The beauty and elegance
Khajuraho, derived from the word 'khajur' meaning the date palm, was a quiet, unknown town till a chance discovery made it a popular tourist destination. Forgotten and unvisited until the mid-1960s, the place is now, after the Taj, India's biggest single tourist attraction. Khajuraho has the largest group of medieval temples; each studded with countless sculptures of extraordinary grace and delicacy. The temples of Khajuraho, are indeed, celebrations of the stylized and refined courtly accomplishments of beauty, love and creative arts.
Khajuraho is located in the forested plains of the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh in the region known as Bundelkhand. The place is at a considerable distance from most cities and town centers of the state
BEST TIME TO VISIT
October to March
The beautiful temples that dot the town of Khajuraho are believed to have been built by the mighty Chandela rulers in 9th and 10th century AD. The engravings on these temples are highly sensual and erotic
The Kandariya Mahadeo is considered the most evolved example of central Indian temple architecture. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple is also the largest of Khajuraho's temples.
The Lakshmana Temple is one of the oldest and finest of the western group of temples. The temple is rather big with four other shrines attached to it. Although the general norm in other temples is three bands of sculpture, this temple has only two. Recurrent themes are battles, hunting and women.
The temple of Devi Jagdamba is considered by many of us to be one of the most erotic temples of Khajuraho. The temple houses Khajuraho's most talked-about image, mithuna,and the sensuously carved figures. It is not clear until today as to which deity this temple is dedicated.
The temple of Parsvanath is the largest of the Jain temples in Khajuraho and the finest. The temple was originally dedicated to Adinath and latter to Parsvanath. It is the finest example of the sensitive art without any sexual motifs. Near this temple is the temple of Adinath with fine carvings. The temple is quite similar to the Hindu temples of Khajuraho.
Shantinath is the youngest of all the temples in Khajuraho. Though it looks like the most other temples in Khajuraho, it is just a century old. The temple has a four and a half meter statue of Adinath.
There are only two temples in the southern group of temples. The Duladeo is somewhat new and built in a time when the creativity of Khajuraho was well down its peak. The temple has wooden structures that take away its authenticity somewhat. The other temple is of Chaturbhuja, pretty far from the village. The temple has a 3-m-high statue of Vishnu.
Apart from the temples, another place that can be visited here is the Archeological Museum. It has a very good collection of sculpture, inscriptions,and architectural objects.
Panna National Park
Panna National Park, 32 km away and a mere 30 minute drive from Khajuraho, spreads along the river Ken. The Jungles today harbour many species of wildlife. The tiger can be glimpsed here, with other rare species such as the leopard, wolf and gharial. Herds of bluebull, chinkara and sambar are a common sight. While interesting trips can be made to Rajgarh Palace, now being converted into a Heritage Hotel. Further away is Bandhavgarh National Park and tranquil chitrakoot.
Raneh Falls (19 km.) on the ken river are famous for their rock formations. The main attraction is a 5 km long, 100 feet deep canyon made of pure crystalline granite in varying shades of colors ranging pink and red to grey. A series of seasonal waterfalls surrounded by jungles make it an ideal picnic spot.
Ken Gharial Sanctuary
Ken Gharial Sanctuary (24 kms.) is at the confluence of the Ken and Khudar rivers further down Raneh Falls and Nature Trail. This is a natural habitat of the long snouted variety of crocodiles.
Banisagar Lake (11km) is a picnic spot and a dam on Khudar river with a waterspread of 7.7 sq. km. Suitable for Boating & Angling.
Ranguan Lake (25 Km) is an ideal picnic spot for boating and angling.
Gangau Dam (34 km), a natural dam at the confluence of the Ken and Simri rivers, ideal for nature-lovers, anglers and the adventure minded. The dam is surrounded by the Panna National Park & Gangau Sanctuary.
Pandav Falls (34 kms), a picturesque waterfall in a bowl shaped valley on the ken river. The Pandavas are said to have spent a part of their exile here.
Majhganwa Diamond Mines, Panna
Majhganwa Diamond Mines, Panna (56 km), are the only diamond mines of Asia.
Dhubela Museum (65 km) is located in an old fort on the Jhansi- Khajuraho road and houses a rare collection of artefacts, depicting the heritage of Bundelkhand. Pipraghat (24 km) is a recently developed excursion spot. The nearby Ken river offers boating, swimming and angling.
Ajaygarh Fort (80 km) is at a height of 688 meters above sea level and was capital of the Chandelas during their decline.
Kalinjar Fort (100 km) is located on the Vindhya range and is 38 km from Atarra railway Station. This fort, built during the Gupta period, was captured by the Chandela ruler Shri Yasovarmanin in the mid- 10th century.
Eight km off the Khajuraho- Jhansi highway (19 km from Jhansi), this is a medieval city flanked by the Betwa River. Paintings and mirrorwork, intricate stairways and delicate trellis work in Jehangir Mahal, Raj Mahal and Rai Praveen Mahal are enchanting. In the fort complex MP Tourism has converted the Sheesh Mahal into a Heritage Hotel.
FAIRS AND FESTIVALS
The most important festival of Khajuraho is Mahashivratri. The festival marks Shiva's marriage with Parvati, the daughter of the Himalayas. The 2.5m tall lingam of Kandariya Mahadeo temple is dressed as a bridegroom, with white and saffron dhotis, surmounted by a huge, conical, silver paper crown. The chanting of hymns continues throughout the night, until the Brahmins stand to throw bel leaves and flower petals over the lingam, a sign that the wedding is complete.
Khajuraho festival of dance is organized every year in the months of February/March. The cream of Indian classical dancers perform here to display the best of Indian dance and music. The floodlit temples of Khajuraho provide the perfect backdrop to the festival.
Many shops in Khajuraho sell souvenirs and handicrafts made by the local artisans. There are smaller stalls outside the temple gates where one can pick up interesting souvenirs. A weekly bazaar is held at Rajinagar on Tuesdays, 5 km from Khajuraho. The market is worth a visit to buy silver goods and brassware.
HOW TO REACH
By Air Regular services link Khajuraho with Delhi, Agra and Varanasi.
By Rail The nearest rail heads are Harpalpur (94 km) and Mahoba (61 km). Jhansi (172 km) is a convenient rail head for those traveling from Delhi and Madras; Satna (117 km), on the Mumbai-Allahabad line of the Central Railway for those coming from Mumbai, Calcutta and Varanasi
By Road Khajuraho is connected by regular buses with Satna, Harpalpur, Jhansi and Mahoba.