Khajuraho Temples: History & The Meaning Behind the Erotic Arts

Khajuraho is situated in the northern part of the Madhya Pradesh state of India in Chhatarpur district. This tourist place is famous for the erotic arts made on the temples in the 10th and 11th century AD.

Khajuraho History

Khajuraho has not been part of any particular dynasty till 9th century. Until 4th century it was a part of the Vatsa dynasty. Since 200 BCE, the area around Khajuraho has seen the development of stone and statue sculpture. Then Khajuraho came under the Gupta dynasty from 4th to 6th CE. Later, Khajuraho came under the rule of Pratihars.

It was the 11th century which saw the rise of Chandela dynasty. Chandela dynasty was one of the very powerful dynasties in the history of India. Under Chandelas, stone and statue sculpture saw its glory days in Khajuraho.

According to the legends, Khajuraho was named as “Khajuraho” because the main gate of the city had two golden Date (Khajur) trees. Chandarbardai, the author of Prithviraj Raso has also mentioned Khajuraho as Khajur Pura.

Ibn Battuta’s description of Khajuraho

Ibn Battuta, a great Moroccan scholar, has something interesting to say about Khajuraho –

Ibn Battuta when visited Khajuraho, he saw a pond of the length of almost a mile. He called Khajuraho as the religious capital of the Chandelas. He further mentions, there were a lot of temples around the pond, of which many were destroyed by the Muslim rulers. There is a red stone tomb in the middle of the pond.

Around the pond, on the four corners, there were tombs as well. The tombs were filled with Yogis and saints. They had their hair grown longer than their bodies. They looked pale because of the penance. There had a lot of followers who wanted to learn Yoga from them including Muslims. It was said that people suffering from any illness would spend some time with the saints and get cured.

Ruins and Destruction of Khajuraho temples

The 11th century saw the decline of the Chandela dynasty. With the onset of Mughals and Muslim looters in India, Khajuraho temples had to face a lot of destructions. In 1495, Sikandar Lodhi did a heavy destruction of the Khajuraho temples. By the 16th century, Khajuraho was almost deserted. People did not know its significance and it was further destroyed unknowingly.

Rediscovery of Khajuraho temples

In 1818, Khajuraho was first discovered by an English explorer named Franklin. His findings were passed on to another English engineer P.C. Burt in 1838 when he first saw the Khajuraho temples. Between 1852 to 1885, Khajuraho was re-excavated and re-mapped by another British. In 1904, Khajuraho was handed over to the archaeological survey of India.

There is also a very beautiful story behind the Rise of the Chandela dynasty.

On a summer night, are very beautiful Brahmin lady named Hemavathi went out to take bath in the nearby pond. Moon in the sky got attracted to Hemavathi appeared on the earth and embraced the lady. However, the moon was also afraid that us the lady has lost her virginity before the marriage, she can cause the moon. But the moon told the lady that the sun who will take birth will be a warrior.

Time pass by and Hemavathi get pregnant. She made her house beside the river ken. After the moon, she named boy Chandravarman. By the time the prince was of 16 years old it is said that he could kill a Lion with just stone. It was also said that he could kill a big Lion just with a stick. Later king won many small steps around Khajuraho and he devoted his life to the stone sculpture and cultural innovation of his Kingdom.

Khajuraho Pictures: Hindu Gods & Goddess Statues

90 percent of the Khajuraho temples are filled with the stone sculptures of Hindu Gods and Goddesses, however, the remaining 10 percent of the erotic art sculptures still remain the prime attraction at Khajuraho. I have tried to cover as many as I could in the pictures below:

Lord ganesha

Statue of Lord Ganesha (The Elephant Face God)

Lord Vishnu with Lakshmi

Statue of God Vishnu with his wife Lakshmi holding Chakra, Gada, Padma, and Shankha in his hands at Khajuraho

Lordess Saraswati

Statue of Saraswati (The Hindu Goddess of knowledge, art, wisdom, music, etc.)

Statue of 12 Avatars of Lord Vishnu in Khajuraho

Statue of 12 Avatars (in the background) of Lord Vishnu in Khajuraho

Statue of Lord Vishnu in Vraha Avatar - One of his 12 Avatars

Statue of Lord Vishnu in Vraha Avatar – One of his 12 Avatars. In Vraha Avatar, the God Vishnu took the form of a boar.

