Khajuraho: One of seven wonders of India


About Kahjuraho:-

The name Khajuraho is derived from the Sanskrit words kharjura = date palm and vāhaka = “one who carries”. In the 19th century Mr T.S. Burt arrived in the area, followed by General Alexander Cunningham. Cunningham  explored the site on behalf of the Archaeological Survey of India and described what he found in glowing terms. The Khajuraho Monument has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is considered to be one of the “seven wonders” of India.

Why construction of Temple Complex Started?

The creators of Khajuraho claimed their descent from the moon. The legend that describes the origin of this great dynasty is a fascinating one. Hemavati, the beautiful daughter of a Brahmin priest was seduced by the moon god while bathing in the Rati one evening. The child born out of this union of mortal and a god was a son, Chandravarman.

Harassed by society, the unwed mother sought refuge in the dense forest of Central India where she was both mother and guru to her young son. The boy grew up to found the great Chandela dynasty. When Chandravarman became ruler, his mother visited him in dream and directed him to consruct a temple which will reveal human passion and in the process of revealing those passions human being will realize the futility of materialism. Thus King  Chandravarman started constructing the first temple and successors added more, and site evolved into a temple complex.

Groups of Temple and building material:

The Kahjuraho temple comlex has been grouped into three geographical devisions-

1: East Complex

2: West Complex

3: South Complex

These temples are made of sandstone. Without using mortar builder put together slabs of stones and joined them with mortise and tenon joints and they were held in place by gravity. This form of construction requires very precise joints. The columns and architraves were built with megaliths that weighed up to 20 tons.

Sculptors of the Temple:

The Khajuraho temples do not contain sexual or erotic art inside the temple or near the deities; however, some external carvings bear erotic art. Also, some of the temples that have two layers of walls have small erotic carvings on the outside of the inner wall. There are many interpretations of the erotic carvings. They portray that, for seeing the deity, one must leave his or her sexual desires outside the temple. They also show that divinity, such as the deities of the temples, is pure like the atman, which is not affected by sexual desires and other characteristics of the physical body. It has been suggested that these suggest tantric sexual practices. Meanwhile, the external curvature and carvings of the temples depict humans, human bodies, and the changes that occur in human bodies, as well as facts of life. Some 10% of the carvings contain sexual themes; those reportedly do not show deities, they show sexual activities between people. The rest depict the everyday life of the common Indian of the time when the carvings were made, and of various activities of other beings. For example, those depictions show women putting on makeup, musicians, potters, farmers, and other folk. Those mundane scenes are all at some distance from the temple deities. A common misconception is that, since the old structures with carvings in Khajuraho are temples, the carvings depict sex between deities.

Another perspective of these carvings is presented by James McConnachie. In his history of the Kamasutra, McConnachie describes the zesty 10% of the Khajuraho sculpture as “the apogee of erotic art”: “Twisting, broad-hipped and high breasted nymphs display their generously contoured and bejewelled bodies on exquisitely worked exterior wall panels. These fleshy apsaras run riot across the surface of the stone, putting on make-up, washing their hair, playing games, dancing, and endlessly knotting and unknotting their girdles….Beside the heavenly nymphs are serried ranks of griffins, guardian deities and, most notoriously, extravagantly interlocked maithunas, or lovemaking couples.”

While the sexual nature of these carvings have caused the site to be referred to as the Kamasutra temple, they do not illustrate the meticulously described positions. Neither do they express the philosophy of Vatsyayana’s famous sutra. As “a strange union of Tantrism and fertility motifs, with a heavy dose of magic” they belie a document which focuses on pleasure rather than procreation. That is, fertility is moot.

The strategically placed sculptures are “symbolical-magical diagrams, or yantras” designed to appease malevolent spirits. This alamkara (ornamentation) expresses sophisticated artistic transcendence over the natural; sexual images imply a virile, thus powerful, ruler.

Between 950 and 1150, the Chandela monarchs built these temples when the Tantric tradition may have been accepted. In olden days, before the Mughal conquests, when boys lived in hermitages, following brahmacharya until they became men, they could learn about the world and prepare themselves to become householders through examining these sculptures and the worldly desires they depicted.

While recording the television show ‘lost worlds’ for the history channel at Khajuraho Alex Evans, a contemporary stonemason and sculptor gave his expert opinion and forensically examined the tool marks and construction techniques involved in creating the stunning stonework at the sites. He also recreated a stone sculpture under 4 feet that took about 60 days to carve in an attempt to develop a rough idea how much work must have been involved. Roger Hopkins and Mark Lehner also conducted experiments to quarry limestone which took 12 quarrymen 22 days to quarry about 400 tons of stone. These temples would have required hundreds of highly trained sculptors.

Advertisements

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Chaturvedi Travels (@TravelChaturved)
    Jan 05, 2013 @ 03:11:30

    That’s amazing!! I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: