11000 kms, 55 days, 9 states and glimpse of a foreign country – A mega road trip(6): Khajuraho

Tripoto
Photo of 11000 kms, 55 days, 9 states and glimpse of a foreign country – A mega road trip(6): Khajuraho by Purabi Chowdhury

We embarked on a mega road trip starting on 19th March from our Mumbai residence in Chembur and reached back Mumbai on 12th May after clocking more than 11000 km on the road. But before I start telling the tales from this trip I would like to reply some queries we have often faced. So here are some pointers about our trips in the format of question and answers:

Do we make advance booking for accommodations: Not always. When we know the place as well as date we are going stay there and if it’s a touristy place where finding an accommodation might be difficult, we book in advance. Or if we want to stay at a particular accommodation then we book in advance. But many a times we don’t surely know the place where we are going to stay on a particular date as we like to keep our trip flexible. Besides, sometimes we make a night halt as per convenience and then we just check into a roadside hotel which seems good. At times we were pleasantly surprised to find very good hotels at places we expected least and at times we had to stay in hotels we would have rather not. We have learnt to adapt as a road trip cannot be planned ahead in details without losing the spontaneity which is the fun part. As a precaution we keep a set of bed linen with us in case we find the ones provided too offensive.

Our Vehicle: It’s a Honda BRV – a seven seater automatic transmission vehicle – 2016 model. 1497 cc, 119 bhp with a ground clearance of 210 mm. It’s a petrol car with a mileage of around 14 km/l on highways. It is not 4 wheel drive but that has not caused us much problem even though it faced off-roading quite a bit, maybe due to it’s ground clearance. We keep a jump start cable, air compressor and a puncture repair kit in the vehicle. Learning to keep ourselves equipped drawing lesson from each trip.

How long do we travel in a day: Depends on the distance between the two consecutive places we want to visit. Generally we try not to travel for more than eight hours in a day and take breaks to straighten our limbs and break the monotony. But at times we have travelled up to ten hours or even more, especially if we did not find a suitable accommodation. And Sanjay alone drives, I don’t drive.

What about food: We always try to taste the local cuisine and famous street food. Many people ask whether that does not create health issues. We try to maintain a balance by taking very simple food for at least one meal, having fruits and fresh juices. Besides, when having street food, we always choose the popular joints ensuring we get freshly prepared food. So far we have not faced major problem.

How do we manage laundry: As we travel in our own vehicle, we can be quite generous with packing reducing the need for frequent laundry job. Whenever we stay at a place for more than a day, we take care of our laundry. And we do try to take a break for two nights after a gap of few days.

The expenditure part: We are not very good at tracking expenditure. But in this trip I religiously recorded the rental expenditure along with the facilities provided to make it more informative. We try to not spend big rent for just an overnight halt and love to indulge on longer stays. I try to write reviews for all accommodations and eateries in Google with pictures which can be referred to if interested. I also tried to include major sightseeing expenditure if there is any.

We left Assam in October 2022 after taking early retirement from ONGC. It was almost one and half years and we wanted to celebrate Bohag Bihu / Assamese new year in Guwahati. There was a marriage in Jorhat during that time which we wanted to attend too. So we planned for this road trip to Assam covering few places in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal. After reaching Assam we planned to visit Mizoram and Meghalaya.

For previous episodes from this trip may please visit the posts :

https://straightfrommyheartblog.wordpress.com/2024/05/18/11000-kms-25-days-9-states-and-glimpse-of-a-foreign-country-a-mega-road-trip-first-stop-aurangabad/

https://straightfrommyheartblog.wordpress.com/2024/05/25/11000-kms-55-days-9-states-and-glimpse-of-a-foreign-country-a-mega-road-trip-ellora-and-ajanta/

https://straightfrommyheartblog.wordpress.com/2024/06/01/11000-kms-55-days-9-states-and-glimpse-of-a-foreign-country-a-mega-road-trip3-lonar-wardha-nagpur/

https://straightfrommyheartblog.wordpress.com/2024/06/08/11000-kms-55-days-9-states-and-glimpse-of-a-foreign-country-a-mega-road-trip4-pench-and-pachmarhi/

https://straightfrommyheartblog.wordpress.com/2024/06/15/11000-kms-55-days-9-states-and-glimpse-of-a-foreign-country-a-mega-road-trip5-jabalpur/

On the morning of 28.03.2024 we left Jabalpur for Khajuraho at around 8:30 am after having a breakfast of Poha and Jalebi at a famous roadside stall.

Our next stop was in MPT Midway Treat Gosalpur at 9 am as we wanted a to have a cup of tea. The waiter Dharmendra was very sweet. The place has nice ambiance. We had tea with buttered toast. I have come to appreciate MP Tourism a lot. We liked all the hotels run by them. They also run lots of restaurants at frequent intervals on the highway with the term midway affixed to it. These are very good for pit stops and makes the journey so much comfortable.

