Khajuraho - A peek into a lost world

Tripoto
13th Jan 2018
Photo of Khajuraho - A peek into a lost world by nipali.mishra

Khajuraho is a quaint little town in Madhya Pradesh. It is the original capital of the Chandela dynasty, that ruled most part of central India between 800 to 1300 AD. It's famous for its beautiful temples & carvings. These architectural marvels have made it a world heritage site by UNESCO.

The construction of these temples started almost as this dynasty rose to power and there have been contributions from most of the early rulers. The actual reason to construct so many temples at one place is not known, it may simply be that these rulers were lovers of art and this was there way of expressing it. But, there does exist a legend about these temples. There was an exceptionally beautiful princess Hemvati. Once while taking bath at night, the moon god got captivated by her beauty and came down on earth. The result of consummation of their love was king Chandravarman, the founder of chandela dynasty. Hemvati was upset and felt guilty of being a mother out of wedlock, so the moon god blessed her that their son would be a valiant king and would help her absolve her sin as well. So after ascending the throne , the king performed yagyan and as desired by his mother started the construction of 85 temples with the help of divine architect Vishwakarma.

Stories apart, the construction of these temples started from around 900 AD and continued till 1100 AD.Most temples were created during the reign of Yashovardhan/Lakshmanvarman and Dhanga. Out of those 85 temples only 25 (includes both Hindu and Jain temples)have been able to stand the test of time and the atrocities of looters, robbers and conquerors. After the fall of Chandela dynasty and continued destruction from conquerors, the temples got lost under vegetation and forests. Later in 1830, it was rediscovered by a British surveyor T.S.Burt and got back onto the world map.

Day 1

Our journey started from Delhi, where we took the sampark kranti train to reach Khajuraho. Around 7.30 am we reached the destination and asked the hotel to arrange for a pickup. We had asked for an early check-in in the hotel.After a quick rest and breakfast, we got freshened up and started for the Western group of temples. Our guide Arvind (we had booked him the day before) was waiting for us near the temple gate. Once we got inside, first he explained about the story that I have mentioned above and then went on to explain each temple. These temples are made of sandstone and with interlocking system, so that the whole structure could be built without use of any cement or mortar.

The Laksman Temple

Photo of Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh, India by nipali.mishra

Varaha Temple

Photo of Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh, India by nipali.mishra

Kandariya Mahadev Temple

Photo of Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh, India by nipali.mishra

Jagdamba temple

Photo of Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh, India by nipali.mishra

Chitragupta Temple

Photo of Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh, India by nipali.mishra

Nandi Temple

Photo of Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh, India by nipali.mishra

Viswanath Temple

Photo of Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh, India by nipali.mishra

The Western group of temples consist of around 12 temples. the temples present inside the complex are Laxmi temple, Varaha Temple, Laksman Temple, Kandariya Mahadev Temple, Jagdamba Temple, Chitragupta Temple, Viswanath temple, Nandi Temple and Pratapeswar temple(this is a relatively new temple, only a 100 yr old and its design contains representations of all faiths). Just outside the park is the Matangeswar temple, its the only active temple among this group as its main Idol is still intact. There are two more ruins in the western group but a little away from the main campus, the chausath Yogini and the Lalgun Mahadev temple.

Vishnu riding on Garuda in its human form

Photo of Khajuraho - A peek into a lost world by nipali.mishra

Elephants on the wall of Lakhsman Temple

Photo of Khajuraho - A peek into a lost world by nipali.mishra

Vishnu and Shiva idols along with surasundaris

Photo of Khajuraho - A peek into a lost world by nipali.mishra

The magnificent monolithic Vishnu Idol inside Lakshman Temple

Photo of Khajuraho - A peek into a lost world by nipali.mishra

Carvings on the inner walls of the Laksman Temple

Photo of Khajuraho - A peek into a lost world by nipali.mishra

Carvings on the top of the entrance of Kandariya Mahadev temple

Photo of Khajuraho - A peek into a lost world by nipali.mishra

The beautiful roof art in Kandariya Mahadev temple

Photo of Khajuraho - A peek into a lost world by nipali.mishra

Sculptures around walls of Kandariya Mahadev temple

Photo of Khajuraho - A peek into a lost world by nipali.mishra

Kandariya Mahadev temple

Photo of Khajuraho - A peek into a lost world by nipali.mishra

Yamraj

Photo of Khajuraho - A peek into a lost world by nipali.mishra

Carvings on the wall of Jagdamba temple, every alternate sculpture is that of a Vyala or shardul, so says it depicts the struggle of human with their desire and ambitions and some other people say its a protector for the temple.

