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Western group of temples

The Western group is the main group of temples at Khajuraho and should be seen first if you have a limited time at hand. The western group has temples dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu. Most of the temples are built on high platforms with a tower. Under the tower is the garbha-griha, the altar for the main deity. In front of the altar is the mandapa (hall), where the devotees worship. There is usually an ardha mandapa (a porch) between the doorway and the mandapa in most of the interesting temples in India.

Laksman Temple (950 AD) is the best preserved of the temples. It is built on a high platform, and Emperor Lakshavarma is credited with building the Lakshmana-Chaturbhuja temple at Khajuraho. which has sculptures of elephants, horses, musician, women, and dancers on it. The doorway of the sanctum has a panel of incarnations of Lord Vishnu. There is also a panel of the nine planets and on the walls, carvings of Krishna. On the south wall of the temple is an excellent carving of Ganesh. The lintel over the entrance shows the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, with Lakshmi, Vishnu's consort. The sanctum is richly carved and has a three-headed idol of Vishnu's incarnations, Narsimha and Varaha

Varaha Temple (10th century) is dedicated to Lord Vishnu in his boar incarnation. Varaha saved the earth by rescuing it from the bottom of the Causal Ocean and by killing the demon, Hiranyaksha. There is a large sculpture of Varaha of 2.6m (8½ ft)on the altar, with hundreds of other figures carved on it. Varaha is on top of Sheshanaga. Next to the Varaha Temple is the small Lakshmi Temple.

Kandariya Mahadeva Temple
This Khajuraho temple built between (1025-1050) is dedicated to Lord Siva and enshrines the marble 'linga'. It is the tallest temple, soaring to 31m (95 ft), and an architect’s delight is the largest and the most typical Khajuraho temple with exquisite and intricate carvings and detailed craftsmanship in stone depicting divine deities, celestial maidens, eternal lovers, gods and goddesses. Beside the main sikhara (tower), there are eighty-four smaller, subsidiary towers, all replicas of the main tower. There are almost 900 sculptures on the temple platform. It is considered to be the best representation of the Khajuraho style of Indo Aryan temples - consisting of a sanctum - Garbhagriha, a circumambulatory path - Pradakshinapatha, an Antarala, Ardhamandapa, Mandapa and a Mahamandapa.

Jagadambi Temple
Built in early 11th century this Temple has a standing Parvati deity in the sanctum, although the temple was originally dedicated to Lord Vishnu. There are several beautiful carvings of Lord Vishnu in this temple. It has the usual three bands of sculptures, but the third and most uppermost of these houses some of the most erotic sculptures.

Chitragupta Temple
This early 11th century temple is dedicated to Surya, the Sun-God. It faces towards east or the rising sun and the imposing image of the deity in the inner sanctum is a high 1½ m (5 ft) image of Surya riding a chariot drawn by seven horses. There is also a carving of Vishnu with ten heads symbolizing ten incarnations. It is in front of this temple along with the Vishwanatha temple that most of the dance performances take place during the Khajuraho Dance Festival.

Vishwanatha Temple (1002). To the extreme north of Surya temple is the Vishvanatha Temple dedicated to Lord Siva. This temple has a impressive entrance. The three-headed image of Lord Brahma in the temple is not less captivating. Facing the Vishwanatha temple is a Nandi Pavilion with a 2.2m (7 ft) high sandstone Nandi bull (Shiva’s carrier).

Matangesvara Temple, next to the Laksman temple, outside the main enclosure, is dedicated to Lord Siva and contains a 2.5m high Siva-linga lingam (male organ representing the natural process of reproduction and the continuity of human life form). There is active worship in this temple.

Chausat Yogini Temple
The oldest of these temples, dating back to 900 AD is the Chaunsat Yogini temple located southwest of the Shibsagar lake. This temple is the earliest temple of the group that has survived. It is dedicated Goddess Kali and is located outside the main group of temples, past the tank and also has the distinction of being the only granite temple here.


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