Think of a temple town in India and images of Akshardham Temple, Birla Temples, Konarak Sun temple and Shiddhivinayak come into your mind but there are many other temples which are also popular in India not because of devotion but due to their historic design which belongs to the medieval era. Just like temple city – Bhubhneshwer in India, Madhya Pradesh is also popular for Khajuraho city and it’s temples. Yet they are different from the rest, you know why?
The reason for this is probably their visual appeal and erotic sculptures carved on the outside side of the temple. Let us unfold more about this city and its great attractions, history, and the reason behind these unique sculptures.
A Quick Tour of Khajuraho City
Khajuraho is a small town is located in the Bundelkhand region of in Madhya Pradesh. This city is a brilliant example showcasing the Indian architecture, tradition, rituals and culture of the Medieval period. The architecture of these temple represents love, the wall carvings show passion in the most erotic but visual appeal ways, built between 950-1050.
Now only 25 temples are left and they are divided into three distinct groups and belong to two different religions which are Hinduism and Jainism. Due to its unique architecture, Khajuraho is also listed under the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Khajuraho is ultimately one of India’s most photogenic tourist attractions.
Temples of Khajuraho
The temples of Khajuraho are the most bustling tourist spot of this city and the reason is their stunning architecture and the interior displays and the popularity attained over time and pulled major crowd to the city. Many of these temples are devoted to Hindu deities, but they also contain erotic sculptures. But Khajuraho is famous for its erotic sculptures, there are only 10% erotic carvings in totality.
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History of Khajuraho
The Chandelas ruled Central India between the 9th and 13th Centuries AD. They were magnificent builders of many reservoirs, tanks, and temples. The Khajuraho temples and sculptures bear witness to their wonderful architecture. Most of the temples were established by kings Dhangadeva and Yashovarman. It was fascinating to note that Khajuraho temples were found in one of the stone inscriptions there for a period of 1000 years. They at first seemed to have been devotees of Lord Vishnu, while later rulers worshipped Lord Shiva.
The temples were founded close to Mahoba, which was once the headquarters of the Chandela empire. The temples were named after the date palm trees which used to be the premises gates back in the daytime. The Khajuraho Temples are best known for their erotic sculptures and carvings, but similar sculptures are to be found at the Konark Sun temple in Odisha. These sculptures are based on Hindu symbology and beliefs that focus on the four principles of Hinduism: Karma, Dharma, Kama and Moksha.
Architectural Brief of Khajuraho Temples
The temples adapted the Nagara-style architectural design principles and are constructed from sandstone and granite. All temples are facing the sun, a common aesthetic found in Hindu temples, except the Chaturbhuja temples.
The male and female deities display a co-dependence of male and female power. The temples run on the basic mandala design which includes a square and circles. The beautiful sculptures carved on the exterior of the temple showcase the mind-blowing architectural example from Chandelas.
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Top Attractions at Khajuraho
From the temples to fort and nature sanctuaries, there is no lack of places to visit in Khajuraho to add to your itinerary. These gorgeous sites will definitely make you fall for Khajuraho. These temples of Khajuraho are divided into zonal groups. So before visiting them, here check out which temple belongs to which group.
- Western Temples Group: It comprises Kandariya Mahadeo Temple, Lakshmana Temple, Chausath Yogini Temple, Jagadambi Temple, Chitragupta Temple, Matangeshwar Temple, Vishwanath Temple and Varaha Temple.
- Eastern Temples Group: It comprises the Temple of Ghantai, the Temple of Parsvanath, the Temple of Adinath, the Temple of Brahma, the Temple of Hanuman, the Temple of Javari and the Temple of Vamana.
- Southern Temples Group: This group covers Bija Mandal Temple, Dulhadev Temple, Jatkari Temple and Chaturbhuj Temples.
Chaturbhuj temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, located in the Southern group of temples. The temple erected in A.D 1100. It is known as Jatakari Temple on the name of the village Jatakari, where it is located.
This is the only temple in Khajuraho only shrine without any erotic carvings on the walls. Yasovarman from Chandela dynasty established this temple at Khajuraho. The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and houses a 9 feet tall idol in his Chaturbhuj state.
Lakshmana Temple at Khajuraho in India has fascinated watchers for centuries. This magnificent shrine is regarded as an architectural wonder and it is one of the largest temples in the western wing of Khajuraho.
This temple is dedicated to the Hindu Lord Vishnu, and it houses a Vaikuntha-Vishnu image. The temple of Lakshmana was the first of temples built by the Kings of Chandella in their newly founded capital of Khajuraho.
Parshvanath Digamber Jain Temple
Parshvanatha temple is a 10th-century Jain temple at Khajuraho dedicated to God Parshvanatha. It was constructed as an Adinatha shrine by Chandela in your ruling period. Considering Jain ‘s connection to the temple, its exterior walls feature Vaishnavite designs.
The entrance has an inscription with a square which is the most beautiful thing to see there.
Devi Jagadamba Temple
Devi Jagadambika Temple or Jagadambika Temple is one of a group of about 25 temples at Khajuraho. This temple is one of the most decorated temples in Khajuraho. It takes its name from Jagadambika, a Hindu goddess. The temple body is encircled by three bands of carvings. In the sanctum is an enormous image of the Goddess.
Chausath Yogini Temple
Chausath Yogini Temple is one of the oldest shrines in Chandelas town. This temple belongs to AD 900 and it is dedicated to 64 Yoginis, who are considered as the incarnations of the Mother Goddess, Shakti.
The shrine is constructed in an open patio on the banks of Shivsagar Lake with other small temples encircling it. Made using coarse granite, it boasts of an open-air quadrangular design that adds to its uniqueness.
Kandariya Mahadev Temple –
The Kandariya Mahadeva Temple is the largest and most ornamented Hindu temple located at Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh. The name of the temple depicts the Great Lord of the Cave. It is considered one of the best examples of temples preserved in India since the medieval period.
Apart from the above mentioned also pay a visit to the Adinath Temple, Matangeshwar Temple, Lakshmi Temple, Vishwanath Temple, Bramha Temple. Vamana Temple, Chitragupta Temple, Dulhadev Temple, Javari Temple, Nandi Temple etc.
Stories & Myths Revolving Around The Erotic Sculptures of Khajuraho
To be believed, legends claim that Mithunas carvings, along with other sculptures that depict mythical creatures, are a sign of good fortune. Another interpretation says sculpture served as a form of sex education, by rediscovering passions in people’s minds, likely influenced by Buddhism.
There are many interpretations of various Hindu beliefs. Others consider that, just before entering the temple, you leave your lust and desires behind, thus there are the no erotic sculptures within the temples. The Mithunas or the loving couples are depicted only on the outer walls of the temples.
Apart from visiting the temples of Khajuraho, the other attractions of Khajuraho city include Panna Nationa Park, Ajaigarh Fort, the Ken Ghariyal Reserve, Raneh Falls, Beni Sagar Dam. You can also visit the Tribal and Folk Art Museum and can attend the light and sound shows which are organised by the Madhya Pradesh Tourism Department.
Khajuraho temple sculptures are wonderful, intricate, and expressive and thus will leave you in joy and excitement when you visit them. Each year, alone Khajuraho pulls a large number of visitors due to its majestic temples which showcase love, desire and devotion at the same time.