Khajuraho – Statue of Bhairava

Outside the fenced enclosure of the western group of temples at Khajuraho, on the way to the Matangeshvara Temple, is the 2m high colossal statue of Bhairava, Lord Shiva as “The Protector”.


Although often associated with fierce deities with his raised curls, this red lead coated Bhairava stands holding a staff, cup and lotus stalk, and doesn’t look to be particularly menacing at all.

The word Bhairava literally means one who shouts the sound “bai.”  “Bai” is an onomatopoeia; it’s basically the Indian equivalent for the “ruff” sound associated with a dog barking.  This is probably an appropriate name for this form of Shiva, since he is either represented as a dog or accompanied by a dog.

In order to enter a temple dedicated to Shiva, as the nearby Matangeshvara Temple is, you need to have the permission of Bhairava.

The statue however is not in-situ. Major Alexander Cunningham on one of his visits to Khajuraho reported that the statue was found while digging for stones to build the chhatri for Pratap Singh, the Maharaja of Chhatrapur. That monument, which is well worth a quick visit, is just 50m away on the other side of the road behind a row of shops.


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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