel portrays mithunas or amorous couples. The erotica, however, forms only a small part of the sculptures in Khajuraho.
This shrine, located just in front of the Laxman temple, was built on a high plinth, and is similar to the Lalguan-Mahadeva. Inside the shrine is a stunning colossal Varaha or board incarnation of Vishnu, carved in a single block of sandstone, over 1.5 m high. The statue is beautifully finished to a glossy lustre, and is carved all over with innumerable figures of gods and goddesses. The shrine was probably constructed during the rule of the first Chandela prience Harsh, and is dates to around 900-925 CE.
Kandariya Mahadeva temple
The most impressive of the temples is the Kandariya Mahadev, which represents the pinnacle of North Indian temple art and architecture. It is remarkable for its grand dimensions with over 800 sculptures, depicting gods and goddesses, beasts and warrior, sensuous maidens, dancers and erotic scenes for which the Khajuraho temples are famous.
This is an extremely harmonious and rhythmic Shiva temple, nearly 30.5 m high, built in 1030 CE by king Vidhyadhara to celebrate his victory over Mahmud of Ghazni. Its special features include a lintel in the form of the makara, a mythical aquatic creature with the jaws of crocodile, ears of lion, horns of a ram and the tails of a fish.
The temple architecture is absolutely stunning, with numerous niches, elaborate design and gorgeous ornamentation. On the projections of the walls are the figures of the deities; principally of Shiva attired as a bridegroom. Beside him are lovely figures of women engaged in everyday activities. On the southeast projection, a woman plays with a ball, another stretches her love-tired limbs, another gazes into a mirror. On the south side, the couples are kissing, their bodies entwined in such a perfect union that one can cannot tell the arms and legs of one partner apart from the other. The stances of love making scenes on the north side are more elaborate, often acrobatic and symbolic.
This temple has a shivalanga enshrined in its sanctum. It is said to have been an architectural precursor to the Kandariya-Mahadev temple. There are stunning sculptures here as well, including a sura-sundari playing a flute.
You may also enjoy watching the folk dances, light and sound shows, organized in the temple premises and other art centers. So, be it the erotic carvings or the evening shows, you're adhered to be stunned by the grandeur of Khajuraho temples.
Best time to visit
Through out the year