Located in the provincial state of Madhya Pradesh India., Khajuraho is known the world over for its temples, sex, architecture and sculpture.

The construction of these Temples are thousand-year old  took a little over two centuries, in terms of architecture of these temples, they form the high peak of the north Indian ‘nagara’ style. Of the 85 temples believed to have been built between the 9th and 12th centuries only 20 have survived, many in splendid condition, others having given way to the ravages of time and nature. Close to and around Khajuraho is forest land; a small clearing houses a village populated by no more than 3,000 residents, but visited each year by tourists from all over the world. Hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops mark the entrances to the two distinctive groups of temples; little boys switch from Spanish to French to German in rapid succession as they peddle handicrafts or mineral water; signboards, too, are posted in various languages, and the villagers now seldom bother to look up when they hear the thunder of airplanes overhead.

The hub of tourist activity are the temples built by the Chandela Rajputs, who can be traced as descendants of the moon god. The head of the clan is believed to have been a valiant warrior who fought lions bare-handed (hence the emblem, frequently seen at the temples, of a warrior grappling with a lion); he is said to have ordered the building of the temples as a means of salvation for his mother, Hemvati, who was ravished by the Moon god. The spate of temple- building which began about the middle of the 9th century and continued until the early 12th century must have used the skills of thousands of culptors, architects and masons; unfortunately, there is almost no record of this activity in the annals of Indian history. By the time the last temple was completed the Chandela dynasty had sunk into oblivion. Khajuraho was the Chandela capital for only a brief period; they ruled for the most part from Kalinjar and other parts of the Bundelkhand region, with Khajuraho remaining their religious center. The most important aspect of the temples is the abundance of sculptures that decorate the facades and interiors of the shrines.

In this profusion of images attention has understandably been paid to divinities, less Understandably to celestial beauties and the female form in general and, controversially, to graphic sexual representations. Over the years a number of explanations have been forthcoming for the presence of erotic sculptures at what was essentially a religious centre; no single theory, however, has been able to justify their profuse expression. Were these temple centres of tantrik mysticism, which cites sex as an important component of human development towards the Absolute  or were they merely a reactionary swing away from the austerities preached by the Buddha? Perhaps the answer can be found as excavations in the region continue, but this much is certain: Buddhism did at one time have a strong presence here, just as tantric rituals enjoyed a wide adulation during the medieval period.

As Chandela power diminished, the importance of their sometime-capital also waned. Its heavily forested terrain could not provide much revenue, and served to deter invading Muslim armies (for whom the temples were of little interest, while the sculptures could only have appeared offensivethey certainly did to T. S. Burt, the British engineer who is credited with their ‘discovery’ in the mid-19th century). The temples were never, so to say, lost’, for villagers and tribal inhabitants of the region were familiar with them; they continued to use one templen particular  Matangeshwar Mahadev for worship, especially on the occasion of Shivratri. While early travelers such as Alberuni and lbn Batuta had reported the presence of the temples, they were not dwelt upon in depth, possibly because of there being abandoned and overgrown by bushes and weeds. Burt announced their presence to the world, and the first major data on them was collected by General Alexander Cunningham in his Survey of India reports. Early this century there was some interest in the temples, but their inaccessibility made their study and regular travel to the site impossible. Over the years,  roads were laid and the minimal facilities provided; then, a couple of decades ago, the first luxury hotel project revived interest in the region, and the resurrection of Khajuraho began.

Posted in: Historical Places

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