Erotic Khajuraho Temple Complex: Tourist Guide

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The Khajuraho Temple Complex is one of India’s most interesting religious and historical attractions to visit. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is an important symbol of the country’s religious tolerance because this is a complex dedicated to not one, but two religions.

The Khajuraho Temples are over one thousand years old and for centuries have been a center of both Hinduism and Jainism in northern India.

This magnificent array of temples and religious buildings are beautiful examples of local architecture, but for years they were lost in the jungles until their rediscovery in the 19th century.

Today, the Khajuraho Temple is an important tourist attraction, and to help you to plan your trip here, this is our detailed travel guide.

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Khajuraho Temple, India

A Brief History of the Khajuraho Temple

The Khajuraho Temple complex was built as a vast place of worship for both Jains and Hindus, two of India’s most widespread religions.

Much more extensive when they were first constructed, the temples were built in the 10th century AD by the Chandela dynasty, who ruled until the 13th century. 

The Chandela’s built the temples at Khajuraho, as this was at the time the kingdom’s capital. Over a period of 100 years, the Hindu rulers added more and more temples as their power and wealth increased across the region.

They built as many as 80 in and around the city, using their unique designs and architectural styles to create an incredibly unique religious location.

Fortune wasn’t to favor the Chandela’s though, as increasing invasions and pressure from Muslim kingdoms arriving in India from Persia and Central Asia led to the city of Khajuraho being taken by the Delhi sultanate in the 13th century and the dynasty fell from power.

With ever-increasing Muslim influence, the temples of Khajuraho fell into disuse and disrepair. The former capital never again achieved the size and scale it had under the Chandelas and many of the temples, artwork, and sculptures were even destroyed under Islamic rule.

The Khajuraho Temple complex was lost to the jungles, slowly consumed by vines and trees until the arrival of the British in the 19th century, and their eventual clearing of the forests and excavations that allowed the temples to once again be visited.

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Khajuraho, India

How To Travel to the Khajuraho Temple

The Khajuraho Temple is found in the modern-day state of Madhya Pradesh, in the town of Khajuraho, the last surviving legacy of the former capital of the Chandela kingdom.

Khajuraho is isolated and remote, a fact that helped the temples to be hidden in the forest for so many years after their abandonment.

Now, with their UNESCO World Heritage inscription and their popularity amongst tourists, despite the isolation, Khajuraho can still be visited relatively easily by travelers.

A purpose-built airport has facilitated tourism in the region, allowing passengers to travel domestically from Delhi and a few other large Indian cities, directly to the temples.

If you are looking to travel overland, then although the journey here is rather long, it is still a well-connected destination.

There are several direct, long-distance buses to Delhi or Gwalior, however, most travelers are likely to transit through Jhansi, which is anywhere from 3-5 hours away by car or bus.

From Jhansi, you can travel to almost anywhere else in India. Jhansi is also the best place to transit from if you are traveling by train, as a direct rail link exists between the two destinations.

From Jhansi, there are express trains to many other cities. Khajuraho and the nearby Khajuraho Temple Temple complex are best explored by either bicycle or by hiring a rickshaw for the day, as the religious sites are spread over a large area.

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Erotic sculpture, Khajuraho, India

When to Visit the Khajuraho Temple

Khajuraho experiences a hot, dry climate throughout much of the year. Summer can be scorching hot, with monsoon weather adding humidity to the air from June through to September.

This is the low season, but torrential rain can affect your travel plans to Khajuraho Temple.

Most visitors aim to visit in the dry winter season, which runs from November through to March. There’s almost no rain and the weather is beautifully cool in comparison to the summers.

Things can get busy this time of the year though, so you are best trying to get out of the town and to the temples early in the morning to avoid the worst of the crowds.

Where to Stay When Visiting the Khajuraho Temple

Within the town of Khajuraho, there is a great range of accommodation for travelers, however, during peak season it’s best to try and book in advance as beds can be limited, particularly at the most popular hotels.

Backpackers will find plenty of cheap accommodation options, however, standards can be mixed when paying on the lower end of the spectrum at Khajuraho.

