The Five Fires, Khajuraho

The Five Fires, Khajuraho

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Nothing I had read, or heard had prepared me for Khajuraho.

It is not hard to imagine a temple town in India: take a few ancient sandstone temples, fill them up with religious crowds, add a handful of foreign tourists line its streets with cheap hotels, dot its squares with beggars and touts finish off with piles of garbage and a few stray animals. This is the picture in my mind when my train arrives at the Khajuraho junction on a crisp, cold morning.

Set amidst fields of mustard, the railway station at Khajuraho hardly looks functional. The station is just five years old and only a handful of trains pass through it. Most passengers here are from the neighbouring towns of Panna and Chhatarpur. Khajuraho gets the minimum — and mostly tourist — footfall.

If the station with its desolate and picturesque setting surprises me, the drive to the hotel prepares me for the town. Lined with shady trees, flanked by fields and the occasional ruin, the road is quiet and refreshing. But it is not until I see the main square of the town, where the Maharaja of Khajuraho lives in his palace, right next to the western group of temples, that I realise Khajuraho is not the town of my imagination. With no chaos or crowd, it is different from other temple towns, as are its temples.

Standing tall in a sprawling lawn against a sparkling blue sky, the seven main temples of Khajuraho together constitute the western group and are a part of the UNESCO world heritage list. More than a thousand years old (the earliest are supposed to have been built around 900 AD), the temples lie scattered, some at an arms distance from the gate, others at the far end of the compound.

The temples in Khajuraho share both design and layout. They are built on a high plinth, with multiple ascending spires, which are believed to be inspired by the peaks of the Himalayas. The larger temples, like the Lakshmana, Vishvanatha and Kandariya Mahadeva, are accompanied by smaller temples the not so large ones stand alone. Their interior and exterior — and sometimes the platforms too — are adorned with figures of gods, goddesses, nymphs, humans and animals. It is among these depictions of life that the famous — or infamous — erotic sculptures can also be spotted.

Although erotica forms less than 10 per cent of Khajuraho’s rich sculpture heritage, it remains the most popular aspect of the temples. Whether it is the guide who promises to show you the ‘important points’, or the souvenir shops in and around the complex that sell ‘kamasutra’ as books, cards, magnets, or even pens, everyone wants to cash in on the sexual element of the temples. Guides can be seen highlighting the poses and postures to their awestruck clients tourists, in turn, ensure they have every sculpture – and pose – safely captured on their cameras.

“The temples, if you notice, depict all stages of human life – from birth to death. Only when you perform all your worldly duties can you gain moksha, and what is kama but another responsibility that each one of us has to fulfil?” asks the young caretaker at Parshuram temple. He then highlights the other aspects of the temples: the mythical animal that looks like a dragon, Ganga and Jamuna, who stand on the gates of the garbhagriha to cleanse devotees, the pillars engraved with keechak holding the spire with his bare hands. There are also scenes from gurukuls, war fields and musical performances.

Parshuram is one of the many temples around town in various degrees of decay. These are not a part of the world heritage list and comparatively draw far fewer visitors than their grander counterparts. Set among the tiny houses, hutments, and even schools, these temples are surprisingly well kept. Some are even used for worship by the locals. It is clear that the people of Khajuraho take pride in — and are protective of — their heritage.

The main attraction of the town, however, remains the central square. It is the only part of the town with places to eat and shop this is also where the tourist population congregates in the evening for the sound and light show.

The lawns at the western group are dark and cold, and the grass beneath my feet moist with dew when I step in for the show. I spot constellations in the clear sky, and among them the odd airplane too. Within a few minutes, the lawns — and the temples inside — come alive with the trains of classical music and hues of red, orange, green and yellow. The deep, throaty voice of Amitabh Bachchan soon begins to narrate the story of Khajuraho.

“On a full moon night in Kashi many, many centuries ago, Hemvati, the extraordinarily beautiful daughter of the royal priest, decides to bathe in a pond full of lotuses. So enchanting is her youth that the moon, who is watching her from above, descends on earth to meet her. They fall in love and do what all lovers do. When it is time for the moon to leave, Hemvati is worried: how will she bear the burden of their love child alone? The moon tells her to go far away from Kashi, to the forests of Khajuraho, and bring up their son there. The son named Chandravarman grows up to be a valiant young man and an illustrious king. He goes on to establish the Chandela dynasty, sets up the city of Kalinjar, and lays the foundation of Khajuraho — a legacy that his descendants carry forward for generations until the fall of the dynasty 150years later. With time — and with the fall of the empire — the temples get buried under thick forests and remain hidden from the world for almost 500 years until a British engineer accidentally discovers them.”

