In a country with no less than seven recognised religions, there are thousands of temples to explore while visiting India. Located in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, these temples are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and were built between the 9th and 10th centuries by the Chandela dynasty which dominated Central India at that time.
Their remote location saved them from the ravages of Islamic raiders, but also led to their abandonment after the Chandela’s decline in the 13th century. The temples were rediscovered in 1838 by the British, after being hidden in the thick forest for hundreds of years. The British found their eroticism shocking, with one officer stating “all the sculptures are highly indecent, and most of them disgustingly obscene”.
Although most well known for their erotic carvings, the temples depict a great deal more than just sex. The famous sandstone sculptures are genuinely exquisite, executed with joy, fluidity and a lack of inhibition that is now rarely found in modern India. The complex’s 25 temples illustrate the brilliant burst of artistic flowering that took place under the Chandela rulers.
According to local legend, there were originally 85 temples. The remaining 25 are placed in three groups; Western, Eastern and Southern. The Western Group boasts the most famous temples, with the Eastern containing some exquisitely carved Jain temples. The last phase of temple building in Khajuraho is seen in the Southern Group, which features only two temples.
Widely regarded as the most impressive temple in Khajuraho, the Kandariya Mahadev Temple boasts exquisite sculptural embellishment, grand dimensions and complex yet perfectly harmonious composition. More than 800 sculptures cover the temple, portraying beasts and warriors, gods and goddesses, musicians, dancers, and, of course, the erotic scenes for which the Khajuraho temples are famous. Almost every facet of the temple’s exterior is covered in provocative carvings. The erotic panels are widely believed to celebrate the marriage of Lord Shiva, serve as a love manual, or simply express an energetic celebration of life and creation. One of Khajuraho’s most distinctive motifs is a panel depicting a couple locked in intercourse, with a maiden assisting on each side. It appears to defy gravity, with the male figure suspended upside down on his head.
When to visit Khajuraho’s temples
The best time to visit the temples is at sunrise or sunset, to catch them at their finest.
How to get to Khajuraho
Khajuraho is easily reached via direct flight from Delhi, Varanasi or Agra.
Where to Stay in Khajuraho
The 5* Lalit Temple View is located just half a kilometre from the Western Group of temples. It affords magnificent views from the gardens, swimming pool and several rooms. The Lalit is a modern and luxurious hotel, spacious and light, with stylish rooms and a tranquil atmosphere. There are a lovely swimming pool and spa. The Lalit Temple View is the most luxurious choice in Khajuraho and will ensure an enjoyable stay.
If you’d like to visit Khajuraho on your upcoming trip to India, please get in touch. As specialists in bespoke tours of this specific region, we’re the ideal match to assist with your arrangements. As a starting point, do take a look at our suggested Rajasthan with Varanasi and Khajuraho sample itinerary.0