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Khajuraho: Highly sensual & erotic temple engravings

September 14
01:48 2010

 Khajuraho is located in the forested plains of the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh in the region known as Bundelkhand. The place is at a considerable distance from most cities and town centers of the state. The art of Khajuraho attracts numerous visitors to it.

Best time to visit: The climate of Khajuraho is of extreme type. The summers are hot with the mercury climbing up to 47°C. On the other hand, winters can be very cold with temperature dipping down to 4°C. The monsoon starts from the month of July and lasts until September. The annual average rainfall is 114 cm. The erotic art of Khajuraho sees visitors pouring in all through the year.

History: The art of Khajuraho has a long history. It is also world renowned. The beautiful temples that dot the town of Khajuraho are believed to have been built by the mighty Chandela rulers in 9th and 10th century AD. The engravings on these temples are highly sensual and erotic and much has already been discussed their symbolic importance. Tantricism and the Shakti cult, where the pancha makaras (five tenets), namely, matsya (fish), madira (wine), maithun (sexual activity), mamsa (meat), and mudra (gesture) were to release the human spirit from the bondage of the flesh, have been described as the possible explanations for the sculptural sensuality of Khajuraho. Out of 85 temples, only 20 have survived the ravages of time. Made of sandstone blocks fitted together, the temples are aligned east-west. For convenience, these may be divided into western, eastern, and southern groups of temples. Tourist attractions: Architecturally, the temples of Khajuraho India reveal the art of Khajuraho. They follow a three – or five-part floor plan. The larger temples have an ardhamandapa (porch), then a mandapa (hall) leading to a mahamandapa (main hall) from where an aunterale (vestibule) led into the Garbha Griha (sanctum) containing the devta (god) or devi (goddess). An enclosed pradakshinapathar (corridor or verandah) runs around this sanctum. In the smaller temples, the second and the last feature were omitted. Each component of the temple was topped by pyramid-shaped towers leading in ascending order like a series of mountain peaks to the soaring shikhara (tower). The ornate vertical elements are balanced by horizontal bands of sculpture running round the temple; superb in execution and seeming to grow out of the temple itself, they merge beautifully with the overall design. Western Group of Temples: The Kandariya Mahadeo is considered the most evolved example of central Indian temple architecture. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple is also the largest of Khajuraho’s temples. The Lakshmana Temple is one of the oldest and finest of the western group of temples. The temple is rather big with four other shrines attached to it. Although the general norm in other temples is three bands of sculpture, this temple has only two. Recurrent themes are battles, hunting, and women. The temple of Devi Jagdamba is considered by many to be one of the most erotic temples of Khajuraho. The temple houses Khajuraho’s most talked-about image, mithuna, and the sensuously carved figures. It is not clear until today as to which deity this temple is dedicated. The temple of Vishvanath and Nandi celebrates the marriage of Lord Shiva with Parvati. The way women have been depicted in this temple draw the most attention. From traditional images of women fondling babies and writing letters, they are seen also as the most provocative of images. Chaunsat Yogini is the oldest of the surviving temples of Khajuraho. This temple is dedicated to goddesses Kali. This is the only temple in Khajuraho India that is built in granite. The name chaunsat (sixty-four) comes from the cells of 64 attendants of Goddess Kali. Goddess Kali herself was the 65th one. Other important temples in the western group are the temples of Lakshmi and Varaha, Mahadev, Chitragupta, Parvati, and Matangesvara. Eastern Group of Temples: The temple of Parsvanath is the largest of the Jain temples in Khajuraho India and the finest. The temple was originally dedicated to Adinath and latter to Parsvanath. It is the finest example of the sensitive art without any sexual motifs. Near this temple is the temple of Adinath with fine carvings. The temple is quite similar to the Hindu temples of Khajuraho. Shantinath is the youngest of all the temples in Khajuraho India. Though it looks like the most other temples in Khajuraho, it is just a century old. The temple has a four and a half meter statue of Adinath. Mostly in ruins now, the temple of Ghantai has fine columns and chains and bells, with a figure of a Jain goddess on a garuda. One of the oldest temples in Khajuraho is the temple of Brahma and Hanuman. The temple is built mostly of granite and sandstone. Actually, this temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Nearby is a Hanuman temple reputed to have the earliest inscription dating back to AD 922 on a 2½ -m statue. Two other notable temples are Javari and Vamana temple. The Southern Group: There are only two temples in the southern group of temples. The Duladeo is somewhat new and built in a time when the creativity of Khajuraho was well down its peak. The temple has wooden structures that take away its authenticity somewhat. How to reach Khajuraho is air-linked with Delhi, Agra, and Varanasi. The nearest railheads are Harpalpur (94 km) and Mahoba (63 km). Khajuraho is connected with Panna, Satna, Chattarpur, Jabalpur, Mahoba, Bhopal, Gwalior, and Indore by road.

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