Introduction to Khajuraho Temple:
Khajuraho Temple, located in Madhya Pradesh, India is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Known the world over for their erotic sculptors, the Khajuraho temples are dedicated to the culture of Hinduism and Jainism. The temples and deities residing here signify the acceptance towards the diversity of lords of Hinduism and Jainism. The city and temples are prominently dedicated to Lord Shiva.
Location: Chhatarpur, Madhya Pradesh
Other Name: Kharjuravāhaka
Religious association: Hinduism and Jainism
Built by: Rulers of Chandela dynasty
The name Khajuraho has its origin in a Sanskrit term, ‘Kharjur’ which is a fruit and means date palm in English. As per the legend, there used to be two golden date-palm trees as the gate, and hence this name. Though when these temples were rediscovered, the trees were found missing,
Khajuraho Temples are located in the Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh at a distance of
about 175 km Jhansi. Initially, there were 85 temples, though now only 25 temples can be seen. These temples demonstrate the art and architecture of Hinduism. The temple construction follows the Nagara Style of architecture and symbolizes erotic sculptures.
The Khajuraho Temples are rare examples of architecture displayed in Northern India. The temples of Khajuraho are spread across a distance of 6 km picturing 25 temples at the East, West and South clusters of the temples. The Nagara style of architecture of these temples has given it an Outstanding Universal Value, making UNESCO declare it as a world heritage sites.
The history of Khajuraho temples:
Most of the Khajuraho Temples were built between the period of 885 AD and 1050 AD by the Chandela dynasty. As per the historical documents, around the 12th century, there were about 85 temples, spread over an area of 12 km. However, most of the temples are nowhere to be seen. Now, there are only 25 temples remaining, which are a testimony to these beautiful pieces of ancient art and architecture. Most of the temples here were built by kings Dhangadeva and Yashovarman who ruled the Chandelas dynasty.
The legend behind the Khajuraho temple:
According to a popular legend, there lived an extremely beautiful girl named Hemvati. Once, she was taking bath in a pond in Banaras, when ‘Chandradev (the moon god) saw her. Chandradev was smitten by her beauty. So, he proposed to Hemvati and she agreed. Together, they gave birth to a son, whom they named Chandravarman.
But soon, Hemvati realized that since the child was born out of wedlock, he may have to face harassment by people, and she cursed Chandradev. Moon god made a prophecy that this child would become a king one day. The prophecy turned out to be true as he became the Chandravarman, the great king of the Chandana dynasty.
One day after Hemvati’s death, Chandravarman saw his mother in his dreams. She asked him to construct temples that would depict human passions and fantasies. This is how the temples of Khajuraho came to be known worldwide for the erotic sculptures. When these temples were built, young bills used to live here in ashrams (hermitages), till they became adults. These sculptures used to teach them about the worldly role of ‘householder’.
The temples were in use till the 12th century, after which they were attacked by Muslim rulers from Delhi, who destroyed many temples. Between the 13th to 18th centuries, these temples were in a state of neglect. However, in the late 1830s, a British surveyor T.S. Burt, guided by some local Hindus rediscovered these temples.
The architecture of Khajuraho Temple:
Khajuraho temples are made upon the base of granite, featuring sandstone for the architecture of the temples. The temples signify the Nagara style of architecture built during the Chandana dynasty. The temples here symbolize Vastu-Purusha-Mandala design and the walls of the temples demonstrate erotic sculptures.
Some famous temples of Khajuraho
- Vamana Temple: This temple is dedicated to Lord Vamana, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The temple holds the deity of Lord Vishnu’s dwarf incarnation. Each wall of the temple has sculptures and illustrations of many gods and goddesses. Some of the common ones are Lord Vishnu and Lord Buddha.
- Javari Temple: Javari Temple is among one of the most worshipped temples in Hinduism. The temple withstands the Hindu deity Lord Shiva. Also, the temple is known for its headless idol praised inside. There are three bands outside the temple, holding sculptures of gods and goddesses.
- Bramha Temple: Particularly made of granite and sandstone sculptures, this temple is among the oldest temples of Khajuraho. The temple has sculptures of most of the great gods followed by Hindus, one of which includes the linga of Lord Shiva. Bramha temple has its own significance as it varies from most of the other temples residing in Khajuraho.
- Ghantai Temple: Also known as the Ghanta temple, it is one of the smallest temples in Khajuraho. This temple is a ruined monument amongst the monuments of Khajuraho. The only thing left are pillars that are further designed with jewels and gems on the tops of the temple. The temple is strongly devoted to Jainism, with the deity of the 8 armed Jain Goddess, seen riding the bird Garuda. With it, there are sculptures illustrating the 16 dreams of the mother of Mahavir Swami, which is devoted to Jainism.
- Adinath Temple: This temple is situated in the southeast of Ghantai temple. Made in the late 11th century, this temple is also amongst the earliest creations. The temple dedicated to the first Jain Tirthankara has his idol housed inside. The outer walls have sculptures of Hindu gods too, which depicts the diversity of Hinduism and Jainism. The size of the temple is comparatively small, but the richness of shikara architecture stays alive.
