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Overview

Temple at Khajuraho

Inside the temple compound at Khajuraho

Summarise the city :
Life and desires of mortals immortalized in stone

Best time to visit (High & peak months) : 
October to March

Experiences :
Architectural heritage & Indian Classical Dance during week long dance festival in Feb/March

City calling code :
+91-7686

Recommended no. of days for a tourist :
A day is sufficient

Best buys :
Miniature stone carved sculptures are hot favorites with the tourists

Essentials to be carried along : 
Cotton outfits for summers (March-mid October) and woolens for winters (mid October-February), sun glasses, sun blocks, hats etc


All about the city :
The Khajuraho derives its name from the many Khajur (date) trees that grow in this area. But its not these trees that make it internationally recognized. The otherwise non-descript town of Khajuraho, but for the group of 10th century sprawling temples, would have remained unknown to the world had not British officer T.S Burt discovered them in 1838. Erected under the patronage of Chandela Raput kings, who ruled this area for a brief period of 100 years, these temples find mention in the UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites list. Of the original 84 temples only 25 survive up to this day. Although active worship is not carried out in any of these temples now, except for the Matangeshwar temple.

Raised on enormous platforms, they are strikingly homogenous in character. The temples are divided in three groups – the western, eastern and southern complex. The interiors of the temples are sculpted with as much detail as the outer walls. The fine quality sandstone used is very responsive to chisel – the result is amazing 3 D figures.  These monuments that define the north Indian style of temple architecture freeze in stone the societal life of that period. The temples are celebrated for the erotic sculptures adorning them. The reason for this remains uncertain. By one school of thought, the Chandelas believed in Tantrism which propounds that the gratification of earthly desires leads to spiritual awakening, another opines that it was to serve as a sex manual for the adolescent Brahmin boys growing in all male temple schools. Still another theory establishes that Chandravarman, the founder of Khajuraho and son of beautiful Hemvati and Moon God was urged by his mother to depict human passions and desires in stone.

In the evenings one can enjoy the light and sound show at the western group temple complex or some folk dance program at Kandariya art & culture theatre. However, best would be to plan your trip around the last week of February  when the highly acclaimed annual week long dance festival is organized there against the floodlit backdrop of the Chitra gupta temple. Hiring a bicycle to roam around in this quaint little town can be an exciting idea for some.


Architectural Plan :
Architecturally, Khajuraho temples are based on a 3 to 5 part lay out plan. The five main compartments are the entrance porch (ardhamandapa) that leads to assembly hall (mandapa) and then comes the main hall (mahamandap) which is supported by pillars with a corridor running around it. A vestibule (antarala) connects the mahamandapa to the actual sanctum (garbha griha). Around the sanctum is again a corridor (pradakshinapath) for the devotees to circumambulate. The shikhar or tower of the temples is flanked by a no. of smaller replicas of itself. The cluster thus formed gives a feel of a mountain peak.
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Tourist attractions

Name (suggested time required to see the place)DescriptionEntrance charges (if any) for Foreigner Close Day (if any) Open / Close time
Western group of temples (1.5-2 hrs)

This is the biggest temple complex in Khajuraho. In an enormous fenced enclosure lie temples of Lakshman dedicated to Lord Vishnu; Vishvanath graced by a 3 headed image of Lord Brahma; Devi Jagadambi dedicated to godess Parvati and Kali; Kandhariya Mahadev and Mahadev dedicated to Lord Shiva; and Chitragupta that enshrines Sun God Surya. All the temples are built on almost the same architectural plan. Inside the temples, the windows of the halls are high above and provide just enough light to see the exquisitely carved pillars and ceilings.


Built on massive platforms these temples unravel the societal life of that period (10-12th century). The intricately carved exterior with an equally impressive interior appear to freeze women in every posture and mood viz. writing a letter, applying Kohl, drying her hair, looking into a mirror. The reason for such deliberate underscoring on feminine figures is probably that women were considered auspicious since they personify the grace of God and symbolize the fertility of nature that ensures the continuance of life. Besides the erotic panels that are characteristic feature of these temples The other group scenes depict royal processions, group dances and other scenes of sheer luxury, typical of the Chandela court-life.


With a 31m high Shikara (spire) and 84 smaller spires creating an impression of mountain range, the Kandhariya Mahadev temple is the largest temple of the town.


Opposite the Lakshman temple is a pavilion with a magnificent statue of Varaha,, the boar incarnation of Lord Vishnu, covered with carvings of several deities.


Matangeshwara, outside the fenced enclosure, is the plainest of all the temples but is the only one that is still in every day use.

