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The temples of Khajuraho

the temples of khajuraho

Visiting the Hindu and Jain temples of Khajuraho is essential on any North India itinerary. Superbly restored after almost a thousand years of abandonment and neglect, they are famous above all for the delicate -and frankly erotic- sensuality of their sculptures. 

Erected between 950 and 1050, they represent the greatest architectural achievement of the Chandela dynasty, then at the height of its glory. 'Rediscovered' by a British surveyor in 1830, accessible to the public since 1923, the site has been a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1986. 

At the end of the 12th century, 85 temples spread over 20 square kilometers were in operation. They 'disappeared' after the annexation of the Chandela kingdom by the Sultanate of Delhi in the 13th century. Today, only 22 of them, spread over 6 square kilometers, are still visible.

All the temples, except one, face the rising sun. All but four are dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu and Ganesh. Thousands of sculptures cover all the temples, 80% of which represent daily life in the Middle Ages: women putting on makeup, musicians playing their instruments, potters, farmers and other characters busy with their daily tasks. Less than 10% of these sculptures are erotic, however they make the reputation of the site.

Grouped into three geographical areas, the temples are constructed of sandstone without the use of mortar. This is one of their particularities: the stones are held together by a mortise and tenon interlocking system and only hold in place thanks to gravity!

The monuments of Khajuraho

the architectural gems

Khajuraho Kandariya Mahadev
Détails des temples de Khajuraho
temple Devi Jagdamba Khajuraho
monuments de khajuraho
les monuments de khajuraho

These amazing temples are the perfect example of the synthesis between architecture and sculpture. 

In addition to an entrance, most temples have five parts: a vestibule, a hall, a large platform, a cella and an ambulatory. Panels and friezes adorn the exterior walls, and the interior features countless sculptures. The images of the deities, the warlike and erotic scenes, the silhouettes of the nymphs in tribhanga attitude    -triple body-bending, mounts of gods and other animals are part of the sculptural festival of Khajuraho. Here, the woman, symbol of the divine Energy, is at the center of the imagery of the art.

Long forgotten and left to the good care of Mother Nature, the temples of Khajuraho live again and are accessible to all architecture enthusiasts. Belonging to both the Hindu and Jain religions, they are among the greatest masterpieces of Indian art. Including visiting these gems is a must when planning a North India tour. 

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