Tuesday 14 May 2019


The day was planned to visit the temples of Khajuraho. As we started the trip, we saw the following signage. It very accurately describes Khajuraho.
In the temple architecture of India, the Khajuraho complex remains unique. One thousand years ago, under the generous and artistic patronage of the Chandela Rajput kings of central India, 85 temples, magnificent in form and richly carved came up on one site near the village of Khajuraho. Today of he original 85, only 22 have survived the ravages of time. These remain as a collective paean to life, to joy and to creativity to the ultimate fusion of man with his creator.
In the mature period, Khajuraho had attained extraordinary excellence in Indo-Aryan architectural style. The present western group of temples has certainly some of the finest and most elegant specimens which reflect the fully developed form of temple architecture in medieval India. As distinct characteristics, the temples stand on a high podium provide an outer ambulatory for the devotee. In plan, the structure, in general, is divided into five parts namely ardha mandapa (the entrance or portico), mandapa (the assembly hall), maha mandapa (the transepts), antarala (the vestibule), and garbhagriha (the cella or sanctum). Vertically, the different parts of the temple is recorded from lower base as jagati, putha, adhisthana, jangha, varandika, sikhara, griva, amlaka, kalasa, and vijapuraka. With respect to ambulatory passage, the temples are broadly divided into two as sandhara prasada (which have circumbulatory passage like Laxham and Kandariya Mahadev temple) and niradhara prasada (have no circumbulatory passage) temples like Chitragupta, Jagdamba, Vamana, Javari, Duladeo, Chaturbhuja, and the Adinath temple. All the temples are decorated with finely carved images constructed out of fine-grained sandstone quarries from Panna region.
This region was known as vatsa in ancient time, Jejabhukti in medieval times and Bundelkhand from 14th century. Khajuraho played a significant role in Indian history. The chandelas who rose to power during the early 10th century AD and their capital at Khajuraho, decorated the place with tank and temples. According to local tradition there were 85 temples but now around 25 stand in varying stages of preservation. The place lost its importance around 1500 AD. Most of the temples are built of sand stone except the Chausath Yogini, Brahmam and Lalguan Mahadeva which are constructed of granite. The temples belong to Shaiva, Vaishnava and Jaina sects and they mark the culmination of the central indian temple building style revealing a distinctive peculiarities of plan and elevation. These consist of a garbhagriha(sanctum), antarala(vestibule), mandapa and  ardhamandapa (entrance porch). The khajoraho temples mark the highest development of architectural design. The sculptures represented at Khajuraho include the cult images parivara, devatas (family deities), apsaras or sura-sundaris, secular and animal sculptures and their mithuna can be seen at Kandariya Mahadeva temple which displayed tall and slender figures with distinctive physiognomy. The erotic figures have given us the finest sculptural compositions which vibrate with rare sensitiveness and warmth of emption and remarkable for their sculptural quality. The most important temples at Khajuraho include Lakshman, Vishwanatha, Kandariya Mahadeva, Jagdambi, Chitragupta, Dulhadeo, Parshvanatha, Adinatha, Vaman, Javari, and Chaturbhuja.
The Varaha Shrine, built on a lofty plinth, is simple and modest. It is an oblong pavilion with a pyramidal roof of receiving tiers, resting on fourteen plain pillars. The temple enshrines a colossal monolithic image of Varaha, the boar incarnation of Vishnu. The shrine is built entirely of sandstone. It is dated to Circa 900-925 AD.

Lakshmana Temple The temple dedicated to Vishnu is built by Chandela ruler Yashovarman between 935-950 AD. It is a Sandhara temple of the Panchayatan variety. The entire temple complex stands on a high platform. The structure consists of all the elements of a developed temple the entrance porch (Ardha Mandapa), Mandapa, Maha Mandapa, Antarala, and Garhbahriha.
Unlike other temples, its sanctum is Pancha Ratha on the plan and its Sikhara is clustered with minor Sikharas. The wall portion of the temple is studded with balconied windows with ornate balustrades. Two rows of sculptures including divine figure, couples, and erotic scenes adorn the wall surfaces. The sanctum doorway is of seven Sakhas. The central one being decorated with the various incarnation of Vishnu. The lintel depicts Laxmi in the center flanked by Brahma and Vishnu. The sanctum contains an image of four armed Vishnu.

