Friday, July 15, 2011

Khajuraho Temples: Wonders in stone

In remote hidden region of Central India a discovery was made. The temples strangest of all had erotic carvings. The depiction of erotica was by all means blatant including deriving carnal pleasure with animals.

But nevertheless these were not any object of pornographic exhibits. With passage of time they were realized as precious heritage as a treatise on human sexuality. Perhaps the inspiration came from Kamasutra. Such carnal depictions though appear to be bizarre since they were in scripted on wall of holy structures had a purpose. They were the initiation grounds for growing princes and the children of the nobles.

The temples were built by the Chandels in circa 10 and 11 AD; stone has been extensively used along with other masonry apparatus. The inner walls of sanctum sanctorum remain empty of these depictions which are present on the outer walls only. Situated in desolate surroundings of unknown habitation the temples were hidden from the outside world for centuries. The complex was rediscovered by a British army officer Captain T.S. Burt during the Raj in 1838.

The present day Chhattarpur District of Madhya Pradesh the Central Indian State receives lots of visitors who descend in hordes to see these magnificent structures. The Khajuraho Temples are situated in this district and are barley forty five km from Panna National Park and Ken Gharial Sanctuary.

During the passage of time many structures came down as ruins due to neglect and apathy. There were presumed to be around eighty temples of which twenty five remain today. The temple complex has been declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site for the priceless structures and Indo-Aryan Architecture marvel.

The temple complex or groups as mainly:

Western Group of Temples

Eastern Group of Temples

Southern Group of Temples

Some of the popular temples are:

Lakhmana Temple

Chuasath Yogini Temple

Devi Jagdamba Temple

Hanuman Temple

Brahma Temple

Dulhadev Temple

For tourist it is advisable to visit all the groups in the day time. In Western group of temples a sound and light show is organized which is a must to experience. Khajuraho Dance festival is held annually whence major Indian performers and exponent of Indian classical music and dance participate.

Pachmarhi: In the shadow of the mountains

Long hidden in deep recess of Satpura Ranges, Pachmarhi hills were the fiefdom of the Thakur landlords during the Raj and before. Mostly inhabited by Korku Tribal communities since prehistoric times the hills remained in the deep labyrinth of obscurity till the 19th Century.

Captain James Forsyth discovered the hills and the communities during his exploration of the Central Indian Highlands. He has penned vivid account of the hill region in his book. He was instrumental in bringing forth the bounty of the majestic hill ranges and their natural wonders.

Even till today Pachmarhi is unspoiled, pristine and a panoramic grandeur that is breathtaking and stuns. It is home to wide variety of natural wonders like water falls, caves, deep glens, rising mountains and meandering rivulets. It is one of the finest region for trekking amidst forest clad mountain slopes and valleys.

Far away from the maddening crowd, the hill town is a cantonment, and from periphery onwards it is declared as a wildlife sanctuary. The township is a fulcrum of tourism on hill sides. Most of the accommodation is based here except that of MP Tourism Dept and some government rest houses and very old private lodges.

The place has much to offer in terms of natural spots and is an adventurous destination for trekkers. The deep valleys, steep precipices and dangerous footholds encountered while traversing mountainous treks are very risky. Untrained trekkers can lose their life or suffer heinous injuries.

The preserve is enveloped by dense forests of Sal and Mixed Type with diverse topography and degree of sunlight. The inner rocky confines support mind boggling variety of ferns, algae, fungi, herbs and shrubs. The degree of sunlight and wetness varies considerably in the unfathomable labyrinths of rocky core. This is the reason for survival and growth of amazing floral wealth in the hills here. The meandering rivers support a variety of mega flora as they cries cross the tortured terrain.

The ancient caves harbor Hindu deity (Lord Shiva) while many hold Paleolithic evidence in terms of prehistoric paintings or petroglyph. The oldest signs of human habitation dates back to 20000 years perhaps more. The numerous object of religious worship present in the hill station draws huge crowds of Hindu devotees.

Enchanting fresh water pools, sparkling waterfalls, deep glens, sun rise and sunset points; clean rivers attract holiday makers by thousands. The green cover is the towering grace of this heaven on Earth and the canopy are preserved in their natural state created by the evolutionary process.

Some of the popular spots visited by all tourists are listed below:

Chauragarh Mountain – Lord Shiva

Dhupgarh Mountain - Sunset & Sunrise

Jatashankar Caves – Lord Shiva

Irene Pool

Fairy Pool

Handi Khoh – Glen

Priyadarshini Point – Sunset & Sunrise

Pandav Caves – Religious

Reech Garh – Hill

Gupt Mahadeo – Cave – Lord Shiva

Bade Mahadeo – Cave – Lord Shiva

Denva Darshan – River

B Falls

Dutchess Falls

Those with an exploratory zeal are bound to discover myriads of wonders here. For this extensive trekking is required in company of a guide. The guide has to be experienced since loosing way may mean never to return. Camping is not allowed in the forests and may require special permission being a cantonment it is unlikely to be granted.

The place is ideal for botanists and researcher since the floral bounty offer unique opportunity to study. The medicinal plants, herbs, shrubs and microscopic flora are found in wild abundance. Not only the scientists but the locals are impressive by their knowledge of vegetation with immense medicinal value.

Pachmarhi excels as tourism destination in Madhya Pradesh. The professional tour operators in MP offer exclusive package for Pachmarhi. There are many hotels in the township while MPTDC resorts are situated in wilderness as well.  

The best way to explore this destination in by jeeps and there plenty available for hire. One needs to engage services of local guides for trekking on way to places of interests. Trekking in forests and campning is not allowed.