After almost an hour and a half of driving one of the tires got depressurized and Sanjay refilled air. But it got depressurized again as there was a puncture and got it repaired. We passed through Panna Tiger Reserve. At Panna town we stopped for lunch at Hotel Shanvi Landmark Resort. It was a grand place complete with heavy decor, party plot, swimming pool and what not. Food was ok.

We had booked a room in MPT Jhankar in Khajuraho and we reached at around 3:10 pm. Located near the western group of temples, this nice property offers all the conveniences and comforts at a reasonable price. We paid 3000 INR as rent which included a breakfast which had wide range of choices. Staff is polite and helpful. After completing checking in formalities we went to visit the temple complex. A guide approached us and we hired his services.

Most Khajuraho temples were built between 885 CE and 1000 CE by the Chandela dynasty. As per historical records the Khajuraho temple site had 85 temples by the 12th century, spread over an area of 20 square kilometres. Central India was seized by Delhi Sultanate in the 13th century. Under their rule, many temples were destroyed and only about 25 temples have survived, spread over six square kilometres. The surviving temples were left in neglect for a long period. In the 1830s, local Hindus guided a British surveyor, T.S. Burt, to the temples and they were thus rediscovered. Because of their outstanding architecture, diversity of temple forms, and testimony to the Chandela civilization, the monuments at Khajuraho were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1986. The temples are grouped into three geographical divisions: western, eastern and southern.

Chaturbhuja temple: It is one of the Southern Group of Khajuraho temples. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the main idol in the temple is a 2.75m high four-armed statue of Vishnu - the tallest stone carved idol among all the temples in Khajuraho. The head appears to have the Jata (hairs) of Shiva, but the posture with one leg resting on the toe is similar to that of Krishna (the eighth avatar of Vishnu). This is the only important temple in Khajuraho that faces west and is without erotic sculpture.

Photo of 11000 kms, 55 days, 9 states and glimpse of a foreign country – A mega road trip(6): Khajuraho by Purabi Chowdhury
Photo of 11000 kms, 55 days, 9 states and glimpse of a foreign country – A mega road trip(6): Khajuraho by Purabi Chowdhury

Duladeo temple: Situated on the north bank of Khudar River, belonging to Southern Group of Khajuraho Temples it is the last built temple in Khajuraho. Duladeo means "Holy Bridegroom" and it is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is also known as "Kunwar Math". The outer walls of the Duladeo Temple are decorated with beautiful sculptures that depict various Gods and Goddesses of the Hindu pantheon, Apsaras and other celestial beings.

Photo of 11000 kms, 55 days, 9 states and glimpse of a foreign country – A mega road trip(6): Khajuraho by Purabi Chowdhury
Photo of 11000 kms, 55 days, 9 states and glimpse of a foreign country – A mega road trip(6): Khajuraho by Purabi Chowdhury

Brahma temple: One of the earliest monuments in Khajuraho, it belongs to Eastern group of temples. The temple is believed to be named after Lord Brahma owing to the presence of a four-faced lingam in the sanctum. However, historians believed that it was actually dedicated to Lord Vishnu as indicated by the presence of Vishnu's image on the lintel of the door of the sanctum.

Vamana temple: One of the rare temples dedicated to Vamana, an incarnation of Lord Vishnua, it is part of Eastern group of temples.

Photo of 11000 kms, 55 days, 9 states and glimpse of a foreign country – A mega road trip(6): Khajuraho by Purabi Chowdhury
Photo of 11000 kms, 55 days, 9 states and glimpse of a foreign country – A mega road trip(6): Khajuraho by Purabi Chowdhury
Photo of 11000 kms, 55 days, 9 states and glimpse of a foreign country – A mega road trip(6): Khajuraho by Purabi Chowdhury

Then we went to Western group of temples. Here the guide left us and we started on our own. The Western group of temples are inside an enclosure and requires Entry fee.

Kandaria Mahadeva temple: It is the largest, tallest and one of the most ornate surviving temple in Khajuraho. A series of steep steps lead from the ground level to the entrance. At the entrance there is torana, a very intricately carved garland which is sculpted from a single stone. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the main idol of worship is a marble lingam, located in the dark sanctuary (Garbhagriha) which is reached by walking through a set of interconnected chambers. The central sanctum receives very little sunshine thus creating a cave-like atmosphere. This is probably why it was named Kandariya Mahadeva Temple, meaning "the Great God of the Cave". The interior and exterior surfaces of the temples are entirely covered with very finely crafted stunning sculptures of gods and goddesses, musicians and apsaras. There are niches where erotic sculptures are fitted which are a major attraction among visitors.

