Khajuraho is a very well-known UNESCO Heritage site in Madhya Pradesh which is known for its wonderful and exquisite architectural temples. This heritage site in India is very popular for the ancient temples, built in 950-1050 AD by the Chandela dynasty. Each and every temple architectural styles in Khajuraho defines wrestling, royalty, meditation, spiritual teachings, kinship etc and many arts. And the major significant attraction of Khajuraho temples is erotic sculptures and art. If you observe, many temples in Khajuraho are adorned with erotic sculptures.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site is not only a reflection of the past but also a reflection of architectural imagination. This place filled with sculpted temples exclusively dedicated to Hindu Lord Shiva, Vishnu and Jain patriarchs. These temples which were of great importance till 14th century were discovered by a British army Captain, TS Burt, in the wild jungles of Khajuraho.
During 950-1050 AD Chandela dynasty constructed numerous temples to promote the Hinduism and Jainism in India. Actually, the total count of the temples are 85, but at present 20 temples only restored. In the 1850s these 20 temples were restored. And then temples were divided into three groups as the Eastern, Western and Southern group of temples.
Top 10 Temples in Khajuraho
1. Kandariya Mahadev Temple
In Khajuraho group of temples, Kandariya Mahadev temple is the largest and tallest Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The architectural styles of the temple resemble the Mount Kailash with the main spire at a height of 31 meters. The Shiva Linga in the temple made of marble is the major attraction of the temple. Here you can see nearly 800 carved sculptures and 646 statues.
2. Chausath Yogini Temple
Chausath Yogini temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to 64 Yoginis means different forms of Mother Goddess. This temple in Khajuraho is the oldest one and most of the sculptures are ruined. The temple structure is like a courtyard surrounded with numerous temples and these temples houses the Yoginis.
3. Lakshmana Temple
Lakshmana temple is one of the biggest stone temples in Khajuraho and it was dedicated to Lord Vishnu. In Khajuraho group of temples, this temple is the most popular one. The major architectural attractions of this temple are detailed outer walls sculptures, Lord Vishnu’s reincarnation statue, some erotic structures and sculptures of elephants and horsemen etc.
4. Adinath Temple
Adinath temple is a well-known Jainism temple dedicated to Jain Tirthankara Adinatha. Even though it is a Jainism temple but on the outer walls, Hindu deities was showcased. The significant architectural attractions of this temple are different sculptures belongs to Jain and Hindu deities such as Yakshinis, Chakreshvari, Ambika, Garuda, etc. The lotus position of Adinath is the must-see statue in Adinath temple.
5. Matangeshwar Temple
Matangeshwar temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. This temple is very famous in Khajuraho and ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) also declared this temple as Monument of National Importance. Here in this temple, Lord Shiva is considered as sage Matang. In this temple, you can find numerous Shiva lingas. The ceiling of this temple adorns beautiful architectural sculptures but the exteriors and interiors of the temple remain plan.
6. Javari Temple
Javari temple in Khajuraho was dedicated to Lord Vishnu. But the main idol of Lord Vishnu is broken and headless. The architectural attractions of this temple are entrance sanctum depicting various sculptures of Lord Shiva, Brahma, and Vishnu, beautiful Makara arch, and other exquisite ceilings of the temple. The outer walls carved sculptures of this temple are great architect marvel pieces.
7. Devi Jagdamba Temple
Devi Jagdamba Temple is a finely decorated temple in Khajuraho dedicated to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi. This temple is known for exquisite erotic sculptures and three bands carvings encircling the temple. The major attraction of this temple is the sanctum of Goddess Parvathi Devi. The architectural attractions of the temple are numerous sculptures of pairs of men and women, surasundaris, sardulas etc.
8. Chitragupta Temple
Chitragupta Temple is a Hindu deity temple dedicated to Sun god Surya in Khajuraho. This temple is known for ornate and detail carvings. The major architectural attractions of this temple are the large hall with an octagonal ceiling and the Lord Vishnu’s 10 incarnations statue. And the other attractions of Chitragupta temple are some erotic sculptures like mithuna couple, surasundaris, apsaras etc.
9. Parsvanath Temple
Parsvanath temple is the largest Jain temple in a group of Khajuraho temples. Entrance structure and the detailed carvings of this temple are the best examples of architectural styles. The major attraction of this temple is its main sanctum of Parsvanath with miniature scriptures. And the exteriors of the temple poses different Hindu deities sculptures and carvings.
10. Chaturbhuj Temple
Chaturbhuj Temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The importance of the Lord Vishnu deity in this temple is with four hands on a high platform. The architectural attractions of this temple also renowned for sculptures of Lord Brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu at the entrance and some sculptures of dikhpalas, nymphs, ashtavasus and mythical lions etc. This temple exterirs or interiors don’t possess any erotic sculptures.
What to See in Khajuraho Temples
When you go near Kandariya – Mahadev Temple have a good look at its SHIKARAS or temple rooftop which is said to be the represent Himalayan adobe of Gods.
These statues represent four – lion stroking sardulas or part - lion, part – human mythical beasts.
Kama Sutra Carving
There are several erotic carvings spread all over Khajuraho temple – something they are famous for. It is said that these have been made to appease evil spirits but how true it is no one knows.
It’s a massive 2.2 m long statue of Nandi, the bull – vehicle of Hindu God Lord Shiva facing Vishvanath Temple. It’s ultimate.
It’s a 9th century statue of Varaha, the boar incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The beauty lies in the Bramanical gods and goddesses carved out all over.
Surasundaris are graceful depictions of nymphs found all over Khajuraho temples. A women draped in wet Indian Saree, is what most people look upon when here.
Southern Group of Temples
Not many people go to this section but only those who have real interest in architecture. Walking down a dusty lane one reaches the Southern Group of temples. One is welcomed here by Duladeo Temple which is the youngest temple dating 1100 – 1150. A lot of wood work has been used to make this temple unlike granite which has been used in Western group.
Next is Chaturbhuja temple including 2.7 m high four – armed statue Vishnu in its sanctum. Intrestingly it does not have any erotic structures. There is also the Bijamandala Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, with exquisite unfinised carvings and some of most elusive carvings. Repetions of sculptural work is seen in this section of temple, however the work is as explicit as in other parts of Khajuraho. The southern group of temples does see some sculptures which has been left finished – mostly because of less resources.