Khajuraho a name that is synonymous to temples is a must go tourist attraction for anyone visiting India and also for the people of this country to see work or art at a level unthinkable considering its age. Khajuraho along with Taj Mahal and Rajasthan is what people call the golden triangle of tourism. Every year I make a journey to a new destination along with my photo buddies just to indulge in unlimited photography and this trip to Khajuraho was one such occasion.
How to Reach
You can either take a flight to Khajuraho which has its own airport and is well connected with important cities due to its tourism industry. If you are travelling by train then most probably you have to get down at Satna and take a car (taxi) to Khajuraho or you can directly reach Khajuraho station but this station has very few connectivity.
Tip: Taxi fare in 2013 was around Rs. 1300. Bargain well and get the best car available, enjoy the journey as you will pass through Panna Forest.
Where to Stay
It all depends on your budget, there are many resorts which you can choose from which are spread across the town or like me you can stay at one of the budget hotels near the Western Group of temples. We paid around Rs. 500 for a double bedded non AC room but the room that we got can easily be compared to a Rs. 2500 and above room in any other city.
What to See
Khajuraho Is divided into different groups and you need to visit them accordingly. As per some historic documents there were around 85 temples but now only 20 temples can be seen. Recent excavation has found some foundations which indicate a presence of some structure and these are still in the process of being excavated. The temples which are now open to tourists have been divided into the following sections under which various temples are present.
Only the Western Group of temples require you to buy a ticket the entrance fee is 10 Rs for Indians and 150 Rs. for foreigners. 25 Rs. will be charged for Video photography. Tripods are not allowed inside, however with prior ASI permission it will be allowed.
For rest of the sections you can hire an Auto (Vikram) for Rs. 400 (in 2013) and will take you around and also act as a guide.
Kandariya Mahadev Temple
Devi Jagdambi Temple
Chausath Yogini Temple
Lalgun Mahadev Temple
Chatur Bhuj (Jatakari) Temple
Colossal Statue of Hanuman
Eastern (Jain) Section
This temple dedicated to Vaishnava worship is a sandhara temple of the panchayatan, (five shrined) variety and is the earliest and best preserved of the evolved temples with entrance-porch, mandapa, maha-mandapa with transepts, vestibule and sanctum with an ambulatory and three transepts. This is the only temple which preserves intact all the subsidiary shrines and the jagati (platform) with its mouldings and friezes. It still displays the largest number of the fine apsaras brackets, which form a notable feature of the interior decoration of the Khajuraho temples. The sanctum doorway is of seven sakhas (vertical panels), the central one being decorated with various incarnations of Vishnu. The lintel depicts Lakshmi at the center. The jangha (wall) of the sanctum proper is decorated with two rows of sculptures of which the upper one is carved with interesting scenes from the Krishna legend, including the subjugation of the serpent Kaliya, the elephant Kuvalayapida and the wrestlers Chanura and Sala and the Killing of Putana, etc. The sanctum enshrines a three-headed and four-armed image of Vishnu as Vaikuntha with a human central head and the side-heads of boar and lion. an inscribed slab, dated in A.D. 953-54 in the reign of Dhanga, which was originally excavated at the base of the temple, says that king Yasovarman died in circa 954, the temple appears to have been built between 930 and 950, which fits in well with its architectural and sculptural peculiarities. (Information from ASI)
Located opposite to Lakshman temple and is considered one of its shrines.
