The Khajuraho Group on Monuments listed on the UNESCO list of Wrold Heritage Sites lay a bit off the well-trodden tourist trail, in the countryside of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. It’s less crowded than other major sites in India (think Taj), with a laid-back atmosphere and plenty of lodging and dining options. The city was once a cultural capital, and of the 80 temples that once dotted the landscape, 20 or so remain. The temples are divided into three sections, Western, Eastern and Southern, making them pretty straightforward to explore. The temples were built from 950 to 1150 AD during the Chandella Dynasty.
The temples display amazing examples of temple art and reflect influences from the religions of Jainism and Hinduism. While the temples are fine architectural examples, Khajuraho is best known for the carvings and sculpture of erotic or sexual scenes that appear on some of the temples. These pieces are not found inside the temples, but appear in strips or bands on some inner and outer walls. There is much debate surrounding the original intention of these sections.
The inside spaces of all the temples are cool and dark, most with a platform at the entrance, and the deity in a small chamber toward the very back. At the entrance, the floor is illuminated by the sun, while the sides lay in shadow. Intricate carvings of deities and protectors line the walls. You can get lost exploring for hours. Those in the western group are the closest to town and most easily accessible. The open-air archeological museum is a good first stop to get up to speed on what you’ll be looking at.
Temples in the different sections have a different look and feel. Most temples of the eastern group, for example, are Jain. The largest Jain temple, Parswanath was one of our favorites, with exquisite sculptures of people engaged in everyday activities. The southern group is a few kilometers outside town and makes for a nice bike ride.
Getting Around Khajuraho
Guides are always available in town, and you don’t need to look hard to find them. More likely, they will find you. Do your best bargaining to get a reasonable price. Guides often speak several languages. We enjoyed renting bikes to get out to some of the farther-flung temples. Auto rickshaws are also abound.
How to Get There
Khajuraho is about 620 kilometres (385 miles) southeast of New Delhi.
Train: There are trains arriving directly from Delhi (Hazarat Nizamuddin station), Varanasi and Agra.We arrived in Khajuraho on an overnight train from Varanasi. Arrival via Jhansi is an alternative route.
Air: Khajuraho’sairport hasregular flights from Delhi, Varanasi and several other cities. The airport as about 5k outside of town.
Bus: Khajuraho is connected by bus services to/from Mahoba, Satna, Jhansi, Gwalior, Agra, Jabalpur & Bhopal among other cities.
Where We Stayed: Hotel Harmony Khajuraho, (91)7686-274135, lower end of mid-range options. Clean, comfortable rooms and a good rooftop restaurant.
This article was submitted by Tamara Munoz from Turtles Travel
Tamara and her partner Donny make up the blogging team at TurtlesTravel. Traveling like turtles, slowly and deliberately, they’ve wandered together since 2004, with no cure for their insatiable wanderlust. TurtlesTravel blog is the place to discover new destinations, enjoy beautiful photography, get travel tips and share ideas. Join them there, or you can also connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.