Khajuraho Group of Monuments is a group of Hindu and Jain temple located in a town of the same name in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India. The temples are famous for the Nagara style of architecture and their rather erotic sculptures which, as some claim, bear resemblance to Kama Sutra sculptures. Most Khajuraho temples are believed to be constructed between 950 AD to 1050 AD during the reign of the Chandela dynasty. Historical and Archaeological records claim that there were 85 temples spreading over 20 square kilometers by the 12th century, however, only 20 of them have survived covering an area of 6 square kilometers. It was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site on 15th October, 1982.
The construction of Khajuraho Group of Monuments began almost as soon as the Chandela Dynasty rose to power. Most of the temples were constructed during the rule of Hindu kings Yashovarman and Dhanga. King Yashovarman’s legacy is best displayed through the architecture and sculptures of the Lakshmana temple whereas the Vishvanatha temple best depicts King Dhanga’s period. The biggest and the most prominent surviving temple as of now is the Kandariya Mahadeva which was considered during the era of King Ganda, between 1017-1029 CE. The temple carvings and sculptures suggest many of the currently surviving temples were finished constructing between 970 to 1030 CE, with a few more shrines completed in the following decades.
Khajuraho’s discreet location saved it from the destruction by the Muslim rulers and invaders from the 13th till the 18th century, however, the factor also led for most of the monuments being overlooked and thus ruined over time. Some time during the 1830s, native Hindus guided a British surveyor, T.S. Burt, to the ruins and they were thus rediscovered by the global audience.
Khajuraho is one of the four holy site in India which are closely related to Lord Shiva. The other three are Kedarnath, Varanasi, and Gaya.
The temples are clustered near water, a typical characteristic of Hindu shrines. The current aquatic structures near the group of temples include Sib Sagar, Khajur Sagar, and Khudar Nadi. According to local legends, the temple complex had 64 water bodies, of which 56 have been physically identified by archaeologists so far.
Of the few temples which managed to survive over the years , 6 are dedicated to Lord Shiva and his consorts, 8 to Lord Vishnu and his affinities, 1 to Lord Ganesha (Hindu God with the elephant head), 1 to Sun god, and 3 to Jain Tirthanks. There are some more ruins but due to their totally dilapidated condition, it is difficult to claim which God or religion (Hindu/Jain) they belong to.
The monuments at Khajuraho is also famous for depicting some of the most erotic human behaviors through a collection of highly descriptive and raunchy sculptures, however, these only comprise 10% of the entire temple complex. Also, none of these erotic sculptures can be found within or very near to the temples.
Of all temples, the Matangeshvara temple remains an active site of worship, while the Kandariya Mahadev with an area of about 6,500 square feet and a shikhara (spire) that rises 116 feet claims the title of being the most visited temple.
If you are arriving at the Khajuraho Railway Station, you can look for kiosks set up by the Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development which has tourist officers who can provide you with detailed information regarding the Khajuraho Group of Monuments.
Khajuraho has its own domestic airport which is further connected to the major cities in India such as New Delhi, Bhopal, Mumbai, Varanasi, and Allahabad.
The nearest railhead, Khajuraho railway station, is connected to only a few cities such as New Delhi, Jhansi, and Varanasi.
Khajurao is well-connected with nearby cities such as Jhansi by bus.