The Varaha shrine, built on a lofty plinth, is essentially similar in design to the Lalguan Mahadeva Temple, but is simpler and more modest. It is an oblong pavilion with a pyramidal roof of receding tiers, resting on fourteen plain pillars and enshrines a colossal monolithic (2.6 m long and 1.7 high) image of Yajna Varaha (incarnation of Vishnu) which is exquisitely finished to a glossy luster and is carved all over with multiple figures of gods and goddesses. The flat ceiling of the shrine is carved with a lotus flower of exquisite design in relief. The shrine built entirely of sandstone is assignable to circa 900-925. (Information from ASI)
Kandariya Mahadev Temple
This Shiva temple, enshrining a linga, is the largest and the loftiest, monument of Khajuraho, measuring about 30.5m each in length and height and 20 m. in width, excluding the platform. Strikingly similar to the Visvanatha, it is much more magnificent, and its mature plan and design, its grand dimensions and symmetrical proportions, its superb sculptural embellishment and architectural elaboration-all mark it out at the most evolved and finished achievement of the central Indian building-style and one of the sublimes creations of Indian architecture. Decorated with graded series of smaller replicas of itself, totaling eighty-four, the grand sikhara of the Kandariya is a lofty pile, unified in theme and design. Like the other full developed temples of Khajuraho, this temple consists on plan entrance-porch, mandapa, maha-mandapa with lateral transepts. vestibule and sanctum o enclosed by an ambulatory with transepts on the sides and the rear. It presents each constituent element of the plan and elevation on a grand scale with considerable elaboration of design and ornamentation. Of all the Khajuraho temples, it has the loftiest basement with numerous elegantly ornamented mouldings, which include two rows of processional friezes. The largest number of sculptures of alluring beauty appears on the three bands of its wall. The interior of the Kandariya temple is largely similar in design to that of the developed local temples, but is more spacious and gorgeous and is replete with a lavish wealth of carvings and sculptures. The temple assignable to the eleventh century A.D., was most probably built by the Chaulleka king Vidyadhara. (Information from ASI)
Situated on the same platform, between the Kandariya and the Jagadambi temples, is a much smaller but ruined Siva temple, as is indicated by a figure of Siva carved centrally on the lintel of the sanctum-doorway. The sanctum has perished, but the portico is intact and shelters now a powerful figure of sardula. It is not unlikely that this modest temple built in such close proximity to the Kandariya on its left, may have originally been dedicated to Siva’s consort as an integral part of the same temple-complex. (Information from ASI)
Devi Jagdambi Temple
The Jagadambi temple, so called after the image of Parvati now enshrined in the sanctum was originally dedicated to Vishnu, as indicated by the prominence given to Vishnu on the sanctum-doorway. The temple stands on a lofty platform. The square ceiling of its maha-mandapa hall is much simpler than the octagonal ceiling of the Chitragupta temple, which thus appears to be relatively more ornate and evolved and therefore slightly later in datethan this temple. The sculptural embellishment of the Jagadambi is as rich as that of the best temples of Khajuraho. It is datable to circa A.D.1000-25 Century. (Information from ASI)
This is the only local temple dedicated to Surya and is situated about 91 m to the north of the Jagadambi temple and 183 m south-east of an ancient (Chandella) three storied stepped tank, known as the Chopra. In respect of plan, design, dimensions and decorative scheme this temple closely resembles the Jagadambi and consists of a sanctum without ambulatory, vestibule, maha-mandapa with lateral transepts and entrance-porch, the last being completely restored above the original plinth. The octagonal ceiling of its maha-mandapa marks an elaboration over the square plan and thus appears to be relatively more ornate and developed than Jagadambi and may consequently be slightly later in date. The main image enshrined in the sanctum represents an impressive sculpture of standing Surya driving in a chariot of seven horses. Three similar but smaller figures of Surya are depicted on the lintel of the ornate doorway. The temple walls are also carved with some of the finest figures of sura-sundaris, erotic couples and gods including an eleven-headed Vishnu. The sculptures on this temple. as on the Jagadambi, approximate those of the Visvanatha in style. The same affinity is visible with regard to the architectural and decorative motifs. The Jagdambi and the Chitragupta temples are, therefore, stylistically placed between the Visvanatha and the Kandariya and are assignable to circa 1000-25. (Information from ASI)
This temple, situated immediately to the south-west of the Visvanatha is one its subsidiaries and a heavily- restored small sanctum and porch. The porch is completely lost and of the sanctum only the plinth has survived. The doorwaybelongs to a Vaishnava shrine as is indicated by a Vishnufigure on the middle of the lintel, while the image in the sanctum represents Gauri with the godha as her vehicle. (Information from ASI)
