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Visiting The Erotic 'Kamasutra' Temples at Khajuraho, India With A Side Trip To Orchha

Nearly 200 years after they were rediscovered in the 1850s, I discovered the Khajuraho Temples in 2014. Sitting pretty in the literal heart of India, Madhya Pradesh, is a group of 12th century Hindu and Jain temples, which are prominent for their erotic depictions -- although only about 25% of the Khajuraho group of temples are actually erotic, and only about 20 temples out of the original 80 odd temples have survived destruction by weather and Mughal invasions.

Erotic 'Kamasutra' Temples at Khajuraho, India

Built in the medieval century by the Chandela Dynasty, the Khajuraho temples are mainly centred around Naaykas or Hindu Mythological female protagonists and deities. The temples represent various forms of meditation, spiritual teachings and relationships, and their intricate work and a grandeur, built more than a 1000 years ago, is what makes the Khajuraho temples stunning and a hallmark of ancient Indian architecture.

How does one travel to Khajuraho?

We took a train from Hyderabad to Nagpur, a comfortable 12-hour journey, staying back in Nagpur for a day to check out the Pench wildlife reserve, an endeavour that didn't work out due to no tiger sightings. Then another overnight bus from Nagpur to Jabalpur with a brief "poha stop in Jabal", and another local bus to Satna and then a final bus to Khajuraho and then a shared auto ride later, we finally reached Khajuraho in the late evening of day 3 since starting from Hyderabad. Although, there's now an Airport in Khajuraho with connectivity to major cities in North India including a direct flight from Delhi to Khajuraho.)

Cafe with a view of the temple

We were starving so the first thing and we found just the most welcoming sight, a cafe with a view. The Rajas cafe on the 1st floor overlooks the temple and is great for an evening chai and snack.

Sound and light show in Khajuraho

Like most tourist monuments with a history, the MP tourism board also offers an entertaining and educational 'sound & light' show which entails 3D projection mapping of the history of Khajuraho on the temple facades, making for a beautiful spectacle under the already starlit sky. If like us, one reaches in the evening, it is a good idea to begin your Khajuraho exploration with this sound and light show.

Going on a temple run in Khajuraho

Like the temples of Angkor Wat, the Khajuraho temples are spread across a large complex and it's best to take a tour by a cab or auto-rikshaw to cover them within a day, or if time is not of essence, then walking from one temple to another, weather permitting is of course a more fulfilling way.

We began our temple tour with Kandariya Mahadev Temple, the largest of the Khajuraho temples and also the location of the Sound And Light show from last evening.

Erotic 'Kamasutra' Temples at Khajuraho, India

Erotic Temples of Khajuraho

But after seeing a few of these "non erotic" temples, we found ourselves, in front of the magnum opus - the Eastern group of temples which have the most erotic carvings. These temples including the Vamana Temple, Javari Temple, and Parsavanath Temple. After a point, the individual names and details of the temples become a blur, because each of them have unique but similar characteristics of stunning grandeur, intricate workmanship, and the most outrageous depictions!

The devis and devtas and asuras and pashus are depicted engaged in various forms of sexual and sensual practices and no act of sex no matter how outrageous is off limits at the Khajuraho temples. Not only are their levels upon levels of intricate sculptures of sexual acts in groups across various impossible positions as described in the Kama Sutra, there are threesomes, oral sex, and even depictions of animals engaged in naughty behaviour with human gods -- definitely things that would raise more eyebrows today than they clearly did more than a 1000 years ago in pre-Mughal and Pre-British eras.

erotic kamasutra temples khajuraho india

Roughing it out in the general class compartment to Jhansi

Overwhelmed and impressed at what we saw in Khajuraho, we were done with our temple tour and proceeded towards the next impromptu trip to Orchha. Since we had made no reservations in the train, we decided to rough it out and took up seats in the general compartment. This was one of the best parts of the trip, a source of much entertainment and mirth. We sat squeezed in the compartment, where thankfully and almost miraculously, we found a corner to sit, with the beedi-smoking, sharp-featured, colourful locals of MP and shared some of the best moments of the journey, knowing and appreciating that we both could have a great travel experience without caring in the least about luxury or creature comforts.

One day trip to Orccha, a village steeped in Mughal forts and cenotaphs

Orchha turned out to be the surprise package of the trip! A small, barely known town, as big as Banjara hills, tucked away in a corner of MP, home to 600 year old forts and temples. Just as we got off the bus, a large castle-style Jahangir Mahal or the citadel fort materialised in the front! Even though it was too early, we went inside anyway, being the only tourists inside the fort. The massive ancient fort has many levels, jharokhas, a sprawling courtyard and spires, signifying the archtypical mughal-Rajput architecture.

One day trip to Orchha

As we exiting the fort to get back to the railway station to catch our train back,numerous cenotaphs or chhatris dotted the skyline and called us to come back for a proper visit to this magical land.


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 I (Monica) am a lifelong traveler, (40 countries), sustainability and veganism advocate, and a marketer by profession. I'm old school in that I still like to blog and document rather than shoot and post.

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