 INR 250

Sound and Light show:

6:30-7:30 from November to February

7:40 – 8:40 from March to October

 None

 Sunrise to sunset

Eastern group of temples (1 hr - 1.5 hrs)

The eastern group of temples is mainly Jain temples but they too have figures of pantheon of Brahmanical deities, continuing the ancient Indian tradition where there was no division between the adherents of different faiths. The temples of Parsvanath, Adinath, Shantinath all have striking black images in their sanctums. Although these temples do not compare with the western group in their size or erotic panels but they do have terrific female figures; women applying kohl in their eyes, removing thorn from her foot, fastening ankle bells etc.
 

The three Hindu temples Brahma, Vamana and Javeri also belong to this group. Outside the enclosure is a Jain Art Museum. 

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 None

 Sunsrise to sunset

Southern group of temples (30-45 min)This is the last phase of temple building at Khajuraho dating back to 1100-50. The Southern group includes the Chaturbhuj Temple with massive image of Shiva, and the Duladeo Temple. The former is the only major temple in Khajuraho without erotic sculptures.

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 None Sunrise to sunset
Chaunsath Yogini (15-20 min)This is the oldest surviving temple (dated 900 AD) in the group and the only one that is not aligned east to west. It is the sole granite temple dedicated to Goddess Kali. Only 35 of the original 65 cells remain and no image of Kali has survived. The word Chaunsath means 64; accordingly there were 64 cells for the attendants of Goddess Kali and the 65th one for the Goddess herself.   

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 None Sunset to sunset
Archaeological Museum (40-45 min)The museum is situated very close to the western group of temples. At the entrance is a big statue of Lord Ganesh. The collection, not a very big one, consists of statues and sculptures from around Khajuraho itself.

 INR 5

 Friday closed10 am -  5 pm
Kandariya Art & Culture theatre Round the year, except for the months of May and June, folk dances from 5 states of India are staged in the indoor theatre here. Two shows are organized every evening. In the same premises there is a showroom that has huge collection of exclusive works of art and handicrafts.

 INR 350

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7pm-8 pm

&

8:30 - 9:30 pm

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Getting there

AirRailRoad
Daily flights connect Khajuraho to Delhi, Mumbai and Varanasi.

Khajuraho railway station is of a very recent origin (November 2008). An overnight train Khajuraho-Nizamuddin link Express connects Khajuraho to Delhi, but this not a daily train and runs just thrice a week.


The nearest rail heads near Khajuraho are Mahoba (63) and Harpalpur(94 km). The major railheads are Satna (117 km), located on the Mumbai- Allahabad railway route is convenient for travelers from Mumbai, Kolkata and Varanasi and Jhansi (172 km) convenient for those coming from North India.

Khajuraho is 172 km from Jhansi, 117 km from Satna, 178 km from Orchha, 278 from Gwalior and about 400 km from Agra and Varanasi. It is 250 km from Bandhavgarh National park.


There are regular buses to Jhansi, Mahoba, Satna. There are direct buses for Gwalior, Agra and Varanasi also.
.

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Festivals

Name of festivalDates / MonthsFestival details with link for more information
Khajuraho Dance FestivalFebruary/March

The week long dance festival attracts the domestic and foreign tourists alike. Performing against the soothingly lit western group of temples, precisely the Chitragupta temple is a watermark in the carrier of any Indian Classical dancer. You can either purchase a seasonal ticket for the entire week or buy them for a day or two. Generally two or three performances are staged each day between 7 to 10 pm.

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Excursions

Excursion (distance in kms / time taken)Write up on the excursion
Panna national Park (32 km / 50 min) 

Earlier the hunting ground for the royal family of Panna, it was declared a National Park in 1981. Fauna of this park includes, apart from the tiger; wolf, chital, sloth bear, chinkara, and sambar besides a variety of birds. Tiger sightings are not very common here. The decline of the tiger was reported so two tigers have been brought here from Kanha and Bandhavgarh National Parks.


Near the National Park are the Pandav Falls, named after the legendry Pandav brothers, from the great Indian Epic Mahabharata, who are stated to have spent quite some time at this place.

Raneh falls (18 km / 30 min)


Entrance fee: INR 200; entrance charges for vehicle extra 

South of Khajuraho, this is a cool retreat. The falls are not very high. It is actually the lovely rock formations in varying shades of pink, red and grey that makes them interesting. Visitors are required to take a compulsory guide and pay for the entrance of their vehicle besides an entrance fee for themselves. 

Close to the falls is Ken Ghariyal sanctuary where you can find crocodiles and alligators.

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Suggested tour program [View both Programs]

Tour NameNo. Of days Other places covered
Khajuraho with Wildlife6 nights/7 daysDelhi - Khajuraho - Bandhavgarh - Kanha - Delhi
Khajuraho with Taj Mahal5 nights/ 6 daysDelhi - Khajuraho - Gwalior - Agra - Delhi
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