India >> Madhya Pradesh >> Khajuraho Travel Guide

Khajuraho Hotels and Travel Guide

Khajuraho, the temple city of central India, is famous throughout the world for its exquisitely carved temples in stones. Thousands of visitors and tourists from all over the world flock together to envisage this immortal saga of Hindu art and culture engraved in stone by shilpies (stone craftsmen) a millenia ago.

Today, apart from the temples, Khajuraho is a small village but a thousand years ago it was a large city of the Chandelas, medieval Rajput kings who ruled over Central India. Khajuraho is 595 km (370 miles) south-east of Delhi and can be visited by air, rail or road. An overnight train journey from Delhi takes the visitor to Jhansi, from where another morning train takes him to Harpalpur 85 km (53 miles) to the east.

SHOPPING:
Many shops in Khajuraho sell souvenirs and handicrafts made by the local artisans. There are smaller stalls outside the temple gates where one can pick up interesting souvenirs. A weekly bazaar is held at Rajinagar on Tuesdays, 5 km from Khajuraho. The market is worth a visit to buy silver goods and brassware. For more information on shopping please take a look through our Shopping and Dining guide for India as a whole.

CLIMATE:
Khajuraho is located in the forested plains of the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh in the region known as Bundelkhand. The climate is extreme. The summers are hot with the mercury climbing up to 47degC. On the other hand, winters can be very cold with temperature dipping down to 4degC. The monsoon starts from the month of July and lasts until September so if you don't want to get wet, it's best to visit anytime from October through to June.

Khajuraho Festival:

Khajuraho Dance Festival is a week-long event held every year in February/March during the Maha Shivratri Pujan. The glory of the temples is celebrated with true fervor and marks the true spirit of Indian classical dance and music, believed to have originated in the Hindu temples. The festival draws the best classical dancers from around the country, who perform against the spectacular backdrop of the floodlit temples. This seven-day extravaganza is a unique treat for festival fans from all over the world.

Mahashivaratri Festival February/March As the name indicates this festival is celebrated in honor of Shiva, the third God of the Hindu Trinity. Devotees of Shiva fast during the day and maintain a long vigil during the night. In temples all across the country, bells ring, sacred texts are chanted and traditional offerings of leaves and milk are made to the Shiv lingam, the phallic symbol of the god. Devotees come in huge numbers to the Matangeshwar temple and it's a great time to sample local delicacies.

Khajuraho , Tempio
Khajuraho , Tempio

Pillars of a Khajuraho Temple
Pillars of a Khajuraho Temple

Attractions and Places to Visit in Khajuraho

Archaeological Museum Close to the western enclosure, this small museum has a fine collection of statues and sculptures rescued from around Khajuraho worth seeing. It is open daily except Friday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Chausath Yogini is one the earliest surviving temples and the only one made of granite. Dedicated to Goddess Kali, the temple has 64 cells for the figures of the 64 yoginis who attended Kali (hence the name "Chausath Yogini") with the 65th cell for Kali herself. Only half the cells now remain, but like the other temples, it’s worth a ‘look see’.

Chitragupta Temple is dedicated to Surya, the Sun God. Though not in the most desirable condition in terms of restoration and maintenance, it houses some of the finest sculptures which include processions, dancing girls, elephant fights and hunting scenes. In the inner sanctum, Surya can been seen driving his chariot and seven horses, while on the south facade is an 11-headed statue of Vishnu. The central head is of Vishnu himself; the 10 others are his incarnations.

Devi Jagadamba Temple Sharing a common platform with the Mahadeva and Kandariya Mahadev temples, this is the simplest of all the three temples. No one seems to know which gods the temple is really dedicated to, but it is either Vishnu, Parvati or Kali. The sculptures are in depicted three bands running around the temple itself with the famous Mithunas (loving couples) on the uppermost one.

Jain Museum This museum has a modern circular gallery filled with statues of 24 tirthankars that’s worth seeing while in the area. Its open daily except Sunday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Kandariya Mahadev Temple Dedicated to Lord Shiva, it soars 31 m high. The first of the temples on the common platform at the back of the western enclosure is not only the largest but also artistically and architecturally the most perfect. Although the four subsidiary shrines are long gone, the middle one is intact and in a superb condition. There are around 226 statutes inside the temple and nearly 646 outside; each one approx 1m high. The statues are carved around the buildings in three bands and include gods, goddess, beautiful women, musicians; some of them famed erotic groups worth seeing.

