Khajuraho temples are the only monuments in India which are famous for erotic sculptures, not for architecture unlike other monuments. The Khajuraho complex of temples is a UNESCO recognized world heritage site, one of the popular tourist attractions in the Madhya Pradesh travel guide. A pillar of Madhya Pradesh tourism, Khajuraho speaks of society’s liberal view of human sexuality in the bygone era. It symbolizes human passion, while the Taj Mahal stands for love. IndianEagle takes on the world famous Khajuraho sculpture in a different way.
Khajuraho Temples stand for human passion
Apart from the Khajuraho history, there is a legend. The curiosity about the origin of Khajuraho temples runs high until the legend is explored. According to the legend, the creators of Khajuraho were descendants of the moon god in Indian mythology. It begins with the story of Hemavati, daughter of a Brahmin priest. Attracted to her maiden beauty, the moon god descended on earth and seduced her when she was bathing, on one evening. It was the intense passion that made her give in to his advances. He could not resist the spell of her maiden charm. Their union gave birth to a son, Chandravarman.
The then society did not welcome the apparently unusual union of a god and a mortal as it was not solemnized as per traditions and through rituals. Being unwed mother of a son, Hemavati suffered harassment in society. Stung by unkind words, she retreated to the dense forest of present Madhya Pradesh in Central India. She brought up the child in the wilderness. When the boy grew up, he became founder of the Chandela dynasty.
After he became a powerful ruler, his mother visited him in dream and requested him to build temples that would concretize human passions in form of art. She told him that passion is nothing but an overwhelming human desire for love. Touched by the emptiness of his mother’s life, Chandravarman commissioned the construction of the first group of Khajuraho temples. The other temples in Khajuraho Town were built by his successors. If the legend is believed, the temples stand for love in Khajuraho.
Khajuraho sculpture was a study of eroticism
The erotic art of Khajuraho Temples has been interpreted in different ways in different times. The most popular theory refers to an important purpose of erotic sculpture on the outer surface of the temples in Khajuraho. The purpose was to teach boys the art of eroticism and its significance in human life once they attained manhood after the Brahmacharya phase of life in hermitage. The study of human passion depicted by Khajuraho sculptures was part of their preparation for the worldly role of householder.
Another popular theory of the erotic art refers to the then belief in the power of Tantrism, in the Chandela era between 950 and 1150. The ardent followers of Tantrism believed that the infinite could be achieved through the fulfillment of earthly desires. As the Chandelas were diehard believers of Tantrism, they patronized the study of eroticism in form of sculpture.
Misconceptions about Khajuraho temple sculptures
According to historians and archaeologists, only 10% of the sculptural carvings on the outer surface of the walls of Khajuraho architecture depict eroticism as an art. The rest of the carvings depict day-to-day life of different people such as farmers, potters, musicians and carpenters from different walks of society. The erotic sculpture depicting sexual indulgence of humans of opposite genders is often wrongly referred to as Kamasutra. The Khajuraho sculpture is an aesthetic art depicting eroticism without rawness and vulgarity. It neither titillates the senses nor excites basic instincts. Many fail to perceive the purity and aestheticism of Khajuraho art.
Khajuraho is accessible from Delhi, Agra and Varanasi by air. You can catch Khajuraho flights at the domestic terminal of Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi. You can travel by train from Khajuraho to Orcha and Jhansi, two historic destinations in Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh.