travels website in India

The Bold and Beautiful in Khajuraho

Back To List

Khajuraho had no hang-ups about sex. On the walls of its temples are carved images of sexy men and voluptuous women celebrating the bounty of life with unabashed tenacity. Indeed, the absence of conspiracy with which they go about their joyous task makes what may otherwise seem offensive look almost innocent. As one British lady, looking up at an acrobatic woman satisfying the needs of her five lovers commented: ‘Now that is a big honest chunk of life.’

But there is more to Khajuraho than erotic sculptures which constitute only about six percent of the temple carvings. They are a part of everyday life that skilled artisans have lovingly etched in stone and dedicated to various gods.

The temples were all built during the Chandela Rajput dynasty between the years 950 and 1050 AD. According to legend, the founder of the dynasty, Chandravarman was the son of the beautiful maiden Hemwati and the moon who had seduced her while she was bathing in the forest. When Chandravarman established his kingdom, his mother appeared in a dream and implored him to build temples that would depict human passions and bring about the realization of the emptiness of human desire.

Another theory is that the Chandela rulers were Tantrics who believed that gratification of earthly desires was a step towards attaining nirvana. With the fall of the dynasty, however, the temple town was abandoned. Forgotten for centuries it was lost in the embrace of encroaching forests till the early part of the 19th century when it was rediscovered and restored to its ancient glory.

Of the original 85 temples only 22 have survived and these have been divided into three main clusters – western, eastern and southern. One can go on a comprehensive ‘temple tour’ by rickshaw or on a hired cycle. It is also possible to walk around the town and cover all its sights in a single day. Temples aside, there is the bustling little village of Khajuraho, its narrow twisting streets alive with the sights, sounds and smells of rural India.

But eventually it is the temples that have earned Khajuraho international fame and the most magnificent of these are located in the Western Cluster. And here it was not a matter of: if you have seen one, you have seen them all. Hidden away were little surprises that could astound and shock.

A shy young couple passed by looking at the images with embarrassed curiosity. But as they walked around, the blushes and nervous giggles subsided. The stone images had been silently chiseling away at their inhibitions and the couple started to share secrets that they dared not even whisper to each other. The raw power of the sculpted figures cut across emotions and sentiments and bound them together, if not in erotic physical union later that night, at least with the understanding that men and women were created to share their pleasures.


Those wanting to fly to Khajuraho must do so via Delhi.

Though Mahoba (63km) and Harpalpur (94km) are closer, Jhansi (175km) is a far more convenient railhead for those travelling from Delhi and Chennai. Passengers travelling on the Mumbai-Calcutta line via Allahabad, should disembark at Satna (117km).

State transport and private buss as well as private taxis ply between Khajuraho and Jhansi / Satna. A special luxury bus from Jhansi ties in nicely with the Shatabidi Express to and from Delhi.

MP Tourism operates five hotels within Khajuraho. In addition there are a number of private lodges and hotels including properties run by the Taj, Oberoi and the ITDC Ashok group of hotels.

The annual Khajuraho Festival, which is held over a period of 4 days in Feb / March each year attracts leading dancers and musicians who perform against the splendid backdrop of its magnificent temples.