The Khajuraho Temples:-
This is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It was accorded this status in 1986. The temples at Khajuraho, located in the Chhatarpur district were built during the Chandela dynasty, which reached its apogee between 950 and 1050. The mediaeval trailer Ibn Battuta noted in 1335, that there were 85 temples in Khajuraho. of these about 25 temples remain as of today in good state of conservation. They belong to two Different religious groups Hinduism and Jainism. These temples are famous for their erotic sculptures.
These temples are fine examples of the Nagara style of temple architecture. Most of the temples are built in fine grained sandstone except a few others which are built in granite.The temples are grouped into three categories depending on their orientation – the Western Group of Temples, the Eastern Group of Temples and the Southern Group of Temples. These temples are dedicated to several Hindu Gods and Goddesses along with deities in Jain beliefs.
Among the temples that are standing till now, 6 are dedicated to Lord Shiva, 8 to Lord Vishnu, 1 each to Lord Ganesha and the Sun God, while 3 are dedicated to Jain Tirthankaras. The largest of the temples is the Kandariya Mahadeo Temple that is dedicated to the glory of lord Shiva. It makes Khajuraho one of the four holy sites dedicated to the glory of Lord Shiva, the other three being Gaya, Kashi and Kedarnath.The temples consists of several repetitive architectural elements that are listed below –
- Adhishsthana or the Base Platform – generally made of a solid block of granite laid out to hold the structure’s weight and also accentuate the temples upward thrust.
- Shringa or Central Tower – the whole temple structure is capped by an elevated structure that towers directly over the site where the deity is placed inside.
- Urushringa or Secondary Tower –the Shringa is often surrounded by smaller similarly designed towers around it known as Urushringa. These help in emphasizing the height of the structure.
These temples where archaeologically exploded by the British Explorer Alexander Cunningham. Some notable temples of Khajuraho are:-
- Kendriya Mahadev temple:-
This Temple dedicated to who is the largest temple of the Khajuraho temple complex. It is attributed to king Ganda. The main spire of or Shikhar rises 31 metres to depict Mount Kailash, the Himalayan mountain abode of Lord Shiva. The Shikhar is surrounded by 84 miniature spires. The Temple contains a marble Shivling in the main sanctum. Beside the Main shikhara, there are 84 smallest subsidiary Towers, all replicas of the main tower. There are almost 900 sculptures on the temple platform.
- Lakshmana Temple:-
This is one of the best preserved temples in the complex. It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It is built on a high platform which has sculptures of elephants, horses, musician, women and dancers on It. The doorway of the sanctum has a panel of sculptures of incarnations of Lord Vishnu like load Varaha, Vanana and Narsimha. Temple also consists of images of Goddess Durga and Lord Ganesha.
- Chausath Yogini Temple:-
This is the oldest temple in the Khajuraho temple complex. It is made of granite. It is dedicated to Goddess Kali who is represented in the form of 64 Yoginis. The temple is different in design as it has a quadrangular plan with an open Courtyard in between and small shrines on the Periphery. The shrines are tiny plain cells, is entered by a small doorway and roofed by a curvilinear Shikhar of an elementary form. Only 35 of these shrines survive as of today.
- Chaturbhuj Temple:-
This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. This is the only temple in the temple complex which does not have erotic sculptures. The temple is called Chaturbhuj because the idol of the presiding deity is Lord Vishnu with four hands. This temple is also known as Jatakari, called so after the name of the village where it is built.
- Chitragupta Temple:-
This temple is dedicated to Lord Surya( sun god). This temple enshrines an impressive 5 feet high image of Lord Surya in the standing posture driving a Chariot which is pulled by seven horses. That temple also houses a three storied stepped tank locally known as Chopara.
The general theme running through the sculptural carvings are examples from the four necessary pursuits of life which are Artha, Kama, Dharma and Moksha. About 10% of the total sculptures in Khajuraho depict erotic and explicit imagery which is the main attraction for people from all over the world. The Chandela rulers were believed to be followers of tantric practices which involved practicing of various sexual rituals. The sculptures depict men and women, together referred to as Mithunas, engaged in various forms of sexual acts according to the descriptions provided in the Kamasutra.
Other sculptures depict scenes from various stages of human life as well as various day-to-day activities performed by men and women. Considering the positioning and proportion of erotic sculpture among others, a natural philosophical conclusion may be drawn. One must go through the various worldly pursuits like physical pursuits or Kaam before they can get jaded of them and are ready to join the quest of true knowledge or Gyan. As a powerful symbolism, these erotic sculptures are placed mostly on the outer walls of the temples which imply that one must leave all erotic thoughts outside before entering the statuary of God.