We have seen a number of astonishing temples during our visit to India. The animated, lively style portrayed with stone carvings has been especially impressive. But we had no idea that we would see a temple complex that would leave us blushing.
The astonishing temples in Khujuraho were built under the reign of the Chandellas, who controlled a large portion of India between 950 -1300AD. The Chandellas were a warlike people who maintained huge armies to keep control of their territory. At times there were no wars and the soldiers sat around getting bored, so it was decided that some temples needed to be built. The architectural know-how and stone carving skills were not the soldiers’ purview. Rather their strong backs and weak minds transported the granite used in the temple construction.It kept them busy and out of trouble. Although the erotic carvings are what catches the eye, they really portrayed an idealized version of life in all its aspects. Obviously the Chandellas liked voluptuous, flexible women. But if you can get past all the creative sexual positions, you can also admire the carving skill that went into portraying the female form covered by diaphanous fabric. When the Muslim came through, they found this all appalling. They didn’t even believe in portraying any sort of animals or plants in art, much less people having orgies. What saved this temple complex from Muslim destruction was their remote location.
From our guidebook:
When the British fist encountered the temples, they were shocked and probably titillated by such flagrant displays of what to their minds was pornography. But this was not the intent of the sculptures. To the medieval Hindu mind the until of the male and female principles bound the universe together; sexual union was not only considered a manifestation of this perfect union, but also a hoagie to the creation of the universe itself. Related to this metaphysical ideal is Tantra, a form of physical devotion somewhat like yoga, that seeks unity during sex.
Only since the 1970’s have these temples been on the tourist track and new ones are still being unearthed and the old ones cleaned from centuries of dirt. Perhaps the sexual positions portrayed here became the foundation of the Kama Sutra, one of India's claims to fame.
After recovering from the temples we boarded a plane for a half hour flight to Varenasi. You would think that it wouldn't be worth going through the rigamarole that flying requires these days for a half an hour flight, but it saved us ten hours of driving. A wise decision. As usual the Indian TSA mystified us. Ken kept his water bottle; I had to throw mine away. Ken had bought a wooden segmented cobra and the agent kept asking him if he had a snack. When he figured out what she was saying, he thought she meant a real one. She took it away saying he could use this toy to frighten the crew and hijack the plane. Bur Krishan was able to retrieve it as well as do a a strategic checkin where he did all he bags together and no one had to pay over weight charges. One more internal flight to go...