Erotic Temples???

Trip Start Aug 03, 2008
Trip End Aug 18, 2009

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Flag of India  , Madhya Pradesh,
Thursday, October 16, 2008

We woke up early in the morning as we had a 30 minute taxi ride to the train station before our 5:30 train left. The night before we had been given our confirmation number by the travel agent in the hotel and we we ready to go. When the train pulled up (on time I might add) we quickly identified our car. As we tried to climb onto the train the ticket guy asked to see our tickets, he then pulled a list from his pocket that said we were only 2 spots higher on the waiting list and we could not get onto the train. At this point the travel agent was lucky that he was 30 minutes away because I was planning on going back there and venting a little frustration at him. However, Michelle convinced me to sit down and calm down a little first.

Unfortunaly at 5:30 in the morning very little is open. So we wandered around until we found a coffee shop and had a drink while we waited for a breakfast place to open. We ate some bad breakfast at "fancy" hotel that did nothing to help either of us feel better. Then with still no internet cafes open we tried to book some alternative ticket out of town at the train station. After an hour in line and trying multiple different options we gave up. I walked over and started to enquire about taking a taxi for the 14 hours it would take. As soon as I became interested the prices tripled, so I went back to try and find a travel agent that actually new something about how to travel in India (I know a very novel concept). After ending in a shouting match with 2 or 3 travel agents, I found a guy who was very knowledgeable and suggested some alternate routes to get to our destinations. We ended up taking a bus to the town of Patna (3 hours away), where we got a hotel for the afternoon to rest since we had been planning on resting on a train and not fighting with transport. Then we got on a train around 11 at night and slept to Satna the nearest train station to Kujuraho (9 hours). We almost missed the stop, we were both sleeping so soundly. Fortunately the other guy in our cabin woke us up and we hopped off the train just before it left the station. Then we had to get to the bus station to get a bus to Kujuraho. However, we missed the direct bus by 30 minutes and ended up on one that went 11 km away to the small town of Bathina (4 hour bus ride). There we had to catch a shared taxi to the bus station in Kujuraho. After reaching the bus station we had to take an autorickshaw (tuk tuk) to our hotel. We ended up arriving at 2 in the afternoon, so in other words nearly 33 hours after leaving our hotel and almost 15 hours after we expected we arrived at the ruins of Kujuraho.

A shared taxi for those who have never seen one is a 4 person jeep that is packed full of people. The front was 5 across with the driver practically hanging out the window and shifting gears being nearly impossible. The back seat where Michelle and I were sitting had only 4 adults and 1 child. But also contained the spare tire and was where the Wahla (caller) for the taxi held on as he rode on the running boards. The back where luggage should go had two benches where 1 person could sit comfortably, 2 could fit with the back closed, but we managed to pack 3 per side, with another 4 people hanging onto the back while standing on the bumper. Our luggage was strapped to the roof rack, and to be honest, I was jealous about the space that it had.   Overall there were 20 people sharing this jeep.

That night after arriving and cleaning up from our long journey, we headed to a resturant with an acutal Italian Chef that made wood fire pizza. I am not sure that Michelle has ever had a pizza that tasted so good. She was just drueling at the thought of the pizza that lived up to its expectations. She liked it so much that we ended up eating there the next day as well. But now having fixed the food situation, we spent the night watching the sound and light show at the western group of the temples. The lights were not that spectacular as they only lit up the temples, but it was very interesting to hear a verision of the history of the temples.

The next morning we had breakfast in a tree overlooking the western temple complex. The main temples of this complex where Lakshmana (the oldest), Kandariya Mahadev (the tallest), Chitragupta (the best carvings) and Vishvanath and Nandi (the ones we were over looking at breakfast). After breakfast before the day got too hot we walked around and saw the amazaing temples of Kujuraho. These temples look like a series of bee hives increasing in size the first one is small and by the end they are massive. Each one looks somewhat similar to the temple complex at Angkor Wat, but there is not the large gardend around as each temple is its own stand alone building. While very interesting from an archectural point of view, that is not why they are famous. They are famous for the carvings that adorn their walls. These carvings are over 1,000 years old, but have not worn away like many of the ones that I have seen on other temples. These remain in a very good state and are very easy to tell what they portrait. There are scantly clad females, and couples in various positions all over the walls. They are carved deep into the rock and very vivid. The inner walls are covered with carvings. The ceilings have elaborate floral patterns. The ouside of the temples have rings of similar carvings around them going all the way up to the top of the spire. They are quite a sight to behold. Especially in a country where public displays of affection are non existant.

The next day before we left we headed over to see some of the Jain temples in the area. Jains are a very strict branch of Buddhism. So we thought it would be interesting to see how their temples compared to the Buddist temples of Bodhigaya. There temples seemed to be stolen from the Chandelas (people who built Khujuraho). They were smaller verisons of the large temples we had seen the day before, but had had some of the hindu idols removed and replaced with Buddha. However the general structure and decoration of the building was the same. Though often they had added a different style porch to the temples. After checking out these temples, we caught a taxi (gave up on the bus, share jeep, autoricksaw thing) so we could leave later at night. To take us the 3 hours back to the train station to catch our next sleep train to the town of Jalgon.

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