Khajuraho monuments, India
Asia India Unesco World Heritage Sites

India: Divine festivals and temples at Khajuraho

The temples of Khajuraho in India’s Madhya Pradesh province are unusual in that they are both beautiful and entertaining. This group of 1,000-year-old Hindu temples float in a wide garden; golden structures covered with the most vibrant carvings of gods and goddesses, nymphs and humans in all sorts of erotic poses – from the sexually explicit to the just damn sexy.

Khajuraho monuments, India

We arrived for both the famous Khajuraho festival of classical dancing and also the religious festival of Shivrati (free entry to the temples yay). All the people from miles around were in the village in their ‘Sunday best’ – viewing the temples (groups of teenage boys and girls giggling at the carvings) and worshipping at the temple.

Khajuraho monuments, India

Shivrati was quite a sight, with hundreds of men stripping to their pants, washing and surging up the temple stair like a river of human flesh, carrying their offerings and emerging triumphant from the exit door. And in the evening, wonder of wonders, a wedding procession to beat all wedding processions – the marriage of Shiva and Parvati. Two brass bands and extra drummers create an incredible cacophony.

Khajuraho monuments, India

Okay so I have to include at least a few photos of the carvings and sculptures Khajuraho is famous for…

Khajuraho monuments, India

There seem to be differing opinions on why the temples are decorated in this way. Some interpret them as a pathway to reach the gods, or an effort to renew Hinduism; some think they represent the decadent lifestyles of the ancient kingdom.

Regardless of the real reason, they are both beautiful and fascinating.

Khajuraho temples, Madhya Pradesh, India

As well as the sexually explicit scenes Khajuraho is known for, there are also many, many exquisite carvings of everyday life. From sewing circles to parades and parties with dancers and musicians. It’s a wonderful picture of a civilisation.

Khajuraho temples, Madhya Pradesh, India

The Khajuraho classical dance event is set against the backdrop of these wonderful monuments and although I didn’t understand much about the art form, I admired the passion of the performer, she was impressive in both speech and skill.

Khajuraho classical dance festival, India

Khajuraho is a Unesco World Heritage Site and considered to be one of the “seven wonders” of India.

By Natasha von Geldern

Have you visited Khajuraho?

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Festivals and temples of Khajuraho India

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  1. Very informative and a lovely set of photos.
    Not sure I could deal with that surge of human mass in the one photo – a tad claustrophobic.
    Also love the colours in the fourth photo.

  2. Great photos 🙂

  3. The Khajuraho classical dance event sounds so interesting and like a great way to learn a bit more about the local culture. The temples in your photos are beautiful.

  4. Looks like such an interesting place, Khajuraho. I’ve been meaning to visit for a while, but haven’t gotten to it quite yet. Sounds nice to see it during a festival. Apart from the temple, the area doesn’t seem very crowded.

    • Natasha von Geldern

      You’re right it’s very relaxed and quiet, as is the little town adjoining. A very pleasant and unique India experience.

  5. oooh I sooo want to visit India!!!!

  6. This part of the world has always fascinated me. Great photos.

  7. Beautiful photos. The shot with the huge mass of people reminds me of the religious festivals in Bali. It’s like every person on the island arrives at the temple together.

  8. Eileen Ludwig

    Interesting photos and culture

  9. The temples look quite beautiful! I like the bright red flowers in the first one. They remind me of bouganvilla.

  10. This is a beautiful post, and that first image – with those brilliant flowers – is stunning! Wonderful, thanks for sharing!

  11. Looks like a really interesting place! and I can understand why the carvings get giggles

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