More erotic temples
Trip Start Jan 08, 2005
135Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
We thankfully arrived in Khajuraho but were attacked by touts. We managed to escape but not before extracting some useful information from them - like how far is it to walk into town, what times do the buses leave for Jhansi, that kind of thing, then gave them the 'Thank you, yes your hotel looks lovely but we won't be staying with you, goodbye'.
About half an hour later we were settled into our hotel and looked for breakfast which we found in a fantastic cheap place virtually next door. Fully fueled we were ready for exploration. Marvellous.
We were going to hire bikes to get around but then couldn't be bothered - good thing too because the temples aren't really that far apart and the roads (ha!) are rubbish.
The freebie eastern, Jain and southern groupings of temples were first on our temple agenda, leaving the supposed best (western group) till tomorrow.
All the temples here at Khajuraho were built apparently by the Chandela Dynasty from about 950 AD, so they're quite old and supposed to be fairly erotic. We'd seen some sporting carvings in Bhaktapur, Nepal so we were eager to see whether the Indians could compete with the flexible Nepalese.
There were about 7 temples to see plus a Jain enclosure. The first was quite small and on the side of a road. It looked suitably old. The next three were all in grassy, fenced off areas and nicely taken care of. They were impressive with amazing stone carvings inside and out, but not terribly erotic. We had trouble finding the next one but had a nice walk through one of the cleanest old villages I've seen so far. It was lovely and the people were very friendly. A young boy guided us through but not without trying the 'come-and-visit-my-school' thing where they try and sting you for cold, hard cash. We didn't go but met someone who had and said it was a very uncomfortable situation. The young lad also tried asking us for our own country's currency for his 'collection'. I felt like saying I also have a collection of money - it's called a bank account, but I didn't (it wouldn't really have been fair now, would it?).
This temple was little more than ruins but still had some interesting stone carving work. The children playing cricket inside showed us the best place to climb over the locked fence and insisted that David take part in their cricket game. Not one to be rude (have you ever known David to say no to cricket? (you thought I was going to say 'be rude', didn't you?)). He got one wicket straight away then had a bat and after a couple of balls was bowled! We left them and went in search of the Jain enclosure.
I didn't know what to expect from the Jain temples, and just to let you know, they're very, very similar in structure and design to the Hindu ones we'd just seen, just with a few different gods and symbols. Lots of perfectly shaped boobs so definitely carved by men having fantasies. Although there was a bunch of photos of naked bald guys all sitting with their legs crossed holding feathered fans to conceal their fruit and veg. Interesting touch.
The next two temples were a little more of a walk away. I don't think too many people go and see them as they are a few more km's out of the old village. I'm sure they'll be charging to enter these other temples soon as there is a lot of garden and fence work going on as well as a bit of restoration. The cleaner guy inside asked for a donation but I said I wasn't Hindu. I don't think anyone's ever said that because he just stared at me. The next was a further 1.5km walk away. Nice walk past fields, huts and a cow eating a rotting cow carcass. Some guy came walking along with his crinkly old father in tow and said - 'Take a picture of my father.' but we had our quota of crinkly old men photos so diplomatically declined. As we rounded the corner, the temple was in sight but we were suddenly surrounded by children running from every direction shouting and yelling. Three young girls grabbed my hands. 'Chocolate, shampoo, one school pen.' They were quite sweet but it was the same story. Sweets and pens. But even after we said no a million times they were happy to walk with us. The place has a very relaxed feel about it and the traditional village houses are spotless.
This last temple of the day was also very impressive. Again, not as erotic as they are made out to be. The figures remind me more of dancing ladies rather than erotically posed ladies. It has a large statue of Vishnu inside which was the biggest we'd seen so far in a temple. It was great to get out to these temples because there were virtually no tourists. A few Indians at one of them but otherwise we had them to ourselves.
That night we found a simple little place for dinner that serves the best food I've had in India so far. They had to go out and buy all the ingredients for our requested dishes so we had to wait a little longer than usual but it was all so fresh!! Fantastic place and very friendly too! Something else made it a great night too. We were just about to look on-line for some more headphones when we decided to check our mail first. Meg and Ryan had my headphones!!!! I was soooo happy! The cleaners had found them in our room. In between the bed and the wall they'd said. I'm so glad I'd mentioned it to the seps! But the next day the manager of the hotel tried to sleaze them back by saying that we'd called and were coming back to pick them up! Bastard! He'd demanded them back claiming them to be his! He didn't even know what it was! I had thought the hotel was a good deal up to that point! So if you're in Varanasi, give Golden Lodge a miss!! Oh well, I was happy. In a few days we'd be seeing the seps in Agra and I'd have my headphones back.
Next morning we took it slowly. The western group of temples was only across the road on the main tourist drag. You can pay in either rupees or US dollars. It was cheaper for us to pay the $USD5 but you need to fill out forms with your passport details and the serial numbers of the bills. I asked them why and what the process was of authenticating the bills and they explained that it was to stop fraud and that the bills are taken over to the bank where the serial number is checked. I told them that it was a terrible waste of time, paper and an administrative nightmare and an easier way to stop fraud of US dollars would be to make everyone pay in Indian rupees, but they didn't like being told and got loud and nasty. It curbed my enthusiasm somewhat but I went in anyway. There were loads of tours in there, both Westies and Indians so we walked off in the opposite direction. There are about 12 different temples set in lovely gardens. Not really very authentic but quite nice in a slightly manicured kind of way. There were some families of monkeys playing too which added to our entertainment. I won't describe each individual temple but they are all well kept and clean, although I did get a bit miffed at being asked for donations all the time from the guys inside holding brooms. Each one is dedicated to a specific god or god's incarnation. The carvings are very intricate and detailed. There are loads of boobs but not too many other activities that would shock. Very supple ladies though! Not as much as is implied. Impressive though and amazing to think they've survived over 1000 years in the middle of no where. It has stumped people forever as to why they were built there. There is nothing really there now and evidence suggests the same when they were built. The town there now has pretty much sprung up from tourism. There were a few interesting positions though and plenty of people catching the images on film! Inside the boobs within arms reach were quite shiny. Can't imagine why..... One of the last temples we looked at had one of the most surprising images in the frieze around the base. A horse with a man at either end. Use your imagination.
I would say the sculpted carvings are more exotic than erotic over most temples but there are a few to set the imagination going. I'm so glad we went but it is a real shit to get to. The new town is quite relaxed even though there are persistent shop owners on every corner. I really enjoyed the old village and walking to the eastern, southern and Jain temples. There weren't so many touros out there and the villagers were very friendly AND we ate the best food we've had in India so far!!!