Friday, July 25, 2008

Visit to Khajuraho

A world heritage site, the temples of KHAJURAHO are India’s unique gift to the world, known for their outstanding universal value and human creative genius, built between 950 – 1050 AD by the kings of the Chandela dynasty. They are built mostly of fine sandstone ranging from pink to pale yellow. The stone blocks were fitted together as the use of mortar was not known. The temples bear highly intricate friezes stone carving depicting scenes from everyday life back then. And of course, the famous erotic figures of mithunas engaged in ardent lovemaking are more renowned. In the sculptures of Khajuraho, women and sex dominate the art. The dexterity and the intensity with which such moods and expressions are captured by the sculptors make the images come alive. The temples of Khajuraho constitute one of the world’s greatest artistic wonders.

There are many interpretations regarding these erotic sculptures of Khajuraho. Some view this as a work of degenerate society representations mirroring the lax moral standards of contemporary society. Whatever the interpretations are, it is evident that this can be viewed as a work of society which had few inhibitions about sex. Pursuit of pleasure, Kama was deemed to be an alternate path leading to moksha. Perhaps, the sculptures on the temples of Khajuraho aim to reveal human passions and a marked sensual element which is characteristic of early Indian Art, literature and folk tradition. Goddesses and females are often shown naked from the waist up often richly jeweled, with tiny waists and large rounded breasts, posing languidly, a picture of happiness and relaxation.

There are three Geographical divisions of the group temples namely WESTERN, EASTERN and SOUTHERN. The Temples of WESTERN group are the most visited at Khajuraho and it is the group to which the largest Kandariya Mahadev temple, the Oldest Chausath Togini Temple and the 13 other main temples belong. Most of these temples are contained within a fenced enclosure in a setting of a beautiful park. The Temples are profiled here in a clockwise direction. The EASTERN group consists of Brahmanical and Jain temples existing side by side. This includes three Hindu temples and three Jain temples. An inscription on the pedestal of the statue dates it to 922 AD, possibly the Chandela King Harsha reign. The SOUTHERN group comprise of Duladeo and Charturbhuja temples with Vindhaya in the background. About a km south of the Jain enclosure, Duladeo Temple, is probably the last temple, the Chandela built around early 12th century ( 1100 – 1150 ). There are dancing apsaras on its interior and the flying vidyadharas on the top row of its façade but the figures are often repetitive and appear to lack the skill of carving found in the earlier temples. The Chaturbhuj Temple is the only temple which does not have erotic sculptures.

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