Khajuraho, which has lent its name to a complex of exquisite Hindu and Jain temples, is a small town located amidst the forested plains of Bundelkhand in north-central Madhya Pradesh.
Khajuraho tourism is peppered with temples, crafted from sandstone, and famous for their unique and explicit rock carvings, portraying passion on stone. There are fascinating idols of god – goddesses, fairies, dancing “apsaras” in addition to idols of Lord Vishnu, Laxmi- Narayan, Shiva -Parvati etc. as mentioned in Puranas.
Today you will see the complete Khajuraho Temples travel guide. The entire temple group of Khajuraho has been divided into three parts – Western Group of Temples, Eastern Group of Temples and Southern Group of Temples.
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History of Khajuraho Temples
Khajuraho Temples were built over a period of 100 years by Chandella rulers during the medieval times. They are scattered over an area of about 9 square miles, depict the traditional lifestyle of women in the medieval age.
It is presumed that it was every Chandella ruler has built atleast one temple in his lifetime. So all Khajuraho Temples are not constructed by any single Chandella ruler but Temple building was a tradition of Chandella rulers and followed by almost all rulers of Chandella dynasty.
A few of the temples are dedicated to the Jain pantheon and the rest to Hindu deities — to God’s Trio, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva and various Devi forms, such as the Devi Jagadambi.
It is considered that these temples are a celebration of womanhood as they depict sculptures of heavily ornamented broad-hipped and busty but well-proportionate women (apsaras) adorning the temple walls. The well contoured bodies of the nymphs grab attention and they can be seen engaging in activities like putting on make-up, washing their hair, playing games and knotting and unknotting their girdles.
After fall of Chandella dynasty (after AD 1150), Khajuraho Temples suffered destruction & disfigurement by muslim invaders in this area which forced local people to leave Khajuraho.The citizens of Khajuraho knew that if they visit the temple, muslims invaders will not tolerate it and they will hurt people and temples as well. So all the citizens of Khajuraho left the town with a hope that its solitude will not attract attention of muslim invaders into the temple area and both will remain unhurt.
From about 13th century to 18th century, Khajuraho temples remain in forest cover, away from popularity till it was re-discovered by British engineer T. S. Burt.
List of Khajuraho Temples
1. Lakshmana Temple
One of the oldest temples in Khajuraho, Lakshmana Temple is an essential part of the Western Group of temples. The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The entire temple complex stands on a high platform. The structure consists of all the elements of a developed temple. It has entrance porch, Mandapa, Maha-Mandapa, Antrala and Garbhagriha. Every part of the temple is heavily decorated with a variety of sculptures that allude to the pleasures, pastimes, lifestyle, desires and conquests of the Chandela dynasty.
2. Parsvanath Temple
This is the largest of the Jainist temples in the southeastern group of the temples of Khajuraho. It is also one of the finest in the total temple complex. The themes depict in charming detail, every day activity. Within, a throne faces the bull Emblem of the first Teerthankara, Adinath. The temple has a solid outer wall embellished with three bands of graceful sculptures depicting Hindu Gods (despite its affiliation as a Jain temple). More figures can be found on the outer face of the sanctum, depicting apsaras (heavenly nymphs) in a variety of poses.
3. Lakshmi Temple
Lakshmi temple is dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi, wife of Lord Vishnu. The temple belongs to the Western Group of temples. This temple is smaller in comparison with the other temples. The sculptures are done in a moderate manner and the images of two guards supporting the pillar posts in front of the sanctum sanctorum are remarkable. Most of her visual representations depict gold coins falling from two of her four arms, symbolizing her overflowing generosity to her devotees.
4. Chaturbhuj Temple
The temple stands on a modest as this is the only temple at Khajuraho which lacks erotic sculptures. The temple has a shallow porch, a little mandap surmounted by a peaked roof and a small square garbha griha above which rises a tall, slim shikhara. Built in AD 1090-1100, this temple was one of the last temples to be built by the Chandela kings in Khajuraho. It is the only major temple in Khajuraho without any erotic sculptures.
5. Adinath Temple
The Adinath temple, dedicated to Jina Adinatha is smaller and simpler than the Parsvanatha temple and is located immediately to its north. It is an important constituent of the Jain group of Khajuraho temples. It is the last shrine that is dedicated to Lord Adinath, the first Jain Tirthankara.
6. Chitragupta Temple
It is one of the ornate temples in the Western Group and also one of the must visit Khajuraho temples. It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Sun God. The place is marked by the sculptures of hunting, dance performances, royal processions and elephant fighting which are inscribed on the external wall of the temple. The walls are beautifully carved. It depicts voluptuous and full figured sura-sundaris, erotic couples, image of lord Vishnu in the ten headed forms.
7. Devi Jagadambi Temple
Devi Jagdambi temple situated in Khajuraho is finest creation ever seen. The arches and porches of the temple is very beautiful. It is the goddess temple merely worshiped by the devotees from all over the India. It was probably originally dedicated to Vishnu, but later dedicated to Parvati and then Kali. Some disciples believe it may still be a Parvati temple and that Kali image (or Jagadamba) is actually an image of Parvati, painted black.
8. Kandariya Mahadev Temple
The Kandariya Mahadeva Temple is one among those glorious examples along with the Taj mahal in India and the Angkor Wat Khmer Temple in Cambodia. It is one of the prettiest, tallest and largest. It is said that after the Kandariya Mahaddev temple, the artist of khajuraho never again attempted to build a structure so high or ornate. The temple has been ornamented with flamboyant sculptures and highly elaborated carvings.
Other famous temples in Khajuraho are:
Viswanath Temple, Dulhadev Temple, Javari Temple, Matangesvara Temple, Nandi Shrine, Varaha Temple etc.
Khajuraho Temple Image Gallery- Khajuraho Temple Sculptures
What really sets Khajuraho apart from other temples is the numerous erotic carvings, both inside and outside the temple, that depict men, women, and even animals engaging in lovemaking, orgies, and bestiality under the benign smiles of divinities. Moreover, the Sculptures of Khajuraho are an example of a highly matured civilization.
Have a look:
Best time to visit Khajuraho
The best time to visit Khajuraho is during the months of October to march when the average temperature remains close to 20°C (68 °F).
It is always advisable to book your hotel stay in advance if you are planning to visit Khajuraho temples during winter season.
Which temple have you visited and how was your experience? Tell us in comments and also, add other details about temples in Khajuraho if you know.