Saturday, September 26, 2015

Khajuraho The Land of Love Temples

The TT looked at me and asked for the ticket. "You should be in a general coach," he spoke nonchalantly without even looking at me.

"Where am I?" I looked at the maddening mass of humanity piled up mercilessly inside the coach crushing each other for whatever space available.   

"Worse than a general coach," I mutter.

"That will be 340 Rs", as he began preparing the receipt.   

For nearly the same  price I could have enjoyed the AC coach and the ensuing luxury and safety.  

After three hours of standing at one corner of the coach the express finally reaches Satna in Central India. From here onward it was a long and agonizing wait for the filming crew to arrive from Mumbai. "The train is three hours late an we will arrive at 9.30 PM". Kiran the ace photographer called me up.

Dance Festival Khajuraho
The journey towards Khajuraho is riddled with potholes. The torturous drive halts at Nagod for a tea and ciggy break. It is almost 11 PM and I am bone tired. After long expectation we halt at a Dhaba at 1.00 pm for some mouth watering food.

"Amazing at this time of the night".  Our driver had long convinced us to have supper here and it was rewarding.

Khajuraho Temple
We than proceed to Khajuraho through the Panna National Park and eventually reach Taj Hotel Chandela. The night staff is waiting for me and ushers me into my room. "Sleep Well Sir, the attendant wishes me politely. The main stay here has been warmed up by extremely courteous and attentive staff and delicious food.  I am thankful to Poonam Uppal for hosting me in five star luxury. She is the author of "A Passionaate Gospel of True Love".           

Temple at Khajuraho
I glimpse in absolute amazement at the group of temples that date back to 10th Century AD perhaps earlier. "Treatise on Tantric Sex," Mamaji one of the senior most guide of Khajuraho. The erotic carvings are on the outer walls of Hindu Temples. "Absolute freedom of expression in that conservative era," I speak to Mamaji.

"This extreme ecstasy portrayed here is divinity." He informs me as I peek at bizzare carvings of  the erotic kind.  People from World over come to see these magical wonders in stone. "The structures are skilfully interlocked without the use of any cementing material," Mamaji is a gold mine of information.

The quaint little town engulfs the temples of love and supports a population of about 18000 locals.
Natural Cave Panna by Jagat Flora

The museum is humid and suffocating but not the exuberant pieces of tribal art. I gloat at the art on the walls before I am called for what I came here for.

I was anchoring an interview with the celebrity author Poonam Uppal. For all three days I am involved with the video shoot. A brief reprieve being lunch at Ken River Lodge at Panna Tiger Reserve and a boat ride on tranquil waters of crocodile infested Ken River.           
Panna Gorge by Jagat Flora

At Khauraho, the temples appear as neat structures, as they truly are, and carry an enigmatic message of love in its most divine form. All through, I did not find anything banal on those exquisite carvings.
This destination along with the tiger reserve is a  must add on one's wish list. Other places of interest nearby are the Panna National Park 35 km, Kalinjar Fort, Raneh & Pandav Falls, Ken River Sanctuary and Panna Township.

How to reach? From New Delhi By air and rail (overnight). From Jhansi (UP) by road. From Jabalpur via Satna by rail and then by road.   

All other images by courtesy Nandita Amin