The temples of Khajuraho are
India's unique gift to the world, representing, as they do, a paean to
life, to love, to joy, perfact in execution and sublime in expression. Life,
in every form and mood, has been captured in stone, testifying not only to the
craftsman's artistry but also to the extraordinary breadth of vision of
the Chandela Rajputs under whose rule the temples were conceived and
The Khajuraho temples were built in the short span of a
hundred years, from 950 - 1050 A.D. in a truly inspired burst of
creativity. Of the 85 original temples, 22 have survived till today to
constitute one of the world's great artistic wonders.
of Khajuraho claimed descent from the moon and the legend behind
the founding of this great dynasty and the temples is a fascinating
one. Hemwati, the lovely
young daughter of a Brahmin priest, was seduced by the moon-god
while bathing in a forest pool. The child born of this union
was Chandravarman, founder of
the Chandela Dynasty. Brought up in the forests by his mother
who sought refuge from a censorious society, Chandravarman,
when established as a ruler, had
dream-visitationnfrom his mother. It is said that she implored
him to build temples that would reveal human passion, and in
doin so, bring about a
realisation of the emptiness of human desire. It is also possible
that the Chandelas were followers of the Tantric cult, which
belives that gratification
of earthly desires is a step towards attaining the infinite
liberation of Nirvana.
Why they chose Khajuraho, even then a small village, as the
site for their great complex is also open to speculation. One
theory is that, given the eclectic nature of their faith and
the many beliefs represented in the temples, the Chandelas concieved Khajuraho
as a seat of
religion and learning, to bring together many sects.
With their decline, the temples lay forgotten for many centuries, covered by the encroaching
forests, victim to the ravages of the elements. Re-discovered only in this
century, restored and cleaned, the temples of Khajuraho once again testify to a past
Architecturally too, they are unique, being very different from
the temple prototype of their period. Each stands on a high masonry platform
with a marked upward direction in the structure, further enhanced by vertical
projections to create the effect of grace and lightness. Each of the chief
compartments is mounted by its own roof, grouped so that the highest is in the
centre, the lowest over the portico; a highly imaginative recreation of the
rising peaks of the Himalayas, abode of the gods.
The three main compartments are the entrance (ardha-mandapa), assembly hall
(mandapa) and sanctum (garbha griha), with further additions
in the more developed temples.
Panna National Park : Panna National Park, 32 km.
Away and a mere 30 min. drive from Khajuraho, spreads along
the river Ken.The jungles today harbour many species of wildlife. The tiger
can be glimpsed here,
with other rare species such as the leopard, wolf and gharial.
Herds of blue-bull, chimkara and sambar are a common sight. On the road
to Panna are the
spectacular Pandav Falls. Alternate picnic sites are Benisagar
Dam, Raneh Fall and Ranguan Lake, now being converted into a Heritage-Hotel,
and Dhubela Museum.
Further away is Bandhavgarh National Park and tranquil Chitrakoot.