Detail of the Kama Sutra carving from the Kandariya Mahadeva temple in Khajuraho.
The temples at Khajuraho were built during the Chandella dynasty, which reached its apogee between 950 and 1050. Only about 20 temples remain; they fall into three distinct groups and belong to two different religions – Hinduism and Jainism. They strike a perfect balance between architecture and sculpture. The Temple of Kandariya is decorated with a profusion of sculptures that are among the greatest masterpieces of Indian art.
The Kandariya Mahadeva (Devanagari:कंदरिया महादेव, IAST:Kandariyā Mahādeva) temple is the largest and most ornate Hindu temple in the medieval temple group found at Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh, India. It is considered one of the best examples of temples preserved from the medieval period in India. Khajuraho was once the religious capital of the Chandela Rajputs and today is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. The Kandariya Mahadeva temple is the largest of the Western group of temples and was built by Vidyadhara, arguably one of the greatest Chandela kings. The temple was built around 1050 on Hindu beliefs dating back to 1000 BC; The main spire or shikhara rises 31 m to depict Mount Meru, the holy mountain of Shiva and is surrounded by 84 miniature spires. Inside the sanctum is a marble linga representing Shiva. The Archaeological Survey of India protects the temple, which is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site at Khajuraho.
Khajuraho temples, according to, do not contain sexual or erotic art inside the Temple or near the deity; however, some external carvings bear erotic art and tantric sexual poses. Also, some of the temples that have two layers of walls have small erotic carvings on the outside of the inner wall. There are many interpretations of the erotic carvings. According to some current Hindu interpretations, they portray that, for seeing the deity, one must leave his or her sexual desires outside the Temple. They also show that divinity, such as the deities of the Temples, is pure like the atman, which is not affected by sexual desires and other characteristics of the physical body. Meanwhile, the external curvature and carvings of the Temples depict humans, human bodies, and the changes that occur in human bodies, as well as facts of life. Some 10% of the carvings contain sexual themes; those reportedly do not show deities, they show sexual activities between people. The rest depict the everyday life of the common Indian of the time when the carvings were made, and of various activities of other beings. For example, those depictions show women putting on makeup, musicians, potters, farmers, and other folks. Those mundane scenes are all at some distance from the Temple deities. A common misconception is that since the old structures with carvings in Khajuraho are Temples, the carvings depict
Between 950 and 1050, the Chandela monarchs, followers of the Tantric tradition, built these temples. Adherents of Tantrism teach that gratification of Earthly desires is a step towards accomplishing Nirvana. In olden days, before the Mughal conquests, when boys lived in hermitages, following brahmacharitva until they became men, they could learn about the world and prepare themselves to become householders through examining these sculptures and the worldly desires they pointed out.
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ribeiroantonio (22618) 2007-06-05 9:25
It is very curious photo for TE but I must admit is well within the TE rules and learning about the world through photography. For what it shows I have to say that it is not so medieval because there is a temple in Brisbane, Australia, with similar scenes and built in 1988. Good posting with a great note.