It felt as if we were in hot and humid Hampi once again, especially with the thick layer of airborne dust, except the scenery was nowhere near as gorgeous. The sandstone colors are very similar, but the Khajuraho temples, however, are in much better condition than the ones in Hampi; though there were quite a lot of hacked off breasts and phalluses, much of the still-standing temples are still well preserved. The temples were all built between AD 950 and 1050 (and for the sake of comparison, the ones at Hampi were built in the 1400s and on).
The occasionally-trustworthy Lonely Planet reckons possibly it was the relative isolation of the town of Khajuraho that protected it from Muslim zealots who would have otherwise laid waste to the, ahem, virile temples.
And, virile they are! Orgiastic, ecstatic, and erotic, the temples of Khajuraho are worthy of its widespread fame. Not only are the carvings, uh, imaginative with the ‘poses’ they are exceptional works of art depicting “a storyboard of life a millennium ago…” (LP India)
Our first afternoon, we rented bicycles and visited the temples that were outside the main centre of town. Started with the four-headed Brahma temple, the dwarf-featuring Vamana Temple, and the headless Vishnu shrine at Javari Temple. Ended with the cluster of Jain temples, where the inner sanctums had jet-black figurines. Suggestive, but no orgies were spotted.
The second afternoon, we went by the Western Group enclosure, where the biggest and best-preserved temples are. I was awed by the skill of the carvings, where the essence of life was celebrated and embodied in stone. And yes, by the pornographic images rendered in such detail, which had everyone blushing.
However, it must be said that not everything was straight out of the kama sutra (which it isn’t): there were also figurines that depicted everyday activities… meditation, pulling a thorn out of a foot, makeup application, plus the usual battle scenes, and so on forth.
Unfortunately, I didn’t take a photo of that particular one, but Xiker overheard one guide describing a similar sequence of 4 depictions as such:
First, the man is with 3 women. But it was too much, so now he has a friend to share with. But it was still overwhelming, so now he is with only one woman. Finally, he is tired, and so now he is meditating.