The Khajuraho Temples in Madhya Pradesh were originally a group of 85 but only about 25 of them remain today. These temples are the largest group of Hindu and Jain temples in the world, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They have different types of sculptures at Khajuraho Temples for which they are very famous, particularly for erotic ones.
They have awed generations of people with their architectural brilliance and intricate carvings. These temples are in fact considered a celebration of womanhood. It is through their depiction of heavily ornamented broad-hipped and busty but well-proportionate women (apsaras) adorning the temple walls. The well-contoured bodies of the nymphs can be seen engaging in various activities. It includes putting on make-up, washing their hair, playing games and knotting and unknotting their girdles.
According to the ASI book, the sculptures at Khajuraho temples are grouped into five broad categories.
Sculptures at Khajuraho Temples
1. Cult Images:
The temples are built exactly as prescribed in the Shilpashastra, which are manuals for sculpture and Hindu iconography. These manuals prescribe among other things, the proportions of a sculptured figure, composition, principles, meaning, as well as rules of architecture. These cult images can also be seen carved as the Tirthankaras in the Jain museum.
2. Found In Reliefs And Niches:
They represent attendants, the guardian deities, the Gandharvas, the Shivaganas, the Ashta Dikpalas among others.
3. The Apsaras or Sapna Sundaris:
These Apsaras are basically beautiful women seen engaged in various activities. Their sculptures seem so lifelike and beautiful that it seems they are for real. Every minute detail has been carefully given importance during their carving. These graceful nymphs portray human emotions through dancing, painting, caressing a baby or scratching their backs or just undressing. They are not exclusive to Khajuraho as you can see them in several Hoysala temples as well besides others.
4. Scenes From Day To Day Life:
The ASI book refers to them as ” secular sculptures.” It is a form of storytelling but in parts. Warriors, dancers, musicians are coupled with scenes of a royal court, a teacher, and a pupil, a sculptor with his students and even funeral scenes along with the presence of mythical animals and even floral prints.
5. Famous Erotic Sculptures Of Khajuraho Temples:
The temples are mainly seen involving in various kinds of sex scenes, natural as well as unnatural. Mithunas or sculpture of man and woman together in love can be observed mating to group sex to even scenes of unnatural sex. Almost one-tenth of the sculptures of Khajuraho Temples consist of these erotic carvings, for which these temples are particularly famous. However, it is a common misconception that the sculptures show lovemaking between deities. In reality, they show passionate interactions between humans along with changes that occur after it in the human bodies. Also, there are numerous interpretations of erotic carvings that can heard from different sources.