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Kandariyâ Mahâdeva Temple
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrThe Kandariyâ Mahâdeva Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva , is the largest and perhaps the most elaborate of the temples just outside the quaint village of Khajuraho in the Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh, India. It is one of the 27 surviving temples (including some small ones) of the 85 temples believed to have been built during the more-than-two-century-reign of the Chandela Rajputs from 950 AD to the late 12th century. The Kandariyâ Mahâdeva Temple is one of the 15 temples that belong to the Western Group of Temples. All the temples, spread over an area of 20 square kilometers, were listed as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1986, and are maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India. Millions of pilgrims and tourists visit the site each year.
ArchitectureThe temple is believed to have been built around 1030 by the Chandella Rajput ruler of that time, King Vidhyadhara, possibly to commemorate him having successfully withstood the attack by Muhammad of Ghazni. The temple is built on a 3.5-meter high jagathi (platform). As with most other temples, the Kandariyâ Mahâdeva Temple exhibits the distinct Nagara style of construction, then-prevalent in the construction of temples in the Northern India, and comprises of all the essential features of a temple typical of the style. It has the mukh-mandapa (the entrance porch), the mandapa (the assembly hall), the maha-mandapa (the dance hall), the antarala(a foyer between the maha-mandapa and the inner sanctum), the garbha-griha (the inner sanctum or the sanctum sanctorum), and the pradakshina (an ambulatory path around the garbha-griha), making it a Sandhara temple.
Like all other temples, the Kandariyâ Mahâdeva Temple is built mostly from soft, red sandstone and without the use of mortar. Above the garbha-griha is a cave-like shikara (the main spire or a forehead, kandara means “cave”) that is 30.5 meters in length and is equally high. It is the highest shikara among all the Khajuraho temples. All the other areas of the temple have their own smaller shikaras, giving the impression of several hills preceding the mountain. The main shikara depicts Mount Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva. The main shikara is decorated in 85 steps of replicated decorations of progressively smaller sizes until they cluster at the top. A flight of steps lead to the mukh-mandapa, which has a makara-torana (an elaborate and ornate arch) at its entrance. The entrance faces sunrise, or east, as is the case with all the other temples except the Chatrabhuj Temple in the Southern Group of temples. In the maha-mandapa is a chatuspada (four legged) image of Sadashiva, the ever auspicious form of Lord Shiva with four heads. In the garbha-griha is a large Shiva Lingam (symbol of Lord Shiva) carved out of marble.
Almost every inch of the Kandariyâ Mahâdeva Temple is carved intricately out of sandstone. On the external walls are more than 900 sculptures of apsaras (heavenly maidens), surasundaris (celestial beauties); dikpalas (space guardians), musicians; dancers, masons; warriors, animals; and the images of Lord Shiva in his different forms. Images of sapta-matrikas (seven mother Goddesses) are arranged counter-circumambulatory (anti-clockwise), starting with the seventh matrika, Chamunda, and ending with the first matrika, Brahmani*.
While it is rated among one of the most important Hindu temples in India, this remarkable temple is more famous for the erotic sculptures on its walls and spires. Although most of the temples in Khajuraho have erotic sculptures, the sculptures in theKandariyâ Mahâdeva Temple are more explicit and sensational, depicting couples engaged in the act of love-making in various poses, and striking sculptures of humans engaging in sexual acts with animals. Although these erotic sculptures form only a tiny part of the sculptures in the temple, they draw immediate attention because they are beautifully proportioned. The more elaborately sculpted images in the Kandariyâ Mahâdeva Temple, compared to some of the temples built earlier, show the marked improvement in the skills and the tools that the craftsmen and the artisans used in the later periods of the Chandela reign.
Other Places of InterestAs grand as the Kandariyâ Mahâdeva Temple is, the other temples, some of them of the Jain school, are no less impressive. A tourist will probably find that a couple of days is not enough to explore the structures built and stacked without mortar, more than a millennium earlier. Among the most important are the Lakshmana Temple, the Chitragupta Temple, and the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in the Western Group of temples. In the Eastern Group are the famed Adinath Jain Temple and Parshwanath Temple dedicated to the two Jain Tirthankara s. Among the Hindu temples, the Brahma Temple and Vamana Temple are the more prominent temples in this group. The Chatrabhuj Temple in the Southern Group of Temples, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, is the only temple that faces west as opposed to all the other temples facing east, and has no erotic images. The Duladeo Temple too is rather impressive.
Close to the Khajuraho village are the Raneh Falls, the Ken Nature Trail, the Panna National Park, the Pandava Falls, and the Benisagar Lake. The holy city of Varanasi and the Gwalior Fort are located within a radius of 300 kilometers from Khajuraho.
The temples are open to visitors from 8 AM to 6 PM. The entry fee for Indian visitors is ₨ 10 ($0.16), while foreigners will have to pay a fee of $ 10 USD in equivalent value in Indian rupees. Sound and light shows are conducted daily in English from 6.30 PM to 7.25 PM. There is a show in Hindi thereafter. Entry fees for the shows are ₨ 75 ($1.20) for an Indian adult and ₨ 25 ($0.40) for a child, whereas a foreign adult will have to pay ₨ 300 ($4.80) and a child ₨ 150 ($2.40).
Transport and AccommodationKhajuraho is located 620 kilometer south of the Indian capital of Delhi and is 1,150 kilometers away from Mumbai by road. The closest major city, Jhansi, is 200 kilometers away. Khajuraho has an airport five kilometers away from the village, which is connected by air to Delhi, Varanasi, and Mumbai. There is a good railroad network with other places of interest in India, connecting Khajuraho to all main cities by rail. Visitors leaving Khajuraho will, however, have to buy tickets at the bus station rather than the railway station.
Visitors to Khajuraho will get to enjoy the serene Indian village atmosphere as well as good accommodations. Hotels like the Isabel Palace, Hotel Surya, and Hotel Harmony will cater to the budget traveler, while the Taj Hotel Chandela and the Radisson Jass will accommodate those seeking luxurious comfort. November to March is the best time of the year to visit Khajuraho as the temperatures are cool and the weather comfortable.
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Author: jackmartis. Last updated: Dec 11, 2014