India travel has long been a favourite along the backpacking trail. Especially when travelling with a partner, the erotic temples in Khajuraho are a must on any agenda to this fascinating country.
As an Indian woman, these temples define to me everything that is unique about India, everything that is beautiful and erotic.
Sensuality and the mother of all emotions, Love, is what holds this country together. Ask any Indian how important the Karmasutra is to the history of the country, you may receive a blush but you’ll also recognise a profound respect.
The temples are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and were the greatest highlight of my trip to India. I would say no more than three days are needed here; one to freshen up on your day of arrival, one to explore the temples and another to unwind after a night of post erotic sculpture passion!
Khajuraho - How to get there
These temples, which celebrate the act of love and much more, are found in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Situated in the centre of this vast country, it is often aptly termed the heart of India. This state boasts nine national parks and two other UNESCO sites, so an interesting itinerary can be created depending on how much time you have.
The most common route is to fly into Delhi and first spend a day or two in India’s capital city. You can then catch a flight direct to Khajuraho, but frankly you would be crazy not to either catch the train or a flight to the Taj Mahal in Agra which is on the way and certainly needs no introduction from me. Undoubtedly, one of the most romantic tourist spots in the world, everyone must see this wonder of the world once in their lifetime.
Khajuraho is an express (or cheaper) sleeper train away from Agra. There is no direct flight. The train is the best way to view the regions glorious landscape so foregoing the direct flight from Delhi and having the opportunity to see the Taj makes perfect sense.
Khajuraho - Where best to stay
To my joy, the best positioned hotel, Hotel Siddartha, was literally opposite the temples and is fantastically affordable on a backpacker budget. We were lucky as this small hotel has only two levels and on the top floor there is only one room that overlooks these heritage grounds. We travelled at the height of summer, it was 45C (113F) degrees in the heat and in general people tend to travel in winter when the climate is cooler. Due to it being low season we were able to stay in this room and pretty much have the whole place to ourselves.
The room was huge, not luxurious, but comfortable. It had a giant window and a King size bed positioned opposite the window so the temples could be seen in all their glory from our room. The bed was so comfortable it was torture to get out. There was the option to dine from the balcony outside or on the dining table in the room if it was too hot. Watching the sun set from our air conditioned room was wonderful.
The ease of being able to walk over the road to enter the grounds was perfect. There are higher star hotels, with swimming pools and fine dining further up the road, but the view is by no means as good. If you can, book far enough in advance to grab this room and its intimate view and you will be thanking me for a long time.
Don’t expect the height of luxury, be thankful for the medium range cost and the location is a dream. I would probably advise eating in the local restaurants rather than from the mediocre hotel kitchen too. It’s always best to get out and explore, rather than rely on resort hotel food.
Khajuraho - What will I see?
It seems like a profound paradox that these temples, which were forbidden and completely infamous when they were originally found, were built to celebrate the Karma Sutra which is unique to India. Wrongly deemed by some to be vulgar, these temples are boldly erotic but were not designed out of titillation alone. The temples honour many Hindu deities and are therefore deeply respected.
The sculptures around each temple depict couples in courtship, royal scenes, battles, marriage, meditation, sex and much more.
One of the most famous sculptures is a man, pleasuring three women at the same time whilst standing on his head. Here the combination of Yoga, Tantric Sex and the Karma Sutra combine and you realise just how much India has brought to the sensual world.
What struck me the most was the artists beautiful skill in defining an idealistic female form. The female figures are voluptuous, strong, often seeming to hold up the rock that surrounds them.
Inside the dark temples, running my hand along the cool stone had quite a glorious effect on me. The sensuous aesthetics of these intimate sculptures is an experience like nothing else in the world. It’s impossible not to marvel at the craftsmanship and intricate architecture of a structure that was built as early as 950 A.D.
Before making this erotic pilgrimage to Khajuraho, you might like to check out the now cult movie, Karmasutra: A Tale of Love directed by Mira Nair and released in 1996. Originally banned in India (yes, seems incongruous, but unfortunately at the time of release kissing alone was still taboo in Indian cinema), this film takes you on a journey of the significance of the Karma Sutra’s teachings.
This beautiful and tragic love story, takes you back to the time when these temples were created; a time of harems, courtesans and one sculptors obsession and devotion to his ultimate muse. When you walk around the temples for yourself having this movie as a reference point is a superb opportunity to bring these ancient temples to life.
Not many places in the world so brazenly encourage the pursuit of pleasure, so make sure you and your partner indulge! It will be a trip you will remember forever.
All Images © Roscoe Duncan 2012. All Rights Reserved.