Kandariya Mahadeva Temple This temple was built circa 1025-1050AD. This is the loftiest monument of Khajuraho dedicated to Lord Shiva. It consists of an entrance, mandapa, maha mandapa, antarala, garbhgriha. The sanctum is enclosed by a pradakshinapatha. The temple plan, dimensions, aesthetical proportions, superb sculptural embellishment and architectural elaboration all mark it out as the most evolved of the central indian building style and one of the most sublime creations of Indian architecture.  The temple has a lofty basement with elegantly ornamented moldings including friezes of elephants, horses, warriors, and hunters. Acrobats and musicians, dances, devotees and miscellaneous scenes. The temple is entered through a flight of steps and an elegantly carved torana decorated with a kirtimukha and a frieze of dancers and musicians. The lintel of the sanctum is represented with a four-armed Shiva flanked by Brahma and Vishnu on the right and left side respectively.

Jagdambi Temple This temple was originally dedicated to Vishnu. Now named for the image of Parvati enshrined in the Sanctum. The temple stands on a high platform and consists of a sanctum without ambulatory. A vestibule, a maha mandapa with lateral transcept and an entrance porch (ardha mandapa). The lintel of the garbhagriha contains a flour armed standing Vishnu figure. The temple is known for its sculptural embellishment.

Chitragupta Temple This temple closely resembles Jagadambi temple and consists of a Sanctum without ambulatory, a vestibule (antarala), a maha mandapa with lateral transepts and an entrance porch. The main image in the sanctum is an impressive sculpture of surya standing in a chariot driven by seven horses. This is the only temple in Khajuraho dedicated to Surya. The temple walls are carved with some of the finest figures of sura-sundaries, erotic couples, and gods including an eleven-headed Vishnu in the central niche of the south facade. Stylistically Chitragupta temple can be placed between Vishvanatha and Kandariya Mahadeva temple.

Vishwanath Temple This temple is among the finest monuments of Khajuraho and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It was a panchayatana shrine. However of the four subsidiary shrines only two in the northeast and southwest corners have survived. The structure shows all the elements of a developed temple. The entrance porch (ardha mandapa), mandapa, maha mandapa and sanctum enclosed by an ambulatory.
Architecturally the temple falls between the Lakshmana and Kandariya Mahadeva temples. The inscriptions on the mandapa refer to the dedications of two lingas. One made of emerald and other of stone in the towering temple of Shiva markateshvara built by the Chandela kings Dhanga in 1002 AD. There is no doubt that the inscription refers to Vishwanath temple.

Vamana Temple The temple dedicated to the Vamana incarnation of Vishnu consisting of the plan of a saptartha sanctum vestibule maha mandapa with lateral transepts and entrance porch.  The sanctum is nirandhara and enshrines an image of four armed Vamana flanked by Chakrapurusha on the left and Sankhapurusha on the right. The doorway of the sanctum has seven bands decorated with stenciled scrolls, dancing ganas, mithuna, and lotus petals and wavy scrolls terminating in a figure of Naga, Ganga and Yamuna standing in tribhanga flanked by a female attendant on one side carrying full base or garland and the other are flanked by a doorkeeper. The lintel contains a four-armed standing Vishnu and the niche sculptures include Brahma and Shiva. The outer walls of the temple has two bands of sculptures which include graceful figures of sura-sundaries, the sculptures of Varaha, Narasimha and Vamana adorn the niches of the sanctum.  On the basis of the sculptural and architectural style, the temple is assignable to 1050 to 1075 AD.

Finally the only temple in Western Temple complex where puja still happens. Matangeswar Temple

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