Khajuraho

Dairy Entry

The remote and obscure village in the Bundelkhand heartland houses some of the unparalleled marvels of oriental art. The sight of the sculptures struck me with inexpressible awe. Built by the Chandela rulers in the tenth century AD, Khajuraho currently has a handful of temples in pretty good shape, mostly since they lay covered under dense forests until mid nineteenth century when they were discovered by Caption Burt, a British general. The western group of temples being the most awe inspiring, there are a few more Hindu and Jain temples scattered around the village.

The large number of erotic images in almost all the temples can seldom go unnoticed. Probably that's what brought all the attention to these lost treasures when they were first discovered. And probably that's what is the reason today, the temples are safely boycotted by an average Indian tourist. And undoubtedly, that's what has shrouded the temples in so many mystic tales and legends.

When it comes to theorizing the human brain is a true genius. Innumerable are the theories proposed to explain the presence of erotica in a place of worship. Just to mention a few :
  • The sculptures were aimed at drawing the mind of people away from the monastic practices of Buddhism/Jainism.
  • Pursuit of worldly love was an integral and legitimate part of the Hindu life.
  • The devotees strengthen their minds by transcending the material realm by walking past these images and enter the sanctum.
  • The sexual embrace symbolizes the union of the human soul with the divine.
  • Sex was an integral part of the ritual symbolism associated with tantric practices.
  • The temple walls were a medium of education, in an era without press.

As i said, these are just a few of the numerous theories. And a matter as subjective as this cannot ever be stated with conviction. I was quite surprised to see how people visiting the place refused to acknowledge this fact and struck to the theory that appealed to them the most, ignoring the others. This includes even the informatory program conducted every evening at the temples by the archaeological department. I wasn't too happy to find that everyone, from the guides to the officials, unable to stay away from the topic of sexual imagery, desperately looked for a legitimate excuse to fit these into the current form of Hindu religion and condemned any theory that did not do this.

The ruling god of the heavens or the dancing lady or the couple involved in passionate sex - the sculptor has breathed in equal life into them all. Every twist and turn sculpted with utmost perfection and every single thing depicted with the minutest detail - the beads in the bangle, the locks in the beard or the petals of the flowers - all with perfection. Proportions so perfect that you're assured the image is of a women in the heavens and not an earthling.

Masters not merely of sculpting, but also of mathematics and engineering to construct these colossal structures with each spire and pillar falling in perfect symmetry. Masters in their understanding of the human anatomy, to impart such grace to every limb and movement of the subject. Worth mentioning is the construction of every image on the principles of 'tribhanga' or the three vital turns in the body - neck, torso and knee. The perfect proportion of these 3 turns imparts life and grace to the figure (as seen in the one below). 

Despite the step-motherly treatment, Khajuraho shines with all the pristine glory of a divine art. Every form adorning the temple walls speak of the artiste's eternal quest for perfection. The artiste whose name has been forgotten for a thousand years now, the artiste whose identity has been overshadowed by the name and title of the King that funded him, the artiste who gave his life and soul to engrave his king's name in annals of history - Long live his art !

Itinerary

Day 1

Train from Pune to Kalyan. Train from Kalyan to Satna in the night. (Satna is on the train route to Allahabad).

Day 2

Reached Satna in the evening, Boarded at bus to Chattarpur and got at BamITha (120 KM, 3.5 hrs ), bus to Khajuraho (10 KM, 30 min). Lodeged at Khajuraho

Day 3

Sight seeing of Khajuraho on hired cycles (Rs. 30 per day)

Day 4

 Visited Raneh Waterfalls and Ken Ghariyal reserve on auto rickshaw. Bus to Satna in the afternoon and  tain to Kalyan from there

Tips:

Khajuraho is VERY poorly connected to any other place, if you are depended on public transport. Bamitha has frequent services; but buses are extremely crowded and can stop anyhwere for 30 min to collect more passengers.

Accomodation and food are no issues in Khajuraho. Many budget accomodation available for less than RS.300 (costlier when there are more tourists). Its advisable to hire guides as there is loads of information about the tempels and each sculpture on the walls.

Album

Erotica (Kandariya temple)

Spire & Balconies (Jagadambi temple)

Side view (Vishvanatha temple)

Main Sanctum (Chaturbuj temple)

Granite & Dolomite gorge (Ken Ghariyal Sanctuary)