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Khajuraho Travel

Sensuality Sublimated: Khajuraho, derived from the word 'khajur' meaning the date palm, was a quiet, unknown town till a chance discovery made it a popular tourist destination. Forgotten and unvisited until the mid-1960s, the place is now, after the Taj, India's biggest single tourist attraction. Khajuraho has the largest group of medieval Temples; each studded with countless sculptures of extraordinary grace and delicacy. The temples of Khajuraho are indeed, celebrations of the stylized and refined courtly accomplishments of beauty, love and creative arts.

Location: 385-Miles Southeast of Delhi, Madhya Pradesh.
Name derived from 'Khajur', The Date Palm.
Built By: Chandela Rajputs.
Built During: 950 AD - 1050 AD.

Nandi TempleKhajuraho lies about 385 miles (616 kilometers) southeast of Delhi. It was once the religious capital of the Chandela Rajputs, a tribal dynasty who ruled this part of India from the tenth to the twelfth centuries. The Khajuraho temples were built in the short span of a hundred years, from 950-1050 AD in a truly inspired burst of creativity. A wall with eight gates enclosed the whole area; each flanked by two golden palm trees. There were originally over 80 temples, of which only 22 now stand in a reasonable state of preservation, scattered over an area of about eight square miles.

History
The Ancient dynasties are often covered in a veil of mystery, largely because written records are rare and, as is often the case in India, myth and legend weave their way over time into the history of their origin and their reign. And when the dynasty leaves a legacy as contradictory as the Khajuraho temples, with their mix of the religious and the sensuous, the web is woven of brighter threads, the accompanying legends more colourful. Khajuraho or 'Khajur-vahika' (bearer of date palms), also known as 'Khajjurpura' in ancient times, evidently derives its name from the golden date palms (khajur) that adorned its city gates and, if the different legendary versions are to be believed, it owes its existence to an enchanting maiden named Hemvati. According to the account of the medieval court poet, Chandbardai, in the Mahoba-khand of his Prithviraj Raso, Hemvati was the beautiful daughter of Hemraj, the royal priest of Kashi (Varanasi). One summer night, while she was bathing in the sparkling waters of a lotus-filled pond, the Moon god was so awestruck by her beauty that he descended to earth in human form and ravished her. The distressed Hemvati, who was unfortunately a child widow, threatened to curse the god for ruining her life and reputation. To make amends for his folly the Moon god promised that she would become the mother of a valiant son. 'Take him to Khajjurpura', he is believed to have said. 'He will be a great king and build numerous temples surrounded by lakes and gardens. He will also perform a yagya (religious ceremony) through which your sin will be washed away.' Following his instructions, Hemvati left her home to give birth to her son in a tiny village. The child, Chandravarman, was as lustrous as his father, brave and strong. By the time he was 16 years old he could kill tigers or lions with his bare hands. Delighted by his feats, Hemvati invoked the Moon god, who presented their son with a touchstone which could turn iron into gold, and installed him as king at Khajuraho.

Chandravarman achieved a series of brilliant victories and built a mighty fortress at Kalinjar. At his mother's request he began the building of 85 glorious temples with lakes and gardens at Khajuraho and performed the bhandya-yagya which expunged her of her guilt. A variation of the same legend introduces Hemvati as the widowed daughter of Mani Ram, the royal priest of Kalinjar. As a result of a mistake in his calculations the priest informed his king that a particular night was Puranmasi (full moon night) and not the dark night that it actually turned out to be. In her concern for her father's reputation the beautiful Hemvati prayed to the Moon god, who was gracious enough to uphold the word of the priest but, inreturn for his favour, ravished the daughter. The grieving father was so shame-stricken that he cursed himself and turned into a stone, which was later worshipped by the Chandelas as Maniya Dev. Hemvati gave birth to a son, the sage Chandrateya, who was later at the helm of the Chandela clan. Historically speaking, the area and aura around Khajuraho has always been renowned for its cultural achievements.

 
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