Friday: The Temples of Khajuraho
The hotel IndianInterlude occupies is one of faded grandeur. The entrance lobby is still suitably impressive, however the furniture, the furnishings, and the paintwork have all seen better days.
We are greeted this morning by our guide Babu and a new driver for the short trip to the temples of Khajuraho. The carpark is a haven for hawkers, who have for sale playing cards, postcards, and key rings with fully moving parts (all will become clear). They have learned the lingo of ‘when I come back’ and give you their name for your return.
The previous day’s gruelling journey is largely forgotten as we enter the gate to view the Western group of temples – thankfully they are bloody good temples!
The temples here all date back over 1,000 years, and have some fame as being ‘erotic’ and ‘from the Kama Sutra’, neither of which is true. They do depict women in all facets of daily life, dancing, performing yoga, bathing, and being part of a ‘loving couple’. And yes there is a degree of athleticism Implied in some of the poses depicted. All individually carved from sandstone, the carvings are both intricate, and detailed.
It was a quiet morning, it was clear and cool and sunny. The temple site was not over-run by tourists, and probably for the first time on our trip, foreigners outnumbered the domestic visitors. The temples are no longer used for active worship – although there is a temple immediately adjacent which is in use. The grounds here, some thirty hectares, feature lawns, flowers, the ever-present Indian squirrel, and monkeys.
Running the gauntlet of the hawkers again, we return to the car for a short trip to the Eastern temples, which are Jain temples (the western group are Hindu). More hawkers plague the car park.
There were only two temples open, and as one was accommodating a rat, IndianInterlude opted not to go barefoot into the darkened space. Regrettably, the temples here have not been as well maintained as the other group (which by the way are a UNESCO world heritage site).
The Jain group of temples includes a temple in current use, and seemed to have a building accommodating Jain devotees. This place of active spiritual practice certainly had a peaceful feel about it.
Back to the hotel for lunch. Our local contact (Pramod) is doing his utmost to get us out of the hotel, to somewhere he presumably receives a proportion of the proceeds. Last night we were told of two dance performances on tonight, one at 7.00pm, the other at 8.45. Pramod thinks 8.45 is too late, and urges us to attend at 7.00. We think it over. Today with the benefit of web check in for tomorrow afternoon’s flight, we opt for the 8.45 performance. One phone call later it is revealed there is no 8.45 show; but if this changes, he will ring us at 6.00pm. What about tomorrow morning? We could go here or there. I am firm about staying in the hotel, this is after all a holiday.
Besides all this, the exciting news is that a wedding party is setting up in the grounds of the hotel, a mere 400 guests, and we will have a perfect view from our balcony.