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Published: January 7th 2020
India's most titillating town, located in the Chhatarpur district, Madhya Pradesh, is famed for the erotic stone carvings that swathe the three groups of UNESCO heritage listed temples. The Western Group of temples, in particular, contains some stunning sculptures that together make up some of the finest temple art in the world.
They were dedicated to two Indian religions, Hinduism and Jainism, suggesting a culture of acceptance and respect for differing religious traditions. In a space of about 20 square kilometres, 85 temples were built by successive Chandela rulers, but only 25 remain.
The road trip between Orchha and Khajuraho was the worst we've had. The 170klm trip took four hours to complete, the first two hours being through constant rough and dusty diversions, once again past roadworks where no one was working and no heavy machinery was evident. We passed through poverty stricken villages, and humpy camps, many occupied by illegal immigrants, Hariom told us. Life in these villages would wear you down, the dirt, the dust, the market stands made from tree branches and old tarpaulins, the homes with palm fronds for roofs and one water pump to service the entire community. Ginny and I just looked
at each other, no words were necessary.
Finally we arrived in Khajuraho and Hariom dropped us outside our hotel for the next two nights, Hotel Harmony. Then he dropped a bombshell of his own....
He had a family wedding in Delhi he wanted to attend and asked us if he could finish his time with us a day and a half early. I was a little taken aback at this request, it was the last thing I expected to hear. We are paying $100 a day for his services, a lot of cash in this country. Ginny and I discussed it and decided we could accomodate his request. We don't really need him tomorrow, our only day in Khajuraho, as the temples we've come to see are five minutes walk from our hotel. Hariom will pay for a taxi to the airport for us at midday on Wednesday, which was to be our last day with him. We will spend this afternoon with him, seeing the temples which are further out of town and say our goodbyes later, freeing him up to start the 15 hour drive to Delhi, back to his family.
He was very appreciative
and offered his services in Delhi for the day, when we get there, but we will stick to the original plan and use the metro. He has another booking, 25 days away from home, starting next week, so we're happy for him to spend his time at home until then. He has been great company for the past ten days and we were all a little watery eyed as goodbye hugs were had. We wish him all the best.
This afternoon we explored the Eastern and Southern groups of temples, which were a couple of kilometres out of town and free to visit. We walked around the tiny neighboring hamlets of Jawari and Jatkara, which are located closer to the Southern Group. The locals are friendly, the streets clean, and the building walls here are painted in bright colours, a photographer's delight.
We headed back into town, Hariom drove us through town to the Western Group of temples to show us where they were. An easy walk, we'll visit them tomorrow. We said our goodbyes, and Hariom left.
Later on we headed out on foot to have a look around town and find somewhere nice for dinner.
We ended up at Hotel Khajuraho Lake View Vegetarian Restaurant where we enjoying roof top dining and a couple of illicit alcoholic beverages.
When we arrived we asked if we could get spirits to drink with our meal. They're not in the menu, but they could get them for us, we were told. Everything was very hush hush, to the extent we were asked to sit in the roof top area, outside the actual restaurant, so we weren't subject to the disapproval of other diners. We were fine with that, so a staff member disappeared with our order and reappeared ages later with a Kingfisher beer for Ginny and a tiny bottle of Indian rum and a Pepsi for me. Not quite what I expected, but what cracked us up the most were the two glasses lined with aluminium foil, so no one could see what we were drinking. They were quickly poured and the bottles hidden behind a pot plant! The first and last drinks we'll be having in Khajuraho, I think.
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