Khajuraho is a small town (map) in the Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh and is famous for groups of Hindu and Jain temples. These temples are a UNESCO World Heritage Site for their beautiful and erotic rock carvings.
Khajuraho has the Vindhya range of mountains as its beautiful backdrop. Khajuraho’s art is a manifestation of the essence of the philosophy of Indian aesthetics. The erotic sculptures of Khajuraho depicting Kama Sutra are unique in the world.
The temples of Khajuraho were built between 950 and 1050 AD during the Chandela dynasty of Central India. In 1838, a British army engineer, Captain T.S. Burt rediscovered them. By that time only 22 of the original 85 temples had survived.
Of the surviving temples, six are dedicated to Shiva, eight to Vishnu and his affinities, one to Ganesha, one to Sun god, three to Jain Tirthankars. For some ruins, there is insufficient evidence to assign the temple to specific deities with confidence.
The temples have a rich display of intricately carved statues. While they are famous for their erotic sculpture, sexual themes cover less than 10% of the temple sculpture. Further, most erotic scene panels are neither prominent nor emphasized at the expense of the rest, rather they are in proportional balance with the non-sexual images.
The viewer has to look closely to find them, or be directed by a guide. The arts cover numerous aspects of human life and values considered important in the Hindu pantheon. Further, the images are arranged in a configuration to express central ideas of Hinduism.
The temples in Khajuraho are broadly divided into three parts: the Eastern group, the Southern Group and the Western group of temples of which the Western group alone has the facility of an audio-guided tour wherein the tourists are guided through the seven-eight temples. There is also an audio guided tour developed by the Archaeological Survey of India which includes a narration of the temple history and architecture.
Devi Jagdamba Temple (map). Dedicated to the Goddess (devi), this is smaller and much more delicately proportioned temple and is home to some of the finest sculptures of Khajuraho. The garbha griha has a huge image of the Devi of the Universe (Jagdambi), though it appears to have started as a Vishnu temple. It has the usual three bands of sculptures, but the third and most uppermost of these houses some of the most erotic sculptures.
Kandariya Mahadev Temple (map). This temple is decorated with a profusion of sculptures that are among the greatest masterpieces of Indian art.
Parsvanath Temple (map). Largest among the Eastern group, with exquisite carvings in detail. The sculptures on the northern outer wall are the highlights of this temple. The image was installed in 1860.
The Khajuraho Dance Festival is held every year in February. It features various classical Indian dances set against the backdrop of the Chitragupta or Vishwanath Temples.