While I sit transfixed by the story of Hemvati and Chandravarman, Kalinjar and Khajuraho, a full bright moon rises behind me, wistfully listening to the tale of his love being told yet again.

Fascinating History of Legendary Kandariya Mahadeva Temple

When it comes to the temples in Khajuraho, most of them were built between 950 and 1050 CE during the Chandela dynasty. The Kandariya Mahadeva temple, which is the largest Shaiva shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva was built during the period 1017 – 1029 CE by Vidyadhara, who was the successor of King Ganda. Lord Shiva who is believed to be the Supreme God is also called Mahadeva.

This temple of Kandariya Mahadeva was built to celebrate Vidyadhara’s victory over Mahmud of Ghazni. He dedicated it to his family deity God Shiva. You can find the epigraphic inscriptions on the pillar of the mandapa, which mentions ‘Virimda’, the pseudonym of Vidyadhara.

Most of the temples in Khajuraho were ransacked by Sultan Qutb-ud-din Aibak. Some of them were desacralized, while some others were left to be ruined. It was in the 1830s that T S Burt, a British surveyor, who discovered the temples for the world to know and take care of them.

Stupefying Architectural Structure of Kandariya Mahadeva Temple

Situated 117-foot above the ground level, the Kandariya Mahadeva temple was constructed to occupy an area of 6500 square feet. Facing east, it is positioned on a raised platform, which is called ‘adhishsthana’. You can reach the platform climbing the steep steps. As for architecture, you can find an assembly of towers and porches, which close out in a spire called shikhara.

There are a series of chambers interconnecting each other and while entering you walk in the following sequence. There is a rectangular entrance hall, called ardhamandapa, from where through steps you can reach the central pillared hall, ‘mandapa’. The central hall leads you to garbhagrha, which houses the divine Shivalinga in marble. Above the garbhagrha, there is the main tower and spire.

With 31 meters long, 20 meters wide and 31 meters high, the Kandariya Mahadeva temple is characteristically built to look the grandest in Khajuraho. If you observe it carefully, you can see that the temple has a five-part design layout. A torana at the entrance showcases the intricate craftsmanship of the period on the single-stone sculptures. The highlights of the carvings on the stone of tactile quality represents the symmetrical design found everywhere, including the ‘high-relief carvings’ of sculptures. Intricately chiseled sharp inscribed lines exhibit splendid dark-light patterns, as well as strong angular forms, a semblance of the high quality of ornamentation.

The architecture and the decorative art found everywhere is deliberately symbolic. You can find that they represent a standard pattern of Hindu iconography, which include the depictions of “kama, artha, dharma and moksa”, essential pursuits of life.

The temple’s exterior structure is positioned on the massive plinth, which shows that its construction is dexterously planned and nicely detailed. The shape of the mountain is a symbolic representation of Mount Kailash. There are 84 small spires surrounding the main tower. Made of sandstone, the temple has the stones connected using mortise and tenon joints. The megaliths that form columns and architraves are huge and weighing about 20 tons.

There are several images of gods and goddesses adorning the walls of the temple. One of the prominent gods found is Agni, the God of fire. Visitors can spend a good time watching the sensuous figurines positioned at various places in the Kandariya Mahadeva temple. Most of the sculptures are exquisitely carved and they are of male and female flanking each other. The other significant sculptures are that of Saptamatrikas, which include mother goddesses and gods Ganesh and Virabhadra.

Get to Know Some Facts about Kandariya Mahadeva Temple

This prime temple in Khajuraho is known for the following facts.

