AS you disembark from train at the Khajuraho station and come out to take a taxi, you do not see hustle and bustle of a city. Instead, you look around you and find you are in the middle of farm land with blooming plants of mustard and wheat crop. The wheat and mustard crops give you a yellow and green view as you proceed towards what you feel might be a city.
Even in the middle of city you see sketchy patches of farm land and native population gelling well with tourists, foreigners included. The temple town is a hit among tourists , more so among the foreigners who land here as great enthusiasts of Indian temple architecture and meticulously sculpted carvings on the Prikarmas of these temples.
The city, if we can call it, has a population of just about 20,000 receiving about 1,000 tourists per day. Khajuraho located in north-western district of Chhatarpur in Madhya Pradesh is about 600 km from Delhi, now well-linked with train and air.
The city has temples in all directions. That’s why, they are clubbed into the western group of temples, eastern group and so on. The most famous ones are the western group of temples, which include the Laxman Temple, Kandariya Mahadev Temple, Devi Jagdambi Temple and Mahadev shrine.
The Lakshman Temple is considered to be earliest built in 954 by the Chendella rulers. Facing the east, it is dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
The Khajuraho temples were built by the Chandela rulers between 900 AD and 1130 AD. After the fall of the dynasty around 1150 AD to Muslim invaders, the temples suffered destruction and disfigurement. The locals, who loved their temples left the place hoping that they could remain safe in the thick jungles where the Muslim rulers would not venture into. In the process, they got lost in the jungles which in a way protected them somewhat until, they were rediscovered by a British engineer T S Burt in the 18th century.
The area still has thick forest cover in the nearby hills of Panna , famous for its diamond mines and tiger reserve.
As for the Khajuraho temples, they are mostly associated with erotic sculptures depicting love-making scenes. But that is not all, the range of sculpture carvings has it all capturing the tiny detailing about Hindu way of life, their Gods and Godesses As is well described in the Light and Sound show in the voice of Amitabh Bachchan that the erotic carvings around the Parikarmas , both outer and inner of the sanctum go to explain that transcending the needs of body and mind , one can find the path towards God.
It is in the fitness of things that the Madhya Pradesh Government is promoting the place with events like Khajuraho Dance Festival. In fact, some of the top dancers like Dona Ganguly (Odishi) and Uma NamboodripadSatyanarayan (Bharat Natyam) peformed this year when about a week-long festival began on February 20.
Besides the temples, there is so much for tourists in the virgin area in and around the rocky river of Ken which also quenches the thirst of an array of jungle birds and animals, including tiger and his preys in the Panna Tiger Reserve , about 35 km from Khajuraho. Then there are some historic water falls on the river including the Pandava Fall where, it is believed, the Pandavas took shelter during exile.
For an extended week-end getaways, Khajuraho is a great place to visit for those living in Delhi or even Mumbai. The best season to go there is between October and March.