- Parshvanatha Temple: Parshvanatha temple is a Digambar Jain temple built in Khajuraho. It is the largest temple located, with many sculptures on the walls of the temple, including those of Lord Vishnu. The other prominent sculptures include majestic eyed ladies, flowers, cosmetics, female divinity etc.
- Shantinath Temple: This temple was built in the 11th century. Albeit, the temple has been revamped with modern texture and architecture. Yet there are many ancient sculptures too from history. These idols depict Jainism from the ancient era.
- Duladeo Temple: This is the last created temple of Khajuraho in the 12th century. The temple is massive and has five shrines. This temple lacks absolutism like most of the temples of Khajuraho, and the sculptures and idol seem overdressed. However, the walls of the temples flaunt eroticism and the idol followed in is Lord Shiva.
- Chaturbhui Temple: This temple of Khajuraho has an elongated entrance with single spires infusing many sculptures. The prominent sculpture of this temple is the four-handed Vishnu. With this, the location of this temple in Khajuraho makes it the best place to watch the sunset.
- Chausath Yogini Temple: This temple was built in 820 AD. The temple is built across the Shivsagar Tank which is an artificial lake. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Kali, who was a Hindu female deity worshipped by all. This temple has 64 Yoginis who were dedicated to this goddess. This temple is most unique for being the only temple with granite architecture. The temple used to have 64 roofed segments of Goddess Kali, out of which 35 still remains.
These are the top 10 Hindu Jainism temples in Khajuraho. Other than these, the most visited places are Lalguan Mahadeva, Matangesvara Temple, Varaha Temple, Lakshmana Temple, Kandariya Mahadev, Devi Jagdamba Temple, Mahadeva Temple, Chitragupta Temple, Vishvanath Temple etc.
Best Time to visit Khajuraho temple:
The temples are open for the general public between 8 am to 6 pm.
The best time to visit Khajuraho temples is during the months of October to March as it is the winters here. Though the temperature may go as low as 40C, the sun is warm and pleasant enough for sightseeing. The sun on the walls of temples during this season makes the erotic sculptures look more mystical.
April to September is not recommended because of the summer and monsoon seasons. Summers in the South make the place too hot to travel in. Although monsoon lowers the temperature yet the humid climate is not much tolerable. Moreover, treks and travels are shut down in monsoon.
Dance Festivals celebrated At Khajuraho Temple:
Khajuraho Dance Festival is a one week procession held by the Madhya Pradesh Kala Parishad near the temples of Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh state in central India. This is a fest held to commemorate classical art, for which several dancers participate from across the nation. This festival is conducted from 20th to 26th of February.
The prominent dances showcased in this festival include Bharathanatyam, Kuchipudi, Odissi, Kathak, Manipuri, and Kathakali. With these ancient dance performances, modern Indian dance too has been recently added to the list. The dances are performed on flutes, tablas, classical music and on the prominent echoes of ghunghroo.
Light & Sound Show
This show is one of the reasons to visit Khajuraho. The event is organized by the Madhya Pradesh Tourism Department. The event is held in two languages i.e. Hindi and English. The timings for this event vary in the seasons of summers and winters.
From March to September, the timings are 7:30 pm to 8:25 pm. The timings change are 6:30 pm to 7:25 pm from October to February.
Khajuraho museum is located at the Matageshwar temple at the Western group of temples. The timings to visit are 8 am to 5 pm, and it is closed on Fridays.
How to reach Khajuraho Temples?
- By Flight: Khajuraho temples can be reached from the Khajuraho airport, which is just a km away. The complex operates flights from Varanasi and Delhi.
- By Train: The Khajuraho Railway Station is just 5 km away from the temples. There are numerous networks to operate from Khajuraho-Hazrat Nizamuddin Express, UP Sampark Kranti Express, Bundelkhand Link Express to reach the city.
- By Road: The Khajuraho bus stand is just a km away and there are many services like Agra to Khajuraho, Delhi to Khajuraho, Varanasi to Khajuraho etc.
The official website to know about Khajuraho is:
Other links are as follows:
Q. 1: How many temples does Khajuraho have?
Ans: Khajuraho had 85 temples by the 12th century, out of which only 25 have survived.
Q. 2: Which is the most famous dance festival in Khajuraho and when is it celebrated?
Ans: The Khajuraho dance festival, which is held every year from 20th to 26th February near the temples.
Q. 3: Which religion is followed in Khajuraho Temples?
Ans: Khajuraho temples follow Jainism and Hinduism and believe in the diversity of both religions.
Q. 4: What is Khajuraho recognized the most for?
Ans: Khajuraho temples are prominently known for the sculptures of Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva, Hindu and Jain gods and goddesses, and the erotic sculptures on the walls.
Q. 5: Who discovered the Khajuraho temples?
Ans: A British surveyor T.S. Burt, guided by some local Hindus rediscovered these temples.