  • Khajuraho is the name derived from ‘khaujur’, which is a Hindi word for ‘date’. You can find the date palms adorning the city walls. The city was called ‘Khajjurpura’ in the ancient times.
  • The Kandariya Mahadeva temple, like the other temples in Khajuraho, is built using sandstone and has different shades of pink, yellow and buff.
  • There are only a few sculptures, especially in the temple, that showcase sensual ones otherwise, most of the sculptures are that of people from different walks of life.
  • The temple is ranked by the Archaeological Survey of India as the well-preserved monument.
  • The rooms in the Kandariya Mahadeva temple are connected with each other along the east-west line. There is an entrance, a hall, a sanctum and a hallway in each room.
  • The images at the temple represents the different manifestations of the God Shiva and Goddess Shakti.
  • Built in the medieval period, the temple was re-discovered only in the 20th century, from when it is preserved.
  • The temple is still known for the architectural brilliance, which is unparalleled.

Some of the Famous Festivals held at Kandariya Mahadeva Temple

There are a very few festivals that are celebrated grandly at the temple of Kandariya Mahadeva. The Khajuraho Dance Festival is one of them. Conducted by the Madhya Pradesh Kala Parishad, this festival is held in February from the 20th to 26th. Various types of classical dances, such as Kathak, Odissi, Kuchipudi, Bharatanatyam, Manipuri, and Kathakali are performed by the leading exponents in the field. You can find these art forms performed in the open-air auditorium near the temple.

The other festival that is celebrated in length is Maha Shivaratri. Devotees from places across the country visit the Kandariya Mahadeva temple and offer prayers to Lord Shiva. They perform certain rituals like ‘vrat’ one day before the Shivaratri. The temple conducts several events all through the day and night to help the devotees fast for the whole day.

The festivals like Diwali, Holi and Dussera are also celebrated here.

Get to Know the Kandariya Temple Timings

You can find the temple open on any day of the week. The temple opens at 5.00 a.m. and closes at 12.00 p.m. In the evening, it again opens at 4.00 p.m. and closes at 9.00 p.m. There is an entry fee of Rs.10 for Indians, while a foreigner has to pay Rs.250 to enter the temple. There is no entry fee for children below 15 years.
Where you want to make any offerings to the deity, you can do so in the form of dry fruits and sweets. The temple offers prasad to the visitors at 12 p.m.

How to Reach Kandariya Mahadeva Temple?

The Kandariya Mahadeva temple offers easy accessibility via road, rail and air. You have the cities or towns, such as Jhansi, Satna, Katni, Orchha, Panna, Bandhavgarh, and Chattarpur connected to Khajuraho. It is 175 kilometers away from Jhansi, 43 kilometers away from Panna, 47 kilometers away from Chattarpur and 55 kilometers away from Mahoba. Where you are traveling from Bandhavgarh, you can connect the temple by road through Katni-Pawai-Amanganj-Panna, which takes approximately five hours to travel about 240 kilometers.

The Khajuraho railway station is the nearest station and it lies just 9 kilometers away. There are several trains connecting Khajuraho with other major cities. The Bundelkhand Link Express is the one that connects Varanasi with Khajuraho. You can have your itinerary planned in such a way to include both the cities. The cities such as Mumbai and Kolkata have trains connecting the Satna Railway station, from where you can travel to Khajuraho by rail or road.

There is the Khajuraho airport that is located at the distance of about 9 kilometers. Devotees from major cities fly to the Khajuraho city to get the blessings of Lord Shiva.

Fires are burning more populated areas and damage is increasing.

Californians have long built homes in fire-prone areas, but the past several years have brought unprecedented property loss to communities. Seven of the 10 most destructive fires in state history have burned in the last five years.

The home and property damage is scattered across the state, often isolated to rural areas. Taken together, the devastation has been massive. To compare, there are roughly 5,100 buildings in downtown Los Angeles.

From 2001 to 2010, wildfires destroyed 12,428 structures across the state. That's a building footprint more than twice the size of downtown.

However, these totals pale in comparison to those of the past decade, in which almost 30,000 structures have been destroyed. That's the equivalent of more than five L.A. downtowns.

Land Of The Moon God

Temple town of Khajuraho is much different from any other temple city of India. It is not about religion and worshipping and deities. The temples of Khajuraho are instead famous for the eroticism etched on its walls in the form of sculptures. An amalgamation of science and art of architecture, these 10th-11th century temples have a very interesting legend behind them that connects them to the origin of Chandela dynasty. It is said that in a fit of passion and lust, the Moon God seduced and ravaged a beautiful Brahmin girls known as Hemvati, resulting in the birth of Chandravarman (the founder of the Chandela dynasty). Later, Chandravarman had a dream where his mother requested him to make a temple, which would reveal all aspects of the treasure of passion and erotic fantasy to the world.

