Khajuraho, which has lent its name to a complex of exquisite Hindu and Jain temples, is a small town located amidst the forested plains of Bundelkhand in north-central Madhya Pradesh. The beautiful temples that dot Khajuraho are believed to have been built by the mighty Chandela rulers in the 9th and 10th century AD. Architecturally, the temples are built in the north Indian Nagara style.. Every facade-wall, window, pillar, and ceiling-is carved with figures of mythical and historical origins, and while many of these depict full-breasted, girdle-waisted women in forms of innocent play, they also depict carnal love. In all 85 temples were built in Khajuraho, but only 22 are left to speak of the grandeur of conception of the rulers and architects of the day. In some of the large temples an extra mandap with lateral transepts is added for size and splendour, converting it into a large assembly hall. The temples rest on a risen open platform, a distinctive feature of the Khajuraho temples, with subsidiary shrines at the four corners of the platform in the bigger temples. Khajuraho combines history, architecture, culture and environment with scrumptious charm. It is a town that takes you away from the noise and pollution of the city, with its fresh air and scenic countryside. For convenience, the temples of Khajuraho are divided into the Western, Eastern, and Southern groups. The Western Group, has 14 temples. The Chaunsath Yogini, Lalguan Mahadev, Parvati, Varaha, Matangesvara, Lakshmana, Vishvanath and Nandi, Chitragupta, Devi Jagdamba and Kandariya Mahadeo temples belong to this group. The Eastern Group consists of seven temples (four Jain and three Hindu). The Parsvanath, Adinath, Shantinath, and Ghantai temples belong to the Jains while the Vamana, Javari and Brahma are Hindu temples. The Southern Group, contains the Chaturbhuj and Duladeo temples. There is the Ken Gharial Sanctuary, 120 km away, which is rough and wild, with its gorges, rocks and the lovely Ken River. The Panna National Park, 40 km from Khajuraho, is home to a variety of wildlife. The Dhubela Museum (64 km), on the Jhansi-Khajuraho road, houses the weapons, paintings, and sculptures of the Bundela kings as well as a wide variety of sculptures of the Shakti cult.

Western Group of Temples

The Western Group of Temples, are the most famous temples of Khajuraho, with the mithunas (couples), gandharvas, apsaras, vidyadaras and kinaras. The images of the apsaras are stunning, with their sensuous poses and liquid movements. . The Kandariya Mahadeo is the biggest and most stunning temple, with its 800 statues of gods and goddesses, the marble lingam and the ceiling that rises 31 meters high. It is considered the most evolved example of central Indian temple architecture. This temple is also the largest of Khajuraho's temples. The Lakshmana Temple has friezes of battle scenes and erotic poses, depicting both sides of the Chandela warriors' lives. The finely carved inner sanctum has a three-headed idol of Vishnu's incarnations, Narasimha and Varaha. The Varaha Temple has a 9-feet-high image of the boar incarnation of Vishnu, gorgeously carved with 474 images. The Chitragupta Temple is dedicated to the Sun God, and has many group scenes of royal processions, hunting, and dancing that reflect the lavish lifestyle of the Chandela courts. The Devi Jagdamba Temple has a gorgeous image of Parvati. It is perhaps the most erotic temple of Khajuraho. The temple houses Khajuraho's most talked-about image, mithuna, and the sensuously carved figures. The Matangesvara Temple has a 2.5-metre-high polished lingam of Shiva. This is the only temple that is actively used for worship. The temple of Vishvanath and Nandi celebrates the marriage of Lord Shiva with Parvati. The temple draws attention by its provocative depiction of women. Chaunsath Yogini is dedicated to goddesses Kali. It is the oldest of the surviving temples of Khajuraho. The only temple in Khajuraho to be built of granite, the name of the temple is derived from the cells of 64 attendants of Goddess Kali (chaunsath: sixty-four).

The eastern group of temples

The Eastern temples are partly Jain and partly Hindu. The most striking is the Parsvanath Temple, with its exquisite sculptures depicting everyday activity. Only a century old, Shantinath is the most recent of all the temples in Khajuraho. Visited by the Digambar Jains, the temple houses a four and a half metre statue of Adinath. The Ghantai Temple, mostly in ruins now, has fine columns and chains and bells, with a figure of a Jain goddess on a garuda. Mainly built of granite and sandstone, the temple of Brahma and Hanuman is one of the oldest temples in Khajuraho.

The southern group of temples

The southern group of temples contains only two temples. The Duladeo Temple apparently is newer of the two and was built at a time when the creativity of Khajuraho was well below its peak. The other is the Chaturbhuj Temple, located far from the village.