Everyone has heard about Khajuraho and it had been on our travel list for long. So on our return journey from our Delhi to Kanha National Park (Madhya Pradesh) road trip, we decided to route it through Khajuraho. Situated in Chattarpur District, Khajuraho, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s famous for its Nagara Style Architecture and erotic sculptures. Continue reading the Khajuraho Temple Guide to know more about this heritage site.
Table of Contents
- 1 The Khajuraho Temple Guide
- 2 Western group of Temples
- 2.1 Lakshmana Temple
- 2.2 Lakshmi Temple
- 2.3 Varaha Temple
- 2.4 Kandariya Mahadeva Temple
- 2.5 Mahadeva Temple
- 2.6 Devi Jagdamba Temple
- 2.7 Chitragupta Temple
- 2.8 Vishwanath Temple
- 2.9 Nandi Temple
- 2.10 Parvati Temple
- 2.11 Pratapeshwar Temple (a.k.a. Harmony Temple)
- 2.12 Matangeshvara Temple
- 2.13 Chausat Yogini Temple
- 3 Eastern Group of Temples
- 4 Southern Group of Temple
- 5 How to reach Khajuraho
- 6 Khajuraho Weather
- 7 Places to Stay in Khajuraho
- 8 Book your Stay at Khajuraho
The Khajuraho Temple Guide
History of Khajuraho temples
Set against the backdrop of the Vindhya range, Khajuraho was built by the Chandela Dynasty in the years between 950 to 1050 A.D. The temples are a confluence of Hindu and Jain religions. This shows the harmony and acceptance the people of that era had, for different religions. The Chandelas were immensely passionate about art which is evident in these temples. The Chandelas chose Khajuraho to make it their religious capital since it was surrounded by water bodies which is a pre-requisite as per Hindu traditions.
After the downfall of the Chandela Empire in the 13th century this land was neglected and was overgrown by date (Khajur) trees, hence the name Khajur Vatika which later became Khajuraho or The Bearer of Dates. The Moroccan Scholar and Traveller Ibn Battuta, who visited India from 1335 AD to 1342 AD was mesmerized by this place and called this “Kajarra” or land of the Yogis, as during that time the temples were inhabited by Yogis who had the power to cure ailments. Later in 1838, a British army surveyor T.S.Burt, discovered this place while making the Map of Central India and was so spellbound that he called it The Land of The Gods. The British Empire then started the work of its restoration. The Archaeological Survey of India oversees the maintenance now. Out of 85 temples that were built over the period, only 25 have survived the test of time.
This Sculpture of a sculptor sculpting is what you see as soon you enter Khajuraho
Architecture of Khajuraho Temples
The Temples of Khajuraho has sculptural depictions of various day-to-day routines of the human life. Like a marriage ceremony, an army preparing for war, women drying their hair or reading and writing letters (this clearly shows how women of that era also had an equal right to education). The temple layout integrate the male and female deities which shows their interdependence. There are temples where Lord Vishnu is worshiped in his female form as Goddess Vaishnavi as well. The intricately sculptured panels line the outside of the temples. Though the temples are famous for its erotic sculptures but these amount to around 10% of the total sculptures. These are on panels that are quite high and not even clearly visible until you crane your neck and focus on where the guide is pointing. We were a little apprehensive about taking our 7-year-old but there was no reason for it as apart from it, there is a lot of history that can only be experienced here.
Out of the Temples present now, 8 temples are dedicated to Lord Vishnu, 6 to Lord Shiva, 1 to the Sun God and 3 to Jain Tirthankars. All the temples except the Chaturbhuj Temple face east. This design ensures that the idol is properly lighted with sunlight all day long.
The temples are divided into Western, Eastern and Southern Group of Temples. The Western group of Temples are the largest group. Also, the temples in the Western Group are located in one precinct only whereas the Temples in the Eastern and Southern group are scattered all over Khajuraho Village. All the 25 temples are scattered over an area of 6 kms. The Western Group of Temples are very well maintained. It can easily take 2-3 hours to visit this group of temples. You need an entry ticket only to visit the Western Group of Temples not for the other groups. The entry charges are Rs 40/- for Indians and Rs 600/- for Foreigners.
Sound and Light show
The Department of Madhya Pradesh Tourism organises a sound and light show every evening at the Western Group of Temples. The narrator of the show is Amitabh Bacchan. It shows the history of the town of Khajuraho and how the temples came into being.
The entry tickets for Indians is Rs 250/- per Adult and Rs 120/- for children between 5-12 yrs of age and for Foreigners it is Rs 700/- per Adult and Rs 300/- per child.
The timings of the English Show are from 06:30 pm to 07:25 pm and Hindi show from 7:40 pm to 8:35 pm.
Western group of Temples
The Western Group of Temples Entrance
The Western group of temples with a total of 13 temples is the largest group. It has 11 temples housed inside a precinct while 2 are outside the boundary. The ASI has done a great job in maintaining and restoration of the Western Group of Temples.
