India 2016 (part XLII): Khajuraho

Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh:

sculptures at the Kandariya Mahadeva Temple

sculptures at the Kandariya Mahadeva Temple

On the weekend following my short visit to Pushkar, I took the train to Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh (13.5 hours for 660 km!).

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Khajuraho is a small town in central India known for its magnificent temples built mostly in the 10th and 11th century. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is particularly famous for its detailed erotic sculptures, although most of the artwork actually depicts scenes of daily life. Originally, there were more than 80 temples in the area, but only about 20 survived until today. I started my exploration with the so-called Western Group of Temples, a fenced-off area including the particularly beautiful Lakshmana, Kandariya Mahadeva, Devi Jagadambi, Chitragupta, and Vishvanatha temples. As you can see in the gallery below, the artwork is unbelievable! Since the ticket also included access to the small Archaeological Museum, I also checked out the few sculptures on display there.

Following a quick lunch at nearby Raja Cafe, I walked east to the Jain Group of Temples. While the building of the Shantinath Temple is much younger, it incorporates a number of ancient shrines containing beautiful stone sculptures. The style of the Adinath and Parshvanath temples again resembles those of the western group with a large number of sculptures at their facades.

After a much needed break in the shade during which I drank approximately 1.5 litres of water non-stop, I could again bear the mid-day sun and walked north through the narrow, crooked alleys of the old village of Khajuraho. I passed the sad remains of the Ghantai Temple and eventually reached the more impressive Javari and Vamana temples standing amidst meadows. While sitting next to the Vamana Temple, I saw a vulture in a tree maybe 200 m away and took the effort to get a little closer for some photographs. On the way back, I spotted a pretty Indian Roller before passing one of the oldest temples of Khajuraho, the Brahma Temple (completed in 925, actually dedicated to Vishnu). I walked back to the main road with the tiny Hanuman Temple and its many shops, restaurants, and hotels. After a short break in my room, I finished my day of exploration at the oldest of all Khajuraho temples, the Chausath Yogini Temple, built  around 885 with 64 little shrines arranged in a rectangle.

On the next day, I was again sitting in the train returning to Jaipur. The landscape between Khajuraho and Jhansi was really beautiful with forests, lakes, and farmland. During the journey, I spotted three Nilgai antelopes dashing away from the oncoming train and, even more exciting for me, two Sarus Cranes, the tallest of all flying birds!

Back in Jaipur, I spent the following weeks mostly with work in the office.

5 responses to “India 2016 (part XLII): Khajuraho

  1. Pingback: India 2016 (part XLIII): Bharatpur | wild life·

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