Erotic Temples and Classical Dances

Trip Start Mar 04, 2004
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Trip End Jul 02, 2005


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Flag of India  ,
Saturday, February 26, 2005

Goa-Bombay-Jhantsi-Chatarpur-Khajuraho
Sleeper Bus-Train-Very Crowded Bus-Jeep
3 Days of Travel.
We made it just in time for the Khajuraho Festival of Dances. Thank goodness for the train, where we had other travellers and some nice young India boys seated next to us and at least Tina got a decent sleep. The bus here I found to be brutal because of lack of space, but Tina was okay because she's tiny. We are here in the centre of India to see the famous temples of Khajuraho and to see part of the 7 day festival of classical dance. We stayed the first night at Yogi Lodge and then switched to the Yogi Ashram with Yogi Ram-something. Its 2km from the town and the noise, has gardens and pleasant staff and in the mornings the yogi does a little yoga with us and then we listen and comment on issues of spirituality, particularly the very Buddhist questions of love vs. attachment.
We've spent two days seeing the famous temples with their soaring towers and unmatched sandstone carving. I say unmatched because some of the carving here is actualy better than the pink temple at Angkor Wat, formerly the most delicate sandstone sculpting I had seen. Of course, everyone comes here for the titillation of seeing the kama sutra in stone, with all sorts of the most inventive sex acts on display. I'm not going to deny it, those apsaras and the mithun are hot. But there is a lot more to see as well, like the battles scenes, the fantastical sardula lion-mounts, the dancers, and the main images of Vishnu, Shiva, and the rest of the Hindu pantheon. Often over-looked, but an integral part of the temples, are the decorative swirling panels and the lotus-flower ceilings. The Western group of temples are by far the best and set in landscaped, tout and beggar-free grounds. The Eastern Temples, including the three sparkling clean Jain temples, are amongst the old town. Not as beautiful, they still make a nice day trip if you rent a bicycle. The vibe is much more laid back here than Hampi or Aurangabd surprisingly for such a well-worn tourist trap. Frankly, I think its because everyone is surrounded by inspiring erotic sculpture and getting lots of good sex.
Tina and I are also here to see the Festival of Dances. We've been last night and have one more to go. Its revealing to see how India organizes a festival. There were only two acts in 2.5 hours, one with one dancer and one with 5. A small band accompanied the dancers. It was pretty much the opposite of what attention-deficit Western audiences have come to expect from their festivals. The dances were interesting, as was the live music, but after awhile my eyes started glazing over and thoughts about the books I am reading began to take over. Incidentally, the books are John Keay's history of the East India Company and V.S. Naipaul's A Million Mutinies Now on contemporary India. I think Manmohan Singh, the Indian PM might be here tonight. If so I will try to add to my collection of Prime Minister photos I've taken on this trip.
Tomorrow we attempt to rocket over to Jaipur. Its only 19 hours of travel after all....mmmm okay maybe Agra tomorrow. India is frustrating because
its so huge and travel is so slow and everything is a hassle. So it
would be easy to just leave if it weren't for the fact that its full
of incredible sights and culture. So it makes you stay and grit it
out. Well at least until March 4th when we fly to Egypt.
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