I have a fascination for historical places, history and old architecture. I wanted to visit and see the temples of Khajuraho like any other place in India. Whenever I tried to plan a trip with my friends their first reaction used to be a mischievous laugh, few of them frown and some outrightly excused themselves. The architecture and other beautiful details of temples of Khajuraho fade in light of erotic sculptures. Anyways, when I got the chance to visit Khajuraho I took no time to book my tickets.
There is so much to see in Khajuraho and it’s neighboring town Panna. The temples of Khajuraho are in the Western complex and also spread in village areas so, we kept one day exclusively for them. It depends on how much you are interested in monuments.
I spoke to a couple of friends in travel groups, one said they were done with the temples in half a day and another one told me that they took one & a half-day. So, it depends on your liking and preference. Based on my personal experience, I recommend that you should keep one day for the temples of Khajuraho. There are Hindu temples and Jain temples in Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh.
Since temple hopping is the most important thing to do in Khajuraho. So lets me tell you some basics, which will help explore the Khajuraho temples. Khajuraho is UNESCO’s world heritage site in India. These 10th-century temples were discovered in the 1830s by a British surveyor and between 1840s to 1860s Cunningham divided these into three main groups i.e. Western group, Eastern group, and Southern group. There are different kind of sculptures on the walls of Khajuraho temples and erotic sculptures are only 10% of total number.
Western Group of Temples in Khajuraho
This is the most prominent and well-maintained group of temples in Khajuraho. Most of the temples of this group are in encloser with well-maintained gardens. The temples in encloser are in good condition. Light & Sound show is conducted Western group compound every night.
Some of the prominent temples of the Western group of temples
Temples inside the encloser of Western group of temples
It is dedicated to the “Varaha” avatar of Lord Vishnu. There is a monolithic statue of Boar which represent the Varaha avatar. This is a small temple as compared to other temples in the compound and it is situated opposite to the famous Lakshman Temple.
This is one of the most popular and grand temple in the western group complex. The main sanctum has a statue of Vishnu, which is surrounded by the statues of his ten avatars. The Lakshmana temple is a one the fine example of Chandela period architecture.
The outer walls of the temple have intricately carved statues of gods and goddesses, erotic couples, scenes from daily life and apsaras performing day to day activities.
Kandariya Mahadev temple
This is one of the finest temples of Khajuraho in terms of workmanship of sculptures. It is the tallest temple in Khajuraho on a raised platform. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva who is in the form of big lingam.
There are a total of 872 statues/sculptures on the outer and inner walls of Kandariya Mahadev temple. These statues are sculptured are carved delicately. The beautiful workmanship of this temple makes it the most attractive temple of Khajuraho.
The temple has sculptures of gods like Ganesha, Agni, and several other gods. Other than these there are statues of goddesses, mythical animals, Mithunas and erotic sculptures of couples in different positions.
Devi Jagdamba Temple
It is dedicated to Goddess Parvati, who is the consort of Lord Shiva. The Goddess statue is in black and that’s why some people associate the temple to goddess Kali. The temple has erotic sculptures of Mithun’s.
This temple is dedicated to Sun God Surya. There is a partially broken statue of Surya riding his chariot with seven horses. There is a sculpture of Vishnu with his 10 incarnations and a statue of Brahma with his consort. The temple has sculptures depicting day to day life activities and royal dancers.
Like many of the other temples in Khajuraho, this is dedicated to Lord Shiva. This temple has a wide variety of sculptures like dancing Ganesha, lions, goddesses, Parvati and also have sculptures of couples in different sexual positions.
This temple has two subsidiary shrines around it. One has a statue of Nandi bull and another belongs to Goddess Parvati.
Western group of temples outside encloser
Chausath Yogini Temple
This is the oldest temple of Khajuraho and it was built in 820 before Chandela dynasty ruled the Khajuraho. Chausath yogini temple is next to the man-made water tank named Shivsagar outside the encloser of Western group of temples. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Kali.
The literal meaning of this temple is 64 female ascetic’s temple (Chausath is 64 and Yogini means female ascetics). Originally the main shrine of Goddess Kali was surrounded by 64 cells, where female ascetics lived and performed their rituals. Today only 35 cells remained in the temple compound.
Some people believed these female ascetics were involved the tantric practices. There are several stories related to the Chausath Yogini temple and the secret practices performed here. The most relevant information about these temples from my favorite mythologist Dev Dutt Patnaik. He explained the concept of Yoginis and their life.
