Graceful Khajuraho: Explore UNESCO World Heritage Site!
Are you passionate about exploring the beauty of ancient temples? Then, it would be definitely worth visiting Khajuraho, a city located in the Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh state in India. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Khajuraho Group of Monuments consists of a group of amazing Hindu and Jain Temples.
Famous for its architectural marvels and intricate sculptures, the city of Khajuraho will leave you spellbound for sure. Apart from temples, this place is also blessed with a wildlife sanctuary, fort, and waterfalls making it one of the most preferred tourist destinations in the country.
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Best Places To Visit In Khajuraho
In this blog, we take you through the top 13 tourist destinations in Khajuraho that you just cannot afford to miss.
A Jain temple, the stunning Adinatha Temple has been classified by the Archaeological Survey of India as a Monument of National Importance. It also features the Khajuraho Group of Monuments. The history of this temple dates back to the 11th century CE. Dedicated to the Jain Tirthankara Adinatha, the exterior walls of Adinatha temple also feature Hindu deities.
The plan and design of Adinatha Temple resemble the renowned Vamana temple. However, it is believed that the construction of the Adinatha Temple took place after that of the Vamana temple. The elements of Adinatha temple that deserve a special mention include the exterior walls of the temple with three bands of sculptures.
It features surasundaris, meaning graceful women, flying vidyadhara couples, vyalas, the mythical lion-like being, and a dancer with musicians. At the temple, only the vestibule and the sanctum survived the test of time. To add on, the elegant design of the vestibule’s roof will grab your attention for sure.
Kandariya Mahadeva Temple
Meaning “the Great God of the Cave”, the Kandariya Mahadeva Temple is believed to be built during the reign of Vidyadhara, between 1025 and 1050 AD. With a height of 31 meters (102 ft) and spanning across an area of 6 square kilometers, it is the largest and the most ornate Hindu temple in the medieval temple group of Khajuraho. The chief deity at the Kandariya Mahadeva Temple is Shiva.
A salient feature of the temple includes its superstructure, built in the shape of a steep mountain, symbolic of Mount Meru, popularly known to be the mythical source of creation of the world. The other striking factors include the layout of the temple with a five-part design, Torana, the beautifully carved garland sculpted from a single stone, and the lintel consisting of four-armed Shiva lined by Lord Brahma.
Built around 1050-75, Vamana temple is a famous Hindu Temple dedicated to Vamana, God Vishnu’s avatar. Vamana is believed to be the fifth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The temple features the Khajuraho Group of Monuments. Located on the eastern side of Khajuraho, Vamana temple is around 200 meters northeast of Brahma Temple.
The major attractions at this temple include the walls beautifully adorned with a whopping 2000 carvings and the four-armed standing Lord Vishnu embossed on its lintel. Some of the erotic carvings at the temple will leave you mesmerized for sure. Apart from that, the temple houses a sanctum, vestibule, maha-mandapa with lateral transepts, and a beautiful entrance porch. The Vamana temple is open for visitors daily from 05:00 AM to 12:00 PM and from 04:00 PM to 09:00 PM. There is no need to pay an entry fee for visiting the Vamana temple.
Located in the Western Temple complex of Khajuraho, the Lakshmana temple is a magnificent 10th-century Hindu temple. The temple was built by Yashovarman, a king who belonged to the Chandela dynasty. While starting the construction, Yashovarman aimed to build a temple to legitimize his rule over those territories. Unfortunately, he passed away before the construction got over and his son Dhanga completed the work.
Laksmana temple is a classic example of Nagara-style Hindu temple architecture. The main features of a Nagara temple are the shrine known as vimana and the mandapa, the flat-roofed entry porch. The Lakshmana temple is dedicated to Vaikuntha Vishnu – an aspect of Vishnu. The three-headed & four-armed sculpture of Vaikuntha Vishnu is peculiar with its central head being a human and boar and lion on the two sides depicting Varaha and Narasimha respectively.
Panna National Park
Spread across the districts of Panna and Chhatarpur, Panna National Park is located at a distance of 96 kilometers from Khajuraho. Apart from being declared as the 22nd Tiger reserve of India, the national park also got the Indian Tourism Ministry’s best maintained national park of India award.
