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THE WESTERN TEMPLES TOUR

Chaunsath Yogini:

Dedicated to Goddess Kali, the Chaunsath Yogini temple is the oldest of all the surviving temples of Khajuraho. The only temple to be built entirely of granite, the name chaunsat (sixty-four) comes from the cells of 64 attendants (Yoginis) of Goddess Kali, while one belongs to the goddess herself. Today, only 35 shrines out of the original 65 shrines remain.Dating back to the 9th century, the Chaunsath Yogini temple is the only temple, which is oriented on a northeast to southwest direction.Extremely simple in plan and design.with hardly any carvings or ornaments, the temple is built on a low rocky ridge, has a quadrangular plan and stands on a Cyclopean 'jagati' (platform), from 14 to 18 feet high, made of rough dressed boulders of coarse local granite.

Chitragupta Temple :

Built in early 11th century, the Chitragupta Temple situated at the extreme northern end of a row of four temples and extending from south to north is dedicated to Surya, the Sun God. Facing eastwards towards the rising sun, the temple is located about 100 yards south-east of the Chopra Tank,a deep three-storeyed stepped well that was built by the Chandelas. The only Khajuraho temple that is dedicated to Surya, the Chitragupta Temple demonstrates an evolution when compared with the Lakshmana and Vishvanatha monuments. The temple'sinner sanctum has a very impressive five feet image of the sun god ,who is shown driving a seven horsed chariot. The other group scenes depict royal processions, group dances and other scenes of sheer luxury, typical of the Chandela court-life. The temple shows a fair amount of signs of restorative work and is the place where most of the dance performances take place during the Khajuraho Dance Festival.

Vishwanatha Temple :

Similar in plan to the Kandariya Mahadeva Temple in terms of its style and composition, the Vishwanath Temple built in the early 11th century by King Dhanga is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The Vishwanatha Temple has some ancient sculptural details and within the shrine is an exquisite marble Shivalinga as well as a three-headed image of Brahma. The temple has impressive entrances with magnificent stone lions guarding its northern steps and royal masonry elephants taking care of the southern steps. The exteriors are also profusely carved.The women carved on the brackets inside and the charming apsaras outside add enormously to the beauty of the temple. However, it is the 6 ft high colossal image of Nandi , Lord Shiva's vehicle that is the most complete and expressive of all. To the southwest of the main shrines stands a small Parvati temple.

Lakshmana Temple :

One of the oldest and best preserved of all the Khajuraho temples, the Lakshmana Temple is dedicated to the Vaikuntha form of Lord Vishnu. B uilt during the reign of Yasovarman during the period from 930-950 AD , the temple is one of the most exquistely decorated temple, covered with various images of gods and goddess in the Hindu Pantheon. The temple houses a sacred image of Vishnu which was brought from Tibet . However, it is more known for its beautiful lintel work which shows the holy trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva with Lakshmi, Vishnu's consort . The finely carved sanctum has a three-headed idol of Vishnu’s incarnations, Narsimha and Varaha .The boar incarnation also appears in another Vaishnavite shrine, the Varaha Temple . The statue here is a mammoth 9 ft high one, its surface covered with figures from the Hindu Pantheon.

The main shrine of the temple, which faces east, is flanked by four free standing subsidiary shrines at the corners of the temple platform. Each of the corner shrines is complete in itself with a garbhgriha and an ardh mandap supported by two pillars. A flight of steps leads to a high terrace that opens to the east. Around the base of the temple is a continuous frieze that depicts scenes of battles, hunting and processions. The circular ceiling of the porch is carved in the design of a Lotus in four concentric circles while the pillars which depict Apsaras on carved brackets are among the finest of sculpture. Each bracket representing each sect of the Tantras. A profusion of erotic scenes run around the temple especially on the southern side though they make up only a small fraction of the total.

Matangeshwara Temple :

Situated outside the premises of Western group of temples and facing east is the Matangeswara Temple . Dedicated to Lord Shiva,the temple is still a place of worship and is known for its eight-feet high lingam. South of this temple is the open air Archaeological Museum, which has a beautiful displayed collection of statues and friezes collected from the remains of long vanished temples. The temple draws a huge crowd during the annual Mahashivratri festival.

Devi Jagadambe Temple :

Now a temple dedicated to Goddess Kali, the Devi Jagadambe Temple was originally dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Older than the Kandariya Mahadev temple, the temple is famous for its lavishly decorated and richly embellished square ceiling and walls which have some of the finest figures of gods and goddesses, celestial nymphs and erotic couples. Considered by many as the most erotic temples of Khajuraho, the temple houses various images of mithuna and the sensuously carved figures. Smaller in size than the rest of the temples of the Western Group and resembleing the Chitragupta Temple in respect of design, dimensions and decorative scheme, the Devi Jagadambe Temple has a long porch, a big hall. The balconies of the mahamandap are bigger than those of the other temples and five columns support the roofs over them.