One of India’s seven wonders of the world, the Khajuraho group of monuments is probably the most distinct of the lot. Unique from its contemporaries in more ways than one, While the Hindu and Jain temples of Khajuraho depict how life was in Ancient India, the temples have gained widespread fame over the year for its erotic panels and and sculptures.
The origins of these erotic panels has been widely debated, however one thing that has found a larger consensus is that the existence of these erotic sculptures further perpetuated the notion that Hinduism and Jainism stood for tolerance and acceptance of beliefs that may have been diverse in more ways than one.
History and Culture of Khajuraho
The most sensual town in all of India is now a legitimate tourist attraction among Indians and foreigners alike, what is not common knowledge is that these temples have an eventful history in their own right.
These temples were built around the 9th Century when the Chandela dynasty ruled over much of Central India. The temples were actively used by the subjects of the Chandela kingdom until the 12th century. The Delhi Sultanate launched an offensive against the Chandela Dynasty and with the end of the siege, a lot of temples were desecrated by the invading forces.
The temples of Khajuraho enjoyed a stellar reputation in the old world. Travelers and explorers to India made a visit to see the ruins of the temple complex an important stop on their journey. Khajuraho’s remote location meant that the Delhi Sultanate were not too bothered about the desecrated complex. The complex soon became home to Yogi’s that practiced asceticism and taught Yoga to the locals of the neighboring villages.
The resurgence of these temples began in the 19th century after a group of local Hindus guided a visit of a British surveyor by the name of T.S Burt to these temples. An excavation and restoration of these temples began soon after the visit.
The temples of Khajuraho today stand testament to some of the finest work in sculpting and temple art in the world. On a deeper level, these temples stand for openness, tolerance and diversity, it signified that while there were some fundamentally different religious views between Hinduism and Jainism co-existence and acceptance was the only way forward.
How to get to Khajuraho
By Air – While Khajuraho is a small town with a population of 25,000 people. It is one of the most popular tourist spots in Northern India. Increase in tourism has led to the construction of an airport which was inaugurated in 2016. While there aren’t too many flight options, Khajuraho enjoys decent air connectivity with Varanasi and Delhi
By Rail – Khajuraho Railway Station is the main station in town, Khajuraho has great rail connectivity with other cities in M.P (Jhansi, Gwalior). Apart from Delhi Khajuraho also has daily trains connecting to other tourist jaunts like Agra, Jaipur and Udaipur. The train that plies between Khajuraho to Varanasi operates three times a week.
By Road – Most of Madhya Pradesh is extremely well connected to Khajuraho by road as a part of the national highway 75 route. Taking a bus or driving down from places like Agra, Varanasi, Jaipur is also an option as the road for most parts is very good.
Best time to travel to Khajuraho
Winter months are the best time to visit Khajuraho, the weather is really pleasant. While it can get really cold at times the day offers plenty of sun, which means the weather for most parts is great for exploring these temples. A visit to Khajuraho towards the end of February, coincides with the Khajuraho Dance Festival, a 6 day dance festival around the temple complex that celebrates classical Indian Dance forms and is an ode to Lord Shiva and the Sun God (Surya)
Khajuraho is green and beautiful during the monsoon months. While the humidity is high, the evenings for most parts are pleasant and the lushness really amplifies Khajuraho’s rustic beauty
Getting around Khajuraho
If you like cycling, renting a bike and riding around the town and exploring all the sights on the way is one of the best ways of exploration. Cabs could cost from a thousand rupees to five thousand if you choose to visit the Panna Tiger Reserve. Local transport for commuting within the town is easy to access.
Breaking stereotypes about Khajuraho
Khajuraho only has the temple complex – While the temple complex is the most compelling reason to visit Khajuraho. Khajuraho has a lot more to offer. The town is extremely charming and in the simplest of ways and will give you a great insight into how majority of India actually looks like While not a part of Khajuraho, the Panna Tiger Reserve and the Raneh waterfalls are interesting day trips.
Go Check Out
Khajuraho Temple Complex – The Khajuraho Temple Complex is likely to be the highlight of your trip to Khajuraho. The temple are most popular for sculptures of erotic art and have been labeled the Kamasutra temples due to its erotic artwork. The temple has a lot more to offer than just titillating artwork though. 90% of the sculptures display the day to day life of medieval India. The temples were built to inculcate a spirit of religious harmony and tolerance between the Hindu and the Jain community. The Khajuraho group of monuments is considered among the seven wonders of India and rightfully so.
Raneh Waterfalls – About 20 kilometres away from Khajuraho is the natural waterfalls of Raneh, carved by the river Ken is one of the most underrated spots in the country. It is extremely similar to the grand canyon, the waterfalls are a must visit as most tourists do not bother to visit this gem that is hidden in plain sight.
Panna Tiger Reserve – Madhya Pradesh as a state is blessed with a plethora of national parks. Most cities and towns lie in relatively close proximity to a national park. Khajuraho is no different, The Panna tiger reserve situated about 40 kilometres away from is a must visit you are likely to witness Tigers, Leopards, spotted deers, sloth bears, crocodiles and other animals that are largely native to the Indian subcontinent like Nilgai, Chinkara and Sambar at the reserve.