Spread across an area of 542.67 km2, Panna National Park offers a rare view of seven vulture species to its visitors. It is to be noted that a total of only nine species are found in India. Also, you can go for a safari where you can find various animals ranging from the Bengal tiger to the Indian leopard and rusty-spotted cat to the Asian palm civet. Apart from that Panna National Park is home to over 200 species of birds such as the bar-headed goose, blossom-headed parakeet, and crested honey buzzard.
A Shiva temple, the Matangeshvara temple is located among the Western group of temples. Of the Chandela-era monuments in Khajuraho, this is the only Hindu temple being actively used for worship. Classified as a Monument of National Importance by The Archaeological Survey of India, the Matangeshvara temple is believed to be constructed between 900-925 CE. When it comes to plan and design, the temple is a larger version of the Brahma temple. The lingam at this temple has both Nagari and Persian inscriptions.
Plan a visit to the Matangeshvara temple during Shivaratri, i.e in February or March. On these days, a grand 3-day ceremony is conducted to celebrate the occasion of Lord Shiva’s marriage. Attended by around 25,000 devotees, you would definitely enjoy the celebration during which the lingam will be bathed, dressed, and decorated, similar to that of a human bridegroom.
Ken Gharial Sanctuary
If you are a nature lover or wildlife enthusiast, then Ken Gharial Sanctuary is a must-visit destination. Spanning across an area of 45,201 sq. km, the wildlife sanctuary is part of both the Panna and Chhatarpur Districts. The park was established way back in 1981 with the objective of conserving gharial and mugger crocodile populations. An interesting fact is that the sanctuary was named after Gharial, a rare species of fish-eating crocodile that is 6 meters long.
Ken Gharial sanctuary houses a wide variety of animal species such as Sambar Deer, Peafowl Blue Bull also known as Nilgai, Chinkara, Spotted Deer, Wild Boar, and much more. Also, if you love to explore a wide variety of floral species, here you can find Boswellia Serrata, Pterocarpus Marsupium, Lagerstroemia parviflora, Haldina Cordifolia, Aonla, Amaltas, and many others. Plan a visit to the sanctuary in the winter, i.e. during the months starting from October to February as the weather will be quite pleasant.
A part of the Khajuraho Group of Monuments, the Javari Temple is located in the eastern area of Khajuraho. Constructed between c. 975 and 1100 A.D., the temple is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India. The main idol at the temple is that of Lord Vishnu. However, the idol is now broken and headless.
The Javari Temple stands on a high plinth with a raised Shikhara. Another feature that deserves special mention is the four decorated loops of Makara Torana, crowned by a kirtimukha. The splendid Makara Torana arch at the entrance porch is the finest example of the stone carving skills of the workers who belonged to that era. As soon as you step inside the entrance porch of the sanctum, you will notice the beautiful sculptures depicting navagraha on the top. Apart from that, there are also sculptures of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. The temple is open for visitors from 6 AM to 6 PM.
Beni Sagar Dam
One of the most frequented tourist spots at Khajuraho, Beni Sagar Dam is built on the beautiful Khudar river. Located on the outskirts of Khajuraho, the dam is spread across an area of 7.7 sq km. The lush greenery in the surrounding areas and the picturesque environment make it the perfect spot for those looking for a calm and quiet place. Another feature worth mentioning is the breathtaking view of the sunrise and sunset at the Beni Sagar Dam which is beyond words.
The other tourist attractions worth exploring include the various water activities. It would be fun going boating, angling, or swimming along with your loved ones. The dam is open for visitors from 06:00 AM to 10:00 PM every day. With just 2.3 km from Khajuraho Bus Stand, it is quite easy to commute to Beni Sagar Dam.
An amazing natural waterfall on the Ken River, Raneh falls is an underrated, unexplored tourist spot in Khajuraho. With a length of 5 kilometers (3.1 mi) and a depth of 30 meters (98 ft), the Ken river forms a deep canyon made of pure crystalline granite that appears in different hues such as red, pink, and grey. A series of waterfalls in the canyon offers a fantastic sight for tourists including the larger and smaller falls that run throughout the year. Apart from that, there are other seasonal falls that appear during monsoons. Many of the international tourists who have visited The Grand Canyon in Arizona, United States describe the Raneh falls as the Grand Canyon of India.
