India

Khajuraho – Kandariya Mahadeva Temple

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This cave-like temple gets its name from the word Kandara (meaning “cave”), and is one of the greatest monuments in India. Believed to have been built around 1030 A.D. and dedicated to Shiva, it is also the tallest and largest of all the Khajuraho monuments.

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The main shikhara (spire) of the Kandariya Mahadev Temple has a whopping 84 subsidiary spires, more than any of the other temples here, cascading down almost like a tiered waterfall. It’s a stunningly beautiful building with a lavish and grand profile.

The exterior wall of the temple has three bands of wonderful sculpture representing Shiva, Dikpalas, griffins, apsaras and snake goddesses.

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When Alexander Cunningham visited this temple in 1864 he counted 646 figures on the exterior of the temple and 226 figures on the interior.

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It’s staggering to think how all this was originally designed by the architect and subsequently executed by the masons. Each one of these figures is almost 1m high, they look a lot smaller in the photographs !

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Once again, just as we saw at the Lakshmana Temple, there are acrobatic erotic carvings. These are located in exactly the same place as before, in the external recesses between the sanctuary and assembly hall.

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To enter the temple you pass through the elaborately carved makara torana doorway. Sculpted from a single piece of stone, this is a floral garland that stems from the mouths of makaras (mythical crocodiles) and is carried across the doorway by flying nymphs.

Within the temple, the walls are covered with exquisite carvings. As always in such temples, one must not forget to look up ! There’s some wonderful sculpted flower and leaf motifs on the ceilings.

Inside the temple sanctum is highly polished marble linga, and an opportunity to walk in the ambulatory around the sanctum.

In the three cardinal niches of the sanctum wall are Shiva’s manifestations; the subduer of the blind demon Andhaka, Natesha the cosmic dancer, and Tripurantaka destroying the three demon cities.

The way the light was falling on the sanctum wall was quite spectacular, but difficult to capture just as it was at the Lakshmana Temple.

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It is believed that once there were as many as eighty five temples in Khajuraho, of which now only twenty five remain in various states of preservation. Thankfully the Kandariya Mahadev Temple is relatively well preserved, and is definitely one of the highlights of both the Western Group of temples, and of all the temples to be found surrounding this small town.

Group Khajuraho Monuments
Western Lakshmana Varaha Kandariya Mahadeva Mahadeva Shrine ♦ Jagadambi Chitragupta Parvati Vishvanatha Nandi Pratapeshwar Bhairava Statue MatangeshvaraChausath YoginiLalguan Mahadeva Chopra Tank
Eastern Hanuman  Brahma  Vamana  Javari  Ghantai  Adinatha  Parshvanatha  Shantinatha
Southern Duladeo  Chaturbhuj Bijamandal

 

 


 

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