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Khajuraho Temples Essential Travel Guide

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Erotic sculptures on the Khajuraho temples.

Patrick Horton/Getty Images.

If you want proof that the Kama Sutra originated in India, Khajuraho is the place to see. Erotica abounds here with over 20 temples devoted to sexuality and sex. These sandstone temples, which date back to the 10th and 11th century, are the only ones remaining out of 85 temples constructed during this time.

There are 3 groups of temples -- Western, Eastern, and Southern. The main temples are in the Western group, which features the magnificent Kandariya Mahadeo Temple. The Eastern Group contains a number of exquisitely sculptured Jain temples. There are only two temples in the Southern group.

Location:

Khajuraho is in northern Madhya Pradesh, approximately 620 kilometers (385 miles) south east of Delhi.

Getting There:

Khajuraho is most easily reached by flight from Delhi or Mumbai, or overnight long distance train from Delhi via Agra (the 12448 U P Sampark Kranti).

There's also a daily Khajuraho-Jhansi Link train service, which covers the distance between Khajuraho and Jhansi in around five hours. Train 51821 leaves Jhansi daily at 7.10 a.m. and arrives in Khajuraho at midday. It's a local passenger train and can't be reserved in advance.

The road from Jhansi to Khajuraho has improved. The drive now takes around four hours and costs 2,500 rupees for a taxi. The bus can be particularly arduous, so hiring a taxi is a better option.

Temple Opening Times:

The temples are open from sunrise until just before sunset.

Temple Entry Fees and Charges:

Foreigners are charged 250 rupees to enter the western group of temples. The other temples are free. Children younger than 15 years are also free.

Sound and Light Show:

There's a sound and light show, narrated by the Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan, every evening at the western group of temples. Tickets cost 120 rupees for Indians and 400 rupees for foreigners.

Getting Around:

While the western group of temples (the main group) is situated near many hotels, the Eastern group is a few kilometers away in another village.  Hiring a bicycle is a popular way of traveling between the two and there are stalls near the main temple complex.

Festivals:

A week long classical dance festival is held in Khajuraho at the Chitragupta Temple complex each year, in late February/early March. The festival attracts performers and dance groups from all over India. It offers a captivating way of seeing the various classical styles of Indian dance, including Kathak, Bharat Natyam, Odissi, Kuchipudi, Manipuri and Kathakali. A large arts and crafts fair is also held during the festival.

Where to Stay:

There are plenty of places to stay in Khajuraho from cheap to luxury. Many are conveniently located close to the temples. Here are the 5 Best Khajuraho Hotels for All Budgets.

Travel Tips:

Although Khajuraho is a little out of the way, don’t decide to give it a miss on this basis. No where else will you find such unique temples with meticulously detailed carvings. The temples are best known for their erotic sculptures. However, more than that, they show a celebration of love, life and worship. They also provide an uninhibited peek into ancient Hindu faith and Tantric practices. If you need another reason to visit, only half an hour away is the added attraction of the dense, wildlife filled jungle of Panna National Park. The best time to visit is during the cooler months from November to March.

Other Khajuraho Attractions:

Without a doubt, the temples capture everyone's attention. However, if you're looking for other things to see and do, there's an Archeological Museum (entry is free with a valid ticket to the western group of temples) and Adivart Tribal and Folk Art Museum (entry charge is 50 rupees for foreigners). Also worth seeing in the Panna district of Madhya Pradesh (around an hour from Khajuraho) are ruins of 9th century Ajaigarh Fort. Not many people know about this Fort, and it's relatively deserted. Do note that you'll need to do quite a bit of climbing and it's worth taking a local guide.

Dangers and Annoyances:

Unfortunately, many tourists complain about the number of touts in Khajuraho. They are prevalent and persistent. Ignore anyone who approaches you in the street, especially anyone who wants to take you to their shop or hotel (or offers to sell you anything). Don't be afraid to be assertive and forceful in responding, otherwise they'll take advantage of your politeness and not leave you alone. This includes children, who will pester you relentlessly for pens and other items.

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