Photo of Khajuraho - A peek into a lost world by nipali.mishra

The beauty of these temples cannot be expressed in words. The sculptures are delicate, extremely detailed and depicts almost all the daily life activities of that time. Every stone speaks about a story, that may be divine or common. The erotic sculptures, for which Khajuraho is famous, are hardly 10% of the total arts found here. Different people have different views about the erotic pictures on the holy temple walls, but the locals have a simple view. They think when someone visits the temple, either he will be carried away by seeing these sculptures and get back to get consumed of those desires, or they can control their desires & then get inside the temple and meet the divine Lord. Khajuraho is much more than just the erotic sculptures. The Kandariya Mahadev temple is one of the most beautiful temples that I have ever visited. The temple architechture is mostly in Nagar style. But the fact that stuck mostly with me is the way the main idol always got illuminated my the outside light at any time of the day, till sunlight is available outside.

After visiting the western group of temples we went for lunch to Raja cafe, which is just opposite to the entry gate of western group of temples. Its one of the oldest restaurant here. The prices are a little towards the higher end for the food.

Once done with lunch, we hired an auto which agreed to show us around the eastern and southern group temples for 250 bucks. First we visited the vamana temple dedicated to Vamana avatar of lord vishnu, then went on to visit the Jain temples. In the Jain temple campus we saw the Shantinath, Adinath and the Parswanath temples and there were many other ruins inside the campus. The carvings here were beautiful as well, mostly depicting Hindu divine beings. After this, we headed for the Javeri temple and on the way saw the brahma temple as well. Then headed for the southern temples which consist of 2 temples Dulhadeo temple (dedicate to lord shiva) and Chaturbhuj temple (Dedicated to Lord Vishnu and the only west facing temple). These temples are built during the later phase of chandela dynasty and are simpler and less detailed compared to the earlier temples . The carving that I loved the most here is the Ardhanareswar carving on the Chaturbhuj temple wall. On the way to Chaturbhuj temple our guide took us to the beejamandal ruins , the excavations are still going on here and the shivling sitting on the mound with sun setting in the background was a beautiful view. We sat at the chaturbhuj temple and watched the setting sun while I was trying to imagine the life and time when this lost world was alive and thriving. The beauty of these temples had a calming effect on me (which I usually get while viewing the mountains), I felt at peace .

Bamana Temple

Photo of Khajuraho - A peek into a lost world by nipali.mishra

Javeri Temple

Photo of Khajuraho - A peek into a lost world by nipali.mishra

Parswanath Temple

Photo of Khajuraho - A peek into a lost world by nipali.mishra

Main idol inside Parswanath temple

Photo of Khajuraho - A peek into a lost world by nipali.mishra

Adinath Temple

Photo of Khajuraho - A peek into a lost world by nipali.mishra

Collection of ruins inside Jain temple campus

Photo of Khajuraho - A peek into a lost world by nipali.mishra

Beejamandal Ruins

Photo of Khajuraho - A peek into a lost world by nipali.mishra

Chaturbhuj Temple

Photo of Khajuraho - A peek into a lost world by nipali.mishra

Sculpture of Ardhanareswar in Chaturbhuj temple

Photo of Khajuraho - A peek into a lost world by nipali.mishra

Idol of Vishnu in Chaturbhuj temple

Photo of Khajuraho - A peek into a lost world by nipali.mishra
Photo of Khajuraho - A peek into a lost world by nipali.mishra

Carvings on walls of Parswanath Temple

Photo of Khajuraho - A peek into a lost world by nipali.mishra

Carvings on walls of Parswanath Temple

Photo of Khajuraho - A peek into a lost world by nipali.mishra
Photo of Khajuraho - A peek into a lost world by nipali.mishra
Photo of Khajuraho - A peek into a lost world by nipali.mishra

We had decided to skip the light and sound show at the western group of temples due to our bad experiences with such shows at other place. Instead we headed to the MP tourism center(its a little ahead of the western temple campus) to watch rural folk dance performances by local artists. The performances were nice and was a good one hour show. We had a simple dinner at hotel sidharth (the dal fry was one of the best I had) and then headed back to our hotel.

