The Kandariya Mahadeva Temple at Khajuraho
Pilgrimage is an important part in a person’s life. With one’s hectic lifestyle, there are many individuals who plan to visit the sacred places of worship with their near and dear ones. Finding solace and peace has become an important aspect of a modern person. For people who want to visit the holy places in India, Madhya Pradesh offers ample opportunities for the tourists. This place is the home to numerous renowned shrines that are visited by devotees throughout the year. Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh is a famous and popular destination for both its architecture and history. It is considered to be a sacred pilgrimage destination by people visiting this place. From the ancient times, the city has seen the rise and fall of many empires and their rulers. As such, the Kandariya Mahadeva Temple is one such auspicious shrine that is an epitome of the medieval history of India. The name refers to ‘the Great God of the Cave’. It is considered to be one of the largest and best examples of the medieval architectural specimen in India. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva who is present there in the form of a linga.
Kandariya Mahadeva Temple History
- The Kandariya Mahadeva Temple was built in 1030 by King Vidhyadhara of Chandela dynasty.
- Khajuraho was the capital of the Chandelarulers which was a dynasty of the Rajputs who ruled starting from the early 10th century till 1050. But as per to the UNESCO document, this temple which is the largest surviving temple, was built during the reign of King Ganda from 1017-1029 CE.
- The UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites lists all the extant temples including this pious shrine were said to be inscribed in 1986 under Criterion III for its artistic creation and under Criterion V for the culture of the Chandelas that was popular till the country was invaded by Muslimsin 1202.
- However under the Muslim rule, some temples were desecrated, while the remaining temples were left to rot. In the 1830s, a British surveyor, T.S. Burt, ‘rediscovered’ the temples and put them forward in front of the world.
Significance of the Kandariya Mahadeva Temple
- The Kandariya Mahadeva Temple is built up with an area of 6,500 square feet which rises 117 feet above ground level. It faces the east direction and is built upon a raised platform (known as an adhishsthana) approached by a steep flight of steps.
- The conventional complex was made up of 85 temples comprising both Hindu and Jain religions. It is built to a five component design which terminates in a tower which has 84 small replicas or spires. This is believed to depict Mount Kailash, Shiva’s Himalayan Mountain home.
- Coming to the architectural plan, it provides for a series of interconnected chambers which are approached by visitors in the following sequence: A rectangular entrance hall (ardhamandapa) leads from the steps into a central pillared hall (mandapa). This leads to the darkened sanctuary (Garbhagriha) above which is the main tower and spire. Inside the sanctuary lies the linga which is made of marble.
- It is believed that the Kandariya Mahadeva has over more than 870 sculptures with one-meter height each. Inside the temple lies the deity of Lord Shiva, holding a trident and snake, with the deities of Vishnu and Brahma.
- The entire building of the temple is made up of sandstone along with a granite foundation. No mortar was used in the construction of this shrine. The stones were connected with mortise and tenon joints, held in place by gravity. The columns and architraves are composed of megalithsweighing up to 20 tons.
- The temple is heavily decorated with stone sculptures. It is a major specimen of study by eminent researchers and scholars from all over the world. For example, the entrance is flanked by carvings of crocodiles springing from the diminutive columns and supported by a multitude of smaller figures, each with a profusion of minutely carved details. On the exterior of the towers are repetitive friezes of intricately carved human and divine figures.
- The beautiful and superior quality of the sculpting is visible on the exterior of the temple as well. This temple is one of the most extensive arrays of erotic relief sculpturein the world, although much of the iconography is symbolic. But one should note that the erotic figures are in sync with the Tantric belief in the primal life energy of physical coupling, incorporated into religious buildings for its associations with fertility and joy.
- There is also a Sound and Light Show organized in the temple premises. The entry fees for Indians are Rs 120 and Rs 400 for foreigners. This show is held in two languages namely, Hindi from 6:30 P.M. to 7:25 P.M. and English from 7:40 P.M. to 8:35 P.M.
The Kandariya Mahadeva Temple Timings
- This famous temple is open from 6 A.M. and closes at 10 P.M.
- Foreigners are charged 250 rupees to enter the western group of temples.
- No entrance fees are charged for children below 15 years.
- Kandariya Mahadeva Temple is open on all days of a week.
The Kandariya Mahadeva Temple Food Timings
- Prasad is available for devotees from 12 Noon to 2 P.M.
- A devotee can offer Prasad in the form of sweets and dry fruits to the deity.
Festivals celebrated at the Kandariya Mahadeva Temple
- Khajuraho Dance Festival is organized every year in the last week of February until March. Renowned dancers from all across the world take part in this festival. The best classical dancers from all across India give their performances in the open air corridors of the Khajuraho group of temples. Here you can enjoy the popular dances of India such as Kathak, Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi, Odissi, Manipuri and much more.