Thus he brought an artistic revolution by building the famous Khajuraho temples, in the town, which was his capital. Some people also believe these erotic art forms to be the visual depiction of Kamasutra, art of sex or the relations between Shiva and Parvati, the divine couple. Khajuraho temples got lost into obscurity and were only discovered by chance but they quickly became India's second most favored tourist destination after Taj Mahal. This temple complex is perhaps the largest group of medieval temples. Other than eroticism, these sculptures also depict other refined courtly accomplishments such as music and dance. Only 22 temples have survived out of the original 85 temples. It displays one of the most unique stone-carving work and was declared a World Heritage Site in 1986.

It took more than 200 years to complete elaborately carved Khajuraho temples that are planned in a similar pattern. Built in the central Indian temple architectural style, the uninhibited and graceful erotic sculptures of Khajuraho temples are known for their paramount architectural balance and exquisiteness. The temple plans range from the simple ones to the most inspired ones. The lovely temples can be divided into three broad groups, namely, the Eastern group, the Southern group and the Western group. However, the Western group is not only the largest one but also the one, which is most easily accessible.

1. The Eastern Group takes in five isolated sub-group of temples situated in and around the present town of Khajuraho. Along with the three Brahmanical temples more commonly spoken of as temples of Brahma, Vamana and Javari, the three Jain temples of the deities Ghantai, Adinath and Parsvanath fall under this group.

2. The Southern Group is situated at the most distant location and includes mainly the two temples of Duladeo and Chaturbhuja, which are situated near and across the Khudarnala.

3. The Western Group is the largest of all the temple groups of Khajuraho. It is not compact and located in the center but also include the most renowned and noteworthy monuments built during the reign of the Chandela rulers. They are also known to have been maintained well by the Archaeological Survey of India and the lush green lawns surrounding them with multihued shrums and fragrant blossoms add to their beauty. The most prominent temples of the group are the Lakshmana Temple, the Matangesvara Temple and the Varaha Temple that are a part of a single complex, the Visvanatha and Nandi temples situated near the above-mentioned complex and the Chitragupta, Jagadambi and the Kandariya Mahadeo temples a little to the west of the complex.

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India Reminded of Its History and Homosexuality

In a statement to the political parties of India and others who supported the Supreme Court’s ruling on Section 377, author Vikram Seth reminded the country of its homosexual history. According to Seth, “it is homophobia that came into India and not homosexuality.”

Vikram Seth is a 61-year-old novelist and poet. He was born in Calcutta, India and has traveled to Britain, the U.S., and China. He is most known for his novel “A Suitable Boy”, which chronicles a young girl in India, in the 1950s and her search for a husband.

Vikram Seth became angry when advocates for the Section 377 law, which made homosexual sex in India illegal, stated that homosexuality is “unnatural” or “against Indian culture”. “Look into our history before you say this is Indian and this is not Indian”, says Seth. He and other Indians like himself consider homosexuality and sexual tolerance to have been an integral part of Indian history. It was British colonialism that brought the idea of sexual wholesomeness to India.

The presence of homosexuality in Indian history is well-preserved in relics from ancient times. In his statement Seth mentions the Khajuraho Monuments and the Kuma Sutra, great artificats from India’s past.

The Khajuraho Monuments are a group of Hindu and Jain temples that can be found in Khajuraho, a town in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India. Built from around 950 to 1050 A.D. the monuments are richly decorated with sculptures of deities and there attendants. Some scenes are of everyday life, while others are explicitly sexual. Nick-named the “Kuma sutra” temples the Khajuraho monuments attest to a time of enlightenment and sexual tolerance in the history of India

It is said that the sexual postures portrayed in the Khajuraho Monuments are visual guides to the Kuma Sutra. Put together in the third century, the Kuma Sutra is the only remaining text that can give scholars an insight into what life in India was like in those times. More than just a book of sexual positions, the Kuma Sutra is a complete manual to how to live a good life.

