Western group of temples, Khajuraho Photo journal
Driving from Jhansi
The nightly light and sound show at the Khajuraho lawns makes the story of Khajuraho and its builders easy to grasp.
October is a good time to be in Khajuraho, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India. Instead of taking a direct train or flight to Khajuraho, our group of 40 women took a train to Jhansi. A drive from Jhansi in SUVs took almost half a day and we reached Payal hotel by lunch time. The AC rooms and spicy Indian food kept us from the temples till 4 p.m.
It was a sunny day, and the evening remained so. Our tour operator arranged for tickets at the gate to the Western group of temples and we walked into the green premises. The green grass and shapely flowering shrubs framed the buff-coloured towering temples built a 1000 years ago.
Admiring sculpted exteriors of Laxmana temple, Khajuraho
Matangeshwar and Laxmana temples
Matangeshwar temple (left in the above picture) just outside the premises was a clear contrast to Laxmana temple (right in the above picture).
While Matangeshwar temple had bells ringing and flags waving, Laxmana temple remained an edifice to be admired – no paraphernalia of worship marked it. It had remained thus for a long time like the other temples inside the premises, including Khandariya Mahadev temple.
Khandariya Mahadeva is the most famous temple of Khajuraho.
Khandariya Mahadev temple
Khandariya Mahadev temple has been an old favourite from school days when I scouted book-stores for picture post cards to display in history files.
On the stepping stone to the inner sanctum of Khandariya Mahadev lay offerings of flowers, rice and a few coins. A visit later in the evening to Matangeshwar temple was a clear contrast. Recorded Sanskrit chants, bells, and chanting of Om Namah Shivaay, women with heads covered and puja thalis in hand, incense smoke clouding the air, vermillion dots on visitors' foreheads… The priest said that this was the oldest of the Khajuraho temples.
This temple was different no doubt. There were no erotic sculptures that Khajuraho temples are famous for on the walls of Matangeshwar temple, and the Shivlinga itself reached up to the roof.
Jagdamaba temple platform
Jagdamba temple is dedicated to Parvati, Shiva's consort, the divine Mother. It was interesting to see an artist sketching the temple in pen and ink, with a notebook in his lap…
Artist at work on the Jagdamaba temple platform
Of the 85 Khajuraho temples built between 950 to 1050 AD, 22 temples have survived till today to constitute one of the world's great artistic wonders.
Varaha temple is dedicated to the boar avatar of Vishnu. Varaha's statue in a single piece of rock, had fine carvings depicting the entire universe.
Travel facts: Khajuraho
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Khajuraho has direct flights from Delhi, Agra, Varanasi and Kathmandu.
On Tuesday, Friday and Sunday, train number 2448 Sampark Kranti runs from Hazrat Nizamuddin railway station in Delhi to Khajuraho railway station via Mathura, Agra, Jhansi, Mau Ranipur, harpalpur, Kulpahar and Mahoba. It leaves Delhi at 21.35 to arrive at Khajuraho next morning at 7.50. An AC3 ticket from Delhi to Khajuraho costs Rs. 702, while a second class sleeper ticket costs Rs. 269.
On other days, the nearest railheads are Mahoba and Harpalpur. Jhansi is a convenient railhead for those travelling from Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai. Satna, on the Mumbai-Allahabad section of the Central Railway is ideal for those travelling from Varanasi.
Khajuraho is reachable by bus from Chhatarpur, Mahoba, Harpalpur, Satna, Panna, Jhansi, Gwalior, Agra, Sagar, Jabalpur, Indore, Bhopal, Varanasi and Allahabad.
Khajuraho Dance festival
Every year in the month of February – March, Khajuraho Dance Festival is organized by the Kala Parishad under the Madhya Pradesh government.