Sunday, May 25, 2014

Khajuraho Group of Monuments

Khajuraho- Land of the Moon God

The Khajuraho Group of Monuments in Khajuraho, a town in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, located in Chhatarpur District, about 620 kilometres (385 mi) southeast of New Delhi, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. Khajuraho has the largest group of medieval Hindu and Jain temples, famous for their erotic sculptures.

Between 950 and 1150, the Chandela monarchs built these temples when the Tantric tradition may have been accepted. In the days before the Mughal conquests, when boys lived in hermitages, following brahmacharya until they became men, they could learn about the world and prepare themselves to become householders through examining these sculptures and the worldly desires they depicted.

The name Khajuraho, ancient "Kharjuravāhaka", is derived from the Sanskrit words kharjura = date palm and vāhaka = "one who carries". Locals living in the Khajuraho village always knew about and kept up the temples as best as they could. They were pointed out to the English in the late 19th century when the jungles had taken a toll on the monuments. In the 19th century, British engineer T.S. Burt arrived in the area, followed by General Alexander Cunningham. Cunningham put Khajuraho on the world map when he explored the site on behalf of the Archaeological Survey of India and described what he found in glowing terms. The Khajuraho Group of Monuments has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is considered to be one of the "seven wonders" of India.

Lakshman temple-Outside wall of one of the temples

The Khajuraho temples contain sexual or erotic art outside the temple or near the deities. Some of the temples that have two layers of walls have small erotic carvings on the outside of the inner wall. It has been suggested that these suggest tantric sexual practices. Some 10% of the carvings contain sexual themes and those reportedly do not depict deities but rather sexual activities between people. The rest depict the everyday life. For example, those depictions show women putting on makeup, musicians, potters, farmers, and other folk. The mundane scenes are all at some distance from the temple deities. A common misconception is that, since the old structures with carvings in Khajuraho are temples, the carvings depict sex between deities.

Another perspective of these carvings is presented by James McConnachie. In his history of the Kamasutra, McConnachie describes the zesty 10% of the Khajuraho sculptures as "the apogee of erotic art":

Erotic scene - Lakshman temple

"Twisting, broad-hipped and high breasted nymphs display their generously contoured and bejewelled bodies on exquisitely worked exterior wall panels. These fleshy apsaras run riot across the surface of the stone, putting on make-up, washing their hair, playing games, dancing, and endlessly knotting and unknotting their girdles....Beside the heavenly nymphs are serried ranks of griffins, guardian deities and, most notoriously, extravagantly interlocked maithunas, or lovemaking couples."

Lakshman temple-Outside wall of one of the temples

Khajuraho is a town in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, located in Chhatarpur District, about 620 kilometres (385 mi) southeast of New Delhi, the capital city of India. According to the 2001 India census, Khajuraho has a population of 19,282. Males constitute 52% of the population and females 48%. The town has an average literacy rate of 53%, lower than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 62%, and female literacy is 43%. In Khajuraho, 19% of the population is under 6 years of age. Khajuraho is located at 24.85°N 79.93°E and has an average elevation of 283 metres (928 feet).

Khajuraho is served by Khajuraho Airport and there is a railway station approximately six km by car from the town centre.

The Khajuraho temple complex offers a professional light and sound show every evening. The first show is in English language and the second one in Hindi. The show is about an hour long and covers the history, philosophy and the art of sculpting of these temples. It is held in the open lawns in the temple complex.

The Khajuraho Dance Festival, held every year in the first week of February (1st to 7th), is an opportunity for visitors to experience various classical Indian dances set against the backdrop of the Chitragupta or Vishwanath Temples.

The M P Tourism Development has set up kiosks at the Khajuraho railway station (which is 9 km away from the city), with helpful tourist officers to guide the travelers. The temples in Khajuraho are broadly divided into three parts : the Eastern group, the Southern Group and the Western group of temples of which the Western group alone has the facility of an Audio guided tour wherein the tourists are guided through the seven eight temples. There is also an audio guided tour developed by the Archaeological Survey of India which includes a narration of the historical data related to the temples.

Kandariya Mahadeva temple

By Train : 

Most important railway station for Khajuraho is Khajuraho Railway Station which is just 5km from Khajuraho Town. Their is direct train for Khajuraho Railway Station (UP Sampark Kranti Express) for Khajuraho. It is the only train, at present from New Delhi to Khajuraho. 

Similarly those who wish to travel Khajuraho from Varanasi can now travel by Bundelkhand Link Express Train (1108A) which connects Khajuraho - Varanasi. Both are very much proposed in most of the proposed tour itineraries so with the introduction of this train, one can now travel more comfortably at low fare. 
Those who are coming from Mumbai/Kolkata can reach Satna Railway Station to travel Khajuraho at a distance of 130kms/02:30hrs. 
If you visit Khajuraho from Jaipur than DAYODAYA EXPRESS (2182) will be the most suitable train to reach Katni and then by taxi reach Khajuraho. Distance from Katni to Khajuraho is 180kms/04:00hrs. 

Those who wish to travel Khajuraho from Agra, can take any train for Jhansi Railway Station and then drive through Taxi via-Orchha/directly to Khajuraho.

By Air : 

Khajuraho is having a domestic airport known as City Airport Khajuraho. It is located at 2 Km south of Khajuraho town. At present (as on 05/05/2010) flights from Delhi & Varanasi are operating for Khajuraho. Arrival/Departure are usually take place in afternoon for these two destinations. Work is going on to enhance the capabilities of Khajuraho Airport.

By Car : 

Khajuraho city is very well connected by Jhansi, Orchha, Satna, Katni, Bandhavgarh, Chattarpur etc. Usually tourists arrive at Jhansi Railway Station by train and take taxi car to travel to Khajuraho, via Orchha or directly. From Jhansi, Khajuraho is just 200kms.04:00hrs. Similarly those who are arriving at Satna railway station can hire taxi from here to reach Khajuraho by road. Similarly those who want to reach Khajuraho from Bandhavgarh, they can travel by road via Katni-Pawai-Amanganj-Panna of 240km/05:00hrs.

When to Go : 

Khajuraho is a small village in central India. From the village one can see the outcrops of the vindhyan range. The best time to visit khajuraho is during the months of October to march when the average temperature is between 90° and 40° Fahrenheit. 

How to Plan Khajuraho Sightseeing : 
In Khajuraho
Western Group of Temples             Atleast Two Hours
Eastern Group of Temples              Atleast an Hour
Chaturbhuj Temples                       Half an hour (During the sunset)
Site Museum                                 Half an Hour


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