Day 4: Around Pornostan in a Day
Khajuraho Travel Blog› entry 5 of 29 › view all entries
Shortly after nine o'clock we walked back to the center of Khajuraho. Khajuraho is famous for its World Heritage-listed temples that can be found in three groups around town and are among the most beautiful in the whole of India. What's more, almost every temple has among its many superb carvings certain positions from the Kama Sutra! I'll gladly admit that this made visiting some 15 temples during the day all the more fun. Temple fatigue takes longer to kick in if you're looking for dirty images while admiring the old architecture. Hence we nicknamed the town Pornostan (and the fact that I had some difficulties memorizing the town's name and kept coming up with various alternative orders for its four syllables might have something to do with it as well).
Originally there had been 85 temples, 25 of which remain and we visited about 15 of these. They were built by the Chandela dynasty in a creative burst between 950 AD and 1050 AD. The isolation of the town saved it from the Muslim invaders that destroyed temples elsewhere in North-East India. British officer TS Burt rediscovered them in 1838, overgrown by the jungle (the temples, not Burt). It was quite a strange experience to find the erotic carvings between depictions of battling armies, gods and numerous apsaras (dancing heavenly nymphs - heavenly in the literal and figurative sense). We first visited the 'Western Group' of temples where some of the best and most impressive ones can be found, most noteable the Vishvanath Temple and big 30 meter high Kandarlya Temple.
There were a few showers in today's weather, but the temples offered great shelter whenever the sky would open. After having coffee at the Raja Cafe we hired two bicycles from 'Mohammed'. Strange enough he advertised with 50 rupees per day, but for our bikes he charged double because they were new! We were about to walk away when he called us back; the regular price was okay.
After exploring three slightly less impressive temples in the Eastern Group, beyond the old village of Khajuraho, we returned to the center to have a dirt-cheap lunch at the Madras Coffeehouse with all kinds of Indian specialities: dosa (crepes) filled with paneer (cottage cheese), regular and fried idli (spongy fermented rice cakes) and uttappam (thick rice pancakes filled with coconut and vegetables). After a beer in the coolness of the Raj we were off to the last couple of temples at the Southern Group, taking us through a typical rural Indian village.
We cycled back to the hotel to freshen up and check our e-mails. After which we dropped the bikes back of at Mohammed's rental place we headed for the Paradise Restaurant. It came recommended by the Lonely Planet, as a big sign also advertised, and another sign claimed they had 'betrouwbaar eten' (Dutch for 'trustworthy food'), so who could argue with that.
I have to admit that the six big bottles of beer probably had something to do with the amount of fun we had and it definitely was the cause for what happened when we got back at the hotel.
Pictures by Biedjee and Ed.