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Archaeology Publication


InArchCenter ID: - IACBN0031

Introduction: -

Khajuraho has been always associated with erotic sculptures. These temples are cited as example to show how broad minded and progressive Indian culture is perhaps in all this, we miss the most important point that is the basic purpose of building. This Temple is built by Rajput Chandela Dynasty. It’s an UNESCO World Heritage site and far from being aptly representation of erotic sculptures the temples near are in fact illustrate the idea of life that engaged aesthetic object to create something inspirational. It has been taken from the word Khajur /date plant. It poses 3 different meanings described, it said that there used to be gold date Palms here. Some say it is related to the Scorpion which was associated with especially in TANTRIC PUJA and some say it is metaphor of male Sexual Desire. Mandala and geometrical designs are used to carve on wall and interior of temple.

Creation of Khajuraho temple: -

As per legends Hemavathi was a beautiful woman. One day when she was bathing in a pool in Banaras the Moon God was warned by her beauty and couldn't wait any longer to see her, soon they had a child name as Chandra Varman. However, she feared as the child was born out of wedlock and cursed Moon God who later prophesied that the child with will go up to become a GREAT KING. Just like the prophecy the child grew up as great king and formed Chandela Dynasty. After Hemavati's death Chandra Varman saw her in her dreams where she asked him to build Temple that would affect Human Passion and Desire. The temples are Thousand Years Old it must have taken 300 to 400 years to build and the record dates 950 to 1508. Most of the temples were built in this period that is from 9th to 12th C range of Hindu King YASHOVARMAN & DHAGA. The rulers of Rajput Chandela Dynasty built this temple complex. The Khajuraho Temples are located in Khajuraho, Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh. In India, houses were made of mud, upon destruction they merged with the earth but the DEVALAYA i.e., the house of God was built by stones hence only that left behind.

Historical Records: -

The temple was built about 57km from the city of the Chandela dynasty rulers. Historically according to by Abu Rihan-Al-Biruni describes the temple complex of Khajuraho from towards the end of 11thC when MAHMUD GHAZI attacked Kalinga. He also states that artists and women then had their own freedom and rights and there was no discrimination in society on the basis of caste class and gender. In 1830, the British surveyor T.S. BURT rediscovered the temple & efforts were made in the Excavation and Restoration. IBN BATUTA & ALEXANDER CUNNINGAM states that it’s most attractive location in India as the granite foundations and stone masons used the mortise to put blocks of stone instead of gravity. The art, culture, social life, daily routine and rituals are shown on the temple architecture.

Whose temples are there?

The temple is grouped into 3 categories depending on their orientation: -1) The Western group of temples, 2) The Eastern group of temples and 3) Southern group of Temples. Among the temple that are standing still now are Shiva and Vishnu 1each Ganesh and Sun-God while 3 to Jain Tirthankara. This makes Khajuraho one of the 4 holy sites dedicated to the glory of Lord Shiva.

Important temples: -

  1. 64 Yogini Temple,

  2. Lakshman Temple,

  3. Shiva Temple,

  4. Vishwanath Temple,

  5. Parsvanatha temple,

  6. Kandariya Mahadev temple {largest}

  7. Jagadambi Chaturbhuj Temple.

There are 3-4 groups of biggest temples in the complex one of them is KANDARIYA MAHADEV TEMPLE. It's a Shiva temple inside the cave. Besides, there is a Vishnu Temple, Lakshman, Ganesh, Surya, 64 Yogini of Shakti parampara, and Jain temples. Initially, there were only 85 Temple over 21 sq. k area but currently only 22 are remaining over 6 sq. k area. The material used in construction was Granite/Sandstone in shades of buff, pink & pale yellow with the NAGARA ARCHITECTURE STYLE. No doubt the temples were built as a place of HINDU & JAIN religion to worship but it also depicts about human life, passion and daily ritual which was accepted etc.

Why in Khajuraho?

Questions like why only in Khajuraho? Or why just by Chandelas? Arises in one’s mind. So here’s an answer to that the land was barren and empty here and it was also Religious capital of Chandela dynasty. Rajput Chandelas being one of the most powerful ruling dynasty of Central India. Art and devotion were at their peak during their rule & India was the Asian Eldorado. No strict boundaries existed between sacred and profane. Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma and the Jain saints were all lavishly honored.

Temple Terminology: -

The Khajuraho temples follows a very consistent and unique design pattern which has 5/3-part layout. You enter the temple through an entrance Porch known as the ARDHAMANDAPA. Behind this is there is a Hall/ MANDAPA. This led to Main Hall/ MAHAMANDAPA; supported with pillars and with the corridor around it. A Vestibule/ ANTARALA then leads to GARBHAGRIGHA, the inner Sanctum where the image of God to which the temple is dedicated is displayed. An enclosed corridor, the PRADAKSHINA runs around this sanctum. This simpler 3-part Temple don't have a MANDAPA/PRADAKSHINA. Externally the temples consist of successive waves of higher tower culminating in the soaring SHIKARA/ Spine which tops the sanctum. While the lower tower, over the Mandapa / Mahamandapa maybe pyramid shaped, this is taller and curvilinear. The ornate, even baroque, design of all this vertical element is balanced by an equally ornate horizontal element from the band of sculpture that runs around the temple. A whole temple sits upon a high terrace known as the “ADISTHANS”. The finely carved entrance gate to the temple is "TORANA" & lesser the tower around the main shikhara is known as URUSRINGAS. The temples are almost all aligned east to west with the entrance facing east. Some of the earliest temples were made of granite or sandstone.

