The Epic Centre

Temple-Hopping In Khajuraho

An elaborate threesome is underway. A woman is suspended in mid-air, her body curved. Next to her, a couple is engaged in cunnilingus. Another woman stands near them, pleasuring herself. I’m at the Lakshmana Temple in Khajuraho, staring at the famous 10th-century carvings on the wall. While my attention remains focused on the art, I can’t help but notice the reactions of the other Indian tourists around. Some are giggling, others embarrassed, but most are simply curious.

With temples dedicated to Vishnu, Shiva and other gods, as well as a host of other Jain temples, Khajuraho is believed to have been the religious capital of the Chandela dynasty. The erotic sculptures they built are stunning, both in terms of thought and execution.

We all know about the Khajuraho carvings, they are trotted out as an example of India’s sexually liberated past in every debate on censorship. But to actually see this incredibly intricate, glorious celebration of the human form is truly special.

We exit the buzzing main temple compound with a multitude of thoughts swirling in our minds, grateful for the sleepy peacefulness of the rest of Khajuraho. We amble along, stopping to take pictures of psychedelic-looking babas and brightly painted doors, and to grab a cup of coffee at Raja Cafe, one of the town’s oldest and hippest spots.

Later, as I watch the sun set over the temple-tops from The Lalit Temple View Khajuraho, I wonder what the Chandelas must have thought of when commissioning these sculptures. I sip my wine, grateful for the richness of our past and the infinite future.

Getting There: Fly to Khajuraho with Jet Airways (stopovers in New Delhi and Varanasi) from most major Indian cities.

Where To Stay: The Lalit Temple View Khajuraho. Stop en route at Ken River Lodge (www. kenriverlodge.com) for lunch and a nature walk.

Lakshmana Temple
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