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Visiting the Khajuraho Group of Monuments, India

Khajuraho temples and town (97)

Khajuraho is a co-mingled grouping of Hindu and Jain temples in Madhya Pradesh, India.  The site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the temple collection is especially well-known for its erotic sculptures and architecture.

Most of the temples in Khajuraho were built between 950 and 1050 AD during the Chandela dynasty.  It’s thought that the grouping consisted of 85 temples when the region reached its peak of activity in the 12th century; currently only 25 temples remain.   These temples vary tremendously in size from tiny to enormous!    The most visited temple, Kandariya Mahadev, has an area of about 6,500 square feet and a spire that rises 116 feet.  The temples all face the rising sun and are built near water.

India was controlled by many different Muslim dynasties from 13th through the 18th century. During this time many of the temples were destroyed and others were desecrated and neglected, but the remoteness of the region helped save some of the temples.  With the passage of time vegetation overtook the site and hid the remaining temples.

Details of some carvings at the Khajuraho temple group

In the 1830s the temple complex was discovered by the British and slowly they attained a global audience.  The temples have been restored (an ongoing effort) and the site is a popular (though remote) destination with tourists and Indians alike.

Many people visit to see the thousands of intricately carved statues.  The best known are the erotic sexually themed sculptures (not pictured here but if you are interested, some of the photos can be seen at this link).  These represent less than 10% of the temple sculptures and you need to look pretty hard to see them.  The remaining art mostly covers aspects of everyday life and mythical stories.  

Sunset at the Khajuraho temple group

I was lucky enough to visit the site in the afternoon and enjoyed the beautiful changing light on the temple complex as the sunset. 

We only spent a half day at Khajuraho, which was enough to get an good feel for the site, but a full day would have been better as the complex is quite extensive.  

Here’s some details of Khajuraho:

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to advance slideshow)

 

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