Khajuraho – Epitome of Craftmanship!

It was almost 2.00 pm. A three hours journey on good road from Orchha, we stopped for lunch mid-way.

After reaching Khajuraho, we looked around for hotels, finally found Hotel Grace with help of Driver, being off-season, we got a very good Deluxe Room for 1300/-.

We quickly decided to catch – up with the western group of temples before the sun sets down, which was at walking distance. This one seemed to be the most visited one, with maximum temples in one area (Reminded me of Pattadakal). We started with Vishwanath & Nandi Temple. Both temples faced each other and had a common platform. There are steps that leads up to the platform and is flanked by elephants on one side and lions on other side. After the delight of observing each and every carvings, we proceeded to Lakshmi and Varaha Temple.

Thereafter, Jagdamabi temple and Kandariya Mahadev Temple followed, here the sun almost set, This one was the most intricately beautiful temple, it has a shikhara that rises to 116 feet and we realised that we need time to observe it much better. We thought of going through this temple the next day. So, we had to leave the last two temples i.e. Kandariya & Lakshmana temples for next day.

We enquired about the Light and Sound show before leaving the ground. The gate closes by 6.00 pm and the Light and Show starts by 7.30 pm. We had some time to kill, so roamed around. We heard some celebration going on in one of the lane adjacent to the Western complex. Following the path, we came right up to a magnificent temple. Initially, I dismissed it, thinking it to be some local regular temple (Also, the sight of stairs gives me an asthma attack just like Po from Kungfu Panda). Dipak went ahead to check out the temple. There was some wedding celebration going on, Groom had arrived and was paying visit to this temple for blessing. I, Ketaki and Shalmali sat down beneath the tree, waiting for Dipak to return. Kekati was looking up at the temple, she said it is a Shiva temple, I came down and saw through the door, there was a huge Shivling,

I was surprised and ditched the plan of staying back, we climbed the stairs (Whatever, if it is Shiva, have to go :D), Finally, all four of us were on top, wondering in awe, it was the biggest Shivling (I remembered, even Hampi had one). This was Matangeshwara Temple. It has ringing bells, flags, locals thronging to worship, active temple. We came back for L&S show (Rs. 200).

Well, it was mostly in the voice over by some artist and some lights thrown over some areas and temples. This was my first L&S experience. And, I found it total waste of money, I expected some more historical facts rather than those already found on Wikipedia.

After the L&S show, realising our money went in drain, we had our dinner, came back to hotel

Day 3: We started early by 7.00 am, starting with South Eastern temples – Vamana Temple, it was at some 2 kms distance, being early hours, we didn’t feel the heat, on the way, there was Brahma Temple, further 200m was Vamana Temple.

It was smaller in comaprision to the mighty ones in Western group. There were carvings similar to previous temples. The outer walls of the temple has two bands of sculptures which include graceful figures of Sura sundaris, the sculpture of Varaha, Narasimha and Vamana adorn the niches of sanctum. Next, we visited the Javari Temple, which was closer to Vamana Temple. It has a beautiful shikhara. It had three bands of scultures beautifully carved on the outer walls. Certain features resemble the medieval temple architecture of central India.

We enquired about Jain group of temples, for which we had to go back to the main crossroad and take the road straight to Jain temples. Since, we did not hire an auto for sightsee, we were walking around and it was fine till 11.00 am. On the way back, we saw the Brahma temple, the doors were closed, it was the smaller temple, we continued further towards Jain group, it rained a bit. Jain temples were all clustered together in one complex itself. First one was Shantinath temple, which is still worshipped. This temple was recently renovated and restored back to its former glory. In this complex, there is a Parsvanath temple, which was one of the biggest attraction in this complex. The walls are adorned with elephants, lions, sea nymphs etc.

Some of the sculptures were similar to other temples despite being a Jain temple. Adjacent to it was Adniath Temple. Known after the enshrined image of Adinatha. The Temple is surrounded by three bands of elegant sura sundari sculptures. The outer facades also contains images of Jaina Yakshis. In between these both, we saw a small stepped lane, going downwards; it was connected to the well.

We left the temples, got into one of the shop to buy some souvenirs, and were back on track to visit the Southern group i.e. Dulhadeo & Chaturbhuj temples. Sun was already on top of our head, still we walked towards Dulhadeo Temple it was around 2 kms away from Jain temples. This temple features Chandela Art & architecture. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, there are intricately carved jewellery work on idols. The sanctum of the temple houses a beautiful Shivalinga. This temple has many subsidiary shikharas, which are grouped around the central shikhara. Swords, playing musical instruments, dance performance & various expressions of face are carved on the walls.

Chaturbhuj was further 2 kms away from Dulhadeo temple. Chaturbhuj (one with four arms) temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. This is the only temple that faces west in Khajuraho. It has a 9 feet tall idol of Lord Vishnu. After visiting Chaturbhuj, Ketaki & Shalmali managed to find an auto back to hotel for Rs. 100/-.

We packed our bags, refreshed a bit, ordered lunch from hotel itself. After lunch, we had 2 hours to explore the remaining temples in Western group. We left our packed bags at the reception and walked towards the Western group. Again, we bought the tickets, and enquired about the books available to buy. We got some travel books at dirt cheap price, unfortunately, other than Khajuraho, all other books were available. We did buy the Khajuraho guide book from outside though. We first visited the Lakshmana temple and later the Kandariya Mahadev temple. Lakshmana Temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It houses a sacred image of Vaikuntha-Vishnu brought from Tibet. It is most exquisitely decorated, covering the walls with images. The main temple is flanked by four smaller shrines at the corner of the raised platform on which the main temple rests.

Sun was drawing out each and every drop of water from our body. Thankfully, there was drinking cool water facility in the complex. Quenching out thirst, we moved further ahead to Kandariya Mahadev Temple. It was constructed by King Dhangadeva, one of the greatest Chandela kings. There is a marble shivling inside the shrine. Being one of the famous temples, people spend maximum time here. The main tower soars in form of a mountain.

We had booked the AC car (Rs. 2000) to Satna, supposed to pick us at 3.00 pm. We reached Satna by 5 pm. Again, the dust storm and heavy rain bid us adieu. Reached Mumbai next day at 5 pm.

I can’t describe the sheer beauty of the sculpture in words, each and every carvings, the expressions, jewellery, body proportions, even the slight bulge around waist, all looked so realistically carved. Saluted the craftsmanship of those workers who put in their best to create such masterpieces. After watching these art, I realised, we Indians undervalue such valuable craft present in our own background and go around hunting for locations worldwide. After Hampi, this place tops my “visit again and again” list.

Total budget: 6000/ per head.

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