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UNESCO has designated temple town of Khajuraho as a World Heritage site for its archeological and historical brilliance. The temples of Khajuraho are divided into three geographical groups; Western, Eastern and Southern. The Western Group is the best known, because it is to this group that the most typical Khajuraho belonged. We started our tour of temples from Western Groups and the first came The Kandariya Mahadev, which is perfectly symmetrical and soars to 31 M high. Though four temples that stands at the corners of the main shrine are now in ruins, the main shrine has an exquisitely curved entrance arch with multitude of themes.
Celestial beings, lovers serenading musicians movements are captured on stone, frozen in time, yet retaining a quality of warm pulsating life. Beyond the archway of the Kandariya Mahadev, lie the six interior compartments; the portico, main hall, transept, vestibules, sanctum and ambulatory. Ceilings and pillars supporting them are intricately carved. The transept’s outer walls have three horizontal panels showing Hindu deities and a groups of lovers, a pageant of sensuousness, vibrantly alive.
Chaunsat Yogini was the only granite temple in Khajuraho group. Dedicated to Kali, it is also unique in being quadrangular in plan. Of 64 cells only 35 had survived but no image of Kali survived. This is the earliest surviving shrine of the group dated to 900 AD.
Chitragupta Temple faces eastward to the rising sun and is dedicated to the sun god, Surya. The image of this powerful deity in the inner sanctum is particularly imposing; five feet high and driving a seven horsed chariot. The group scenes are equally spectacular: royal processions, elephant-fights, hunting scenes and group dances.
Vishwanath Temple was a show of the lavish lifestyle of the Chandela kings and their court in all its pomp and glory. Lions flank the northern steps and elephants the southern, leading up to the temple. Within, there is an impressive three-headed image of Brahma. The exteriors are profusely curved and facing the shrine is a Nandi Temple with a massive 6ft high Nandi bull.
Since the first few Chandela rulers were devotees of Vishnu, there are some important Vaishnavite temples at Khajuraho, the finest of which is the Lakshamana Temple. The lintel over the entrance shows the trinity, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva with Laxmi. The sanctum is richly carved and has a three-headed idol of Vishnu’s incarnations, Narsimha and Varaha.
The boar incarnation also appear in another Vaishnavite shrine, the Varaha Temple. We were stunned by the sheer size of the statue of , a 9ft high Varaha. Its surface is covered with figures from Hindu Pantheon. The Khajuraho temples are no longer living places of worship, with a few exceptions. The Matangeswara Temple. Dedicated to Shiva, it has an eight feet high Lingam.
Hindu and Jain temple make up the Eastern group. The largest Jain temple, Parswanath is in this group. Exquisite in details, the sculptures in northern outer wall make this temple perhaps the finest in the group. The themes of carvings are the timeless ones of every day, mortal activity. A woman sits bent pensively on a letter, a lovely young woman removes a thorn from her foot, the master craftsmen display their deep understanding of the trifles that make up a human life. Within, the sanctum has a throne that faces a bull, emblem of the first Tirthankara, Adinath. The actual image of Parswanath was installed as recently as 1860. The other Jain temple in this group is Ghantai Temple, though almost in ruins now, we found evidence of its past splendour. Particularly arresting is the frieze which depicts, in graphic detail, the 16 dreams of Mahavira’s mother.
The three hind temples in the Eastern Group are the Brahma, Vamana and Javari Temples. A double row of apsaras, celestial nymphs, adorns the outer wall of Vamana temple. We were explained that a variety of sensuous attitudes: languid, provocative, mischievously inviting, gave credibility to the theory that Khajuraho’s erotica were meant to test the devotees who came to worship.
We drove five kilometer from Khajuraho village to reach the Southern Group of Temples. The fine Chaturbhuj Temple in this group has a massive intricately carved image of Vishnu in the sanctum. Duladeo Temple, another of the Southern Group is a little away from the road to the Jain group of temples.
Once Chandelas lost their glory and power, dense forest around advanced and hid the temples from the world. Khajuraho was rediscovered while the British were surveying the area in 1919. Excavation and restoration took further four years and in 1923, the jewels of Indian architecture and sculpture was thrown open to the world to see and wonder. The temples of Khajuraho have a theme, it is woman, a celebration of woman and her myriad moods and facets. She is depicted in her all forms, writing letters, applying kohl to her eyes, dancing with joyous abandon and playing with her child. At Khajuraho, the woman is innocent, coquettish, smiling, infinitely seductive, infinitely beautiful and enjoying and experimenting with sexual acts without any inhibitions.
Son-et-Lumiere spectacles that evokes the life and times of the great Chandela kings and traced the story of the great temples from 10th century AD to the present day. Mounted in the complex of Western Group of temples, 50-minute show runs in Hindi and in English every evening. Amitabh Bachchan narrates the story of Khajuraho in his mesmerizing voice.
And we were lucky to have selected the time of dance festival to visit Khajuraho. The spectacle is simply unbelievable and will remain in our memory alive very long. Sonal Mansigh was just unbelievable against the back drop of temple panel.
How to go: Take either Sipra Express or Mumbai Mail via Allahabad and detrain at Satna. Buses and taxis are available at Satna for Khajuraho. Khajuraho is connected by Alliance Air with Delhi.
Where to stay: There are all classes of hotels at Khajuraho. MPTDC has Payal and Jhankar. Among five star hotel Oberio Group has Oberio Jass, ITDC has Khajuraho Ashok. Hotel Chandela is a five star hotel per excellent.
Written Mar 22, 2008
Built in the memory of Guru Hargobind Saheb , the 6th Sikh Guru who was imprisoned here by Emperor Jehangir for over two years. It is located on the Gwalior Fort.
It is a beautiful structure completely made up of white marble. The building is decorated with color glasses. Cupolas on domes are of gold. There are two sarowars or ponds as well in this Gurudwara. Non Sikhs are kindly requested to keep their head covered, by some cloth like handkerchief, when going to Gurudwara. I am not exactly aware of its reason as I am a Hindu but I follow the custom in accordance with the sentiments of the Sikh brothers. If some Sikh is reading this, please inform me about it.
Updated Aug 22, 2006
57 km. on Jhansi road Located on the bank of a lake, the museum houses a wide variety of Shakti Cult sculptures. There are different sections on garments, weapons and paintings.
Updated Aug 2, 2005
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