Sex sells. Sex sells very well. For the relatively sleepy and secluded Khajuraho deep in central India, sex drives the tourist industry, just not in the same way that sex lures many a morally vacant individual to places like Las Vegas. In Khajuraho, it’s the erotic statues and “sex temples” that draw in crowds who gawk at, blush over and take photos of the busty carvings of bodacious, scantily clad Indian babes and considerably ripped guys.
Built between 950 and 1050 A.D. by the Chandela’s, the ruling clan of much of central India, the temples are a manifestation of Indian architecture, showcasing some of the most intricate rock carvings and statues in the world. They’re also the most provocative. Today, only 22 of the original 85 spiral superstructures still remain.
But adjectives like “erotic” and “sex” only lead the lonely traveler down the wrong trail, creating expectations that what’s hidden away in Khajuraho is somehow on par with what’s hidden away in the back rooms of most video rental stores. Many, but not nearly a majority, feature men and women embroiled in passionate love-making, limbs wrapped around each other in a variety of intriguing and tantalizing positions. And yet the temples are not a celebration of pornography. They are a celebration of love and life.
The figures acting out explicit sex acts certainly draw the eyes’ attention, leaving little to the imagination, but don’t completely overshadow the rest of the cast of characters. Mothers with children, eternal lovers holding each other or sharing a kiss, and dancers preparing to perform, in addition to numerous gods and goddesses, also make special appearances. The detail is so fine that you’d almost expect some of the figures to leap from their posts and start dancing around passersby, or place an innocent kiss on the cheeks of wandering tourists.
One important detail that also seems hidden is why these places of worship were built. Who wanted them constructed? Who carved the statues? Why all the sex? Experts speculate that Chandela kings lived such extreme lives of luxury that they had the temples built for entertainment purposes. Others take a more religious, social approach, saying the temples were built to pique people’s interest in sex, have kids and settle down. Many think the Chandela’s viewed sex as an art form, something practiced by all but perfected by a few in an elite class of artisans.
Whatever the reason, today Khajuraho belongs to the tourists who come to see the temples, purchase small sandstone replicas of the statues and eat in fancy restaurants overlooking the holy grounds. Or maybe that’s what the wealthy Chandela’s had in mind when building these monoliths to love — to draw in foreign dignitaries and impress them with central Indian architecture and grandeur. Because sex sells, and it sells very well.
BLOGGERS NOTE! Some of the following photos are sexual in nature… enjoy!!!