Dadu Aur Madak

Khajuraho
Another factor that figured in to our decision to take this slightly longer route from Varanasi to Agra and break the trip in to several days was that it gave us the opportunity to visit Khajuraho. I might point out at this time that I have become such a slacker that I am now more than three weeks behind with these pages. The fact is that the pages from Khajuraho to Agra almost never came to be. In Jaipur, our third stop after Khajuraho, we lost our camera. I normally empty the memory chip every few days, but I somehow managed to let that get away from me. To make matters worse, Jaipur was the stop immediately after Agra--the home of the Taj Mahal. Although we retraced our steps trying to locate the camera we had no luck. I've never been too big on being in my own travel photos, but I had promised my daughter-in-law that we would get a picture of both of us in front of the Taj Mahal for my grandson Evan. I spent the next day and a half sunk in a blue funk. Finally, on the evening before we were to leave, we ran into the same auto-rickshaw driver that we had used the morning the camera went missing. When I asked him if he had run across our camera he initially said no. He acted a little suspicious of us. He said he had seen us go past the corner where he usually hangs out the evening before, and he asked that if we had lost the camera why hadn't we stopped and asked him then. We told him we didn't stop because we didn't see him and the reason we had gone past that corner was specifially to look for him. He than told me, "Well I've got your camera, I just wanted to make sure it was really yours because I had a lot of people in my tuk-tuk yesterday." I should point out that these drivers will take you somewhere half-way across town, then sit and wait while you have a meal, and then drive you back to your hotel for about 40 to 50 rupees--a sum equal to a dollar or a dollar-and-a-quarter. The thousand rupees ($25) that I gave our new friend Ali had him smiling with both of his teeth. I had received a number of concerned warnings about theft and dishonesty in India, but I simply have not found this to be the case. I am certain there are crimes of opportunity, and there is no doubt whatsoever that most people will try to get the upper hand in negotiations, but I have found Indian people to be remarkably trustworthy. If your ever in Jaipur and get picked up by an extremely thin man with just a few front teeth, ask him if his name is Ali--a thoroughly honest man.

At any rate, back to Khajuraho. We had first heard about Khajuraho from Mr. Tiwali back in Delhi on our first few days in India. Mr. Tiwali is the father of Geeta, who along with her husband Alan used to live in our place in Tucson. Her dad is a retired Air Marshal, and a published author. Among his works are essays on the birds of India. He is very well traveled, and he hi-lited more than a dozen places on our maps that he felt we must see. He was especially enthusiastic about what he described as exquisite temples that were in this little town that was not near much else. He said that they were mostly known for their erotic images. I have to say, that in a country where there are temples by the thousands, those at Khajuraho stand out as something not to be missed.

Reached by way of some of the most neglected and some of the worst paved road we have encountered in India to date, Khajuraho stands in marked contrast. The first thing that grabs your attention is that the ten kilometers of side road ( a road you might expect to be less than perfect ) that leads from the crappy "main" road is an already excellent road that is being made into a four lane. The grounds of the main Hindu temple complex is impeccably maintained, as is most of the spotlessly clean town. Someone has made a very conscious effort to preserve a valuable cultural asset, something that is unfortunately grossly neglected in many of India's heritage sights.


 There are two main groupings of temples in Khajuraho. The eastern grouping is made up of Jain temples and is less well preserved than the western group depicted above. The western group of Hindu temples dates to the 11th and early 12th centuries. One of the great puzzles about Khajaruho's temples is their distance from any population centers. The big question is "Why here?" It is thought, however, that this very isolation was a factor in the temples having been spared the devastation that befell many of India's other temples at the hands of the Muslim invaders. The degree of preservation is remarkable though, and we noted the fact that there are not even any pigeons or other birds befouling these as is found at almost all other temple sites in the country. There are more than a score of temples and lesser shrines in this one grouping alone.
The photo at left above shows some of the detail of the parade of figures that circle the base on which sits the Lakshmana temple. This array is home to some of the most spectacular erotica at Khajuraho. The view at right is from on top of the base platform. The center photo is of Kandariya-Mahadev temple. A tribute to Shiva, its main spire is adorned with scores of smaller replicas of itself. It has nearly 900 figures both human and animal exquisitely carved in relief around its perimeter.







While the temples all show many of the same design elements, each is unique and quality of detail is evident both outside and in as is illustrated by the ceiling of one of the temple vestibules. (above center)

Many of the images depict humans interacting with animals or mythical creatures (a phenomenon even more graphically portrayed on Kajuraho's erotica page).

The smaller grouping of Jain temples east of town are somewhat less well preserved, but none the less elaborate. The white temple in the background is a reproduction constructed only to indicate the scale and relationships of one temple to another. Some of these reproductions incorporate the few fragments of the original temples that remain.
Khajuraho erotica