The Visvantha temple, enshrining a Siva-linga, is among the finest temples, of Khajuraho with all the elements of the developed temple-type, viz. entrance-porch, mandapa, maha-mandapa with transepts, vestibule and sanctum enclosed by an ambulatory with transepts on the sides and the rear. Like the Lakshmana temple, it was a temple of the panchayatana variety, but of the four subsidiary— in the north-east and south-west corners. Architecturally this temple comes midway between the Lakshmana and the Kandariya-Mahadeva and its importance lies in the fact that it anticipates the Kandariya, which marks the culmination of the central Indian building-style. Three sculptural bands of equal size on the facades of the jangha (wall) and the representation on the basement niches of the seven Mothers with Ganesa on one end and Virabhadra on the other are peculiar to this as well as the Kandariya Mahadeva Temple at Khajuraho. Even the sikharas of the two temples are essentially similar in design, though that of Visvanatha is appreciable simpler, showing fewer minor sikharas. This temple has indeed the most proportionate sculptures with admirable poise and balance, which include figures of sura-sundaris and couples, erotic or otherwise. A long foundation inscription fixed in this temple states that two Sivalingas, one of stone and the other of emerald (after which the temple in named Marakatesara) was enshrined in this temple, built by the Chandelle king Dhanga in A.D. 999. (Information from ASI)
This is a detached Nandi pavilion forming an integral part of the architectural scheme of the Visvanatha temple. The two temples stand facing each other on a common terrace, which is approached by lateral flights of steps, the southern steps being flanked by a pair of lions. This shrine enshrines a powerful colossal (2.2 m long and 1.8 m high) image of Nandi, which faces the main deity of the Visvanatha temple. It is an open square pavilion resting on twelve pillars. (Information from ASI)
The Matangesvara temple is in active worship and is the holiest of the Khajuraho temples, besides being the plainest among the local sandstone temples. On plan and in design, it is a grand elaboration of the Brahma temple. While retaining its family- likeness to the Brahma temple, this temple anticipates the compositional arrangement of the mandapa roofs of the developed Khajuraho temples. Its pillars, however, are plain and the ceiling, formed of overlapping concentric courses, shows elementary ornaments of cusps and floral cusps. since both its exterior and interior are almost plain and devoid of the exuberant sculptured and carved ornamentation, there is no doubt that this is one of the earlier temples of Khajuraho, assignable to circa 900-925. The sanctum-floor is almost completely occupied by a large Gauri-patta (6.2m in diameter), supporting a stupendous polished linga (2.5 m high and 1.1 m in diameter). On the linga are written in indelible ink later Persian and Nagari inscriptions which are not of much significance. (Information from ASI)
Chausath Yogini Temple
The Chausath-yogini temple, made of coarse granite, is the earliest building at Khajuraho and is situated on a low granite outcrop to the south-west of the Siva-sagar tank. The temple has an exceptional plan and design. Standing on a lofty (5.4 m.high) platform, it is an open-air quadrangular (31- 4m x 18.3m) structure of sixty-seven peripheral shrines, of which only thirty-five have now survived. The shrines are tiny plain cells, each entered by a small doorway and roofed by a curvilinear sikhara of an elementary form. The shrine in the back wall, facing the entrance, is the largest and perhaps constituted the main shrine. A few simple mouldings on the façade are all the decoration that the temple displays, but in spite of its uncouth appearance and rugged bareness, it possesses an elemental strength and reveals some basic traits of Khajuraho style, such as a lofty platform and a jangha (wall) divided into two registers. Of all the yogini temples in India, this is the most primitive in construction and unique in being quadrangular and not circular on plan. The three surviving images, representing Brahmani, Mahesvari and Hingalaja (Mahishamardini) are massive and squat in form and are among the oldest sculptures of Khajuraho. The latter two are inscribed as Mahesvari and Hingalaja. The evidence of the sculptural and architectural style, coupled with the early paleography of the short labels on the images, indicates that the temple is probably datable to the last quarter of the ninth century. (Information from ASI)
This temple, situated 603 m. west of the Chausath yogini Temple is built on the bank of an old lake, called Lalguan-sagar. It is a structure of modest size and design, roofed by a dilapidated pyramidal superstructure of receding tiers of pidhas. Its entrance-porch has completely disappeared and the doorway is plain but for a diamond carved on the door-still. This temple shares the plan and design with the Brahma temple and belongs to the transitional phase when sandstone was introduced but granite had not ceased to be used. It is slightly later than the Chausath-yogini and is datable to circa 900. (Information from ASI)
Chatur Bhuj Temple
This is the farthest temple situated about 3 km. South of Khajuraho and 600 m south-west of the Jatkari village. It is a nirandhara temple of modest size similar to the Javari, and consists on the plan of a sanctum carrying a simple sikhara of heavy proportions, vestibule, mandapa and porch. The temple shows some notable features. This is the only developed local temple which lacks erotic sculptures. Although the temple is girdled round by the three usual bands of sculptures, all figures, except those of the vidyadharas in the top row, are stereotyped. The large (2.7 m high) image of four-armed enshrined in the sanctum, however is remarkable for its expression of transcendental clam and basis. The consort of Narasimha, figured in the northern niche of the sanctum façade, is also noteworthy. The temple anticipates the Duladeo in many features of plastic style and ornaments and is datable to circa 1100. (Information from ASI)
This site is currently under excavation and if records are to be set then this would become the largest temple structure in the entire Khajuraho region. Unfortunately only the foundation of the temple remains.