Credit – Wiki common
This temple is just outside the wall of the Western group of temples. Matangesvara is one of the few temples active temple in Khajuraho. A “Puja” is performed every morning and evening. Temple is constructed on a high platform and the inner sanctum can be reached by climbing stairs. Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of lingam which is around 8.5 feet tall and huge bells are hanging with the chains from roof.
A 3 days Shivratri festival is celebrated here with much fanfare every year in end February or beginning March.
This temple is outside the encloser of Western group of temples and close to Chausath Yogini temple. It is mostly in ruins now. You can always give this temple a miss as there is so much more to see.
This temple is also in the Western group but it is outside the temple complex and mostly in ruins. You can be easily skipped this temple because there is nothing much to see.
Eastern Group of temples in Khajuraho
These temples are spread in the village areas of Khajuraho. There is no entry ticket for the temples in the Eastern group as they not in encloser like a Western group of temples. Some of the temples in this group are still in active use by local people.
The important temples of the Eastern group of temples in Khajuraho
This temple is dedicated to 5th avatar of Vishnu known as “Vamana”. He was the dwarf avatar of Vishnu and incarnated to kill demon king Mahabali.
This temple of Lord Vishnu has a statue inside the main sanctum but it is partially broken. There is a beautiful arch at the entrance and have statues of Navagrah.
There is a big lingam inside the main sanctum so it is a Shiva temple. It seems strange that a Shiva temple is named Brahma temple. So, when I thought about it, I realized that it is named so because the Shivalingam has four faces on it. Maybe some people mistook it as Brahma who has four faces and named it after him.
Jain temples of Khajuraho in Eastern group of temples
This is the most prominent temple among Jain temples of Khajuraho. It is dedicated to Jain Tirthankara Adinatha, although its a Jain temple but exterior walls also feature Hindu deities. The black schist basalt statue of Lord Adinath adorn the main sanctum.
This is the largest Jain temple in Khajuraho. There are beautiful sculpture and artwork on the outer walls of the temple. Like Adinath temple the outer wall of Parsvanath temple also has statues of Hindu gods, goddess and other mythical creatures along with statues of Tirthankara.
The temple has an inscription with a magic square also known as the “Jaina square”. The magic square is of 4×4 squares, contains numbers from 1 to 16. The sum of every vertical, horizontal, diagonal row and 2×2 square is 34. This is a good example of the intelligence of people of that era.
This is dedicated to Jain Tirthankara Shantinatha. Unlike other temples, Shantinath temple has a courtyard with 18 shrines with numerous Jain images.
Shantinath is very well maintained and active temple. The flooring is new and parts of the temple are whitewashed during the maintenance. The Garbhgrah is still in its original form and has Lord Shantinath’s statue.
Southern Group of temples in Khajuraho
Only a few temples survived in this group and they are spread in the village area of Khajuraho. There is no entry ticket for these temples like the Eastern group of the temple as they are all stand-alone temples.
The two main temples of the Southern group of temples in Khajuraho
This is dedicated to Lord Shiva and there is a lingam in the main sanctum. This temple also has sculptures on its outer walls like the Western group of temples.
The name Chaturbhuj means the temple of God with four arms. There is a tall statue of Lord Vishnu in the main sanctum and outer walls are ornamented with small sculptures but there are no erotic sculptures.
Opening timing for Khajuraho temples
The western group of temples in the encloser remain open from 8.00 AM to 6.00 PM. Other temples of Khajuraho also remain open from morning till evening. Other temples are not fenced and not guarded by ASI.
Entry ticket for visiting Khajuraho temples
For Indian, SAARC and BIMSTEC nationals entry ticket is 40 INR.
For foreign national other than these countries entry ticket is 600 INR.
There is no entry ticket for children below 15 years of age.
Entry ticket is required only for visiting the Western group of temples inside the encloser.
Also, Watch light and sound show in the Western group of temples in Khajuraho.
If you have time then visit Orchha, which is only 170 Km.
Tips for visiting Khajuraho temples
** Wear comfortable shoes as you have to walk and climb steps to visit different temples.
** Hire a guide otherwise, you may miss important details. For example in Parsvanath Temple, you may not notice Magic square because it is very undescriptive. Also, some of the guides tell you interesting stories.
** Carry a water bottle because even in winter months it gets hot during the day. Also keep a cap to cover your head.
** Keep maximum time for the Western group of temples and maybe start from the temples in encloser.
** Inside of sanctum is dark and it is difficult to click photographs but don’t use a flashlight. If you have a DSLR camera than push the ISO for better picture quality.