The ancient tourist attraction and the archaeological site, Khajuraho is known for different patterns of art and temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, Vishnu and Jain patriarchs. The place dates back to the rich and glorified period of 9th to 11th centuries that it had witnessed during the period of Chandella dynasty. Khajuraho located right in the heart of central India in the state of Madhya Pradesh was one of the capitals of the Chandela kings, who had adorned it with intricate carvings, architectural brilliance and the most popular erotic sculptures.
Notably, the Khajuraho temples extend over 21 sq. km. having in all 85 richly carved temples by different rulers of the dynasty. It is believed that every Chandella ruler has built at least one temple in his lifetime. Today, out of the original 85, only 20 have survived the ravages of time. These temples are richly carved from inside and outside with excellent sculptures which are frequently sensual and few are even sexually explicit.
These temples give a poignant representation of life in the medieval age and also strongly highlight the traditional lifestyle of women in that period. The sculptures at the temples have embodied almost everything in tune with the human life over the walls, built using sandstone and varying shades of buff, pink and pale yellow.
Few of temples at Khajuraho are devoted to the Jain pantheon and others to the Hindu deities. Along with the intricate art work, these temples have an entrance leading to hall, a vestibule and a sanctum. The rooms inside the temples are interconnected, constructed with spiral superstructures.
The sculptures at these temples represent the female and male principles, the Yin and the Yang. The main factor in these temples is their erotic art, particularly the western Devi Jagdambi Temple. The row of sculptures there depicts the devanganas, mithunas, divinities and explicit erotic sculptures, essentially those showing mithunas in sexual positions. Because of these erotic art forms at the Khajuraho temples, they have been also named as Kamasutra temples.
It is said that these temples depict the celebration of womanhood with the walls adorned with broad-hipped, busty and perhaps well-proportionate women sculptures. These delicately designed women bodies can be seen engaged in doing different stuff like putting on make-up, washing their hair, playing games and knotting and un-knotting their girdles and much on, thus easily grabs the passer-by’s attention.
The art at these temples is exemplified as to represent the pinnacle of love and passion. There were several more temples built during the same period in western and southern India as well, but none of them had sculptures such prominently displayed on their main wall, like in Khajuraho temples. It, thus, forms a unique example of art form and a perfect travel destination in India.
Text by Kamya Kandhari