The Duladeo temple, also called Kunwar Math, is notable for being the latest temple of Khajuraho. Dedicated to Siva, it is nirandhara temple and consists of a sanctum, vestibule, maha-mandapa and porch. On plan and in design, it has some features common with the developed medieval temples of the Deccan and western India, though its scheme of ornamentation is typical of Khajuraho. While its sikhara is of the usual developed form, clustered round by three rows of minor sikharas, its maha-mandapa shows some peculiarities of design and decoration. The maha-mandapa hall is remarkably large and octagonal showing twenty apsaras brackets, grouped in bunches of two or three an butting against its corbelled circular ceiling. Even in respect o plastic style and decoration, the Duladeo has many individual features which distinguish it from the rest of the Khajuraho temples. While the dancing apsarases of its interior and the flying vidyadharas on the top row of its facades show vigorous tension and dynamic movement, its elaborately-crowned and heavily ornamented apsarases forming the brackets of the maha-mandapa and porch and the river-goddesses of the doorway, standing under umbrellas are decorated with pompons. While some figures on this temple are of an exceptional artistic merit, the plastic treatment has on the whole, become regid, and, in many cases, lacks depth of relief, which is evident on a majority of the apsaras-figures of the exterior. On the basis of palaeography and style the temple is datable to circa A.D. 1000-1150. (Information from ASI)
Colossal Statue of Hanuman
A colossal statue of hanuman, the monkey-god, is housed in a modern shrine situated about half-way between the western group of temples and the Khajuraho village. It is interesting mainly on account of a short dedicatory inscription on its pedestal dated year 316 of possibly the Harsha era (A.D. 922), being the oldest dated inscription at the place. (Information from ASI)
The temple, locally called Ghantai on account of the chain-and-bell (ghanta) motifs so prominently carved on its tall elegant pillars is situated to the south of the Khajuraho village. It is the fragmentary shall of a structure, which was essentially of the same design as the Parsvanatha temple but was grander in conception and nearly twice as large in dimensions. All that has survived is an entrance-porch and a mahamandapa, each resting on four tall pillars, supporting a flat ornate ceiling. The coffered ceiling of the entrance-porch is bordered by oblong panels, carved with exquisite groups of dancers and musicians. Its maha-mandapa, like that of the Parsvanatha, is entered through an elaborate doorway and was originally enclosed by a solid wall, of which only a few supporting pilasters have survived. The door-lintel displays centrally an eight-armed figure of yakshi Chakresvari, seated on Garuda. The architrave surmounting the doorway is carved with sixteen auspicious symbols seen in the dream by Jina Mahavira’s mother at the time of conception. The similarly in plan and design between this and the Parsvanatha indicates that the two temples cannot be far removed from each other in date. Of the two, the Ghantai appears to be larger and slightly more evolved and is consequently datable to the end of the tenth century. (Information from ASI)
This temple with a simple plan and design and with the sikhara made of sandstone and the body of granite, occupies a fine position on the bank of the Khajuraho sagar or Ninora-tal. It is miscalled Brahma on account of a four-faced linga now enshrined in the sanctum, but must have originally been dedicated to Vishnu as shown by his figure carved centrally on the lintel of the sanctum-doorway. It is a modest structure, comprising a sanctum and a porch, the later now completely lost and the former roofed by a pyramidal sikhara of receding tiers of pidhas, crowned by a prominent bell-member. The sanctum is cruciform externally with projections on each side, and square internally, resting on twelve plain pilasters of granite. The projection on the east contains the entrance and that on the west is pierced with a smaller doorway, while the lateral projections on the remaining two sides contain plain latticed windows. Except for the bodly modeled figures of the Brahmanical Trinity on the lintel and Ganga and Yamuna at thebase, its doorway is plain. Its jangha (wall) divided into two registers and standing on simple basement mouldingsis also plain. Despite some difference in details this temple belongs to the same conception and early structural phase the Lalguan-Mahadeva with which it shares a common plan, design, ornaments and building material. It is consequently assignable to circa 900. (Information from ASI)
This temple dedicated to Vishnu, is situated about 200 meters to the south of the Vamana temple. It is a small but well-proportioned nirandhara temple, consisting of a sanctum, vestibule mandapa and portico. It is a gem of architecture and is indeed remarkable as much for its ornate makara-torana as for the slender and soaring outline of its sikhara. The carving and the three bands of sculptures on its outer walls are as rich as on the larger temples. Generally it resembles the Chaurbuja and is datable between circa 1075 and 1100. This temple, however, shows two significant architectural features. (Information from ASI)
