The Khajuraho Temples Madhya Pradesh located in Chhatarpur, are famous all over the world for their amazing craftsmanship and unimaginable sculpture. Here is a group of very ancient and famous temples in India. At the same time, the erotic sculptures on the walls of these temples attract the attention of all the tourists who come here. Khajuraho is not only a UNESCO World Heritage Site but it is also considered one of the wonders of India.
Beauty and Elegance of Khajuraho Temples Madhya Pradesh
At first glance, it is a small sleeping village surrounded by fields and palm trees. These date palm trees are what make the village known as Khajur in Hindi as Khajoor. Passing past the village, you see beautiful silhouettes of stone buildings standing around a lake as you walk. Temples and more temples, some in ruins, others still intact – an astonishing number of exquisite stones in a mellow gold sandstone, their soaring pinnacles gleaming in the sun.
One will astonish at the presence of these temples in such a forgotten corner of the country. It’s as if aliens descended from space, created them, and disappeared to never come back. Because Khajuraho was once an important city, there are no other structures nearby to indicate it. that it was the capital of a kingdom where temples were part of the urban landscape of palaces and mansions. Now they stand in splendid isolation like the sweet, gold ghosts of a glorious past. An unforgettable memory of a time of prosperity and creative brilliance, when Khajuraho was the splendid capital of a great kingdom.
History of Khajuraho Temples Madhya Pradesh
Ancient chronicles called the city Khajurvahaka, Khajurapur, and Khajjinpura. The Rajput Chandela dynasty ruled from the 9th to 11th century from Khajuraho and their kingdom was called Jejakabhukti. Around the 9th century, warrior clans of Rajputs gained power in northern India and carved out kingdoms. They gave divinity to their dynasties by claiming either the Sun or the Moon as their original ancestors, despite not belonging to the higher castes. Thus, Chandela was the Chandravanshi of Chandra Dev Chandra’s family and the story of the shadowy beginning of the dynasty also echoes many other Rajput legends.
It is said that the beautiful daughter of a Brahmin priest named Hemvati was bathing in a Chandni Kund where she was seen by Chandra. The two fell in love and the child of this strange union was Chandravarman, the founder of the Chandela dynasty. Many years later Chandravarman saw his mother in a dream and requested her to build a temple, thus beginning the Chandela tradition of religious architecture that was carried on by his descendants. The dynasty was interested in building and is credited with building several forts, palaces, and water bodies in the region such as Kalinjar and Ajaygarh.
Most of the temples of Khajuraho were built between 990-1050 AD. The Chandelas themselves were Shaivites, but the temples revere not only the entire pantheon of Hindu deities but also Jain sages.
If the temple sculptures are a true depiction of Ife in the kingdom, it was a time of prosperity and great flowering of the creative arts. Apart from innumerable figures of gods and goddesses, the walls are also covered with beautiful beauties, dancers, musicians, loving couples, parades, and festivals. This joyous celebration of life may have existed in the busy capital city but all that is left today are these temples. The rest is to be imagined among the mango trees and palm trees of the village.
The rule of the Chandelas came to an end with the invasion of Mahmud of Ghazni in the 10th century. Later the armies of Sikandar Lodi also ransacked the temples. For centuries Khajuraho was forgotten until the British discovered its temples.
It is said that more than eighty temples were built here but only a few more than twenty have survived, some are in ruins but others, considering that they were built over a thousand years ago, they are in surprisingly good condition. The temples are divided into groups and the western group is the largest, with the most important temples being the Chausath Yogini, Kandariya Mahadev, Vishwanatha, Lakshmana, and Matangeshwara temples. The eastern group has a mix of Hindu and Jain temples such as the Adinath, Parshvanath, and Javari temples. The southern group consisting of the Duladeo and Chaturbhu temples is at a distance of about two kilometers from these two groups.
The architecture of Khajuraho Temples Madhya Pradesh
The Khajuraho temples were built in the North Indian Nagara style, but with some unique variations that make them some of the most beautifully designed temples in the country. The most distinctive architectural touch is the many spire peaks that characterize the peaks of the Himalayas. The eye moves upward as the summit gradually rises in height from the porch to plane like the peaks of a mountain range. These peaks represent Mount Meru, because, like mountains, these temples are the abode of the deities. The main shikhara above the sanctum sanctorum has smaller shikharas all around it in a graceful design of gradually rising shikharas.
Unlike most Indian temples, Khajuraho temples do not have any walls or courtyards. Instead, they built on a high platform with subsidiary shrines located around the main shrine. There are many temples in the corners of the platform to make the traditional design of Panchayatan. It is the floor plan of the temple that gives these structures their precision and grandeur. Most of the larger temples are laid out like a Latin cross, with two arms crossed at one end.
