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 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:
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.
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 Pictures: Kingdom & Daily Life
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.