Khajuraho City Guide

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Khajuraho India

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khajuraho
Facts & Figures :
Population : 6,541
Languages : Hindi and English
Best time to visit : October to March
STD Code : 07686


KHAJURAHO LOCATION....
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.

KHAJURAHO HISTORY....
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.

CLIMATE....
The climate of Khajuraho is of an 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.

SITES TO VISIT IN KHAJURAHO.....
Architecturally, the temples of Khajuraho followed 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 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 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. 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.

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khajuraho caves
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.

The other temple is of Chaturbhuja, pretty far from the village. The temple has a 3-m-high statue of Vishnu.

Apart from the temples, another place that can be visited here is the Archeological Museum. It has a very good collection of sculpture, inscriptions, and architectural objects.

SHOPPING IN KHAJURAHO....
Many shops in Khajuraho sell souvenirs and handicrafts made by the local artisans. There are smaller stalls outside the temple gates where one can pick up interesting souvenirs.

A weekly bazaar is held at Rajinagar on Tuesdays, 5 km from Khajuraho. The market is worth a visit to buy silver goods and brassware.

KHAJURAHO FESTIVAL....
The most important festival of Khajuraho is Mahashivratri. The festival marks Shiva's marriage with Parvati, the daughter of the Himalayas. The 2.5-m-tall lingam of Kandariya Mahadeo temple is dressed as a bridegroom, with white and saffron dhotis, and surmounted by a huge, conical, silver paper crown. The nightlong ceremony is performed by the chief priest's son who anoints the lingam with water from the sacred rivers of India. The chanting of hymns continues throughout the night, until the Brahmins stand to throw bel leaves and flower petals over the lingam, a sign that the wedding is complete.

Khajuraho festival of dance is organized every year in the months of February/March. The cream of Indian classical dancers performs here to display the best of Indian dance and music. The floodlit temples of Khajuraho provide the perfect backdrop to the festival.

WHERE TO STAY....
Although a small village, the attractions around it have compelled many hoteliers to set up their shops. Accommodation is available in all categories from premium to budget. Prior reservation is necessary during the tourist season.

HOW TO REACH .....
By Air A daily Boeing 737 of Alliance Air links Khajuraho with Delhi, Agra, and Varanasi.

By Rail The nearest railheads are Harpalpur (94 km) and Mahoba (63 km). Country buses and tongas take you to Khajuraho. The Shatabdi Express from Delhi to Bhopal stops at Jhansi (172 km from Khajuraho). Satna, 117 km away, is convenient for travelers from Mumbai (Bombay), Calcutta, and Varanasi. Taxis and buses are available from here.

By Road Direct bus services connect Khajuraho with Panna, Satna, Chattarpur, Jabalpur, Mahoba, Bhopal, Gwalior, and Indore.
For local transport, cycle rickshaws, tongas, and taxis are available.








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