This temple dedicated to the Varmana form of Vishnu, is situated about 200 m. to the north-east o the so-called brahma temple. It is nirandhara (one without ambulatory) temple, consisting on plan of a sapta-ratha (seven-projectioned) sanctum, vestibule, maha-mandapa with lateral transepts and entrance-porch, of which only the plinth has survived. Its sikhara is unencumbered by any subsidiary sikharas and is embellished with a fret-work of chaitya-arches, contrast to the developed local temples, erotic scenes are absent here, except in the subsidiary niches of the proof-pediments. It is also noteworthy for showing over the maha-mandapa a peculiar roof known as samvarana which is characteristic of the medieval temples of western India. The absence of the dhammilla- type of head-dress on the sura-sundari figures indicates that the temple is later than the Kandariya, the sculptural types and style of which it continues. This temple is, therefore, assignable to circa 1050-75. (Information from ASI)
This ruined Vaishnava temple stands on a small mound. It had originally all constituents of a nirandhara temple, but now only pillared mandapa has survive without roof. It is datable to circa twelfth century A.D. (Information from ASI)
Eastern (Jain) Section
The Parsvanatha temple, originally dedicated to the first Tirthankara, is one of the finest monuments of Khajuraho and the largest among the local Jaina temples. It is oblong on plan with axial projections on the two ends; the projection on the east or front constitutes the entrance-porch, while that on the west comprises a shrine attached to the back of the sanctum. Although it is a sandhara temple, the transepts with the balconied windows, which are so characteristic of the developed Khajuraho style, are absent. The outer wall is solid and is embellished with three bands of graceful sculptures. The entrance-porch shows an ornate ceiling of coffered design with pendants, the central one being exquisitely embellished with chain and floral patterns, terminating is a pair of intertwined flying vidyadhara figures. The interior consists of a sanctum enclosed by ambulatory a vestibule and maha-mandapa provided with a doorway. The door-lintel of the maha-mandapa represents in the center a ten-armed image of yakshi Chakresvari riding on Garuda, while that of the sanctum shows Jinas. Despite its Jaina affilation, the Parsvanatha temple bears a significant kinship to the Lakshmana in displaying among its sculptures a predominance of Vaishnava themes which include Parasurama, Balarama with Revati, group of Rama, Sita and Hanuman and the Yamalarjuna episode of the Krishna-legend. The sculptures of this temple also approximate those of the Lakshmana in voluminous modeling, proportion and poise. This temple bears some of the loveliest surasundari figures. It is datable to circa A.D. 960. (Information from ASI)
The Adinath temple, dedicated to Jina Adinatha is smaller and simpler than the Parsvanatha temple and is located immediately to its north. It is a nirandhara temple of which only the sanctum and vestibule have survived. In the elegance of plan and design it resembles the Vamana temple. In fact, the only noteworthy difference between them lies in the decoration of the top row of the outer wall, which in the case of the Vamana shows diamonds in niches but represents here a spirited band of flying vidyadhara, also found on the Javari, Chaturbhuja and Duladeo temples. As its sikhara is not as squat and heavy as that of the Vamana but shows better proportions, it appears to be slightly more evolved and somewhat later in date than the Vamana. This is also attested by its sculptural style. This temple is girdled round by three bands of elegant sculptures including charming sura-sundaris. The principal niches of the outer facades contain images of Jaina yakshis. The roof of the vestibule deserves particulars notice for its elegant design and decoration. The temple is assignable to the late eleventh century A.D. (Information from ASI)
This temple is located in group comprising the Parasvanatha, Adinatha besides numerous modern shrines, some of which stand on the ruins of old shrines, while the rest are built partly with old material and display old images. The temple of Santinatha, which is the principal place of Jaina worship, enshrines a colossal (4.5 m high) image of Adinatha, on the pedestal of which exists a dedicatory inscription dated A.D. 1027-28, now hidden under plaster. Drastically renovated, this temple has an old nucleus with an oblong enclosure of shrine-cells, typical of the medieval Jaina architecture, and displays many ancient sculptures of which the one representing Jaina’s parents is remarkable for its artistic execution. (Information from ASI)
Other Places of Interest
Palace belonging to the last ruler of Chhatarpur state, this place is right beside Shivsagar Lake.
This is a lake which is situated right beside Khajuraho Palace, go towards the evening when the sun sets beyond the horizon creating dramatic landscape against the water.
Memorial late Maharaja Shri Pratap Singh Ju
If you are really love stone sculptures then this place should be in your visit list when at Khajuraho. Photography is prohibited inside as you need to see them with your own eyes. This place has a good collection of stone works from different periods.
Sound & Light Show
Sound and Light Show takes place in the evening. There are two shows one in English and followed by Hindi. The English version starts at 7.30 PM and goes on till 8.30 PM. The Hindi version starts at 8.30 PM and ends at 9.30 PM. The Hindi version as has voice over by Amitabh Bachchan.The tickets cost Rs.150 per person. You are allowed to carry Photo Cameras but Video Cameras and Tripod are not allowed.