Khajuraho invokes the mind, Fires the imagination. Hundreds of miles from civilization, deep in the hinterlands of central India where the tiger still has its own domain and where the depths of the forests hold their own secrets are a small clearing. Here: a village,modest by any standards; a tank, ambitiously called a lake; groups of ancient temples, some in ruins. For most people, Khajuraho continues to remain an enigma, a quest in the arena of world art.
Art historians have tried for years to seek a solution to the mystery of Khajuraho, but all attempts to do so must eventually be reduced to conjecture, for there are no records to reveal the purpose for the building of these temples. Perhaps we will never know; that is certain. However, Khajuraho will continue to draw homage from travellers and art lovers, as it has done ever since its revival.
An Ancient Past Ancient dynasties are often covered in a veil of mystery, largely because written records are rare and,as is often the case in India, myth and legend weave their way over time into the history of their origin and their reign. And when the dynasty leaves a legacy as contradictory as the Khajuraho temples, with their mix of the religious and the sensuous, the web is woven of brighter threads, the accompanying legends more colourful. Khajuraho or 'Khajur-vahika' (bearer of date palms),also known as 'Khajjurpura' in ancient times, evidently derives its name from the golden date palms (khajur) that adorned its city gates and, if the different legendary versions are to be believed, it owes its existence to an enchanting maiden named Hemvati.
According to the account of the medieval court poet, Chandbardai, in the Mahoba-khand of his Prithviraj Raso, Hemvati was the beautiful daughter of Hemraj, the royal priest of Kashi (Varanasi). One summer night, while she was bathing in the sparkling waters of a lotus-filled pond, the Moon god was so awestruck by her beauty that he descended to earth in human form and ravished her.
The distressed Hemvati, who was unfortunately a child widow, threatened to curse the god for ruining her life and reputation. To make amends for his folly the Moon god promised that she would become the mother of a valiant son. 'Take him to Khajjurpura', he is believed to have said. 'He will be a great king and build numerous temples surrounded by lakes and gardens. He will also perform a yagya (religious ceremony) through which your sin will be washed away.' Following his instructions, Hemvati left her home to give birth to her son in a tiny village.
The child, Chandravarman, was as lustrous as his father, brave and strong. By the time he was 16 years old he could kill tigers or lions with his bare hands. Delighted by his feats, Hemvati invoked the Moon god, who presented their son with a touchstone which could turn iron into gold, and installed him as king at Khajuraho. Chandravarman achieved a series of brilliant victories and built a mighty fortress at Kalinjar.
At his mother's request he began the building of 85 glorious temples with lakes and gardens at Khajuraho and performed the bhandya-yagya which expunged her of her guilt. A variation of the same legend introduces Hemvati as the widowed daughter of Mani Ram, the royal priest of Kalinjar. As a result of a mistake in his calculations the priest informed his king that a particular night was Puranmasi (full moon night) and not the dark night that it actually turned out to be. In her concern for her father's reputation the beautiful Hemvati prayed to the Moon god, who was gracious enough to uphold the word of the priest but, inreturn for his favour, ravished the daughter. The grieving father was so shame-stricken that he cursed himself and turned into a stone, which was later worshipped by the Chandelas as Maniya Dev. Hemvati gave birth to a son, the sage Chandrateya, who was later at the helm of the Chandela clan. Historically speaking, the area and aura around Khajuraho has always been renowned for its cultural achievements.
Architecture Of Khajuraho
Khajuraho group of temples in Central India is one of the most illustrious manifestations of Indian architecture. These 10th-11th century temples represent religiosity, patronage, artistic genius and aesthetic sensibility all at once. Built in the typical 'Nagara' style of architecture, over 20 of the original 85 temples have survived the climate for more than a thousand years despite being lost into obscurity and hence, suffering neglect for a long period of time.
Believed to have been constructed during the Chandela rule, the temples belong to Shaivism and Vaishnavism sects of Hinduism, Jainism and 'tantrism'. Unlike other temple complexes in the country, there is no enclosure wall surrounding these temples and each of them on a high and solid raised masonry platform. Though not very large, they have elegant proportions and are adorned with sculptures on their exteriors and even interiors.
These walled sculptures include depiction of numerous deities, their attendants, celestial maidens in sensuous positions and provocative postures, embracing couples (some of them in erotic sexual positions), dancers and musicians and couples engaged in various refinements of courtly love. It is believed that one temple alone sports over six hundred and fifty such figures ranging from sensual and warm depictions to explicit sexual activity (believed to illustrate the tantric rites by some). Some of these much-famed or much-notorious sexual postures are said to follow the Kama Sutra, the ancient Indian manual of art of making love. One of the most preferred destinations after Taj Mahal, Khajuraho has provided a scenic backdrop for many movies as well as many Indian classical dances that have been performed here.
Panna National Park
Complementing the man made perfection of the Khajuraho temples, is the dramatic scenic splendour of Panna National Park, 32 km away.
Raneh Falls ( 19 kms ) on the ken river are famous fror their rock formations. The main attraction is a 5 - km - long, 100 - foot - deep canyon made of pure crystalline granite in varying sahdes of colors ranging pink and red to grey. A series of seasonal waterfalls surrounded by jungles make it an ideal picnic spot.
Ken Nature Trail
Ken Nature Trail ( 22 km ), within a walking distance from Raneh falls, is a jungle track exhibiting natural beauty and imparts a knowledge of the surroundings.
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 of the long snouted variety of crocodiles.
Banisagar lake is situated 11 kms away from Khajuraho. It is a picnic spot and a dam on Khudar river with a waterspread of 7.7 sq. km. Suitable for Boating & Angling.
Ranguan lake is 25 kms from Khajuraho. It is an ideal picnic spot suitable for boating and angling.
How to ReachAir
Khajuraho Air service is driect link with Delhi, Agra, Varanasi and Kathmandu.
The nearest railheads are Mahoba and Harpalpur. Jhansi is a convenient railhead for those travelling from Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai and Varanasi the railhead is Satna, on the Mumbai-Allahabad section of the Central Railway is ideal. Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, Chennai, Agra by train to the railheads.
Khajuraho is connected by regular and direct bus services with Chhatarpur, Mahoba, Harpalpur, Satna, panna, Jhansi, Gwalior, Agra, Sagar, Jabalpur, Indore, Bhopal, Varanasi and Allahabad.
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