Photo of Khajuraho - A peek into a lost world by nipali.mishra
Photo of Khajuraho - A peek into a lost world by nipali.mishra
Photo of Khajuraho - A peek into a lost world by nipali.mishra
Photo of Khajuraho - A peek into a lost world by nipali.mishra
Photo of Khajuraho - A peek into a lost world by nipali.mishra
Photo of Khajuraho - A peek into a lost world by nipali.mishra
Day 2

Next morning we started early around 7 am to visit the western group temples again. We spent a couple of hours in the premise, checking out the sculptures again and doing some photo shoots as my camera had ran out of charge the day before. By 9a.m we came out and had breakfast at marwadi bhojanalaya. The gobi ke paranthe and chai were a yummy combination here. Then we returned to our hotel , got freshened up and checked out by 11 am. We placed our luggage in the hotel cloak room and took a cab to visit Ken gharial sanctuary and Raneh falls. This place is not a must visit for people coming to khajuraho, but its not a bad place either. The entry fee is 400 here and taking a guide is compulsory. also we need to pay for the entry of our vehicle, which is 600 for four wheeler.

Photo of Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh, India by nipali.mishra

The Emblem of chandela dynasty, prince chandravarman fighting with a lion

Photo of Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh, India by nipali.mishra
Photo of Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh, India by nipali.mishra
Photo of Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh, India by nipali.mishra
Photo of Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh, India by nipali.mishra

Kandariya Mahadev temple

Photo of Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh, India by nipali.mishra
Photo of Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh, India by nipali.mishra
Photo of Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh, India by nipali.mishra

Pratapeswar temple

Photo of Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh, India by nipali.mishra

Driving through the forest reserve we went to the spot from where you can view the part of ken river where the crocodiles and gharials are found. From up above it was very difficult to spot any of those reptiles. With much difficulty we spotted one crocodile. I was happy just seeing the crystal clear blue water of the river. It was just refreshing. This was because the river hadn't touched any human settlement on its course yet. After this we went back to the Raneh falls. Well at this point of the year and especially after a very dry monsoon there wasn't any fall to see. But the canyon with its various shades of granite was worth a visit. After two rounds over the pathway along the canyon, we decided to get back to khajuraho as we were starting to feel hungry.

Ken River

Photo of Khajuraho - A peek into a lost world by nipali.mishra

The granite of various shades in Raney Falls

Photo of Khajuraho - A peek into a lost world by nipali.mishra
Photo of Khajuraho - A peek into a lost world by nipali.mishra
Photo of Khajuraho - A peek into a lost world by nipali.mishra

Back in the town we went to mediterrano for lunch. The delectable whole wheat lasagna was a pleasure to eat. After the main-course, we walked down to raja cafe to satisfy our sweet tooth with a sizzling brownie. Having done with all courses we head back to our hotel. There were still 3 more hours for our train , so we spent our time relaxing in the garden. By 5.30 we left for the station with the view of a gorgeous sunset to end our trip.

Khajuraho is a lovely little town with equally lovely people. The monuments are maintained very well. The whole town is fairly clean and the roads are surprising in very good condition, even till our drive to raney falls, I didn't find any bad roads. The people and the food both won my heart. Never once felt being cheated or people trying to extract money from us with vague excuses. The temples here are standing tall against the wrath of time with their beauty and glory is so intact. A thousand sculptures, with thousand stories of everyday life, love and lust, wars and enlightenment, art and destruction and both divine and common. There was a plethora of emotions running in my mind while visiting these temples, being in awe with the beauty of these structures, an aura of mystery surrounding them, a sense of loss while looking at the ruins, an overwhelming feeling of time standing still near these structures. If only the stones could speak...

This is the perfect homage to those hundred of sculptures who worked to create these beautiful temple, without ever taking any credit (Picture taken from internet)

Photo of Khajuraho - A peek into a lost world by nipali.mishra
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