The 11 temples inside the precinct complex are Lakshmana Temple, Lakshmi & Varaha Temple, Kandariya Mahadeva Temple, Mahadeva Temple, Devi Jagdamba Temple, Chitragupta Temple, Vishwanath and Nandi Temple, Parvati Temple and Pratapeshwar Temple (a.k.a. Harmony Temple). Of this list, only 5 are big temples with mesmerizing architecture and exquisite sculptures. The 5 main temples are Lakshmana Temple, Kandariya Mahadeva Temple, Devi Jagdamba Temple, Chitragupta Temple and Vishwanath Temple.
There are 2 temples which are not inside the precinct boundary but they are still considered among the western group of temples. These are Matangeshvara Temple and the Chausat Yogini Temple.
This is the main Temple in the Western Group with the best sculptures. It was the first temple built here between 930 AD to 950 AD by Chandela King Yasho Varman. His nickname was Lakshmana so the temple was named Lakshmana Temple after him. There is a 3-headed Vishnu Idol inside the temple. This temple is 95% preserved.
Outside the temple of the main deity there is always a small temple of its Vahan (ride). So initially there was a Garud Sthamb outside the Lakshmana Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu’s Vahan, Garuda, but it was destroyed so the local Bundela ruler Pratap Singh Deo replaced it with another Temple and installed a Laksmi Statue here.
This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu in his boar form. The entire body of the idol is decorated with panels of intricately carved statues. The sculpture of Sheshnag and the Goddess of knowledge Saraswati, is carved below and on the snout of the main idol.
Kandariya Mahadeva Temple
This Temple at a height of 117 feet, is the tallest temple here. This temple was built between 1025 to 1050 AD by King Ganda Deo to celebrate his victory over Mahmud Ghazni. The temple is built in a way to depict the Himalayas with intricately carved spires resembling it. Its made of 84 small temples. Kandar means cave and Kandariya means cave dweller so the entrance of the temple is designed like a cave. This temple is 85% preserved.
This small temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is just next to Kandariya Mahadeva Temple. It is a very small temple flanked by Devi Jagdamba Temple on the other side.
Devi Jagdamba Temple
This temple is smaller in height compared to the other temples. Its architecture is inspired by Jainism with several sculptures depicting it. Originally dedicated to Lord Vishnu but during the Bundela reign the then ruler, King Ganda Deo installed the idol of Goddess Jagdambi here. However, the statue of Lord Vishnu in his dwarf form is still preserved here. You will find 80% of the sculptures here are of women doing their daily routines.
The only temple here, dedicated to the Sun God was built between 1020 AD to 1025 AD. Its architecture is very similar to Devi Jagdamba Temple. It houses a 6.9 feet tall statue of the Sun God riding a chariot of seven horses. It was almost destroyed and was restored in 1838 by the Britishers.
This temple was built in 1000 AD to 1020 AD. It very closely resembles the Kandariya Mahadeva Temple. Almost 99% of the sculptures are the same. Originally, King Dhanga installed two Shiv Lings, one made of emerald and the other of marble. The marble one still stands today however the emerald one is said to be long stolen. Right outside the temple is another temple dedicated to Nandi – the closest aide of Lord Shiva.
This temple is dedicated to Nandi, the mount of Lord Shiva. This temple is situated right outside the Vishwanath Temple. There are sculptures here that depict Lord Shiva, Parvati and the Nandi facing Lord Shiva. This temple is modestly built compared to other temples here.
Dedicated to Goddess Parvati, this temple was almost completely destroyed. It is now 80% restored. The front part of the temple has many erotic sculptures however the side and the back do not have any sculptures.
Pratapeshwar Temple (a.k.a. Harmony Temple)
Located close to Vishwanath Temple and Parvati Temple, this temple has an unusual architecture quite different from the other Western Group of temples. It is the most recently constructed temple built by King Pratap Singh. It is a confluence of Hindu, Jain and Islamic architecture as it has 3 spires depicting the three religions in complete harmony with each other. Hence, it is also known as the Harmony temple.
Although this temple is outside the precinct boundary, however it is still a part of the Western group of temples. This is the only temple in Khajuraho where the deity is still worshiped. This temple houses a 18 feet tall Shiva ling out of which 9 feet is visible and another 9 feet is underground. Every evening at 6 pm the surroundings come alive with chants and ringing of the temple bells when the Aarti takes place.
Pro Tip: You should first plan to visit Matangeshvara temple at 6 pm followed by Sound and Light show at 6:30 PM for the English show.
Chausat Yogini Temple
Also located outside the western group precinct, Chaunsat Yogini temple is the oldest surviving temple which was built in 885 AD. It is the only granite temple here. As granite is hard and difficult to carve, it does not have any carvings. This temple is dedicated to the 64 Yoginis who used to pray here so there are in all 65 temple cells in total. 64 for the Yoginis and one (the central and the largest one) dedicated to Goddess Durga.
Eastern Group of Temples
The Eastern group of temples at Khajuraho have 7 temples among them however they are not maintained in one complex as the western group. So there is no entry ticket for them as well. They are scattered with poor roads connectivity. You definitely need a vehicle if you want to see them. Even if you have taken a guide for the western group of temples only, these temples of the Eastern group can be easily accessed using google maps.
