Monday, 19 January 2009

Day 6: Khajuraho

Day 6 (13 January 2009): Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh

Khajuraho was definitely an exotic experience. According to the tourism guides of Khajuraho, there are three temple compounds in Khajuraho. In the morning of my sixth day in India, I went to the Western Temples first.

Western Group of Temples

Seemingly the foggy days in Khajuraho had ended; the sun was shining cheerfully as I entered the gate of the Western Temples after paying INR 250 for entrance and INR 25 for my video camera (still picture camera is free, and the locals only pay INR 10). There are five major temples here; Lakshmana Temple, the oldest one in the Western compound, was built ca 954 AD by King Yasovarman of the Chandella Dynasty and was dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the Preserver of the Universe. Other temples are Kandariya-Mahadeva (for Lord Shiva, the Recycler of the Universe), Devi Jagadambi (for Mother Durga, the All Mother), Chitragupta Temple (for Lord Surya, the Sun), and Visvanatha Temple (for Lord Shiva). Usually people would circumambulate the compound clockwise, i.e. to the Lakshmana Temple first. Contrary to the common route, I took the quite right lane and arrived at Visvanatha Temple first.

Visvanatha was an amazing sight. The temple’s shikara (tower structure) was so ornate and elaborate that I wonder what kind of magic was needed to make this temple (and other temple as well). I spent almost an hour alone there, taking lots and lots of pictures and marveling over the gorgeous apsaras and dakinis decorating the walls. I also entered the meditation hall inside, where a single lingga was enshrined, and meditated there. It was… surreal and blissful, and I was so blessed that no one was there to intrude my union with Lord Shiva and Lady Parvati.

After one hour in Visvanath alone, I had to speed up my journey to other temples. I admit that it distracted me a bit, I wanted to enjoy the temples as long as I can be, but the light will be too bright for good photography, and no doubt my taxi will be in want of extra payment. I visited Lakshmana Temple and took lots and lots of photographs as well. A bit sorry that there were so many tourists there, so that I couldn’t enjoy it the way I enjoyed Visvanath, but it was still a great treat. Then I sped up to Kandariya-Mahadeva and was captured by the ornate shikara and the gates. What can I say… the sculptors who made the temples were truly non-Muggles! They were truly wizards and witches, shamans of the past!

I didn’t really go through Devi Jagadambi Temple, for it was under construction, and I kind of brush away Chitragupta. Good photographs, but definitely 2 hours in the Western Group alone is NOT enough for me. Next time (in 3-4 years), I will have to spend 3 hours here.

Southern Group of Temples

There are two temples in the Southern Group: Chaturbhuja and Duladeo. I went to Chaturbhuja first and was amazed by the 11ft tall statue of Lord Vishnu made from a single stone (!). I don’t think the picture here does justice, for the statue was truly magnificent. It was rather damp inside, but it was understandable, for that’s how most temples are anyway. Then I went to Duladeo, and took some more pictures of the ornate shikara.

Eastern Group of Temples

Basically the eastern temples consist of two compounds: the three Brahmanical temples (Brahma, Vamana, and Javari) and three Jain temples (Ghantai, Adinatha, and Parsvanatha). The Jain temples were particularly interesting, for one can find the ornate sculptures of Hindu deities alongside Lord Buddha. The shikaras were very elaborate as well, though not as detailed as the ones in Western Group. I didn’t go to the Brahmanical temples… not on purpose though. It was already noon; I was hungry and tired, and just wanted to wrap the tour immediately. Well… saves it for the next 5 years perhaps…

In the evening, I managed to go to the “Light and Sound” performance at the Western Temples compound. I was glad that I made it; the show was amazing. It had no actors or actresses, for it only contained light and sound, as the title suggested. The narration told the history of the temples, faceless names who built the magnificent structures, women and men who contributed to their greatness. I was amazed at their creativity, and immediately thought of Prambanan and Borobudur Temples… or Prambanan at least, where similar show could be made.

Pic 1: Lord Shiva and His Cosmic Consort, Lady Parvati, at the Visvanatha Temple
Pic 2: The ornate shikara at the Kandariya-Mahadeva Temple
Pic 3: Lord Ganesh, Visvanatha Temple
Pic 4: The 11ft tall Lord Vishnu and moi inside the Chaturbhuja Temple

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