A rural town in the middle of nowhere, with fewer than 25,000 inhabitants? You could be forgiven for wondering whether a tour of Khajuraho is worth your time. But hidden among the dense date palm trees (khajura) – from which the town takes its name – is a treasure that will take your breath away.
Dubbed ‘the sexiest temples in India’, the mind-blowing temples of Khajuraho are incredibly preserved, graphic examples of Indo-Aryan art and architecture dating back more than 1,000 years. The fine rock carvings found upon the temples depict both deities and humans going about daily activities, peppered with an eye-opening number of erotic scenes and sexual gymnastics.
They were built during the days of the Chandela dynasty – debauched rulers who claimed their descent from the moon – and are dedicated to Hindu and Jain icons.
Light shows are projected directly onto the temples every night, and if you visit in the cooler month of March, you might just catch the town’s annual dance festival.
If you must get lost in nature, the Madhya Pradesh region is up there with the best. The beautiful Panna National Park and Raneh Falls are both within 40km and, everywhere you go, the wonderful Vindhya mountain range provides a stunning, verdant backdrop. Make sure you try the desserts while you’re in the region – it’s famous for sweet treats like cashew burfi, jalebi and lavang latika.
Taking a tour of Khajuraho is a step back in history – it’s a time capsule just waiting to be explored.
If you’re not sure what to do in Khajuraho, you obviously haven’t done your research. In terms of attractions, there’s one place that steals the show - the Khajuraho Group of Temples. Let’s get it out there – this is no place for prudes. With sculptures and carvings depicting men, women and animals engaged in every kind of divinely sanctioned posture imaginable, this might not be the place to take your grandma.
But erotic imagery only makes up 10 percent of the temples’ artwork. Taken alongside the rest of the art and architecture, they are considered to be some of the most stunning and well-preserved examples of Indian aesthetics in the country.
Head to the western part of the complex to find the biggest temples. Among these is Kandariya Mahadeva, the largest and most ornate. At more than 100ft high, the temple is a beautiful bundle of towers all leading towards an elegant spire.
Lakshmana temple features some lively scenes in its exterior carvings: horse-mounted hunters pursuing prey; musicians providing lively entertainment for the court; and elephants engaged in playful battle. But if its inner peace you’re looking for, the temple’s inner sanctum is a dark, windowless chamber, designed for an intimate connection with the divine.
As a rural retreat from the noise and clamour of Delhi or Mumbai, there’s really no better place than Khajuraho, a beacon of cultural magnificence, swathed in the natural beauty of Madhya Pradesh.
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