For countries the erotic sculptures of the temples of Khajuraho have thrilled human imagination. Do these sculptures merely ornament them or can their presence be attributed to some other reason? All these questions related to the architecture of these temples have been answered in an extremely simple and lucid style/ supported by black and white and color plates and drawings this study of the art and architecture of Khajuraho will be appreciated by both the layman and the serious scholar.
Prof. R. Nath (b.1933) has worked at more than 50 ancient and medieval sites of India and with his extensive knowledge of Sanskrit and Persian has authored several books monographs research papers and articles currently he lives and works from Agra.
This is a study of the temples of Khajuraho and the devangana-mithuna sculpture which ornament them perhaps no other phenomenon of Indian art history has been as widely misunderstood as the ‘mithuna’ of the Hindu temple. Attempt has been made here to historically interpret the relationship of the former with the latter which is the key to its understanding.
Though essentially a research work it is written without its jargon in a simple form for the general reader. Diacritical marks have not been used but the style of Sanskrit transliteration has been necessarily followed (e.g. bhrasta, sikhara, srngara, urksita, etc) except with the popular names of the temples.
Khajuraho (ancient kharjuravahaka) is situated in Madhya Pradesh and is accessible by air form Delhi and Varanasi and by road from Jhansi (Map No 1) Jhansi is connected to Delhi and Bombay by the central Railway.
Khajuraho was the capital of the Chandellas a Rajput dynasty of Jejakabhuti (modern Bundelkhan) which rose to power about the beginning of the 10th century A.D. Yashovardhan (c. 925-50) dhanga (c. 950-1002) Ganda and Vidyahdhar were its great kings. The period between 950 and 1050 A.D was the hey day of their glory and it was during this period of prosperity that the greatest of the temples of Khajuraho were built.
Khajuraho is situated in a valley which is surrounded on all sides by hills. The terrain is rugged and difficult. Rock and thick jungle abound. Except for rainfall water is scanty Rain water is collected in several large tanks. The small river Khudarah flows only for four months of the rainy season and there is no perennial stream. Subterranean water of an indifferent taste is the main source of water supply. There is little agriculture. No fruit trees are grown and there are no date palms. It seems that the main consideration which led the Chandellas to found their capital at Khajuraho was its situation which accorded the city an excellent protection against invasion. Similar is the case with Gwalior and Chanderi which too have almost invincible natural defenses around them.
More important than the local terrain is the fact of its situation in one of the most ancient region of the country which was also the richest in art traditions. This is comprised of the ancient Mahishmati and Avanti on and around the river Ksipra and Narmada Dashpura on the Charmanyavati Padmavati (modern Pawaya) on the river of the same name Vidisha on the Vetravati and Desharna on the river of the same name and is vaguely known as the lower viz, the Narmada the Chamble the Padmavati the Betwa and the Dhansana the last being in the close neighborhood of khajuraho.
It is in this region that the ancient and the important cultural centers from the 3rd century B.C to 12th century A.D flourished e.g. Sanchi Vidiash Besnagar Udaigiri Gyaraspur Bodoh-Pathari Pawaya Kadawaya Surwaya Gwalior Padhaoli Mitaoli and Suhania on its western side Sagar Eran Notha Bheraghat Amarakantak Gurgi Rajim and Sirpur to its north-east and chitrakoot Kannauj and Varanasi to its north-east. Many of the greatest monuments of India are situated in this region which was famous for the development of stone art to its most sophisticated standards.
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