Visiting Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh, India with Teenagers – Yep, we did it!

When I told my kids and nephew that I was a planning a family trip to Khajuraho, my nephew’s first comment was – “isn’t that an inappropriate place for kids?”  I also wondered about that because whenever you search for information about Khajuraho, the first thing that is discussed is the erotic nature of the sculptures.  However, the more I researched about it, there were also indications that the percentage of erotic sculptures is quite small compared to the overall sculptures there.  And, it is an UNESCO World Heritage site… there must be something unique about it after all.  So, we decided to take a chance and go visit Khajuraho.  The worst that could happen is that we would leave the place without seeing it all – if indeed the rumors were true.

We clubbed Khajuraho as part of our Panna Tiger Reserve trip.  It was in the middle of May and the weather was super hot.  So, we decided to go there around 3:30pm in the afternoon (hoping to beat the extreme heat) and focus on the Western Group of Temples.  We started our tour around 4pm (it took us some time to figure out the ticket purchase system).  So, we had only 2 hours to explore the area which truly is not enough time.  We hired a guide and made him aware that there were three teenagers with us.  This is important, because the focus of the tour changed significantly.  The guide patiently showed us the most famous temples within the group – the Varaha temple, the Lakshmi Temple, the Lakshmana Temple, the Kandariya Mahadeva temple, the Jagadambi Temple.  We were only able to get a quick glance of the Chitragupta Temple and Vishwanatha Temple.  After we completed exploring these temples, we went and saw the Matangeshvar Temple which is a living temple.

The Varaha Temple – small, beautiful temple.  Mostly plain but the statue of Varaha itself is beautifully sculptured. 

The Lakshmi Temple – another really small temple.  The door was locked so we couldn’t see much.

The Laksmana Temple – This is where we spent most of our time.  Most of the pictures of erotic sculptures shown in publications are from this temple.  But, even as you explore this temple, you will notice that the majority of the sculptures depict daily life.  What was interesting is that the temple is built on a double platform.  It was only when we were visiting the Matangeshvar temple next door did we notice a few of the more “famous sculptures of Khajuraho”. 

The Kandariya Mahadeva temple – this temple is touted as one of the tallest temples in India.  It is also considered one of the best temples in Khajuraho.  The temple structure itself is quite a treat to see.

The Jagadambi temple – Another beautiful temple.  We went in just as it was closing so we could not explore much.

The Western Group of Temples complex is quite large and you have to walk a lot.  There are also a lot of steep stairs to climb up and then down.  So, to truly do justice, you have to allocate at least around four hours for the visit of the Western Group of temples alone.

From what I understand, the Eastern and Southern groups of temples are also beautiful.  Unfortunately, we did not have the time to check them out.  I was told to do justice, you need to spend 3 to 4 hours exploring those temples.

To visit the Matangeshvar temple, you need to exit the Western Group of temples premises and then walk through an alley to reach the temple.  It is well worth it because it is a living temple and houses a large, beautiful Shiva Lingam.

Bottomline – The erotic sculpture pictures of Khajuraho that float around everywhere – honestly, I felt that was about it (i.e. nothing additional to those pictures) and those represent maybe 10% to 15% of the sculptures in the Khajuraho temples.  So, I don’t feel bad about taking my kids.  Yeah, they probably clicked some pictures of erotic sculptures, but, I am not worried.  They need to grow up at some point after all!  Much credit goes to the guide who understood our tastes and focused on the sculptures that display the artistic mastery of that era.

Of course, I am told there is another side of Khajuraho tourism that plays to the themes of the exotic sculptures. Since we did not stay in Khajuraho, I cannot comment on it as it did not impact our experience.   

Ultimately, I suppose everyone has to make a decision on their own whether or not to visit this UNESCO site!

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