India is defined by its temples. With over 4 million ancient and new temples India is the hub of spirituality and culture. Indian temples are engineering marvels at their peak with many towering temples dating back to the ancient ages. Having stood the test of time, these temples are iconic pieces of history that give us a glimpse of the creativity and pure devotion of the people and time gone by.
The Khajuraho group of temples is one such iconic set of temples that were built between 885 AD and 1000 AD. Inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Khajuraho is located 175 kms away from Jhansi in the heart of India, Madhya Pradesh. These temples represent the true nature of the rulers of the Chandela Dynasty who were great patrons of art and architecture. Every inch of the temple is decorated in intricate and finely detailed sculptures that makes you think – how did they do that?
All the temples in Khajuraho are divided according to directions, here are the must-visit famous temples of Khajuraho:
List of 12 Famous Temples of Khajuraho
Western Group of Temples:
The western group of Khajuraho temples is situated on the sib-Sagar banks and on the western edge of Bamitha-Rajnagar. The western group consists of 6 edifices dedicated to Vaishnavite and Shaivite Cults.
1. Chausath Yogini Temple
In Hindi, Chausath translates into 64 referring to the number of yoginis or the female attendants of goddess kali, to whom these chambers are dedicated to. The temple can be seen gracing the southwestern banks of the sib Sagar Lake. This has to be the only temple in Khajuraho that is built entirely out of granite and is north-east and south-west oriented. The temple stands tall on a massive plinth and at one point they were surrounded by 65 different cells out of which only 35 remain. The most defining feature of these cells is topped off with shikhara or spires. The lower end of these spires is adorned with triangular ornaments that will remind you of the traditional chaitya windows.
2. Kandariya Mahadev Temple
Dating back to the 10th century, Kandariya Mahadeva Temple is the largest one among the Khajuraho group of temples. The temple rises up to a height of 109 feet and pans out over an area of 60 feet. Unlike the regular temples in India, Kandariya Mahadeva Temple consists only of one long open passage around the inner sanctum thus making the inner sanctum of the temple high. While the entrance gateway of the temple is arched and decorated with figurines of different deities, the interior walls of the temple are decorated with over 900 different images. The inner sanctum is decorated with fine cravings and delicate engravings of gods, goddesses and flowers.
3. Devi Jagadambi Temple
Towering at a height of close to 80 feet, the temple is dedicated to the mother goddess of the world or Jagdamba. Initially believed to be dedicated to Lord Vishnu as it occupied the central part of the inner sanctum, the temple is mainly dedicated to Jagdamba. Other than Lord Vishnu, the temple is also home to an image of Lord Brahma. However, capturing the attention and occupying the largest space is an elaborate statue of four armed female figures holding lotus flowers, signifying the mother goddess. Goddess Laxmi also occupies another space inside the temple. As per inscriptions, the temple was built during the 10th or 11th century during the peak of the Chandela Dynasty.
4. Chitragupt or Bharatji’s Temple
Dedicated to the sun god, the temple of Chitragupta faces east and towers high at a height of over 75 feet. The sun god in the main shrine is represented in the form of a highly elaborate sun god figurine where the lord can be seen wearing high boots and driving a chariot of 7 horses. Other than this 5 feet tall sun god image, the entrance way of the temple is adorned with another image of the lord. One of the most interesting sculptures in the temple is located towards the south of the sanctum is the 11-headed image representing Lord Vishnu. With the central head of Lord Vishnu, the remaining 10 heads symbolize the 10 different incarnations of lord Vishnu or his Dasavatara.
5. Vishwanath Temple
Lord Shiva is often referred to as Vishwanath or the lord of the universe. Standing tall at a height of about 90 feet with Nandi the bull gracing the entrance of the temple, this is one of the most famous and articulate temples in the Khajuraho group of temples. Other than Lord Shiva the temple is also home to various figurines depicting lord Brahma on his vehicle as well as Lord Vishnu on his vehicle on either side. The Garbha Griha of the temple houses a lingam which also contains 2 Sanskrit inscriptions engraved on the stone slabs. According to the inscriptions left behind, the temple’s making can be dated back to 1002 CE along with detailed accounts of the Chandela kings. Did you know that the Shiva lingam in this temple also used to contain a large emerald?
6. Lakshmana Temple
Also referred to as the Chaturbhuj Temple, the temple stands tall at a height of 99 feet. Laxman Temple redefines architectural marvel at its best. The ornate temple represents various architectural innovative techniques. Every inch of this temple is decorated with impressive and elegant engravings and carvings. The entrance to the temple possesses an elegant Torana while the ceiling of the main Mandapa is relieved with mind-boggling ingenious devices of cusped circles. The entrance of the sanctum also holds a figurine of goddess Laxmi along with Lord Shiva and lord Brahma that is believed to have been built during the 11th century.
There are several other temples in the Western group of Khajuraho temples like Lalgun Mahadev Temple, the Nandi Temple, the Parvati Temple, the Varaha Temple, and the Mahadev Temple. Each of these temples is built in traditional Indian architectural style that is simply awe-inspiring to look at.
