Sunday, February 21, 2010

Khajuraho - Erotic Temple Central

Our second day in Khajuraho we got up early and made ourselves peanut butter, Nutella, and banana sandwiches on oat bread, then made our way to the big temples (West Group) right around opening time. It's great being up early in India because most people (especially the touts) are still sleeping and everything is still closed. Well, it's great if you have supplies for breakfast in your room anyway.

The carvings on the temples were incredible, as promised. Khajuraho was built around the 10th and 11th century AD, and then shortly after the area fell into disuse and most of the people moved away, leaving it with a low profile that allowed it to fly under the radar of the Muslim iconoclasts. It was “rediscovered” for the wider world when local guides took an Englishman to it in the 1800s.

The carvings, in addition to being wonderfully crafted and full of life, are also erotic. Now that's really something else. Several big 1000-year-old temples covered in carvings of people engaged in just about every sexual act/position you can imagine, and some that go somewhat beyond imaginable... though if anyone knows how to do the deed sitting cross-legged atop a partner who is standing on his head with his legs similarly folded, we'd be quite interested to know how it's done.

See for yourself…


After a few hours, we dropped in at the gift shop on our way out and were pleased to discover that it was a fixed price government store, where we purchased a handle for Mary's sister (she asked for handles from India). Then at one of the stands outside, Mary was emboldened by knowing the gift shop price to offer a street vendor 1/6 his asking price on another handle. The vendor followed us for about two blocks trying to get her to offer him more, so that must not have been too low of a starting offer. At another shop further along she offered the same price on a somewhat less elaborate handle and got it, even after much insistence on the part of the shopkeeper that it was not possible at that price. Can't quite believe the markups and bartering process here.

Next we spent some time enjoying the cool of our hotel room and doing laundry before venturing out to try some street food for lunch. At 2pm the street food options weren't too bad, but we kept seeing them preparing stuff for the locals differently than they prepared it for us when we tried to order it. Maybe we were ordering wrong, but we got the feeling they were trying to cut corners like we wouldn't know the difference.

After lunch we attempted to use the internet at the cheapest place we'd found so far, which turned out to have a slow connection, only USB 1 and Pentium3s running XP. After half an hour, we gave up and tried one of the more expensive places and it was much better.

Toward the end of the day, Josh negotiated us a really cheap bike rental and we went through the quaint old village and visited the Eastern Group of temples, which really didn't old a candle to the ones we'd seen in the morning.

Had chicken and paneer tikka (yum!) for dinner, and then got on the internet again.

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