In the Kuma Sutra is mentioned a group of people who lived in Southern India, who practiced acts of sodomy, or unnatural sexual practices. Sodomy may include oral and anal sex, and sex between a human and a non-human animal. The Kuma Sutra also mentions a “third” sexual nature which differed from the heterosexual norm. Third nature sex is carried on through today’s Hijras of India. The Hijras are a group of people in India who, though genetically male, look, dress, and act like females. Hijras are also allowed to perform ritual removal of their sexual member in order to complete their female identity. Hijras identify themselves as female, therefore, any man who is pursued and engages in sexual activity with one is not considered to be homosexual.

Though Hijras have been a part of India for over 4000 years they still face a lot of prejudice and discrimination. Once believed to have been blessed by the gods with the ability to bestow good luck and fertility the Hijras of today are hard out of luck themselves. Being disowned by family, facing violence and hatred, and having few legal rights in their own country are just a few aspects of the life of a modern Hijra.

Vikram Seth also mentions Babur, the founder of India’s Mughal Dynasty, and his candid, autobiographical description of how he fell in love with a youth. In his autobiography, Babur speaks of how he was married to a woman at age 17, and how he had not interest in the woman. He recounts days when his mother would force him into the room of his new bride. Though a prince and required to fulfill his duty, Babur’s interest lay with a market boy named Baburi. In lines like, “I developed a strange inclination for him, rather, I made myself miserable for him”, Babur describes how deeply he fell in love with the other man. Seth calls the accounts “very moving”, while others may find it to be quite scandalous.

India is very much a country with a long rich history. The Khajuraho Monuments, the Kuma Sutra and Babur’s autobiography are only a few remnants of that history and contain only a few of the evidences of India’s homosexual past.

Vikram Seth can be quoted saying how the upholding of section 377 has pushed India as a country backward in time. Apparently a push further back in time may be exactly what India needs. Perhaps reminding the country about its liberal and tolerant past will be exactly what India needs to help it overcome prejudices.

India Reminded of Its History and Homosexuality added by Earnestine Jones on December 18, 2013
View all posts by Earnestine Jones &rarr

The Five Fires, Khajuraho - History

On Earth, something is always burning. Wildfires are started by lightning or accidentally by people, and people use controlled fires to manage farmland and pasture and clear natural vegetation for farmland. Fires can generate large amounts of smoke pollution, release greenhouse gases, and unintentionally degrade ecosystems. But fires can also clear away dead and dying underbrush, which can help restore an ecosystem to good health. In many ecosystems, including boreal forests and grasslands, plants have co-evolved with fire and require periodic burning to reproduce.

The fire maps show the locations of actively burning fires around the world on a monthly basis, based on observations from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA&aposs Terra satellite. The colors are based on a count of the number (not size) of fires observed within a 1,000-square-kilometer area. White pixels show the high end of the count &mdash as many as 30 fires in a 1,000-square-kilometer area per day. Orange pixels show as many as 10 fires, while red areas show as few as 1 fire per day.

Some of the global patterns that appear in the fire maps over time are the result of natural cycles of rainfall, dryness, and lightning. For example, naturally occurring fires are common in the boreal forests of Canada in the summer. In other parts of the world, the patterns are the result of human activity. For example, the intense burning in the heart of South America from August-October is a result of human-triggered fires, both intentional and accidental, in the Amazon Rainforest and the Cerrado (a grassland/savanna ecosystem) to the south. Across Africa, a band of widespread agricultural burning sweeps north to south over the continent as the dry season progresses each year. Agricultural burning occurs in late winter and early spring each year across Southeast Asia.

View, download, or analyze more of these data from NASA Earth Observations (NEO):

‘Indians: A Brief History of a Civilization’ review: Modern day journeys into the past

Indians: A Brief History of A Civilization — mind you, Indians, not India — appears at first to be a fool’s errand, but that is only till you jump on, dig in and take the full ride. Namit Arora started thinking about a large canvas of a book like this 17 years ago while ruminating about how cities just disappear — Machu Pichhu, Memphis, Mohenjo-daro among others. His bid to reflect on all that is lost but also that which remains, waiting to be rediscovered and unpacked, led to this book. The author’s skills and the choice of technique allow such a mega-ambitious project to take shape and flow.

(Stay up to date on new book releases, reviews, and more with The Hindu On Books newsletter. Subscribe here.)

