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Khajuraho in the Madhya Pradesh is renowned for its Vaishnav and Shiva Tantric Hindu, Jain and even Buddhist temples. Of the original 84 temples in the area only 22 have survived the ravages of time. Weather and probably some human destruction could have been the cause of the destruction of the rest of the temples. The Buddhist temples are now in complete ruins. The Hindu and Jain temples that have survived are in surprisingly good state of preservation.

The neighboring area was inhabited by a vibrant and cultured folk as far back as second century BCE in Bharut in Satna district. The Archaeological survey of India conducted excavations in the early 1980s and again in 1999 revealing the existence of remains dating as far back as fourth century CE from the Gupta Dynasty period. Remains of Gupta period have also been found in Bhumra, Nachna and Deogarh of Madhya Pradesh. These excavations suggest that the Chandela Rajput Dynasty builders of the temples in Khajuraho in the period from eighth to twelfth century CE could rely on talented craftsmen whose forefathers had passed on the architectural and sculptural skills over many generations.

The archaeological excavations at the largest of Satdhara mounds near the Western of Group of Khajuraho temples in 1981 exposed the remains of Pratihara and Chandela Rajput periods from eleventh and twelfth century CE. An interesting find in this excavation was a triple shrine with one common Mandapa (Porch) and Pradikshina (Path for circumbulation). It also showed that bricks were used much earlier in this region. Many interesting sculptures of early Vedic deities such as Mahishasurmardini, Vamana and Yamuna were found in these excavations. Various beads, terracotta pendants, figurines of bull gamesmen, disc and iron objects were unearthed from this research. Other significant finds include iron objects like the arrowheads, fragmentary blades of dagger, leaf-shaped spearheads besides nails and other miscellaneous artifacts.

There are three distinct groups of temples in Khajuraho: Western, Eastern and Southern. The Western group has the best preserved temples and it is the largest of all three groups. The largest Shaivite Tantric Hindu temple in this group is the world famous Kandaria Mahadev Temple. It originally had four smaller shrines in each corner. These are now in ruins. It is 102 feet 3 inches in height and 101 feet 9 inches in length. There are 226 statues in the interior of the temple and 646 statues in its exterior. Each statue is between 2.5 to 3 feet in height. Apart from the vast number of statues, the entire surface in the exterior as well as the interior is very ornately carved. The other interesting temple in this group is an older temple built by the earlier Chandela rulers who were Vaishnav - the Lakshman Temple where the lintel over the entrance depicts the Hindu trinity, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva with the consort of Vishnu, Lakshmi. In the sanctum there is the three headed idol of Boar incarnation of Vishnu, Varaha and the Lion-headed incarnation, Narsimha. The entire sanctum area is very profusely sculpted. The Chausat Yogini Temple is only one in Khanjuraho that is made out of granite stone. This temple was constructed in 900 CE. Its plan is very special because it is quadrangular in shape. Only 35 cells out of the original 65 are still intact and no image of goddess Kali has survived. The Devi Jagdamba Temple was originally dedicated to Vishnu. The Chitragupta Temple that faces the rising sun in the east was dedicated to the sun god Surya. It has a five foot high image of Surya driving a seven horse chariot. The panels also depict elephant fights, hunting scenes, group dances and royal processions. This gives an idea of the luxurious lifestyle of the Chandela rulers at the height of their power in central India. The Vishwanath Temple is another very impressive temple in this group. The steps leading to the temple are flanked with statues of Lions on the northern side and with elephants on southern side. There is a very impressive image of the three headed Brahma in its interior. This temple is also beautifully carved on its exterior. Facing this temple is a temple dedicated to the vehicle of Shiva – the statue of Nandi Bull in this temple is about 6 feet high. The Varaha Temple is another Vaishnav Temple with a gigantic 9 feet high statue of the deity in its interior. The Matangeshwar Temple that is dedicated to Shiva is one temple in Khajuraho that is still a place of worship. Shiva in the temple is represented by the traditional Lingam that is eight feet high. Just near this temple is the open air Archaeological Museum which has an interesting collection of various statues and other fragments from the temples that are no longer there.

In the eastern group there are three Jain temples. The largest one is dedicated to the Jain Tirthankar, Paraswanath. The exterior of this temple is very intricately and profusely sculpted. The image of Paraswanath in this temple was installed in 1860. It faces the bull symbol of the first Jain Tirthankar, Adinath. The Ghantai Temple is not in a very well preserved state but the ruinous remains of the temple give an idea of its original splendor. There is a sculpted frieze in this temple that depicts the 16 dreams of Vardhaman Mahavir’s mother before his birth in vivid detail. There is also an idol of a multi-armed Jain goddess riding on a winged Garuda. A small temple dedicated to the first Tirthankar, Adinath is also in the same area.

In the eastern group the Vamana Temple displays a double row of Apsaras, the celestial nymphs on its exterior. The two other temples in this group are the Brahma and Javari Temples.

About 2 miles south of Khajuraho village is the southern group where the Chaturbhuj Temple has a very intricately carved image of Vishnu in its sanctum. On the road to the Jain Temples is the other Hindu Duladeo Temple.

4-star hotels:

Taj Chandela – 94 rooms
Radisson Jass Hotel – 90 rooms
Clark Khajuraho Hotel – 104 rooms
Ramada Hotel - 85 rooms
Lalit Temple View - 47 rooms

3-star hotels:

Hotel Harmony (near Jain Temples) - 35 rooms
Hotel Surya (near Jain Temples) - 40 rooms
Usha Bundela Hotel – 66 rooms
Holiday Inn Khajuraho – 56 rooms
Zen Hotel - 30 rooms
Hotel Casa di William - 12 rooms

Distance from Khajuraho in Kilometers and Miles:

Orchha: 178 Kilometers or 111 Miles
Satna: 120 Kilometers or 75 Miles
Jhansi: 175 Kilometers or 108 Miles
Gwalior: 280 Kilometers or 174 Miles
Agra: 395 Kilometers or 245 Miles
Bandhavgarh: 189 Kilometers or 118 Miles
Kanha: 445 Kilometers or 276 Miles
Allahabad: 285 Kilometers or 176 Miles

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