If you are ever on a tour of India and the guide says “tomorrow we are going to have a special day….touring temples”. Don’t groan about the stuffy religious element, rather, get excited and believe. Indian temples, specifically Hindu and Jain, can hold as much thrill for the open- minded traveler, as any jewelry purchase, camel ride or Indian tiger sighting. Just search of the words “erotic temple” and Khajuraho, located in Madhya Pradesh Indian state, will be close to the top. Although the temples are fine examples of medieval architecture (that’s right medieval), most people have difficulty appreciating the grandeur and expertise once they are up close, examining what 10th – 12th C Indians were up to.
No mortar was used in construction, rather mortise and tenon joints held together by gravity, just try to finesse this, you weekend warriors. But this was no weekend job, think 80 temples scattered over 20 sq. km., around the same time as Machu Pichu and Ankor Wat civilaizations were at their height.
Kind of like, not appreciating the forest for the trees and, in this case, the trees are dressed in and posing in tantalizing positions. Try this 1000 year old stuff in your next yoga class. Erotic carvings between people (not deities) make up only 10% and the rest depict the everyday life of the common Indian when the carvings were made and activities of other beings, women putting on makeup or removing a thorn, musicians, potters, farmers, animals.
In his history of the Kamasutra, McConnachie describes the zesty 10% of the Khajuraho sculptures as “the apogee of erotic art”:
“Twisting, broad-hipped and high breasted nymphs display their generously contoured and bejewelled bodies on exquisitely worked exterior wall panels. These fleshy apsaras run riot across the surface of the stone, putting on make-up, washing their hair, playing games, dancing, and endlessly knotting and unknotting their girdles…. Beside the heavenly nymphs are serried ranks of griffins, guardian deities and, most notoriously, extravagantly interlocked maithunas, or lovemaking couples.”
Enough said, the images speak for themselves.