Khajuraho, the Land Of The Moon God, is a small town located in the Chhatarpur District of Madhya Pradesh in Bundelkhand region. 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 and a beautiful example of the Indo-Aryan architecture. The main tourist attraction of the place are its famous groups of Hindu and Jain temples. These temples of Khajuraho are a UNESCO World Heritage Site for their beautiful and erotic rock carvings.
The 9 th to 12 th century temples of Khajuraho are much different from any other temple city of India. Khajuraho temples are not about religion and worshipping and deities. These temples are evidences of the architectural sculpture during the times of Chandela dynasty. In 13th century, after the decline of the Chandela dynasty, the Khajuraho temples were left under the cover of dense date palm trees for many years, which gave the city of Khajuraho its name, Khajur in Hindi means a date. In the ancient times it was known as Vatsa.
The beautiful little village of Khajuraho lies in the central state of Madhya Pradesh in chattarpur district. Madhya Pradesh is the largest Indian state. the vindhyan range runs through Madhya Pradesh. The rock bed of chattarpur where khajuraho is located, is of fine bundelkhand gneiss, and believed to be the oldest rock in India.
Places to visit
Western Group of Temples
On the main road, beside the path leading to the Matangeshvar Temple is the A.S.I counter where you must purchase a ticket to visit the western group of temples in this complex and the museum on the opposite side. A boundary wall surrounds and protects the temples within this large rectangular complex and there is only one entry point (see page 33 Plan of the Western Group of Temples). Here at the Western Group you will see some of the most sensational temples in the world. Bhojpur was founded by the legendary Raja Bhoj. It has the ruins of the magnificient Bhojeshwar Temple (dedicated to Lord Shiva), which has earned the nomenclature of Somnath of the East. The symbol of Shiva the Lingam, is a huge monolith.
Opposite the large Lakshman Temple are two small shrines. The one directly opposite is called Devi Mandap, its cemented peaked roof an indication that it has been renovated during the last century
This striking temple stands facing the varaha and Devi mandaps. It is one of the three largest temples of khajuraho and the western group of temples and is considered to be the earliest ( c.AD 954 ) to have been built by the chandella rulers. The temples faces the east and is dedeicated to vishnu, though it goes by a rather inappropriate name of lakshman, the brother of Ram, the hero.
KANDARIYA MAHADEV TEMPLE
This is without any doubt the largest and most magnificent temple in Khajuraho. The elegant proportions of this building and its sculptural detailing are the most refined examples of this artistice heritage of central India.
Eastern Group of Temples
A kilometer towards the east from the western group of Temples is the khajur sagar and the old villahe of Khajuraho. On one of the paths to the village is a mordern whitewashed structure with a large orange - red statue within. The statue is still worshipped but is one of the oldest images to be found in khajuraho.The images is of hanuman, the monkey king who assisted Ram ( of the ramayana ) through his travails in exile.
Jain Group of Temples
Jain Group of Temples : south east of Khajuraho village, the road ends in front of the complex of jain temples. On the way to the Jian complex, at the southern edge of the village and barely visible from the road are the ruins of the Ghantai Temple. All that remain are pillars, some with bells ( ghanti, hence the name) dangling on chains all carved in stone. Cunningham discovered the only Buddhist statue to be found in khajuraho in the vicinity of the Ghantai temple.
Southeastern Group of Temples
South Eastern group of temples : A turning off the main road to or from the Jain complex brings you down a motorable path to this lovely temple alongside the khuddar stream. Thetemple looks its best at sunset, when the light illuminayes the western end of the temple creating the most dramatic effects.
Sculpture of Khajuraho
Khajuraho Temples are made mostly with sand-stone of variety of colours from pale buff, yellow and pink and brown. There are certain temples in which Granite stone is also used. Carving work on Granite is comparatively tough. On the other hand as Sand-stone is softer than Granite, sculpturer might have considered this property also while choosing the stone for most of the Temples. In ancient times, sulpturers are known by the name of “Shilp-shastri” or “Shilpi” means one who do sculpture art. Finishing of Sand-stone is much fine and accurate.
Sculpture of Khajuraho can be divided into five broad categories.
» Cult images
» Family, attendant and enclosing divinities
» Heaven Nymphs
» Animals & other Species
» Miscellaneous themes like teacher & disciples, dancers, musicians etc
Family, attendant and enclosing divinities
This category comprises sculptures of family, their attendant and enclosing divinities. They are projected against the walls of Khajuraho Temples and are executed either in the round or in high or medium relief. Figures in sculpture posses iconographic qualities of cult-images of first category. Such figures are more formal. On the other hand remaining figures of god and goddesses which includes dikpalas (8 guardians of the quarters) are less formal. They can be distinguished by their peculiar head-dresses, mounts or some other special attributes, held usually in more than two hands.
Temples with varying art-level
The classical flavour of the sculptures of Parsvanatha and Lakshmana temples is continued in Vesvanatha Temple, which has proportionate figures, displaying admirable poise and balance. The sculptures of Chitragupta and Jagadambi are some of the most artistic in Khajuraho.
The sculpture of Khajuraho attains its maturity in Kandariya Mahadev Temple, which displays human figures with distinctive physiognomy. The sculptures here are conspicuously slender and taller and show the richest variety of apsara figures. These sculptures represent the highest watermark of the characteristic art diction of Khajuraho. The Vamana and Adinatha temples carry on the sculptural tradition. The apsara here are shown striking many difficult, almost tortuous poses.
The sculptural art is on a clear decline in Javari and Chatrubhuja temples. These contain largely conventionalized figures without much life or expression. Duladeo represents the last flicket of the dying lamp. It combines highly dynamic and romantic sculptures such as those of dancing nymphs and flying vidyadharas, with degenerate, stereotyped and lavishly ornamented figures. As per historian Krishna Deva, plastically and iconographically, Duladeo marks the exhaustion of the remarkable vitality for which the Khajuraho sculptures are justly famous