Khajuraho , a small town out of the way from all major cities in India has an airport. It’ s claim to fame ? – The depictions of the kamasutra poses along its temples’ facade. Enough said. Now lets take a step back and start at the beginning.
While it is known for a fact that the temples were built originally by the Chandela dynasty and later by the Bundelas, the exact reason for the carving are not known for sure. Some say the carvings are to appease the god of lightning. I like to believe the version narrated by our guide.
In the 10th century AD the northern portion of the country was ravaged by invaders from the far east. The constant fighting meant that there was a need for the steady supply of soldiers to the front. Young men were recruited, trained and marched off to the front line. This meant that young maidens waited for years for their lovers to come home, their biological clocks ticking; some even waiting in vain. To add to this, the era also saw a strong promotion of Buddhism. Young men traded the sword for the vow of celibacy and shed all cares of the world to lead a life of ahimsa and enlightenment.
The temples of Khajuraho was the answer to the dwindling population of the Chandela kingdoms. Through out the temples ( which once number 85 in total) a common theme resonates – sex of many forms and women of many shapes. The carvings were to educate and enthuse young men and women on the importance and pleasures of sexual acts.
Even the most progressive and free spirited society of today will blush at the almost life like depictions of an act now considered taboo to speak out about. With the all eroticism around it is easy to forget about the level of skill. The artists paid attention to every detail. In the following pictures notice how every muscle and vein of the body stands out.
The older temples have two panels of educative ( read erotic) panels, depicting various poses for normal and also group sex ( progressive). In the later temples the number of panels increased to three and also the women were depicted sexier with slimmer bodies and longer legs.
Not all the panels are of erotic in nature. The lower panels of the temple depict every day scenes, movement of the army since the Chandelas were also fighting/defending their territory.
It also had some disturbing teachings. Men on the war front were encouraged to do it with horses! (Yikes! ).
My favorite carving depicts a woman having a bath, her wet sari gathered around her waist. Notice that she has moved her chain to the back. All this is done on a single stone.
Disregarding all the eroticism the work at Khajuraho speaks of a time long past which would bring even the most avant garde society of ours to an awkward pause!