A steep staircase leading to the high plinth leads to the Ardhamandapa, an open pillared porch that leads to the main hall of the mandapa. Antarala’s vestibule connects it to the sanctum sanctorum and in some temples, there is a circumambulatory path around the sanctum. The two sides extending from the main pavilion have open balconies with oriel windows that provide light and air and also balance the straight outline of the building. These delightful windows bring in sunlight that illuminates the sculpture in the interior of the temple while adding a delicate figure of light and shadow to the panels of sculpture on the outer walls of the temple.
Architecture students can appreciate the plans of these temples, but for most visitors, it is the sculpture on the walls that amaze and mesmerize them. On the outer surface of the temples, on soft golden-hued sandstone, there are two or three horizontal bands of figurative sculpture in a splendid array of subjects. Unlike many temples, which have decorated exteriors and plain interior walls, even the interiors decorated with patterns and figures on the walls and ceiling.
The theme of the sculpture covers religion and every aspect of life. From numerous depictions of gods and goddesses to divine maidens to erotic nymphs and surasundaris. Then there are warriors, hunters, acrobats, musicians, dancers, beasts, and mythical animals. Here among the Apsaras and Salbhanjika, you can see some of the most delightful depictions of the female form. These charming heroines dance in postures, study their faces in the mirror, or lift a thorn with their feet, and to this day they capture the sculptor’s delight at their beauty.
Manifestation of Indian art & Culture
Khajuraho attracted the attention of the world through the erotic sculptures that adorned the outer walls of the temples. This shocked the Victorian sensibilities of the British colonial rulers who rejected Khajuraho as a decadent product of Hindu art. Though they are given so much attention, the fact that these Maithuna pairs make up only a small fraction of the sculptures on the walls. Scholars have speculated on the reason for this uninteresting erotica. Some people believe that it considered auspicious to avert disasters. A clever explanation that temples with erotic art never struck by lightning. The goddess of lightning is a virgin and is too shocked by the Maithuna couples to attack the temple!
Others say of the life of the time that the carving embraced every aspect of, making the sensual a natural part of it. There were no restrictions on worldly desires in ancient Hindu society and these sculptures have a judicious depiction of the many faces of love and all the emotions that arise from it – from jealousy and modesty to fear and joy. It is amazing how well the sculptors were able to capture these diverse emotions in a hard medium like stone.
Among the existing 18 or 19 temples have not become ruined yet a few described below.
Chausath Yogini Temple – Khajuraho Madhya Pradesh
The oldest temple in Khajuraho is the Chausath Yogini, located on the west side of the Sivasagar Lake. Dedicated to Goddess Kali, the fierce form of the Mother Goddess, the layout of this temple is different from other temples. Chausath means 64 and contains many temples of Kali’s maidservants or yoginis. Unlike other temples built in sandstone, this one is in coarse granite and the layout rooms have an open-air plan. The main temple of Kali surrounded by 64 chambers, which once had figures of Yoginis, of which about half have survived.
Kandariya Mahadev Temple – Khajuraho Madhya Pradesh
Kandariya Mahadev dedicated to Shiva is the largest and most impressive temple in Khajuraho. With its perfectly balanced architectural plan and rich sculpture, it is one of the finest temples in India. It laid out in the Panchayatan style with four smaller temples at the corners of the platform. But these subsidiary temples are now in ruins. The sanctum sanctorum has a marble lingam and both the interior and exterior carved with figurative and geometric designs.
The entrance has a wavy snake-like design with a crocodile head called Makar Toran. The ceiling decorated with scrolls and scallops. Archaeologist Cunningham has counted 872 figures carved in this temple. They cover every mood from the bizarre to the beautiful. Among the most beautiful carvings the seven matrikas, which aspects of the Mother Goddess placed along the plinth. Here the goddesses Ganga and Yamuna guard the sanctum sanctorum, preach to the ascetic disciples, and with pradakshina carved the figures of the Ashtadikpalas, the eight guardian deities of Shiva, Indra, Agni, Yama, Nairita, Varuna, Vayu, Kubera and Huh. Isana. The spire with high spire has 85 smaller spires that go up to the main tower. Over 30 meters high, the tallest temple in Khajuraho and built by King Vidyadhar in the 11th century.
Vishwanath Temple – Khajuraho Madhya Pradesh
The Vishwanath temple also dedicated to Shiva. It has an elaborate Nandi temple with Shiva’s celestial bull figure facing the main entrance. The inscription on the wall states that it built by King Dhanagadeva in 1002. The name of the architect also mentioned, unlike most Hindu temples. The inscription praises the architect Chhichha who made like the divine architect Vishwakarma. Legend has it that King Dhanagdev installed two lingas in the sanctum sanctorum, one of emerald and the other of stone. Only stone Shivling left.