Photo of 11000 kms, 55 days, 9 states and glimpse of a foreign country – A mega road trip(6): Khajuraho by Purabi Chowdhury
Photo of 11000 kms, 55 days, 9 states and glimpse of a foreign country – A mega road trip(6): Khajuraho by Purabi Chowdhury
Photo of 11000 kms, 55 days, 9 states and glimpse of a foreign country – A mega road trip(6): Khajuraho by Purabi Chowdhury
Photo of 11000 kms, 55 days, 9 states and glimpse of a foreign country – A mega road trip(6): Khajuraho by Purabi Chowdhury
Photo of 11000 kms, 55 days, 9 states and glimpse of a foreign country – A mega road trip(6): Khajuraho by Purabi Chowdhury

Lakshmana temple: Dedicated to Lord Vishnu the entire temple complex stands on a high platform beautifully decorated with hunting and battle processions of elephants, horses and soldiers and other domestic scenes. Lakshmana Temple is unique for its four subsidiary shrines at the four corners of its rectangular platform. The wall portion is studded with balconied windows with ornate balustrades. It has two rows of sculptures including divine figures, couples and erotic scenes. The sanctum contains a three-headed & four-armed sculpture of Vishnu. The middle head of the deity is human; the side ones are those of the Narasimha and Varaha incarnations.

Photo of 11000 kms, 55 days, 9 states and glimpse of a foreign country – A mega road trip(6): Khajuraho by Purabi Chowdhury
Photo of 11000 kms, 55 days, 9 states and glimpse of a foreign country – A mega road trip(6): Khajuraho by Purabi Chowdhury
Photo of 11000 kms, 55 days, 9 states and glimpse of a foreign country – A mega road trip(6): Khajuraho by Purabi Chowdhury
Photo of 11000 kms, 55 days, 9 states and glimpse of a foreign country – A mega road trip(6): Khajuraho by Purabi Chowdhury
Photo of 11000 kms, 55 days, 9 states and glimpse of a foreign country – A mega road trip(6): Khajuraho by Purabi Chowdhury
Photo of 11000 kms, 55 days, 9 states and glimpse of a foreign country – A mega road trip(6): Khajuraho by Purabi Chowdhury
Photo of 11000 kms, 55 days, 9 states and glimpse of a foreign country – A mega road trip(6): Khajuraho by Purabi Chowdhury
Photo of 11000 kms, 55 days, 9 states and glimpse of a foreign country – A mega road trip(6): Khajuraho by Purabi Chowdhury

Matangeshvara temple: It is the only active site of worship where morning and evening aartis takes place every day. with a nine feet Shivalinga enshrined in it. Although it stands right next to the Lakshmana Temple, it is not within the fenced enclosure of the western group of temples because it is still in everyday use, unlike all the other old Khajuraho temple. It is not richly decorated: its interior walls, exterior walls and pillars are devoid of carvings. It houses a huge 2.5 m high lingam which is 1.1 m in diameter.

Photo of 11000 kms, 55 days, 9 states and glimpse of a foreign country – A mega road trip(6): Khajuraho by Purabi Chowdhury
Photo of 11000 kms, 55 days, 9 states and glimpse of a foreign country – A mega road trip(6): Khajuraho by Purabi Chowdhury
Photo of 11000 kms, 55 days, 9 states and glimpse of a foreign country – A mega road trip(6): Khajuraho by Purabi Chowdhury

Adivart Tribal Museum: Afterwards we went to visit Adivart Tribal Museum. Visiting this museum was an enriching experience. The museum showcases the lives of seven major tribes of Madhya Pradesh - Bhil, Gond, Baiga, Bharia, Kol, Sahariya and Korku. The museum is divided into two sections. One section shows the art and culture of the tribes and the second section showcases the homes of the tribes. There is a canteen which serves some tribal dishes. We had a delicious dinner there and tasted a tribal dish called Murka made of Mahua.

Photo of 11000 kms, 55 days, 9 states and glimpse of a foreign country – A mega road trip(6): Khajuraho by Purabi Chowdhury
Photo of 11000 kms, 55 days, 9 states and glimpse of a foreign country – A mega road trip(6): Khajuraho by Purabi Chowdhury
Photo of 11000 kms, 55 days, 9 states and glimpse of a foreign country – A mega road trip(6): Khajuraho by Purabi Chowdhury

Made of sandstone based on granite foundation, the grandeur and beauty of Khajuraho temples can neither be described in words nor captured in pictures. Even after extensive damage these are still captivating and seem like a poem, a song, a painting in stone. We feel fortunate to have the opportunity to witness the amazing craftsmanship.