Khajuraho (24°51’N 79°56’E) is a small city of some 20.000 inhabitants in the Chhattarpur District of Madhya Pradesh, India. The name would be derived from the Hindi word khajur, date palm. From an historical viewpoint, Khajuraho is part of Bundelkhand. It lies in the middle of an agricultural region, but the most important source of income is tourism.
Khajuraho is mostly known for its temples that were built in between the 9th and the 12th century by the Chandela dynasty. Although the oldest temples were dedicated to Vishnu, eventually all of them were integrated in the Shiva cult that flourished in the 11th century. One hypothesis wants that the different temples represent the marriage procession of Shiva and Parvati and that Khajuraho – as Shiva’s matrimonial city on earth – wanted to compete with Varanasi, the holy Shiva city at the Ganges. The abundant sculptures on the temples are a song of praise to Life in all its aspects.
Because Khajuraho is far remote from any important trade route, the temples have escaped destruction by the invading Muslims.
In 1834, the temples have been “re-discovered” by the British Captain T.S. Burt, of the Bengal Engineers.
At the end of the 19th century, they were restored by the Archaeological Survey of India; the village that had developed in between the Western Group of Temples was displaced to the present Old Khajuraho.
Nowadays we speak of three groups of temples: The Western Group, The Eastern Group and the Jain Temples.
In 1984 the temples have been included in the list of the World Heritage Sites of UNESCO.
This provoked the construction of an airport, and several 5 star hotels opened. See also under Sustainable Tourism.