Lakshmana Temple is one of the earliest and also one of the best preserved temples in the area, with full five-part floor plan and four subsidiary shrines. Around the temple are two bands instead of the usual three; the lower one has fine figures of Apsaras (celestial maidens) and some erotic scenes. Around the base of the temple is the continuous frieze with the scenes of the battles, hunting and the processions. The temple platform gives you the good view of Matangesvara temple.

Lakshmi and Varaha face the Lakshmana Temple and are two small shrines. The latter has a huge beautifully carved figure of the Varaha (wild boar) incarnation of Lord Vishnu worth seeing.

Mahadeva Though in ruins, small and quite unnoticeable, this temple has one of the most remarkable sculptures of Khajuraho- A ‘sardula’ figure caressing a lion worth taking a look at.

Matangesvara Temple Matangeshwar TempleThis temple is used even today and sports a lingum that is nearly 2.5 metres high. The temple is quite plain and doesn’t bear many of the characteristics of the Khajuraho temples suggesting that it was one of the first built.

Parvati Temple was originally dedicated to Lord Vishnu but also has an image of Ganga riding on the back of a crocodile so it’s a little unclear as to which of the two gods this temple is currently dedicated to.

Vishvanath and Nandi The sculptures around this temple include the usual Khajuraho scenes but it is the depiction of women here that draws the maximum attention. They are shown fondling a baby, writing letters, playing music and also in the most provocative of poses. Apart from these, it also has a large image of Shiva's vehicle, the bull Nandi and statues of elephants on one side and lions on the other at the steps which lead to the high terrace. This is quite a complete temple, truly impressive and worth a photo or two.

Adinatha Temple is adjacent to the Parsvanath temple. It has fine carvings on three bands of sculptures and is similar to other Hindu temples of Khajuraho. The only noticeable difference is the striking black image in the inner sanctum which marks it as a Jain temple.

Brahma Temple is considered to be one of the oldest temples of Khajuraho made purely in granite and sandstone it was dedicated to Vishnu.

Ghantai Temple Fine columns with bell-and-chain decoration, with the figure of a Jain goddess astride a Garuda, is what this temple ruins offers and is another worth seeing in the area. Particularly, arresting is the frieze which depicts, in graphic detail, the 16 dreams of Mahavira's mother and a multi-armed Jain goddess riding on a winged Garuda. North of Parswanatha is the more modestly sized Adinatha Temple.

Hanuman Temple located near the Brahma Temple is Hanuman (the Monkey God) temple reputed to have the earliest inscription dating 922 AD on a 2.5m statue worth a ‘look see’.

Javari Temple dedicated to Vishnu is an excellent example of Khajuraho architecture on a small scale dating back to around 1000 AD. The exterior has more of Khajuraho's maidens worth taking a look at.

Parsvanath Temple This temple is the largest of the Jain temples of Khajuraho and also considered one of the finest. It was originally dedicated to Adinath and later to Parsvanath (Jain Gurus). Without too many sexual motifs, it is a beautiful example of sensitive art with images of a woman taking a thorn out of her foot or applying make-up to her eyes. Some of the best known classic figures of Khajuraho can be seen here.

Shanti Nath is a youthful cousin of its neighbouring temples. Though it is very much like the older Khajuraho temples, it is just over a century old. It has a 4.5m statue of Adinath which was said to be sculpted in 1028. Naked groups of Digambara Jains are often seen here.

Vamana Temple or Varaha Temple was named after the dwarf incarnation of Vishnu. It is fairly secluded and stands out in a field all by itself and is notable for the relatively simple design of the Shikhar. The bands of sculpture around the temple are like many others in the area with fine celestial maidens adopting numerous poses.

Duladeo Temple was probably amongst the last temples built when the creativity of the temple builders was ebbing. Though the sculptures are more monotonous and stereo-typed, figures of women and Mithuna couples in variety of erotic poses adorn the temple.

Chaturbhuja Temple Located quite far from the village, this temple has a 3m high statue of Vishnu but no erotic sculptures.

How to Reach Khajuraho

By Air: Regular services link Khajuraho with Delhi, Agra and Varanasi.

By Rail: The nearest rail heads are Harpalpur (94 km) and Mahoba (61 km ) . Jhansi (172 km) is a convenient rail head for those traveling from Delhi and Madras; Satna (117 km) , on the Mumbai-Allahabad line of the Central Railway for those coming from Mumbai, Calcutta and Varanasi

By Road: Khajuraho is connected by regular buses with Satna, Harpalpur, Jhansi and Mahoba.


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