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Khajuraho Attractions

Tourist Attractions in Khajuraho
The main tourist attraction in Khajuraho are its temples. The temples are divided into three geographical groups namely, Western, Eastern and Southern.


Western Group of Temples
The Western group is the best known group of temples. In the Western Group, there are various temples like Kandariya Mahadeo Temple, Chaunsat Yogini Temple, Devi Jagdambe Temple, Chitragupta Temple, Vishwanath Temple, Nandi Temple, Lakshmana Temple, Varaha Temple, Matangeswara Temple. The Kandariya Mahadeo temple which is the largest and most typical Khajuraho temple belongs to this group. This temple is about 31 metres high.

Eastern Group of Temples Khajuraho

The main temple is in an almost perfect state of preservation. The temple has an exquisitely carved entrance arch. More....

Eastern Group of Temples
Hindu and Jain temples make up the eastern group, close to Khajuraho village. The largest Jain temple, Parsvanath, belong to this group. The image of Parsvanath was installed in 1860. The sculptures on the northern outer wall of this temple, make this temple the finest temple in the eastern group. Another Jain temple is the Ghantai Temple. On the walls of this temple the images depicting the dreams of Mahavira's mother and a multi-armed Jain goddess riding on the winged Garuda are beautifully carved. Other temples are the Ghantai Temple, Adinath Temple, Brahma, Vamana and Javari temples.

Southern Group of Temples
Five km from Khajuraho village is the Southern group. Chaturbhuj Temple and Duladeo Temple belong to this group of temples.

Excursion from Khajuraho


Mahoba and Charkhari
Mahoba and Charkhari are about 50 km north of Khajuraho and Chhattarpur. Mahoba overlooks the Madan Sagar lake. Mohaba is believed to have existed under different names in all the successive, cycle through which the world has passed. Its name in the present ‘evil age’ (Kala-Yoga), Mahoba is said to be derived from a great sacrifice (Mahot-Sava) performed by its reputed founder the Chandela Raja Chandra Varma in 800 AD. The Chandela kings, apparently, desired two earthly things after the safe possession of Bundelkhand: to built temples for their gods and to bring water to the land. The Ram Kund lake marks the place where the dynasty’s founder died and on an island in Madan Sagar, the main lake, stands a Siva temple dating from the 12th century. The shores of the lakes and the islands are littered with ruined temples and large rock figures, Buddhist and Jain sculptures left abandoned since the Muslim invasions; a dancing Ganesh of whitewashed granite in a mustard field here, a sun temple dedicated to Surya the Sun god there, a vast figure of Siva cut into the rock there.

The Chandelas obviously had a liking for water. The area around the Khajuraho temples was flooded, and at Mahoba they constructed four lakes by damming valley. Madan Sagar, 5 km in circumference, was made in the 12th century, Vijay Sagar in 11th century. The other two are Kalyan Sagar and Kirat Sagar. Defence seems to have been at the heart of the enterprise and the hill fort at Charkhari is surrounded on three sides by water. The landward approach to the fort is made though an imposing gate, its door studded with spikes to deter elephants from knocking it down. It leads to a courtyard and durbar hall decorated with portraits of the Charkhari Rajas. From there the ascent is long and gradual and this enabled elephants and heavy guns to be taken higher. There are canons abandoned in nearly every bastion. Also within these walls are the temple gardens and well. Parmadidev, the last Chandela king, was defeated by the Chauhan emperor Prithiraj in 1182, the latter making Delhi his strategic base. Qutb-ud-Din took the town in 1195. A number of Muslim remains survive. The tomb of Jalhan Khan is constructed from the remains of a Saivite temple, and a mosque whose Persian inscription indicates it was founded in 1322 during the reign of Ghiyas-ud-din-Tughluq. The fort fell into the hands of Tantia Topi during the Mutiny but the local Raja Ratan Singh remained loyal to the British and afterwards was awarded a hereditary 11 gun salute. The view from Charkhari across the lakes and fields is spectacular. The ruins are of an Edwardian summer palace that was used as a hunting lodge for large shooting parties that terrorized the local wildfowl and, the villagers too.


Ajaigarh, about 80 km from Khajuraho and 26 km from Kalinjar. There is an alternative, shorter direct route from Khajuraho to Ajaigarh by back road. Ajaigarh lies in rugged country (altitude 500 m) on a granite outcrop and crowned by a 15 m perpendicular scarp. The excellent coffee table book the Forts of India by Virginia Fass and others note that although it lies deep in remote and difficult country and is only reached by a stiff 250 m climb, the fort repays the effort. Like most of the forts of N India, there are places of worship, rock carvings and sculptures to be seen as well, some before the climb is over. Ajaigarh was a self-contained forest hill fort, intended to withstand long sieges and be capable of housing the entire population of the region within it walls. This accounts for its size. The Chandela kings’ main defensive bases were Mahoba and Kalinjar (both now in U.P.), but these were complemented by

