Khajuraho is famous for its remarkable temples and exquisite sculpture and equally infamous for its erotic masterpiece. It was the meaning of these erotic sculptures, boldly placed in a central position on the side of the large temples that has been the centre of academic debate over the past hundred years. Historians have suggested that Khajuraho represents a decadent phase of history where morals and values had fallen so low that they even depicted sexual intercourse on temple walls. Others believed that the temples were built for a Tantric sect who practiced esoteric rituals. Yet others opined that the erotic sculptures of Khajuraho are a visual illustration of the Kamasutra, the ancient text on the science of love-making, and that the temples were offering the devotees free sex-education. Many people reacted with prudish horror, others with embarrassed amusement.
Some recent researches suggest that the erotic sculpture, and indeed the entire temple scheme, of Khajuraho are founded on a deeply religious ritual and philosophic vision, rather than any pornographic intent.
There is a profound philosophic myth about the divine marriage of Shiva and Parvati. Shiva, an ascetic, refused to marry; Parvati the gorgeous female goddess wished only to marry Shiva. Their union was necessary for the creation and protection of the universe. The gods to marry these two cosmic powers and sent Kamadev, the Hindu Cupid the lord of desire, to strike Shiva with his deadly arrows. When Shiva was thus disturbed, he roared with anger, opened his third eye and reduced Kamadev to ashes. At that moment the earth opened up and a linga of Shiva emerged, marking the event of the destruction of Kamadev, the cause of all human suffering. It is believed that the gigantic linga in the Matangeshvar Temple in Khajuraho marks this great event, in which Shiva reveals to us that only with the subjugation of transient, worldly desires can one gain eternal life and everlasting joy.
However, Shiva had fallen in love with Parvati and decided to marry her for the perpetuation of the universe. The date was fixed and all the gods along with their consorts were invited to partake in this greatest cosmic event. Parvati's father invited the architect of the gods to build beautiful mansions for the gods to live in when they attended the wedding festivals.
The divine bridegroom's wedding party set off together in a long, awesome procession heralded by celestial musicians, while others showered flowers and garlands from the skies.
Every year, at the Maha-Shivratri festival, the village of Khajuraho celebrates wedding of Shiva and Parvati. The wedding procession with an image of the divine couple is taken through the streets heralded by a band of musicians and flag-bearers.
The walls of the Parshvanath and the Duladeo Temples commemorate the event when the gods and their consorts assembled for the wedding, with a narrow band of sculpture above depicting the celestial musician's carriers.
The next part of the myth describes how, when the marriage procession arrived, all the women of the city left whatever they were doing to catch a glimpse of the Divine Bridegroom, Shiva. There was a woman feeding her applying eye make-up, one painting her feet, another had undressed yet another was bathing, one washing her hair, one making love to her partner. Without exception, they stopped whatever they were doing tumultuous wedding procession passes by.
This section of the myth has been interpreted in the bands of sculptures on the temple walls. There are several depictions of all these women, some half turning some still engrossed in their mundane activity, as yet unaware of the divine presence of the gods in their midst. It is in these graceful, sensuous female figures of Khajuraho that the artist describes are frozen in time when an individual realizes the presence of god. It is a moment of divine inspiration, a moment of unselfconscious awareness.
In the Matangeshvar Temple on the night of Maha-Shivratri the wedding of Shiva and Parvati is conducted with all the accompanying human marriage ritual. The ceremony lasts the entire night, the one time when in the year when in Khajuraho both myth and reality blend together in one harmonious whole.
The myth then relates that after the formal ceremonies Shiva and Parvati retire to spend time together. We are told, in the Shiva Purana text, that Parvati made love for a thousand god years. Soon the gods became worried and had to disturb the divine couple and remind them of their role in the preservation of the universe.
It is the divine union of shiva and parvati that is depicted in the central panel between the balconies of the Kandariya Mahadev, Lakshman and ash Temples. It is the embracing images of the gods in the Devi Jagadambi and the Chitragupta Temples that remind us that it is this cosmic union makes the world go round.
Khajuraho is extremely popular as a tourist destination both with Indians and foreigners; Khajuraho is very well connected to all the major cities in India through Rail, Road and air. Khajuraho offers accommodation to all classes of tourists, the Luxury hotels in Khajuraho can be classified into standard, budget, deluxe, luxury and premium categories. The 5 star hotels in Khajuraho include Taj, Lalit and Radisson.
Due to limited inventory it is advisable to book hotels in Khajuraho , well in advance . The holiday season for Khajuraho is during the winter months (September to March) and also during long weekends round the year. For more information on Khajuraho Hotels and other destinations contact Swan Tours – one of the leading travel agents in India.