Khajuraho Temples

Khajuraho Temples (India)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Famous for their many sculptures depicting lefthand Tantrism and the erotic arts, the temples of Khajuraho are unique both to India and the world. They also have a fascinating story behind them. At the beginning of the tenth century CE, the daughter of a Brahmin priest, Hemavati, claimed to have become pregnant by the moon god. The child of the union, named Chandravarman, was seen as part mortal and part divine. In spite of the lofty claims as to the child’s father, Hemavati was seen as an unwed mother and eventually left her home to live in the forest, where she raised the child. He emerged as a great leader and founded a dynasty in central India. He championed his mother’s claim that he was descended from the moon god.

By the time Chandravarman became king, his mother was deceased. However, she came to him in a dream and told him to build a temple that would show human passions and lead those who viewed them to understand the emptiness of human desires.

Temple construction began in 950 CE by Chandravarman and was continued through the next two centuries by the successive rulers of the dynasty. In the end, eighty-five temples were constructed. The design of the temples was in some discontinuity with other Hindu temples, even those dedicated to Shakta and open to left-hand Tantrism. Thus as the dynasty waned in the later twelfth century, political power shifted away from Khajuraho and the temples were neglected, abandoned, and forgotten. They were rediscovered during the years of British rule, but the explicit nature of the many sculptures slowed the spread of knowledge of them until the late twentieth century. Only in the last generation have the twenty-two surviving temples been restored. They now stand as major Indian tourist attractions, and enough people have traveled to Khajuraho that a new airport has been constructed to handle their needs.

Aside from their content, the temples are also unique architecturally. They rest on high platforms and point upward in a distinctive manner, not unlike twentieth-century skyscrapers. They are among the most blatant celebrations of human sexuality in a religious context ever constructed.


Lal, Kanwar. Immortal Khajuraho. New York: Castle Books, 1967.
Mishra, P. K. Khajuraho: With Latest Discoveries. New Delhi: Sundeep Prakashan, 2001.
Vidya, Prakash. Khajuraho: A Study in the Cultural Conditions of Chandella Society. Bombay (Mumbai), India: D. B. Taraporevala Sons & Co., 1967.
Zannas, Eliky. Khajuraho: Description of the Candella Temple Complex at Khajuraho; Life in the Time of the Candellas. Den Haag, Netherlands: Mouton, 1960.
The Encyclopedia of Religious Phenomena © 2008 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
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