- Maha Shivaratri is also observed in this temple with great fervor. People from distant lands gather in this temple to offer prayers and seek blessings of the Almighty. Devotees fast throughout the day with great devotion on this occasion.
- Some other festivals that call for joy in this temple include Holi, Dussera, and Diwali.
Poojas and Rituals at Kandariya Mahadeva Temple
- Lord Shiva is worshiped daily by following a daily ritual of bathing the Linga with milk, bilwa leaves and flowers. Mantras are uttered and incense sticks along with oil lamps are lit as well.
- There are some specific rituals that are performed during special occasions.
- Mondays are considered auspicious to worship Lord Shiva.
How to Reach: Road, Rail, and Air
- By Air– Traveling by Air is a great alternative for people who want to travel in less time. Khajuraho is having a domestic airport known as City Airport Khajuraho. It is located at 2 km south of Khajuraho town. At present, flights from Delhi & Varanasi only are operating for Khajuraho.
- By Train- The Khajuraho Railway Station is only 5 km from the main town. It is the only train, at present that connects Khajuraho from New Delhi. And for tourists who want to travel from Varanasi can opt for the Bundelkhand Link Express Train.
- By Road- It is possible to reach this holy place of worship by road as well. The Khajuraho city is well linked with places like Jhansi, Satna etc. One can also hire a local taxi or look for private bus services from the station as well.
Hotels in Madhya Pradesh: Where to stay
There are ample opportunities for people visiting Khajuraho to enjoy a comfortable stay here. From budget hotels to luxury living, tourists can choose the place they want as per their needs. Pilgrims traveling with family can put up at double to triple bedded rooms. And for travelers who like to visit alone can opt for renting rooms on a sharing basis. Some hotels also provide dormitories for such travelers. Whatever you choose, it is important to book your rooms well in advance to avoid any last-minute delay. And moreover, if you pre-book your rooms, you can also enjoy some lucrative deals and amazing discounts. Some hotels also offer to pick up and drop services for its clients who book their rooms in advance. You can also check the hotel tariff online and see the user reviews to facilitate the booking of rooms. However, all the rooms are equipped with modern facilities to meet every need of a contemporary traveler.
Where to eat
Food is an integral part for people visiting this beautiful place of Khajuraho. Although one can find Indian cuisine in this region yet there are also many international eateries that offer a wide range of exotic dishes at a competitive price range. In addition, there are many local restaurants that maintain strict hygiene while preparing food and also offer quality food to the visitors. While breakfast mainly consists of poha, jalebi, and samosa, lunch has more variety in terms of a complete meal known as Thali. A traditional Thali comprises of rice, roti, dal, vegetables, pickle, salad and curd. There are non-vegetarian dishes available as well. Some high-end restaurants also offer fine dining and live music experience to its visitors. So, choose among the many options available as per your budget.
- Lakshmi and Varaha Temple- It refers to two small shrines that are dedicated to Lord Vishnu. This temple is considered to be one of the most beautiful shrines in the city. People all around the year visit this temple to seek blessings from the Almighty.
- Lakshmana Temple- This is a famous temple that has been built with stone. It is a major tourist attraction in Khajuraho as it is counted among one of the earliest stone temples that have been built in India. It is very well preserved and the holy shrine dates back to 10th century A.D. The Lakshmana Temple at Khajuraho was built by King Yasovarman to set up a Vishnu image, which was gifted to him by Devapala. The statue was brought from Tibet.
- The Chausath Yogini Temple- This holy place of worship is located in the south-western part of the group of temples in the state of Madhya Pradesh. It is thus dedicated to 64 Yoginis who are the manifestations of the Goddess.
- The Javari Temple- It is one of those temples that are famous for its architectural brilliance and intricate design. It has a reputation of being among the best in Khajuraho and is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The detailed gateway of this shrine is one of the many distinguishing features. The interior of the temple also consists of intricate sculptures and the walls similarly depict men and women in various postures. The construction of this popular temple dates back to several centuries.
- The Brahma and Hanuman Temple- For people looking to visit ancient temples, the Brahma and Hanuman Temple is counted among one of the oldest shrines in Khajuraho. It belongs to the Eastern Group of Temples and draws millions of tourists from all over the world.
- Vishvanath and Nandi Temple- This temple is similar to Kandariya Mahadeva temple with respect to the five parts temple design aspect. Being dedicated to Lord Shiva, it is one of the most beautiful temples in the city. People visiting the Kandariya temple makes it a point to definitely pay a visit to this temple. It is a place of great importance for, especially Lord Shiva devotees.
- Parsvanath Temple- Being counted among one of the most impressive temples in Khajuraho, the Parsvanath Temple is categorized under the Eastern Group of Temples. The detailed sculptural work along with the architectural pattern makes it one of the most famous destinations for both native and international tourists paying a visit to Khajuraho. It was constructed in the middle of the 10th century during the reign of Dhangadeva.