  • ADHISHSTHANA or THE BASE PLATFORM: - Generally made of solid block of granite laid out to hold the structure’s weight & also accentuate the temples upward thrust.

  • SHRINGA or CENTRAL TOWER: - The whole temple structure is capped by an elevated structure that towers directly over the sea where the deity is placed inside.

  • URUSHRINGA or SECONDARY TOWER: - The Shringa is often surrounded by smaller similarly designed towers around it known as URUSHRINGA. These help in emphasizing the height of the structure. Those from the classic period of Khajuraho history are made completely of sandstone.

The Sculptures and Statues: -

  • Apsara: -Heavenly nymph beautiful dancing women.

  • Mithun: -Khajuraho’s most famous image, the sensuously carved, erotic figures that have been shocking a variety of people from Victorian Archaeologist to busloads of blue rinse tourist.

  • Nayika: -The only difference between a Surasundari and a Nayika is that the Surasundari is supposed to be a heavenly creature while a Nayika is human.

  • Salabhanjika: - Female figure with tree which together act as supporting brackets in the inner chamber of the temple.

  • Surasundari: - When a Surasundari is dancing she is an Apsara otherwise she attends the God and goddesses by carrying flowers, ornaments, mirrors or other offerings. She also engages in everyday activities like watching her hair, fondling herself, playing with pets or babies, playing musical instruments or posing seductively.

  • Sardula: - A mythical beast, par-lion, part some other animal or even human. Sardula usually carries armed men on their backs and can be seen on many of the temples.

Religious Teachers: -

According to Dr. Devangana Desai this Acharya’s could have suggested or guided the architects. Aacharya Urdhilvasiva was noted on the Sadasiva image inscription. Jaina Acharya: - Maharajaguru, SriVasavachandra, Kumarchandra, Kumaranandi, Sarvanandi have come in light from inscription. Scorpion wearing female is called as Khajurā-Vīhikā and can be seen as sculpture on the temple.

Khajuraho’s Erotica: -

There are various reasons behind the except Hemavati’s demand. 1st is the erotic posturing was a kind of Kamasutra in stone, a how-to -do-it manual for adolescent Brahmin boys growing up segregated from the world in special temple schools. 2nd theory claims that the fig. was thought to prevent the temples being struck by lightning by appearing the rain God Indra. This old lecher is supposedly a keen voyeur who wouldn't want the source of his pleasure damage. The 3rd theory is rather more convincing as the explanation is that these are tantric images. According to this Cult/Gratification of the baser instinct is one way to blot out the evils of the world and achieve final deliverance. [Bhoga] physical enjoyment and [yoga] spiritual exercise are seen equally valid in this quest for Nirvana.

Theme of Temple: -

Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha is the basic theme of this Temple out of which only 10% of the Khajuraho Temple structure which one can word as erotic sculptures other than that religious art of India is also a leading theme of the temple. There are hundreds of divine images in the interior hall and exterior walls. Stories like incarnation Vishnu childhood, childhood sports of Krishna {notably without any reference of Radha}, Siva in his various Leela murti’s, Goddess Parvati and other goddesses. The theme rose when Temple-Architecture evolved into a measures structure and when Indian philosophy had also a rich and interesting stage of its development with thinkers like Abhinav Gupta and KshemRajan. Concept of work in Khajuraho till 4th C was - Square box, 5th C Family members & 9th C Architecture work started taking place. R.N. Mishra’s article on the artist under the Chandel as list various categories: - 1) Sutradhara, 2) Shilpi, 3) Vijnanika, 4) Pitalakara, 5) Rupakara and their hierarchy.

Square box design on wall of temple which has these particular numbers on them & by adding them horizontally or vertically there is only one answer which one can get which is 34.

Conclusion: -

Overall, we get to know that Khajuraho Temple Complex is much more above than just erotic sculptures. A whole human lifestyle has been sculpted on the walls and there’s a reason why it included in UNESCO World Heritage. The work carved on the walls is worth appraisable. Artist who carved and sculpted temple slowly made it their family work and one can find names of artists & teachers too on temple. From the adhishsthana to mandapa the temple conveys a story. From 85 to 21 temples Khajuraho has seen ruins too but the other strong standing Ancient Indian Temples are still able to give chills to visitors.

Bibliography: -

  • Dr. Devangana Desai, The Religious Imagery of Khajuraho, forwarded by: - Michel Postel.

  • Tourism Guide 2004, by Government of India, Northern- Madhya-Pradesh.

  • Devloka with Devdutt Pattanaik, Chapter- 13, Epic Channel, Season-3, pg.: - 77.

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About Writer: -

Sayli Anirudra, Mumbai

  • MA-History, K J Somaiya College of Arts and Commerce-Autonomous, Maharashtra

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