Ajaigarh Khajuraho

other forts such as Ajaigarh as the kingdom expanded. In fact, there are a large number of forts in a comparatively small area of Kalinjar, Ajaigarh, Mahoba and Charkhari, Garkhundar, Orchha, Datia, Samthar, Talbehat, Deogarh and Chanderi. Many of these are Chandela forts. The Chandelas, like other kings and emperors, donated villages to maintain the families of soldiers who had died in war. This was an effective means of encouraging the continuing flow of soldiers which the system required. Heroic virtues were instilled into a child from birth so that any man who shirked combat was held in contempt. Women too were taught to admire men who fought well. A women had to be ready to die should her husband be killed and the becoming of sati, whether forced or voluntary became fashionable (though not with the women concerned one suspects) throughout the region of NW India. As the Chandela’s fortunes declined, they lost Mahoba and Kalinjar and became confined to the area around Ajaigarh. Much later still, when the Bundela chief Chattrasal rose to prominence in the early 18th century, Ajaigarh fell. On his death in 1734 the area descended into factional conflicts until the Marathas under the Nawab of Banda took the fort after a six week siege in 1800. In 1808 it changed hands again, this time falling to Lakshman Daowa. He showed no signs of acknowledging the British presence in Bundelkhand and in 1809 the battle lines were drawn again. Under Colonel Martindell, the British Indian army took the surrounding hills in fierce fighting, after which they used their artillery on the fort with devastating effect. Since then the forests of teak and ebony have been slowly and quietly invading the place.

Ajaigarh’s battlements show little uniformity as the thickness of the walls never remains the same for more than a few metres. The Muslims are accredited with using carved pillars and door jambs from the Hindu and Jain temples to effect repairs and fortifications. Huge blocks of stone once formed steps for elephants on the steep track up to the fort and now only two of the former five gates are accessible. From Ajaigarh you can drive directly to Kalinjar (20 km). Again its is worth asking locally about road conditions. An alternative route is to go to Naraini, then approach Kalinjar from the N. This will add about 30 km to the journey. You can always miss out Kalinjar and continue on from Ajaigarh to Atarra Basurg.

Kalinjar, 53 km south of Banda, the fort stands on the last spur of the Vindhya hills overlooking the Gangetic plains, a plateau (altitude 375 m) with a steep scarp on all sides. Kalinjar is one of the most ancient sites in Bundelkhand, referred to by the Greek Ptolemy as Kanagora. It combines the sanctity of remote hill tops with the defensive strength of a natural fortress.

One legend proclaims Kalinjar as the Abode of Siva, the Lord of Destruction (Kal=death, Jar=decay). Its name, though, is linked with the Chandela kings, and it was one of their strongholds. In the second half of the 10th century the independent Chandelas joined a Hindu confederacy to repel an Afghan invasion led by Amir Sabuktigrin. His son, Mahmud of Ghazni, the ‘idol breakar’, made at least 17 of his almost annual plunder raids into India from 1000-1027, in 1019 he crossed the Yamuna river and approached Kalinjar. On this occasion neither side could claim victory but in 1022 he returned and took the title Lord of Kalinjar. Thereafter, it was a depressingly familiar story. Successive Muslim invasions weakened the forts defences and, then in 1182, the Chandela forces were crushed by the last Chandela king, Parmadidev, was defeated. Yet Muslim power over the area remained unconsolidated until the rise of the Mughals.

Like other forts of the ancient world, Kalinjar’s design has a mystical significance, the idea being that it is manifestation of a force greater than man’s. The only approach is from the N but entry is through 7 gates, all of them with barbicans, and each corresponding to one of the 7 known planets and stations though which the soul must pass before being absorbed into Brahma. Only some of the names indicate Hindu significance into Brahma. Only some of the names indicate Hindu significance. The succession is: Alam Darwaza or Alamgir Gate after the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb; Ganesh Gate; Chandi Darwaza is a double gate; Budh Budr Gate, approached by a flight of steps; Hanuman Gate, surrounded by numerous sculptures and inscriptions; Lal Darwaza; Bara Darwaza. At the creat crumbling Hindu and Muslim monuments stand side by side on the 1.5 km long plateau. Beyond the last gate is a drop of about 3.6 m leading to Sita Sej, a stone couch set in a chamber hewn from the rock. The inscription over the door dates from 4th century AD. Beyond is a passage leading to Patalganga or Underground Ganga, which runs through Kalinjar. At the centre of the fort is a large 90 m long tank with ghats (steps) leading down to it. Nearby are the ruins of King Aman Singh’s Places. Numerous stone relics are scattered about the site; a dancing Ganes, Nandi bulls, a model temple complete with figures like a miniature Khajuraho and a reclining Siva. Sati pillars are scattered about the fort, reminders of the tradition of self-immolation by Rajput women, and there are a number of lingams and yonis, symbols of male and female fertility.

Kalinjar was retaken from the Muslims by local chiefs and remained Hindu until 1545 when the Afghan Sher Shah, who dethroned the Mughal Humayun from Delhi besieged the fort. During the heavy fighting, Sher Shah was mortally wounded but he clung on for long enough to know that the Hindu king Kirat Singh had ben excuted. Humayun re-established Mughal rule in India at the end of his life and his son Akbar took Kalinjar in 1569. Kirat Singh married one of his daughters to a Gond Raja and for most of her married life she waged war against Akbar, earning for herself the reputation as heroine of Bundelkhand.

Towards the end of Aurangzeb’s reign, the Bundela chief Chattrasal took Kalinjar and on his death in 1732 bequeathed it to the Marathas. This was surrendered to the British after Martindel breached the fort’s devences in 1812. They later erected a monuments to Andrew Wauchope, the first Commissioner of Bundelkhand. The ancient hill of Kalinjar, standing on the last range of the Vindhyas and overlooking the Ganges plain has long been a place of pilgrimage and worship of Hindu sadhus, rishis and pilgrims. It is rarely visited by other travelers. The town below is of little interest.


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