Sometimes when a travel plan just pops up in your mind and suddenly you find yourself on the road to this destination. Exactly this happened with me recently when I was on a business trip to Chennai (South India) for an exhibition. The exhibition was for five days and got finished on Saturday. We were all tired with my colleagues left early on Saturday to be with their family on Sunday.
I was unlucky as I was directly responsible for the exhibition and found myself working till 11 pm on Saturday with 2 other guys who had similar fate like me.
We reached hotel at around midnight from the trade centre, tired and hungry, but had lot of planning going on our mind as we kept Sunday for some small trip to a nearby beach. We started watching “Don’t Mess with Zohan” with beers in our hand and decided for Mahabalipuram in between. It was a sudden decision to visit Mahabalipuram which is also known as Mamallapuram, a small town in Kancheepuram district in Tamil Nadu state. It is around 60 km south from Chennai. It is an ancient historic town with lots of beautiful spots.
We started our travel in a rented taxi from Chennai early morning and it took only 45 minutes to reach the historic town of Mahabalipuram as the roads are pretty good. There was a bike racing going on which we realized when a fancy bikes zoop passed us in a flash. The 7th century port city is famous for its rock-cut shore temples. A lighthouse built on a hill from which you can see complete city over a group of temples below.
There are nine monolithic temples found in Mahabalipuram, the most important are Five Rathas known after the famous five Pandava brothers of the Mahabharata. These monuments are carved out a single rock and are huge. You can watch them with unbelievable look in to your eyes. Just see yourself in the below pics.
If you are looking for a place for a weekend fun and adventure along with some historical sights-seeing than this place is ideal for you. We were more than happy to be in this place as it was a great relief after a week of hard-work. With beer in our hands at the beachside we were feeling relaxed and peaceful. This prepared us for the tough week that was coming ahead and we were ready to fight again.
Mahabalipuram also has some great cafes that serve good sea food. A backpacker’s delight you can find economical accommodations with plenty of activities to do specially surfing in this part of India.
We had planned for the trip way back which is usually not my style but definitely a place of interest for me since not so long ago. I use to hear stories from people that Khajuraho is famous for sculptures that depict various sexual positions. There are lots of them. The whole temple is full of them and what not. It’s more or less related to Kamasutra (Ancient Hindu text which is considered to be the standard work on human sexual behavior).
I had heard about Kamasutra and its various techniques and positions, mostly unusual and impossible to attempt but are still famous. I wonder how many people do it exactly the way it is mentioned in the books.
Anyway I am not talking about sexual positions here as I am not an expert on this but certainly the visit to Khajuraho has made me clear that it’s not only about the above mentioned things. It’s about something different, which I realized when I was there few days ago. It’s about love, life, passion and religion.
Let me brief about the place first,
Khajuraho is a small village situated along a lake in Madhya Pradesh (heart of central India). Its spread over an area of 21 sq kms and is the most frequently visited monument after “Taj Mahal” in India. Its well known for Indo-Aryan architecture. The temples were built between the 9th and 11th centuries by the warrior kings of Chandela Dynasty. It is believed that only 25 temples still remains and can be seen out of 85 ones in this place.
By the 16th century, Khajuraho was almost lost in the history and have lost importance, turning out to be a place which is not visible in the map. Not until 1838 when Captain T.S. Burt rediscovered the temples. He was traveling on an official duty and made a slight change in his itinerary to visit the place based on the inputs from a local who was with him. He later recorded that he has spotted the finest number of temples situated in one place and all are within a small distance to each other.
The sculptures and carvings of the temples depict humans, human bodies, and the changes that occur in bodies, as well as facts of life. Approx 10% of the sculptures contain sexual themes. These are sexual activities between people.
Though the erotic sculptures are of Khajuraho are the main attraction to a visitor at the same time these sculptures has given Khajuraho too much publicity and popularity and hence the place has gained a big place in the world map.
I enquired about the erotic sculptures and got few answers which are really interesting.
1) Gods are responsible for natural calamities and if at all gods come to this place they will go back immediately after looking at these erotic sculptures. They wont be able to tolerate these nuisance.
2) These erotic sculptures are put in for those people who are not sincere guys. If you are a sincere guy these erotic sculptures won’t affect you. If you are not sincere than you will be lost in these sculptures and will have to come back again with much sincerity which will not affect you to these sculptures.
According to some books, these erotic sculptures came in to existence when Buddhist devotees were required to pass this interesting test to reach the stage of spiritualism. They were put in front of these kind of erotic sculptures to test their ability to resist themselves and come out without any kind of physical emotion.
There are 3 groups of temples — Western, Eastern, and Southern. The main temples are in the Western group, which features the magnificent Mahadeo Temple. The Eastern Group contains a number of exquisitely sculptured Jain temples. There are only two temples in the Southern group.
We started our journey from my base location “Bilaspur” for a place called Maihar. It’s a religious place for Hindu’s. We reached there in the morning and left the place by afternoon for Khajuraho which was 164 kms from our location. There was a beautiful forest range in between which we crossed at night, the place was scary as the forest was dense and the valley was full of sharp and steep turns. Spotted few deer and some more animals in between, which made our journey more interesting and our enthusiasm went straight upwards. Thankfully the roads were good and we reached around 7 pm. After crossing lots of small villages I thought Khajuraho is also a small village (a village with a population of 8000 people) and has only few temples to offer and I really mean it as I was not expecting much. I had seen lots and lots of temples recently and was not really looking forward for another bunch of temples.
We reached and attended the light and sound show which is held at the temple premises at night. It was a cold, dark and windy night but enjoyed the lights focusing on the temples based on the ruler’s timelines which I didn’t keen to learn but the ambience was nice and worth watching.
Went straight to bed but before that stalked by the agents of different hotels and guides. It’s always advisable to use audio guides which are available at the ticket counter in Khajuraho.
Next Morning we woke up to a cold December morning and straight away went to the temples arena after getting ready. When I entered the place I was awestruck and looked all around and found myself as if I am in heavenly place. There were beautiful, huge and architectural brilliant piece of monuments.
We went on from one temple to another and were lost for few hours in the sculptures and carvings as well the architecture of temples. Everything was so very perfect and we loved the place as it’s well maintained and has everything tourists require.
A week long classical dance festival is held in Khajuraho temple complex each year in February and March. There are performers and dance groups from all over India putting up a show on various classical styles of Indian dance, such as Kathak, Bharat Natyam, Odissi, Kuchipudi, Manipuri and Kathakali. A large arts and crafts fair is also held during the festival. There is a light and sound show every day in English and Hindi which is worth watching.
How to Reach Khajuraho
Khajuraho from Jhansi are connected by buses but do confirm timings and also verify bus conditions. The local buses are crowded and take about 5-6 hrs to reach Khajuraho. One can also rent a car from Jhansi or Satna, which will roughly cost you up to Rs. 2000/- one way. A bus ticket costs approximately Rs. 100/- one way.
Jhansi (175 km) is well connected to Delhi by Bhopal Shatabdi . Khajuraho has recently got a new railway station and one can take a direct train to Khajuraho from Delhi’s Nizamuddin Railway Station that runs on Monday, Wednesday and Friday known as Sampark Kranti Express.
Khajuraho has its own airport and Air India and Jet Airways operates flight from Delhi directly or via Varanasi.