Statue of the god of fire in Khajuraho

Statue of the God of fire with his wife in Khajuraho

Temple water exit

The Shiva temple water exit through the mouth of the Gana shown in the picture at Khajuraho

Two elephants welcoming with their trunks

Two elephants welcoming with their trunks at the temple entrance

place to leave behind the footwears in front of a temple

The place to leave behind the footwear in front of a temple. Leaving behind the footwear meant leaving behind ego and all the worldly pride

Body builders acting as support to temple

Bodybuilders acting as support to temple

Khajuraho Pictures: Women Statutes

Besides the erotic arts, there are many statues of single women in Khajuraho which are Apsaras (Nymphs).  Apsaras have been depicted on the stones doing various daily life tasks while most of those look erotic. Most of the erotic arts are sculptured over the outer walls of the temple.

Statue of a lady wearing dress in Khajuraho

Statue of a lady tieing a dress

Statue of a lady taking out thorns from her legs in Khajuraho

Statue of a lady taking out thorns from her legs

Statue of a lady taking bath in Khajuraho

Statue of a lady taking bath

Statue of a lady playing with a ball in Khajuraho

Statue of a lady playing with a ball

Stone statue of a mother holding her child in Khajuraho

A mother holding her child

A woman filling Sindoor (vermillion) on her head while looking into the mirror

A woman filling Sindoor (Vermillion) into her head while looking into the mirror

Statue of a lady Covering her private parts in Khajuraho

Statue of a lady Covering her private parts

Statue of a lady holding her bosoms

Statue of a lady holding her bosoms

Statue of a woman with large bosoms in Khajuraho

Statue of a woman with large bosoms in Khajuraho

Khajuraho Pictures: Temple Architecture

Most of the Khajuraho temples follow a common style of architecture. Most of the temples would face east. There will be a place beyond which footwears are not allowed. Then, there will be two elephants trunk carved in welcoming at the entrance porch, followed by the hall, great hall and the main temple with the shrine.

There will also be four smaller temples on the four corners of the main base of the main temple as seen in the picture below. Two smaller temples standing on the left and the right of the main temple. At the top of the temple, there will a Kalasa (pot) supported on an Amalaka 9concentric circles at the top). Most of the temples are damaged and a continuous renovation work is going on in Khajuraho temples.

Khajuraho Temples (1)

Lakshmana Temple, Khajuraho

Khajuraho Temples (2)

Renovated temple structures in Khajuraho

Khajuraho Temples (7)

Khajuraho Temples AKA Khajuraho ke Mandir

Khajuraho Temples (13)

Kalasa (The Pot shape) at the top and Amalaka (grooved rounded base of the pot) were an integral part of the Khajuraho temple architecture

Khajuraho Temples (10)

Most of the temples in Khajuraho will have an Ardha Mandapa (Entrance Porch), followed by Mandapa (Hall) followed by Maha Mandapa (great hall) followed by Grabha Griha (Shrine) inside the main temple.

Khajuraho Temples (6)

You can see a lot of UruShringas (Sub-towers) around the main tower. This also formed an integral part of the Khajuraho temples architecture

Khajuraho Temples (5)

A Newly renovated temple at Khajuraho

Khajuraho Temples (4)

A temple from its backside

Khajuraho Temples (9)

Sunset on Khajuraho Temples

Khajuraho Temples (8)

You can see a lion statue near the main temple. Lion symbolized pride

Khajuraho Temples (3)

Khajuraho temples

Khajuraho Temples (14)

A flock of tourists at Khajuraho temples

An Aeroplane flying over Khajuraho

An Aeroplane flying over Khajuraho: Khajuraho Airport is not so far from the group of monuments

Khajuraho Pictures: Kingdom & Daily Life

A hunting scene

A hunting scene from Khajuraho Temples – You can see the first arrow pierced through the deer and the second one through the boar at the front. The arrows were shot by the king.

an elephant war scene

An elephant war scene while four soldiers behind the elephant carry something heavy

Camels depicted on Khajuraho temples

Camels depicted on Khajuraho temples

Elephants carrying stuff

The elephant on the right is lifting something depicting that the elephants were used as a mode of transportation

execution by Elephant

Death execution by elephant, a man is shown under the elephant’s feet

Statue of men carrying stone in Khajuraho

Statue of men carrying stone during the construction of the temple and the chief architect drinking on the left (in front of the men)

Statue of army and horse cavalery in Khajuraho

Statue of army and horse cavalry in Khajuraho

Statue of an elephant carrying Khajur or the date tree after which Khajuraho was named

Statue of an elephant carrying Khajur or the date tree after which Khajuraho was named

Soldiers fighting with their Swords

Soldiers fighting with their Swords while stepping on the dead soldiers at the same time in the battlefield

Kings court scene in Khajuraho

King’s court scene in Khajuraho – four ministers (shown as old & wise men) are sitting in front of the king

Statue of a Brahmin Imparting Education in Khajuraho

Statue of a Brahmin Imparting Education in Khajuraho

Statue of normal life in Khajuraho

Statue of normal life in Khajuraho

Statue of people drinking and playing music in Khajuraho

Statue of people drinking and playing music in Khajuraho

Khajuraho Pictures: Erotic Sexual Positions & Art

Erotic sexual arts depict various sexual expressions of different human beings based on the core Hindu theme of Moksha. In many erotic sculptures, you can see people doing sex while being in the meditation at the same time. A couple embracing each other depicts Purusha (Essence) and Prakriti (Nature) of life.

There are also other believe that it was thought that Moksha can only be attained by leaving behind the worldly things but in reality, the Moksha can still be obtained while living a normal life. Some stories go like to recreate fascination among the people because of Buddhism, the king made such temples.

Dharma, Artha, Kama , Moksha depicted in Khajuraho temples

Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha depicted in Khajuraho temples. To attain Nirvana, we need to overcome these

Statue of a woman sucking the man's organ in Khajuraho

Statue of a woman sucking the man’s organ while they do meditation (you can see the closed eyes)

Statue of love making in Sheershashan in Khajuraho

Statue of lovemaking in Sheershashan (A Yoga & Meditation Pose) in Khajuraho

Statue of group love making in Khajuraho

Statue of group lovemaking in Khajuraho while two people chase an Apsara (Female Spirit)

A man having sex with a horse in Khajuraho

A man having sex with a horse in Khajuraho depicting the animal instinct of Kama

Statue of a man having sex with women while the women lies down in Khajuraho

Statue of a man having sex with women while the women lies down

Statue of group love making in Khajuraho in where a couple fondling each other and a woman hiding her private part

Statue of a group in Khajuraho in where a couple are fondling each other while a woman hides her vagina on the left

Statue of group love making in Khajuraho while four others wait for their turn

Statue of group sex in Khajuraho While two men make love with the woman other three wait for their turn. Also, alcohol pots are shown at the bottom

Statue of group love making in Khajuraho while two are making medicines to last long while two are shying away

Statue of group orgy in Khajuraho while two are making medicines to last long while two are shying away

Statue of a woman hugging a man like vines around a tree in Khajuraho

Statue of a woman hugging a man like vines around a tree in Khajuraho

Statue of a very tall man and a short girl

Statue of a very tall man and a short girl embracing each other in Khajuraho showing the possibilities of that time

Statue of a tall man and a short lady embracing each other

Statue of a tall man and a short lady embracing each other

Statue of a man making love to a woman from behind while the woman take support on a rock

Statue of a man having sex with a woman from behind while the woman take support on a rock

Statue of a man making love on by being on top of a woman in Khajuraho

Statue of a man having sex with a woman by being on top of her in Khajuraho

Statue of a couple in 69 pose while a young girl peeps in

Statue of a couple in 69 pose while a young girl peeps in

Statue of a couple kissing each other and another doing meditation in Khajuraho

Statue of a couple kissing each other and another doing meditation (Standing in Dhyana Mudra) in Khajuraho

Statue of a couple making deep love while a woman half sees it

Statue of a couple making deep love while a woman half sees it

Statue of a couple making deep love while the man covers the private part of another woman

Statue of a couple deep in meditation while having sex. The woman covers the private part of another woman

Statue of a man fondling with a woman's bosoms

Statue of a man fondling with a woman’s bosoms

A woman kissing a man

A woman kissing a man in Khajuraho

A group orgy scene depicted on the Khajuraho temple walls

A group orgy scene depicted on the Khajuraho temple walls

Statue of a couple deep in love while two women shy away

Statue of a couple deep in love while two women shy away

Statue of a couple deep in love while another watches them

Statue of a couple deep in love while others watch them

Statue of a couple and a monkey in Khajuraho

Statue of a couple and a monkey in Khajuraho – Monkey depicts the desire here holding the key

Kama or desire, shown as an animal in Khajuraho. Kama is another hindrance in attaining Moksha according to Hindu Mythology

Kama or desire, shown as an animal in Khajuraho. The Kama is another hindrance in attaining Moksha according to Hindu Mythology. You can see aman trying to overcome the Kama

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About trekkerp

Author of The Girl from the Woods and a Travel writer from India looking forward to collect quirky tales from around the world

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