There are some great local homestays run by families that offer a unique experience and an insight into local life as well as lots of cheap hotels, with budget private rooms.

On the higher end of the accommodation spectrum, there are a growing number of luxury hotels and a few international chains popping up in Khajuraho.

The Radisson may well be one of the most reliable hotels, but this can get quickly booked out by tour groups.

Read reviews and check prices with our Hotel Search Engine, that gives you the best hotel deals found on the web. Our search engine pulls results from all of the major booking places, including Expedia, Hotels, Booking and more. All the options, all the deals, all in one place and just for you.

Best Sights to See at the Khajuraho Temple Complex

Although many temples have been completely lost to time, the ravages of war and the jungle, there is still an impressive number left in remarkable condition at the Khajuraho Temple complex.

There are three primary temple groupings around the town, grouped into South, East, and West. You only pay an entrance fee to visit the western temples, the other groups are free of charge.

Here are the major sights and attractions not to miss when visiting Khajuraho Temple.

Khajuraho Temple, India

Archeological Museum

Found in the town of Khajuraho, the local Archeological Museum is the best place to start your journey through the temples.

Gain a sense of perspective and learn about the history of the temples and the Chandela Kingdom that built them, before heading out to see them first hand.

West Temples

The western group of temples are the most visited part of the area and are found closest to the town itself, making them easy to get to from the museum and from hotels.

You can easily spend the whole day exploring these temples alone and it may be useful having a guide to show you around and to explain the hidden history behind each structure.

Here you will find some of the best art and sculptures, including the infamous erotic artwork created by the Chandelas.

The temples to visit to see this unique artwork, are the Kandariya Mahadev and Vishwanath temples. Each building is unique and you will find that despite the extravagant outside facade, it is the intricate details of the artwork that is most compelling.

Our top recommended tours of the West Temples:

Khajuraho Temple Guide

South Temples

The southern group of temples is home to lots of ruins and only a few surviving structures in comparison to the western group.

It’s not as busy however and offers a more unique view of the temples. These Hindu temples are lavishly designed and excellent to explore.

Our top recommended tours of the South Temples:

Khajuraho Temple Guide

East Temples

The eastern temples are further away from the town itself and mainly consists of Jain temples. This is an intriguing contrast as Hindu is the predominant inspiration for the western and southern temples.

Generally, these don’t tend to be as busy either so you can take your time and enjoy the beautiful Jain sculptures and the surviving artwork carved into the stone.

Our top recommended tours of the East Temples:

Khajuraho Temple Guide

The Sound and Light Show

Although it may seem touristy to some, every evening a Sound and Light Show is held without fail around the main western group of temples.

You must buy a ticket in advance, but it’s worth the cost to experience the temples at night when they are lit up spectacularly as part of an entertaining show that helps depict the history of Khajuraho in a uniquely spectacular fashion.

Our top recommended tour of the Sound and Light show:

Panna National Park

For a change of scenery and pace from Khajuraho Temple, make a day trip to Panna National Park. Although originally designated to be a tiger reserve, unfortunately, there are almost none of these magnificent creatures left anymore, so don’t count on seeing one in the wild.

The park is still teeming with other wildlife and it’s a great place to enjoy a safari through this forested world of tumbling waterfalls and crashing rivers.

Our top recommended tours of Panna National Park:

Ajaygarh Fort

A day trip away from Khajuraho Temple you can find the impressive Ajaygarh Fort. The dramatic ruins of this one powerful fortress are perfect for exploring and you can find many more well-preserved temples similar to those at Khajuraho.

The fort was built by the same dynasty, the Chandela rulers, who used the strategic location to build their empire in the region.

The fort acted as a short-lived capital for the kingdom and today is a popular tourist attraction for those looking to see more of the remnants of the Chandelas.

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About Lina Stock

Lina is an award-winning photographer and writer that has been exploring the world since 2001. She has traveled to 100 countries on all 7 continents. Member: SATW, NATJA, ATTA, ITWA

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