An overnight train journey in a second AC compartment with a bunch of young people, my book & a good looking husband who knows a lot of random stuff is how my pursuit for erotica began. As I busied myself with the days of Malgudi, a chemistry was building up between the guy I married & the bunch of girls & boys sharing our compartment. The deeper my nose was in the book, the closer these lovely ladies got to my husband. It was only the next morning that these lovelies realised that I, in fact, am his lawfully wedded wife & it would be only appropriate to keep it platonic with him & end it just there. This interesting start to the journey was fanning my curiosity more & more. This episode of platonic or otherwise chemistry was just the perfect introduction to what was going to unfurl in Khajuraho. At least, I believed so!
As the train took the halt, I came out of Malgudi & entered Khajuraho.
As we began our ride from the railway station to our hotel, my eyes began to scan the surroundings for some clues about what’s hidden inside the temples. Many bumps, kilos of dust & a mall look-alike airport later, we reached our hotel. I thought, may be, hotel would house some paintings or idols. But no, nothing there either!
In the evening, we set out for the legendary temples & my pursuit was back on. On the way to the temple complex, I noticed many cycle-enthusiasts & thin, simple looking people living in humble houses that must have existed back in the days of Malgudi. The construction of an airport hasn’t done much to the town. The latter has apparently stuck to the time when the temples must have been constructed & hasn’t moved on much except for the TV set, Refrigerators & mobile phones.
When we had to hire a guide for the tour to temples, I applied all my ‘behaviour psychology’ knowledge & tried hard to identify a guide who would be able to easily explain us the most difficult poses & geometrical structures. After the due diligence, we hired one who casually gave us the tour, asking us to bow before the Varaha (Lord Vishnu’s incarnation), offer prayers to the dieties, take a look at the blooming flowers in the garden, and decode the carvings of the wall.
These carvings were of everyday chores -of praying, leaving for work, riding a bullock cart, charging on the enemy, getting decked up, taking meals together.
But where were those pictures?
We went around the perimeter of many temples. Beautiful but same old carvings. I couldn’t find what I came looking for.
“It must be there in some other temple.”, I kept telling myself.
And that’s when the guide took us to the side wall of a temple & used torch to point at a geometry saying with pride, “This is the famous picture of Khajuraho that you see on internet.”.
Yes, it was. It was the very same carving.
But why is it a part of some scene.
Why is it not on the spotlight? You have to really SEE to locate the PICTURE! Apparently, the artist didn’t have our interests or pursuits in mind when s/ he was sculpting at it. They carved a story of everyday lives & this happened to be a part of it.
So much for my pursuit!
With a long face & a slightly open mind, I completed the rest of the tour. As soon as I stopped searching and scanning, I began to see & realised that Khajuraho is a beautiful place with a diverse range of temples from Vaishavism & Jainism. This eclectic mix enhances the overall appeal of the place a bit more. Now when I began paying attention to what my guide had to say, I discovered that Khajuraho happens to be one of the four main pilgrimage sites of Lord Shiva too.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site today, Khajuraho temples, like many other Indian heritage sites, had been subjected to plundering, pillaging & pointless mutilation too. In fact, for many years, Khajuraho remained in oblivion hidden under the foliage & overgrown grass. That probably was nature’s way of saving the remains of some 60 temples originally built under Chandela Dynasty.
The tour ended sooner than it began and it was almost the time to attend the dance festival but not before grabbing a snack. We visited Rajaji Cafe that’s just outside the Western group. The place was famous for its view & chai.
Khajuraho is an (almost) next door neighbour of Jhansi & Orchha – these three places together make a perfect extended weekend getaway from Delhi. And if you are visiting Jhansi, do visit Gwalior too for their beautiful Gwalior fort.