One of the most prolific examples of temple culture are superlative architecture in ancient India is the Khajuraho Temple Complex. The 25 or so (remaining) temples of the complex are believed to have been built between 950 AD and 1050 AD by the rulers of the Chandela dynasty. The complex itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from India and abroad each year. The resorts of Madhya Pradesh fill up each year with tourists and artists hoping to be appreciate the socio-cultural and religious heritage left behind by the royals of the time and to be part of the cultural extravaganza, the dance festival, that is held here each year in the month of February.
One of the best ways to enjoy your experience here is to check in to one of the luxury hotels near Khajuraho Temples such as the Lalit Temple View Khajuraho. This allows you to get a bird’s eye view of the tall temples at sunrise and sunset. This will also help you sample some of the fabled Madhya Pradesh hospitality and trade experiences with other fellow travellers. These hotels themselves have huge pictures and paintings of these temples that will help you develop a deeper appreciation of this complex.
To understand the background of the architecture of the Khajuraho temples there are two important things that we need to look at. Firstly, we need to study the structure of the temples and the various sections of the structures and secondly the whole philosophy behind the combination of the erotic and esoteric or religious.
The temple building is based upon a tall base platform called the Adhisthana. The rest of the temple structure includes a grand entrance or the Ardhamandapa, the entrance hall (the Mandapa), the Great Hall (Mahamandapa), the vestibule (Antarala), the main tower (Amalaka), the smaller towers (Urushringa), and the inner sanctum where the idol is installed (Garbhagraha). Your hotel concierge will help you locate literature that will feature pictures of the intricate and extremely stately temples and give you an understanding of each temple along with its history. The Hindu temples such as the Chausath Yogini, Lagun Mahadev, Brahma, and Varaha temples and the important Jain temples such as the Parshvanatha, Ghantai, Adinath, and Shantinatha temple are stunning examples of some of the finest engineering skills of a civilization at the time. You may want to enlist the help of a knowledgeable guide to help you navigate the complex and truly appreciate its cultural richness.
The Archaeological Survey of India classifies the huge collection of sculptures in Khajuraho into the Jain religious sculptures featuring the Tirthankaras, their disciples, and other religious symbols, the Hindu pantheon and the lesser gods (Devas) along with the rich symbology of the heavens, the divine maidens or Apsaras in various dance poses and playing musical instruments, the scenes of court life and the armies of the kings, and finally, the erotic sculptures of the complex.
The Khajuraho temple complex is certainly not a place that can be visited and unravelled in a day. You will certainly need to take your time exploring and savouring the beauty of the architecture here. The best way, perhaps, is to visit Khajuraho towards the end of February when the popular exposition of classical dances, the Khajuraho Dance Festival, is held. Witnessing the rich dance forms performed at the very place where they were carved out into immortality by the sculptors of yore is a wonderful experience.