Must Read: Places to Visit in Madhya Pradesh
Eastern Group of Temples:
The eastern group of temples in the Khajuraho group of temples is located closer to the Khajuraho village. The eastern complex comprises a collection of 3 Brahmanical or Hindu and 3 Jain temples.
7. Brahma Temple
Having stood the test of time on the banks of the holy Khajuraho Sagar, the Brahma temple is a small, humble, and elegantly inspiring temple. The sanctum of the temple holds the 4 faced or the Chaturmukha image of probably Lord Shiva or Lord Brahma. Either way, the temple holds a lot of importance in the life of Hindu devotees. This is one of the few temples in Khajuraho that is made out of a mix of granite as well as sandstone. The central positions of the centre of the sanctum and the western window are occupied by Lord Vishnu figurines. Ever since its construction in the latter half of 9the century, the temple’s majestic beauty remains unparalleled.
8. Vamana Temple
Located on the northeastern end of the Brahma temple and standing tall at a height of 63 feet, the temple stands out as it is built on top of a very high and large platform. A 5 feet tall image of Lord Vishnu rests in the inner sanctum of the temple who is also referred to as a dwarf version of Lord Vishnu making it even more unique than the other Vishnu temples. Along with various figurines of lord Brahma, the temple also contains the incarnations of Lord Vishnu carved out in the entire framework. Lord Brahma can be seen in an earth-touching gesture which is another rare factor. The entire temple is decorated with images of Lord Vishnu with his consort, Narsimha, Lord Varaha, and others. It is a haven for Vaishnavites.
9. Ghantai Temple
Ghantai Temple is named after the various bells that were suspended on the temple pillars on the portico. It houses the 11 naked statues of the famous Jain Tirthankaras along with 2 of their Yakshinis making Khajuraho a prominent Jain temple complex as well. Right above the temple entrance is an image of an 8-armed Jain goddess riding a Garuda while holding a variety of different weapons. Each end of the lintel is decorated with a figure of a Tirthankara along with 9 different figurines on the other end depicting the 9 planets of the solar system or the Navagraha. The stand-out feature of this temple is its ornately decorated entrance pillars that contain bands of horned heads or the faces of glory. The ceilings are also creatively decorated with rows of panels representing groups of musicians playing instruments.
10. Parshwanath Jain Temple
This is the largest of the Jain temples in the Khajuraho temple complex that rises at a height of almost 70 feet. This is the shrine dedicated to Parshvanatha who is the 22nd Jain Tirthankara. The left and right sides of the temple entrance door are adorned with elaborate carvings of naked female figurines. Right above the entrance, you can see the figure of a 10-armed Jain goddess holding weapons in different hands while riding her vehicle, the Garuda. Carvings of 2 other goddesses can be seen riding a peacock and a goose at the end of the lintel. A small seated figure of Parshvanatha can be seen gracing the innermost sanctum of the temple. According to the inscriptions on the door of this temple, the temple was built during the 10th or 11th century.
Other than these, the eastern temple complex also includes various other Jain as well as Hindu temples like Javari Temple, the Adinatha Temple, and Shantinatha Temple among others.
Southern Group of Temples:
The southern groups of temples contain just 2 main temples that capture the attention of many. However, although less in number, the beauty, and importance of these remain the same.
11. Duladeo Temple
Originally dedicated to Lord Shiva, and the whole cult, Duladeo Temple is one of the most majestic and incredibly constructed temples in the entire complex. Located about half a mile away from the main group of Khajuraho temples, the temple towers at a height of 70 feet and stands tall on a massive platform. Other than the obvious architectural marvel, the engravings here consist of an effigy of the 4 armed Gana along with a conch shell. Constructed during the 10th century, this temple is worth visiting as it is one of the most elaborately constructed temples in MP.
12. Jatkari or Chaturbhuj Temple
The name of the temple is drawn from its location near Jatkari Village. Facing the western edge of the temple complex, the temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu where the inner sanctum houses a 9 feet tall image of the deity. The Chaturbhuja name of the temple refers to the deity’s image where he can be seen with 4 arms and crowned with various ornaments. He can also be seen holding a lotus flower in one hand while his other hand rests in a mudra position. The outer sanctum portion is decorated with 3 rows of various sculptures representing a host of Hindu gods and goddesses.
The entire temple complex of Khajuraho is a testament to the expert craftsmanship and creativity of the people thousands of years ago. The fact that these temples stood the test of time still manages to inspire many visitors. Every inch of the complex possesses some interesting carvings or engravings that are intricately drawn with uttermost care and detail.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Which Is The Most Famous Temple In Khajuraho?
Ans. Kandariya Mahadeva is the largest and the most famous temple of Khajuraho.
Q. Which Is The Best Way To Reach Khajuraho?
Ans. Mahoba is the nearest railway station to Khajuraho and is located 63 kms away from the main temple entrance.
Q. When Is The Best Time To Visit Khajuraho?
Ans. October to February is the best time to visit Khajuraho.
Q. Are Khajuraho Open On Sundays?
Ans. Yes. The Khajuraho groups of temples remain open throughout the year from sunrise to sunset and they never shut down for visits even during weekends or festivals.
Q. Is Madhya Pradesh Safe For Tourism?
Ans. Yes. Khajuraho is absolutely famous for its tourism. There is nothing to worry about in the heart of India.