Of the 7 Eastern group temples, 3 are among the Jain temple cluster which is in one complex. These are Parsavanath temple, Shri Shantinath temple and Adinath temple. The other 4 scattered temples are Vamana temple, Javari temple, Brahma temple and the Ghantai temple.
This is one of the 3 Jain Temples in Khajuraho. It the largest of the 3 temples. This temple now hosts Parshavnath but originally it was built for Adinath. This temple only has a magic square. This is one of the earliest depictions of the magic square.
Shri Shantinath temple
Shri Shantinath temple is the main center of Jain worship in the Jain temple cluster with Jain Tirthankara Shantinath as its main deity. The temples original structure is quite old however it was renovated with modern construction in the 19th century. The main sculpture of the temple is a 4.3 m high statue of Shantinatha.
This temple is dedicated to Tirthankara Adinath of Jainism, while Hindu Gods are sculpted on the exterior of the temple. There is a statue of Adinath here. There is an inscription inside the temple that mentions the date of construction (1158 AD) along with the name of the main sculptor. The architecture of this temple is very similar to the Vamana temple.
This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu in his Dwarf Form. It was built between 1050 AD to 1075 AD. The temple looks a little small in height compared to the other temples as the porch has collapsed.
Built between 975 AD to 1100 AD, Javari temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The temple’s architecture is similar to the Chaturbhuj Temple. The entrance of the temple has sculptures of the Nav Grahas or the 9 Planets of the Solar System. The idol of Vishnu inside is broken and headless.
This temple was built in 900 AD and is dedicated to the four-headed, Creator of the World, Lord Brahma. This temple is named Brahma but there is a Shiva Ling inside the shrine and a Lord Vishnu sculpture on the entrance of the temple. This temple is comparatively plain in architecture compared to other temples.
Built in 995 AD during King Dhaga’s reign, this ruined temple is similar to Parsavanath Temple but almost double in size. The walls of this temple have collapsed and only the pillars of some of the chambers stand. This temple is dedicated to the Jain Tirthankara Rishabhanatha.
Southern Group of Temple
With only 3 scattered temples, Southern group of temples is the smallest group again with poor road connectivity. Of the 3 temples here, Beejamandal is basically in ruins. The other two temples are Dulhadev and Chaturbhuj or Jatkari temple. It does not take much time to visit these temples.
Built-in 1000 AD to 1150 AD, Dulhadev temple was one of the last temples built by the Chandelas. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva and houses a Shiva Ling inside. The unique thing about this temple is that the facial features and expression of the sculptures here are more delicate and soft.
Beejamandal Temple Ruins
Said to be the largest of all temples in Khajuraho, Beejamandal Temple is presently under excavation with ASI doing a great job for restoring its lost glory. However, with extremely poor roads, this temple ruin is not easy to access. You could however make a quick stop while going to the Chaturbhuj temple.
Chaturbhuj or Jatkari Temple
Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Chaturbhuj temple is the only temple facing west. Built perhaps in the 11th or 12th century, it is in the Jatkari Village so a.k.a. Jatkari temple. It’s also called Chaturbhuj temple or the one with 4 arms. Also, it’s the only temple in Khajuraho that does not have any erotic sculptures.
How to reach Khajuraho
Air India and Jet Airways operate flights to Khajuraho Airport from Delhi, Agra, Mumbai and Varanasi. However the flight rates are on the higher side compared to other routes of the same flight duration making this an expensive affair.
Like other tourist places, Khajuraho too is well-connected by roads to all the major cities in Madhya Pradesh like Satna, Gwalior, Bhopal and Bandhavgarh. So driving down or taking a cab is a good option. The roads (mainly the National Highways) were under construction in many places when we drove down from Delhi. But overall it was convenient as well as affordable.
Khajuraho Train Station (opened in 2008) has direct trains from Delhi, Agra and Varanasi. The railway station is 6 kms far from the Temples. But Satna, which is 130 kms from Khajuraho is a big station with good connectivity. This station is also on the route of Delhi to Trivandrum trains and the Mumbai – Howrah route. Taxis for Khajuraho are easily available outside Satna railway station.
The best time to visit Khajuraho is during the months of October to March when the weather is pleasant and the temperatures range from 8 degree C to 25 degree C. However, in January it gets too cold once the sun sets. The summers can get too hot and most of the sightseeing places close by 6 pm so it is not a good idea to visit Khajuraho in summers as there is a considerable amount of walking involved .
Places to Stay in Khajuraho
The Lalit Temple View is the perfect place to stay in Khajuraho. The luxurious hotel opens out to the temples as a background. If you want to unwind and relax, then this is the place to be. Impeccable service, courteous staff and all modern amenities with delectable food, this place has it all. There is plenty of activities for kids and the best part was the live music by the pool.
Book your Stay at Khajuraho
Have you been to Khajuraho? Do let us know about your experience at Khajuraho or if we are missing something, please contact us or comment below and I will update this blog soon. Your comments and/or feedback are welcome.
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