Here are 20 Interesting Facts about Khajuraho and its Temples:-
Fact 1- The City
Khajuraho was an ancient city in the Madhya Pradesh region of northern India. From the 10th to 12th century CE it was the capital of the Chandella kings who ruled Bundelkhand.
Fact 2- The Name
The town’s name, anciently “Kharjuravahaka”, is derived from the Sanskrit word kharjur meaning “date palm”. Some people believe that Kharjuravāhaka means scorpion bearer, which is another symbolic name for deity Shiva (who wears snakes and scorpion garlands in his fierce form).
Facts 3- The Temples
The Khajuraho Group of Monuments is a group of Hindu temples and Jain temples in Chhatarpur district, Madhya Pradesh, India, about 175 kilometres (109 mi) southeast of Jhansi.
Fact 4- The Survivors
Historical records note that the Khajuraho temple site had 85 temples by the 12th century, spread over 20 square kilometers. Of these, only about 25 temples have survived, spread over six square kilometers.
Fact 5- The UNESCO Heritage
The Khajuraho group of monuments (Medieval Hindu and Jain temples) has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is considered to be one of the “seven wonders” of India.
Fact 6- The Time Period
These temples were constructed by the Chandela rulers in deference to the flourishing practice of Jainism in central India during their rule. Most Khajuraho temples were built between 950 and 1050 by the Chandela dynasty.
Fact 7- The Direction
The Khajuraho Temples are made of sandstone blocks fitted together, the temples are aligned east-west.
Fact 8- The Largest Temple
Kandariya Mahadeva Temple is the largest, tallest and most beautiful Hindu Temple of the Khajuraho Group of Temples. This medieval marvel dates back to 1050 BC and was built by Raja Dhandadeva, a strong Chandela ruler. This temple is dedicated to Hindu Lord Shiva, and has a Shiva Linga made of marbel, as its sanctum and a shikhara (spire) that rises 116 feet.
Fact 9-The Design
Almost all Hindu temple designs, follow a grid geometrical design called vastu-purusha-mandala. This design plan has three important components – Mandala means circle, Purusha is universal essence at the core of Hindu tradition, while Vastu means the dwelling structure.
Fact 10- The Circle and The Square
The circle of mandala circumscribe the square. The square is considered divine for its perfection and as a symbolic product of knowledge and human thought, while circle is considered earthly, human and observed in everyday life (moon, sun, horizon, water drop, rainbow). Each supports the other.
Fact 11- The Tolerance for Diversity
The Khajuraho group of temples belong to Vaishnavism school of Hinduism, Saivism school of Hinduism and Jainism – nearly a third each. this aspect of Khajuraho temples illustrates the tolerance and respect for different religious viewpoints in the Hindu and Jain traditions.
Fact 12- The Celebration
The temples are believed to celebrate the marriage of Shiva and Parvati. Maha Shivaratri is celebrated in all the temples during which verses of Rudram are chanted, while the priests enact the divine marriage of Shiva and Parvati.
Fact 13- The Art
The sculptures have intricate details, symbolism and expressiveness of ancient Indian art. The artwork symbolically highlight the four goals of life considered necessary and proper in Hinduism – dharma, kama, artha and moksha.
Fact 14- The Groups
Cunningham grouped the temples into the Western group around Lakshmana, Eastern group around Javeri, and Southern group around Duladeva.
Fact 15- The Location
The Khajuraho temples were built about 35 miles from the medieval city of Mahoba, the capital of the Chandela dynasty. The isolation of Khajuraho protected the temples from continued destruction by invaders. The temple site is within Vindhya mountain range in central India. An ancient local legend held that Hindu deity Shiva and other gods enjoyed visiting the dramatic hill formation.
Fact 16- The Rediscovery
Over the period, vegetation and forests overgrew the temples. In the 1830s, local Hindus guided a British surveyor, T.S. Burt, to the temples and they were thus rediscovered by the global audience.
Fact 17- The Diversity
Of the surviving temples, six are dedicated to Shiva, eight to Vishnu and his affinities, one to Ganesha, one to Sun god, three to Jain Tirthankars.
Fact 18-The Architecture
The temples are famous for their nagara-style architectural symbolism.
Fact 19-The Legend
As per the legends, Hemvati was a beautiful woman, after whom the Khajuraho temples were built. One day, when she was bathing in a pool in Benaras, the Moon God was swooned by her beauty, and could not wait any longer to see her. They conceived a child and named him Chandravarman. However, she feared that her child might have to face harassment as he was born out of wedlock. She was so distressed that she cursed the Moon God, who later prophesied that the child will grow up to become a great king.
Just like the prophecy, the child indeed grew to become a great king, who founded the Chandela dynasty. One day, after Hemvati passed away, her son saw her in his dreams, where she asked him to construct temples that would depict human passions.
Fact 20- The Lesser Known Truth
The Khajuraho temples feature a variety of artwork, of which 10% is sexual or erotic art.
Khajuraho is not just erotic. It is an EXOTIC display of Indian culture and symbolises the rich cultural legacy and history.
(compiled from various sources by Dr Amit Nagpal)