Khajuraho was an ancient city in the Madhya Pradesh region of northern India. From the 10th to 12th century CE it
was the capital of the Chandella kings who ruled Bundelkhand. Despite Khajuraho’s once great reputation as an
important cultural centre there are no surviving non-religious buildings, but the presence of 35 Hindu and Jain
temples make it one of the most significant historical sites in India today and worthy of its name given by the 11th
century CE Muslim historian Abu Rihan Alberuni as ‘the City of the Gods’. Khajuraho is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Most of the temples at Khajuraho were built using sandstone but four also used granite in their construction. In the
latter group is the Chaunsat Yogini (64 tantric goddesses), built c. 875-900 CE, which has 64 shrine rooms arranged
around a rectangular courtyard. Next in the site’s development came the Lalguan Mahadeva, Brahma, and Matangesvara temples which are all quite plain in design and decoration compared to the later temples.
HINDU TEMPLES WERE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE HIMALAYAS AND THE ‘WORLD MOUNTAIN’The majority of temples at Khajuraho were constructed between 950 and 1050 CE and are either Hindu (Saiva or
Vaisnava) or Jain. The most famous is the Kandariya Mahadeo built in the early 11th century CE and dedicated to
Shiva. The more or less contemporary Laksmana temple was built in 954 CE by King Dhanga (r. 950-999 CE) to celebrate independence from the Gurjara-Pratihara rulers and has a similar layout and exterior to the Kandariya
Mahadeo. So too does the Visvanatha temple (c. 1002 CE) which was designed by Sutradhara Chhichchha. Both temples have shrines at each corner of their terrace platforms. The Laksmana was dedicated to Vishnu and its terrace
is of particular note as it carries a narrative frieze running around all four sides: Elephants, warriors, hunters, and musicians form a procession watched by a ruler and his female attendants.
Other notable temples at the site include the single-towered Caturbhuja and Vamana, the squat Matulunga, and the rectangular, more austere Parshvanatha Jain temple with its unique shrine added to the rear of the building (c. 950-970 CE). Probably the latest temple at Khajuraho is the Duladeo which was built on a star-plan.