As brilliant illustration of Hindu iconography, Khajuraho flaunts a cornucopia of enormous, gracious and fascinating images lavishly chiselled to the temple interior and the exterior.Built by the Chandela kings,Khajuraho temples are one of most visited monument in India and is a unique example of Indo-Aryan architecture and is known all over the world for its temple architecture and exquisite sculptures. The erotic sculptures of Khajuraho is an interesting enigma forming a juxtaposition of religion and sex, intricately carved on to the stone edifices.
This trip of mine, unlike previous trips from IIT Kanpur, had only 2 guys. We set out on the day before the 63rd Republic Day of India and caught a 7 hour ride in a passenger train to Khajuraho. Though it was hardly 240 km from Kanpur, the train took ages as it halted every 10 mins (Well, that’s how passengers trains run in north!) It was 11 pm when we arrived at Khajuraho, the last stop of the train and trust me, there wasn’t even a full dozen people in the 11 coach train. Luckily, we made a friend in Sandeep Chaurasia, during the journey and if it weren’t for his help, we’d have had to spend the night in the platform. With his brother’s influence he got us a good room in a hotel.
26th Jan, Republic Day of India
As we decided that we’d visit 2 waterfalls near Khajuraho and then explore the temples, we negotiated a deal with an auto-rickshaw driver. taking his advice we decided to drop Pandav Falls as it was over 35km away and it had no water. So our 1st destination was the Raneh falls. 18 km of narrow village road through beautiful fields took us to the Raneh Falls which lies within the Panna Wildlife Reserve. But, unfortunately for us, there was no water in the falls. But on the positive side, it offered us a breathtaking view of the volcanic rock formations that constituted the river gorge. It was something I’ve never seen before. It was an absolutely stunning view of rocks that were formed due to eruptions of volcano that took place millions of years ago. After savouring the natures bounty, me and Vivek set out to the Gharial (Crocodile) View point. The 3 km trip through the dusty forest road offered us great views of Nilgai and lemurs. The trained eyes of the compulsory guide at Raneh spotted 2 sunbathing crocodiles camouflaged on the opposite bank. After taking a row-boat ride in this beautiful Ken river, decided to return back to Khajuraho.
After lunch, our auto driver took us to the temples. The temples are located at 3 different places and are named East, South and West. We started out with the Southern group of Temples and it consists of smaller temples. Though small, they are adorned with beautiful sculptures. After the Southern group, we set out to the Eastern group of temples. The major difference here is that, most these temples are Jain temples unlike the rest which are Hindu temples. There are a number of temples that are close by and they look identical except for the main temple, which is decorated with great sculptures. It requires great familiarity to distinguish these temples are they looked identical.
We had reserved the best for the last. The Western Group of Temples form the largest set of temples in Khajuraho. They constitutes some of the most splendid and architecturally marvellous specimen of temple architecture in India. The group includes magnificent temples like Kandariya Mahadeo Temple, Chaunsat Yogini Temple, Chitragupta Temple, Lakshamana Temple, Matangeswara Temple, and Varaha Temple. The temples and the complexes are well maintained and the gardens surrounding the temples offer a picturesque view of this wonder of Indian craftmanship. The profusion of sculptures in Khajuraho elevates the sanctity and sacredness of the complex. Well, I too wondered how these sculptures considered as apogee of erotic art, could adorn the walls of a Hindu Temple. Here’s the answer. One theory is that, like soul is immune garishness of flesh, the deity is immune to the sculptures on the outer wall. It symbolises that our senses should be directed inwards towards the God. Another probable reason is to test the sincerity and concentration of the devotees as one could reach the sanctum only after controlling the senses. It sure is one heck of a test.
Whatever be the true reason behind it, the master sculptures of these temples have painstaking created the sculptures to a life-like detail. These amazing temples are a sight to behold. After sunset, we took a ticket for the English light and sound show. Frankly, it wasn’t that great and we shivered in the cold breeze. But it did tell us the story behind these temple in great detail. So, I won’t say that the show is a must see.
After dinner, we went back to the room and took a good night sleep. The next morning we caught a train to Mahoba and from there we took a bus back to Kanpur. Since you and I have no enmity between us, lemme warn you – Never take a bus in that road. The roads had ‘trenches’ in them. The dust and the condition of the bus made matters worse. 150 kms took close to 6 hours to cover and by the time I was back in Kanpur, my spine was like a spring.
Nonetheless, it was a great trip. I really wish to thank Vivek for joining me in this trip and acknowledge the help rendered by Sandeep Chaurasia. This concludes the trip to Khajuraho and the total expense was about Rs.2000 ($37). Well, as usual, lemme conclude with a photo of the team. That’s Vivek and me taking a boat ride in Ken river.
P.S : End of Post (Standalone Series)