There are chapters on six places: Dholavira (2600-1900 BCE), Nagarjunakonda (220-320 CE), Nalanda (425-1350 CE), Khajuraho (950-1250 CE), Hampi (1336-1565 CE) and Varanasi (from 800 BCE), and five chapters on travellers: Megasthenes, Faxian, Xuanzang and Yijing, Alberuni, Marco Polo and Francois Bernier — all fitting in to convey the broader picture of the way Indians lived, ate, loved, built, fought, were governed and made sense of the material, rational and the spiritual down the ages.

Visible coexistence

It’s a technique surprisingly used less by writers of popular Indian history. India does lend itself to it, the history and the present coexist very visibly, even if uneasily sometimes and often hiding in plain sight. A travelogue could easily involve not just visiting them as they stand, but connect the places with the people who live there and travel across time through them. It is something Michael Wood deploys very successfully in his eminently readable (and watchable) The Story of India, or John Keay in his masterful work on India. Arora similarly makes his modern-day journeys central to the history story. Sometimes the past lingers in stories he hears and in practices that persist, but more often, in the sheer contrast with the past, as in Dholavira where Harappan forefathers did more to worry about water conservation than the present-day inhabitants.

The book’s treatment of Khajuraho’s erotic sculptures, the fusing of erotic with the religious and the snapping of the link later, typifies his style which makes this a comprehensive, informative and engaging account about India in just 258 pages. He tackles the philosophical questions posed between different schools of thought, those that emphasised the renunciatory and others that saw “spiritual growth as compatible and intertwined with success in love rather than opposites.” He draws in philosophy, competing themes and ideas making the book as much about beads, pottery and food as it is about how Indians might have thought in times past. This ability to compress a complex discussion on people, places, things across thousands of years and yet never let the reader once think of it as a shallow journey is a hallmark of the book.

Arora’s work assumes added significance as it comes at a time when so much about India’s present, politics and everyday conversations is an angry shouting match about its history. It is more important when so much attention of mass-media and the state is about identifying all those it does not belong to. At a time like this, just sweeping in all and being attentive to all manners of Indians today is an act of defiance. The author is clearly not shy of discussing contentious issues.

Complex shades

His work gets right into the heart of many flaming debates. He examines if Aryans are home-grown (no, he concludes citing new research in genetics, science and languages), on differing ideas which had play here, of many forms of contemplation down the ages, of times when dark skin was sought after and even why modern India ended up building Nagarjuna Sagar over the ruins of Nagarjunakonda.

Observations by Chinese travellers and others from West Asia and Europe leaven the text, and they enhance the ‘arc of the story’. The sense of wonder that was India (to steal from Basham) is a balm to those of us living in 2021 as it drives home all that we could be. “The lives of our ancestors”, the book surmises, “were far more varied than what their material remains indicate”, and that “history belongs to those whose creative works survive and vibrate in the minds of later historians.”

Among the things that this book accomplishes is to drag the reader out of ancient, medieval and modern silos, and keep her away from just talk of conquests and invasions. All in all, Indians manages to escape what historian Johan Elverskog (quoted in the book) has termed the seduction of “a clear-cut narrative with good guys and bad”, which “avoids entirely the complex shades of grey that most often colour the messy fabric of history.”

On the contrary, the book goes straight for the messiness and is able to arrange it in all its splendour and “complex shades” which are far from “grey”.

Only one thing rankles — why did Arora not pick a place with a distinctly Muslim or Christian imprint? Perhaps the reason is that there is no exclusive Muslim or Christian town that makes the point of the book, but the way the conversation is framed these days, and also in official commentary, priorities and new NCERT books, by picking Agra or travelling to Kodungallur, to the site of South Asia’s first mosque, the author could have tackled the trickiest bone of contention amongst readers of India’s history, and its present, head on.

Indians: A Brief History of a Civilization Namit Arora, Penguin Random House, ₹599.

Khajuraho, Islamic invaders and Mahatma Gandhi

A visit to these temples is one of life’s enriching, overwhelming experience. You marvel India’s advanced civilization when Europe was in its dark ages. It’s also a wounding experience for looking at disfigures sculptors you become acutely aware of the destruction which Islamic invaders wrought on this land.