One inner wall has an interesting carving of Lord Brahma and his consort Saraswati. The lower one has Shiva as Andhakantak, slaying a blind demon, as a dancing Nataraja and half male and half female, as Ardhanarishvara. The exterior features some beautiful depictions of women with beautiful heroines writing a letter, nursing a child, or playing music in attractive and sometimes subtly evocative postures.
Lakshmana Temple – Khajuraho Madhya Pradesh
The Lakshmana temple is also in the western group. Looks like the Vishwanath temple in layout. It built by King Yashovarman in 950 AD. Unlike Kandariya Mahadev in this temple, all four smaller temples are still intact. The lintel at the entrance has a beautiful carving of Lakshmi in the company of Vishnu, Brahma, and Shiva and a screen depicting the Navagrahas, the nine celestial planets. One panel depicts the myth of the ocean churning when the gods and demons churned the oceans for the nectar of immortality.
And there are many scenes of everyday life-wrestling matches, elephant fights, dances, and groups of worshipers. Although the temple named after Rama’s brother Lakshmana, the idol in the sanctum is of Vishnu with four arms and three heads – one on a human face. The other two incarnations of a lion and a boar.
Matangeshwara – Khajuraho Madhya Pradesh
Some temples still have deities in their sanctum sanctorum. The only temple where the deity still residing at Khajuraho worshipped is the surviving temple of Matangeshwara. This Shiva temple built in memory of King Dhanagdev who was the greatest Chandela emperor and lived for more than a hundred years. The years of his reign were times of great prosperity as the kingdom grew and other kings acknowledged his supremacy. The floor plan of the temple is a very simple square with a pyramidal roof. There is only one mandapa which attached to the sanctum sanctorum where there is a huge lingam about 3 meters high. It brought here by Arjuna and worshiped by Yudhishthira. Worship performed here twice a day, in the morning and in the afternoon.
Chitragupta Temple – Khajuraho Madhya Pradesh
Chitragupta Temple dedicated to the Sun God (Surya). The temple can be visited after the Vishwanatha temple as a break from the typical temple structures that can be seen in the local sightseeing of Chitokhjuraho. Built between 1000-1025AD, this temple can be a unique experience in itself.
The temple one of the Khajuraho local places of interest as it built to worship Surya (Sun God), which is not common in North India. Let alone Khajuraho temples. Inside the sanctum sanctorum of the temple, Surya rode on a chariot with his signature drawn by 7 horses The idol of the deity is 6.9 feet tall. Although the temple and its sculptures have suffered through time, climate and conquest, the structure stands tall in all its glory.
The sculpture on the temple also includes depictions of Lord Vishnu in 11 of his avatars, 1 being his original form and 10 other avatars carved on the southern side of the temple just below its shikhara (roof of the structure).
The temple not only well preserved but also has fine carvings of Apsaras and Surasundaris who adorn the rest of the temple. Constructed at the time of the construction of the Kandariya Mahadev Temple. The medieval structure exhibits signs of the development of art in this period, while also being the most unique of the other Khajuraho temples.
Varaha Shrine – Khajuraho Madhya Pradesh
Among the Khajuraho group of temples, the Varaha Teerth is one of the oldest constructions dating back to the 10th century. Built-in 900AD, the Varaha Teerth built in honor of Varaha, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, who is in the form of a boar. The temple is located opposite the Lakshmana temple and has a 1.5 m high sandstone carving of the boar deity. The structure has a number of carvings. The depictions on the main body, including an image of Sri Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom.
The eastern group which is located closer to the village has Hindu temples of Brahma, Vamana, and Javari and three Jain temples of Ghantai, Adinath, and Parshvanath. The proximity of the temples of two different religions is a testament to the religious tolerance of the Chandelas who encouraged the prosperous Jain merchants of the city to build the temples.
The small but beautifully designed Ghantai Temple is partially in ruins. It has slender, carved pillars in a pillared mandapa. The figures include an eight-armed Jain goddess riding the mythical bird Garuda. An interesting panel depicting the sixteen dreams of the mother of the Jain saint Mahavira.
Parshvanath Temple is the largest Jain temple. Also one of the most ambitious from the point of view of architecture. Each available surface covered with sculptures, both inside and out, resonating the themes of many other temples with apsaras, heroes, and deities, and what makes them worth a closer study is the high quality of the carvings. Despite being a Jain temple, most of the sculptures are on Vaishnava themes. The sanctum sanctorum has a carved bull, which is a symbol of Jain Tirthankara and an icon of Parshvanath also installed here in the 19th century.
There are only two temples in the southern group – Ghantai Jain Temple and Duladev Temple. Duladev, dedicated to Shiva as the heavenly groom, probably one of the last temples to be built at Khajuraho and has a simple plan and some interesting sculptures. Next to it a small quadrilateral temple in which the sanctum sanctorum four-armed icons of Vishnu and some simple carvings on the walls.
Khajuraho, no longer a capital and a city of temples, still haunts the imagination of millions.
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