Khajuraho Things to Do

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Most Recent Things to Do in Khajuraho

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    Parsvanath

    by illumina Written Apr 9, 2010

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    Parsvanath Temple, probably constructed in the middle of the 10th century, is the largest of the Jain temples within the enclosure. It was under renovation at the time I visited, and sadly the scaffolding on one side made close examination of the exterior sculptures difficult. Nonetheless the artistry was breath-taking - there is less erotica here, but some beautiful depictions of perhaps more every-day life.

    It is believed to have been originally dedicated to Adinath (the first Tirthankara (religious saint) of the Jains), but a jet-black image of Parsvanath was installed in the sanctum about a century ago.

    Parsvanath Shrine behind main temple Inside main temple Sura Sundari (Divine Nymph) Main entrance
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    Jain enclosure - modern temple

    by illumina Written Apr 9, 2010

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    Built about a century ago, Shanti Nath is the principal site of Jain worship in Khajuraho. It may be relatively modern, but it has been constructed using a number of elements from older temples. The large statue in the main sanctuary, depicting a standing Shantinatha (or possibly Adinath) may date to 1027/8AD, and there is also a marvellous sculpture of a yaksha couple on the right as you enter (see fourth photo).

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    Mantangesvara

    by illumina Updated Apr 9, 2010

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    Situated next to the Lakshmana temple, but outside of the fenced enclosure, Matangesvara is still in everyday use for worship.

    To enter the temple and traverse the ambulatory passage is quite a struggle, as the way is quite narrow and filled with pillars - after 180degrees you are forced (by a wall) to climb onto the central platform, and circle the lingam and the priest sitting next to it, before descending and making your way out. A small donation should be put in the priest's basket.

    There are usually older women outside selling temple offerings of flowers and tikka - they only cost about 2 rupees, but sadly, although I would have quite liked to buy one, I didn't have any change, and one of the women got a little angry with me - a bit of a shame.

    There are also lots of children hanging around this temple begging - please see my warning tip for more detail on this.

    As we left the temple, a young saddhu was chanting something - quite a catchy tune!

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    Eastern group

    by illumina Written Apr 9, 2010

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    The eastern group of temples consists of a group of Jain temples within a walled enclosure, and four other temples scattered throughout the old village of Khajuraho. Several of the Jain temples are still in use for worship, and as such, when you enter the compound you must not only remove your shoes (as for all the temples), but also make sure you are not wearing any leather items, and, if you are a woman, you should not enter if you are menstruating.

    Outside of the enclosure is a small Jain museum (entry 5INR) containing a collection of statues.

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    Vishvanath Temple

    by illumina Written Apr 8, 2010

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    The Vishvanath Temple, believed to have been constructed in 1002, has the same five-part layout of the larger Kandariya Mahadev, with the addition of two of the four subsidiary shrines of the panchayatana design still standing. It shares a common platform with the shrine to the Bull Nandi opposite, and the steps up to this terrace are guarded by lions to the north and elephants to the south.

    Elephant at the entrance Interior Carving Detail of erotica
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    Parvati Temple

    by illumina Written Apr 8, 2010

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    The name of this temple is possibly incorrect - it is believed that it was originally dedicated to Vishnu, and now contains an image of Ganga riding on the back of a crocodile.

    See the third photo - it's actually two cobbled together because the statue is so large!

    Statue in the sanctum
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    Chitragupta

    by illumina Written Apr 8, 2010

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    This temple closely resembles the Jagadambi temple (so much so that I had to examine the photos carefully!) and is again constructed with the three-part layout (entrance porch and mahamandapa with lateral transepts, vestibule and and sanctum without ambulatory). The main image in the sanctum is an impressive sculpture of Surya standing in a chariot driven by seven horses. This temple is unique in Khajuraho for being dedicated to Surya, the sun god.

    Sanctum Surya
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    Devi Jagadamba

    by illumina Updated Apr 8, 2010

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    Named for the image of Parvati now enshrined in the sanctum, Devi Jagadamba (also known as Jagadambi) was originally dedicated to Vishnu. The temple stands on a high platform (shared with Kandariya Mahadev and Mahadeva temples), and consists of an entrance porch leading to a mahamandapa (main hall) with lateral transept, a vestibule, and a sanctum without ambulatory - in other words a classic three-part temple.

    Please have a look at the third photo - the interior of this temple was one of my favourites. It is believed by some that the statue of Parvati inside actually represents Kali, since it is painted black.

    Three temples sharing a platform, Jagadambi to R Jagadambi
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    Mahadeva

    by illumina Written Apr 8, 2010

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    Situated on the same platform as the Kandariya Mahadev and Devi Jagadamba temples, this is a small, mostly ruined temple (in the process of being restored while I was there). Despite it's humble size and modest decoration in comparison to its neighbours, it houses one of the most beautiful sculptures in the compound - a sardula (mythical beast which is part lion, part other creature) caressing a lion.

