Khajuraho, one of the most popular tourist destinations in India and boasting the largest single group of medieval hindu and jain temples, lies in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Situated in a region known as Bundelkhand, Khajuraho is quite far from other towns and cities of the state. The impressive group of ancient temples, famous for their highly erotic sculptures and unique architecture has been listed as a UNESCO world heritage site.
At the temples, one will often see an emblem of a warrior fighting a lion. The warrior, it is said, was the head of the Chandela Rajput clan, the people who built the temples and who are believed to be descendants of the Moon God. Now, after so many passing centuries, only 20 of the original 85 temples have survived. While the temples have acquired vast fame due to their erotic sculptures, these sculptures are not inside the temples, just as they are not near any of the deities.
The temples of Khajuraho can be categorized into three groups, namely the western group, eastern group and southern group.
The Western Group
This group is entirely hindu and present to the visitor the most splendid and finest of all the Chandela works. Here visitors can see Kandariya Mahadeo temple, the largest temple of the group and dedicated to Lord Shiva, the oldest and finest temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu. For many visitors it is the Devi Jagdamba temple which never fails to enthrall, being the most erotic of all the temples in Khajuraho. The Vishvanath and Nandi temples also lend themselves to an ancient past, being home to many female sculptures, although not of an erotic nature, but rather of day to day life. Elsewhere in the group one can see the huge boar incarnation of Lord Vishnu found at the Varaha temple before visiting Chitragupta temple, dedicated to the Sun God.
The Eastern Group
Unlike the western group of temples which are all hindu, the eastern group on the other hand, is all jain temples. In this group it is the Parsvanath temple which is the oldest and also the finest. The artwork of this beautiful temple lends itself more to sensitivity, rather than erotica. We also find the Shantinath temple in this group, being the youngest temple of them all and dedicated to Adinath. It is believed to have been built only in the 19th century. Other temples of interest in this group include Adinath temple, Ghantai temple, Javri and Vamana temples, Hanuman temple and the temple of Hanuman and Brahma.
The Southern Group
This group consists of only two temples. Duladeo temple, a relatively new temple dedicated to the Lord Shiva and being totally unique to other temples of Khajuraho in that it has a wooden structure. The second temple of the group, Chaturbhuj temple is home to a magnificent 3 ms. image of Vishnu. This intricately carved sculpture adorns the sanctum within the temple.
Outside the city
Just 7 kms away is Benisagar lake where boating and angling is the order of the day. Venture a little further and you’ll arrive at the famous diamond mines and the Panna National Park. Other interesting places include waterfalls, not far away and all with their own legends and Rajgarh palace, a 50 year old palace just 25 kms away.
The Mahashivaratri festival, held in February / March, to celebrate the wedding of Lord Shiva and lasting throughout the night.
The Khajuraho festival is a colorful dance festival dedicated to the classical dance and music of India.
Getting there : - Khajuraho can be reached by air, rail or road from most major cities.