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iXiGOers Dec 09 2012

What is the history and culture of Khajuraho?

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One of the most talked-about and well-known historic destination in India, Khajuraho is a part of almost every Indian's consciousness. Well-known for its erotic sculptures, it stands as an example of the combination of Hindu and Jain religions with ancient Tantric customs. The group of monuments and temples here came to life and gained world fame in the 19th Century by British engineer T.S. Burt and Alexander Cummings. Before this, the town lay hidden by a dense jungle and a lively, but unknown, village settlement prospered there.

  • Origins
    The word Khajuraho, known as Kharjuravahaka in ancient times, is believed to be derived from the Sanskrit words kharjura (which means date palm) and vahaka (which means "the one who carries"). It is believed that the temples were built over a span of 200 years, between 950 and 1150 CE, by the renowned Chandela (or Chandel Rajput)kings. Before being known as the Chandel Rajputs, these rulers were known as the Bargujar Rajputs, who were primarily Shiva worshippers. This can be seen in the Neelkanth Mahadev Temple in the complex and the grandeur with which it was built. Khajuraho was the capital of the Chandel kings, and even after the capital was moved to Mahoba, it continued to remain a cultural capital of the dynasty.

  • Architecture
    The buildings themselves were built in a unique style of architecture, using sandstone and extremely precise joints of mortise and tenon, which stand together with the help of gravity alone. The buildings do not use mortar, which makes them different from other architectural styles. The expanse of temples and the structures makes evident the fact that it would have taken a lot of skilled labour and craftsmen to carry out a project as huge as this. Spread over a whopping 20 sq km, it stands as a proud masterpiece of India's vast and varied history.

  • Eroticism and Divinity
    The erotic statues are often misconceived as depictions of sexual intercourse between the gods, or representations of the Kama Sutra. In reality, these carvings and statues are neither. In fact, these statues and sculptures stand at a considerable distance from the cluster of Hindu and Jain temples, or on the outer walls, and depict the lifestyle and daily routine of an average human being here in the medieval age.

  • The life here
    With such a rich historic texture, the fabric of Khajuraho's culture and society ought to be fascinating. The population here is not very dense, and their economy largely depends on the tourism that surrounds the temples and statues. Largely following a village lifestyle, the people here are believed to have always known about these temples and preserved them till they were officially discovered by the British.

Experience the grandeur of an era gone by, both in the town and its people on this memorable trip to the best places to visit in Khajuraho.

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