    Interior of temple
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    Kandariya Mahadev

    by illumina Written Apr 7, 2010

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    This temple, built between c1025-1050AD, is the largest and loftiest of the monuments of Khajuraho, and is dedicated to Shiva. It is the first of a set of three temples on a common platform.

    Kandariya Mahadev is another 5 part lay-out temple, consisting of entrance porch and hall, great hall, vestibule, sanctum and ambulatory passage. It sits on a tall platform with elegantly ornamented mouldings including friezes of elephants, horses, warriors and hunters, acrobats and musicians, dancers, devotees and miscellaneous scenes. The temple is approached up a flight of stairs and though an elegantly carved torana (entrance gate) decorated with a kirtimukha (hindu demon face) and a frieze of dancers and musicians. The lintel of the sanctum has a representation of a four-armed Shiva flanked by Brahma and Vishnu.

    The huge sikhara (spire) is 31m high, and is decorated with an ascending series of 84 replicas of itself, possibly representing the Himalaya mountains. The temple is lavishly decorated with 872 statues, of which 226 are inside and 646 outside. Around the outside, theses are arranged in three encircling bands, and depict gods, goddesses, musicians and nypmhs, including groups of quite energetic eroticism! (See second photograph!)

    Four subsidiary shrines which once stood around it are now absent.

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    Lion Sculpture

    by illumina Written Apr 6, 2010

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    A common theme amongst the sculptures of Khajuraho, this statue of a lion, possibly in the act of attacking a man, stands separately in front of the Lakshmana temple. Similar ones are found in and around the Mahadeva temple, so it may originally have come from there. Whatever it's story, I really liked it!

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    Varaha Shrine

    by illumina Written Apr 6, 2010

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    The Varaha Shrine, facing the Lakshmana Temple, is built on a lofty plinth but is simpler and more modest than it's neighbour. A small open shrine dedicated to Vishnu's boar incarnation, it is an oblong pavilion with a pyramidal roof of receding tiers, resting on fourteen plain pillars. Within, the temple enshrines a colossal monolithic image of Varaha, dating from around 900AD. The divine animal carries on its body more than 675 miniature figures in twelve neatly carved rows, depicting all the important divinities of the Hindu pantheon. It is canopied by an exquisite lotus ceiling.

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    Lakshmana Temple

    by illumina Written Apr 6, 2010

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    The first major temple in the park (travelling clockwise), the Lakshmana Temple, dedicated to Vishnu, was built by the Chandela ruler Yasovarman between 930-950AD, and is one of the earliest and best-preserved temples in this group. It is a sandhara temple (one with an enclosed pathway around the sanctum) of the panchayatana (five-shrined) variety, and stands on a high platform. It shows all the principal elements of the developed temple - the entrance porch (ardha mandapa) leading to the mandapa (initial hall); mahamandapa (main hall); antarala (vestibule) and garbhagriha (inner sanctum). The five-part layout is completed by the pradakshina (corridor around sanctum).

    The four subsidiary shrines of the panchayatana complex are situated in the corners of the high platform. The wall portion of the temple is studded with balconied windows with ornate balustrades. Two rows of sculptures (rather than the usual three) including divine figures, couples and erotic scenes adorn the wall surfaces.

    This is the only temple here to preserve sculptural panels on the platform - there is here a lively frieze with scenes of battle, hunting and processions - though erotica creeps in here too, with a scene of a man with a horse, while a handmaiden hides her face behind her hands!

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    Western Group

    by illumina Written Apr 6, 2010

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    The Western Group contains what are probably the major temples in the area, and as such they are contained within a fenced in park for which an admission fee is charged (250INR Feb 2009). It is open sunrise to sunset, and is well worth paying to see. Go early to experience the temples in peace and quiet, and also to avoid the heat of the day.

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    Temples

    by illumina Updated Apr 6, 2010

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    Khajuraho is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India, and the large group of medieval Hindu and Jain temples is the reason for this. They have been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    Khajuraho was the capital of the Chandela Rajputs, a Hindu dynasty that ruled this area of India between the 9th-13th centuries. The name Khajuraho comes from the Sanskrit word 'kharjur' meaning date palm - the town was originally named Khajuravatika (Bearer or Garden of Dates).

    The myth goes that Hemvati, the beautiful daughter of a Brahmin priest, was seduced by the moon god, and gave birth to a son, Chandravarman. Bringing him up in the forest to hide from her 'shame', by the time he was 16 years old he could kill tigers or lions with his bare hands. He achieved a series of mighty victories and became king of the region, and built the series of temples to expunge his mother's 'guilt'. In reality, Nannuk (first quarter of 9th century) was the founder of the Chandela dynasty, and it was his successive descendants who had the temples constructed.

    The temples were mostly built in one burst of activity between about 950-1050AD. There were originally about 85 of them, though today only around 22 remain. They are divided into three main groups - Western, Eastern and Southern. See following tips for descriptions of individual temples.

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Khajuraho Things to Do

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