Let me start this post off with no apology for the lewd images seen above; it just wouldn’t befit the free-spirited and somewhat cheeky atmosphere of Khajuraho. From some highly entertaining bartering banter with local shop-owners, to being told about the Karma Sutra by an old temple guard – you can see that not only does this place not take itself too seriously, but it’s also a place you can relax and get your shoulders out.
There was something quite liberating about staring up at all of the ornately erotic temple carvings (dated c.900 AD) whilst surrounded by giggling old Hindu women and slightly confused, and potentially scarred, young children. It was like in the confines of Khajuraho, the often straight-faced and conservative feel of India had been lifted, and the people here were easier going.
But talk of x-rated carvings aside, the temples were pretty fantastic in their own right. In the absence of bright sunshine and snickering tourists, the damp-smelling inner sanctums, still bearing these token carvings, were actually quite eery. The cavernous chambers are deafeningly silent and contain black stone effigies upon altars, with mysterious, twinkling jewel eyes that seem to follow you.
Without going into too much history (I’ll only embarrass myself), the temples were found hidden amongst over-grown jungle in 1838 in remarkably good condition. This alluring mystique has sadly been stripped away. They are set in trimmed parks that wouldn’t go amiss at an English summertime tea party or the set of the Great British Bake-off, and the stone is so over-polished that they look like they’d just been built. If only the temples were allowed to be a dirty as the carvings that cover it!
Despite the temples being the main reason most tourists visit, the town itself has it’s own appeal. It’s the first place in India I felt like I could walk down the street alone (don’t worry Mum I didn’t). Also, as Khajuraho is so focussed on tourism, there is a lot of competition between the over-abundance of hotels, shops and restaurants – which meant greater bargaining power and lower prices for all (for once). However, this friendly competition has been exploited by several fake shops springing up and packaging pebbles to sell as green tea – which I definitely didn’t buy…
We’d liked to have stayed longer as it was a very pleasant place to be, but there’s only so long you can trawl around temples and buy elephant patterned souvenirs (and pebbles), before you forget why you’re here – and we wouldn’t want to get too comfortable now would we!