This place is located around 20 kilometers (12 mi) away from Khajuraho. Plan a visit to Raneh falls sometime during the post-monsoon season as the Ken river becomes more beautiful with a fresh inflow of rainwater.
An 11th-century temple dedicated to Lord Chitragupt and Lord Surya (sun god), Chitragupta Temple has been classified as a Monument of National Importance by the Archaeological Survey of India. Going by the epigraphic evidence, the temple was constructed somewhere between 1020-1025 CE. As per popular belief, the temple was consecrated on 23 February 1023 CE, during the occasion of Shivaratri.
In terms of architecture, the Chitragupta temple closely resembles the Jagadambi temple situated nearby. A striking feature of the temple includes a sanctum with a circumambulatory path. The 2.1 meters (6.9 ft) tall statue depicting Surya riding a chariot with seven horses is a sight worth exploring. However, the statue is partially broken. The other major features include the beautifully adorned exterior walls portraying erotic couples, surasundari, and several gods, including an 11-headed Vishnu. Chitragupta temple is open for visitors from 6 AM to 5 PM.
Are you quite enthusiastic about history or arts? Then you would definitely enjoy visiting the Ajaygarh Fort, situated on the flat mountain of Vindhyachal mountain range. Located 80 km from Khajuraho, the fort was of great significance during the Chandela rule. Situated on the top of Vindhya hills, Ajaygarh Fort has two entrances. One gate is in the north of the fort and the other one is the Tharauni gate in the southeast. To reach the entrance of the fort, you have to climb 500 steep steps and it takes approximately 45 minutes.
In the middle of the fort, you can see the lake named Ajay Palka Talav. Towards the end of the lake, the remains of Jain temples are scattered here and there. The major attractions of the fort include three temples built on the bank of the lake, which is decorated using arithmetic methods. Ajaygarh Fort is currently maintained by The Archaeological Department of India.
Popularly known as Vijaya Temple, Beejamandal temple is a ruined temple in Jakarta village. Located nearly 2 km from Eidgah square on Vidisha-Ashoknagar road at Khajuraho, the temple is not fully excavated and explored. With a length of 34.60 meters, this temple holds the distinction of being longer than the largest temple in Khajuraho, i.e. Kandariya which has a length of only around 30 meters.
The Beejamandal temple has a vast collection of objects that are archaeologically significant. Believed to be constructed in the 8th century, you can explore the carved niches and unfinished architectural pieces across the base of the temple plinth. The Beejamandal temple, open for visitors from 6 AM to 5 PM is just 3 Km away from Khajuraho Bus Stand.
Best Time To Visit Khajuraho
The best time to visit Khajuraho is from October to March. It is the winter season and the weather will be quite pleasant. These months are best suited for outdoor activities, especially temple tours. In winter, Khajuraho becomes more beautiful and the weather may drop up to 4 degrees Celsius.
How To Reach Khajuraho?
If you prefer train travel, Khajuraho railway station is just five km away from the main town. However, this station provides service only to a few cities in Madhya Pradesh. The next option is Mahoba, the nearest major railway station situated 78 km away from Khajuraho. There are regular trains operating from Mahoba to all major Indian cities such as Mumbai, Kolkata, Mathura, Varanasi, Jabalpur, Allahabad, Gwalior, etc.
If you are planning to travel by air, Khajuraho has its own domestic airport situated just 2 Km away from the temple sites. From this airport, there are flights connecting to Mumbai, Delhi, Bhopal, Varanasi, etc.
Last but not the least, if you are planning to travel by road, there are plenty of public and private buses, both A/c as well as non-A/c, that provide regular service to all nearby cities.
If you love to visit temples and explore architectural marvels, then Khajuraho should be on the top of your bucket list. Apart from a rich legacy of several temples of historical significance, Khajuraho is also famous for its erotic sculptures. Last but not the least, the amazing waterfalls and wildlife sanctuary at Khajuraho makes this place a tourist destination of national importance.
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