Khajuraho Temples

It’s easy to describe Khajuraho temples in bare facts. That the group of temples were constructed by kings of Chandela dynasty (9th-13th century) of Bundelkhand in Central India between 950-1050 AD that out of 85 temples only 22 remain that a spread of 20km with various water bodies is now reduced to only 6km stretch that it was hidden from the world for nearly three centuries before the Englishman T.S Burt rediscovered it in the 1830s. And that today it is UNESCO world heritage site.

It’s also easy to describe an average tourist’s calling card to this remote village in Chattarpur district of Madhya Pradesh, nestled in the range of Vindhya mountains—the wonder of its erotic sculptures which leave nothing to the imagination, be it between couples, orgy or even the sexual bestiality with animals. Never have cold stones breathed so much of sensuality, such contours, such consummation, such fantasy. Hips protrude, pelvis thrust, legs entwine, lips seal and organs devour each other in positions which put onlookers on fire. Manicured nails, wet hair, dripping water, intricate jewellery are as good as alive.

However, it’s only when you visit these group of temples celebrating Hinduism and Jainism, which American historian Will Durant admired for its’ spirit of tolerance, and are face to face, that you sink on your knees and tears start to flow, uninhibited. You are light as air. Without a form. Reduced to the Spirit consumed by the Creator Supreme.

The sculptures are so many, spread to the last inch of the behemoth structures, yet in perfect harmony and space, depicting every aspect of life – Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha –which is the essence of Hinduism. These 100s of sculptures, made of sandstone from the surrounding mountain ranges, must have been made by hundreds of skilled sculptors then carried to the site, uplifted through a corresponding mound, then interlocked in symmetry, grids and mathematical precision. There are no mortars: only mortise and tenon joints since the gravity of the stones hold it together. Such construction requires precise joints – nearly a thousand years in existence is ample proof of its perfection.

Wikipedia says: While recording the television show Lost Worlds, Alex Evans recreated a stone sculpture under 4 feet that took about 60 days to carve. Roger Hopkins and Mark Lehner also conducted experiments to quarry limestone which took 12 quarrymen 22 days to quarry about 400 tons of stone. Such an exquisite work would’ve required 100s of trained sculptors and decades of work.

The other thing which strikes you about Khajuraho is extreme vandalism it has suffered. Most of it was by Islamic invaders though during the British rule, and after, smugglers axed beautiful heads and figures and sold it in overseas markets.

There is elaborate historical evidence which shows the extent of brutality of Islamic invaders. Abu Rihan-al-Biruni, the Persian historian who accompanied Mahmud of Ghazni in his raid of Chandelas’ territory in 1022 CE, mentions Khajuraho temples and the barbarity of the aggressors. In the 13th century, Delhi’s Muslim sultan Qutb-ud-Din Aibak attacked and seized the Chandela kingdom. Ibn Battuta, the Moroccan traveller, mentioned visiting Khajuraho temples “which contain idols and have been mutilated by the Moslems.” Tens of Khajuraho temples were smashed to the last stone by these fanatical barbarians.

An interesting aside is that puritan Mahatma Gandhi, in a fit of his Victorian morality, wanted to have nothing to do with Khajuraho temples because of its vivid sexual imagery. He so much as wished that vandals would wipe Khajuraho temples out of existence. It was Rabindranath Tagore who stood up for Khajuraho as one of the great heritage of India and spoke against this insanity. British too were outraged by this Hindu “decadence.”

A visit to these temples is one of life’s enriching, overwhelming experience. You marvel India’s advanced civilization when Europe was in its dark ages. It’s also a wounding experience for looking at disfigures sculptors you become acutely aware of the destruction which Islamic invaders wrought on this land. Muslim inhabitants of this land can’t be blamed for their forefathers but let there be no denial too that Islamic invaders were filled with a religious zeal to wipe out “kafirs” and convert a “Dar al-Harab” (non-Islamic zones) into “Dar al-Islam” (Islamic zones). Pretending nothing of this sort happened is insulting and not a homage to this injured civilization of ours.

Watch the video: Κοροϊδεύουν τον κόσμο!. Ήταν προαναγγελθέν έγκλημα! Οργή για τις φωτιές στη Βόρεια Εύβοια. ΕΡΤ (May 2022).


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