Khajuraho, India

Street life in Khajuraho note the holy man at left wearing only a small cloth.

The town of Khajuraho, population 6,500, is home to the most famous temples of India, mostly due to the erotic scenes depicted on the 1000-year-old temples. This is a modern-day temple sans erotica used by the villagers today.

Fredrik takes in the rays outside Chitragupta Temple, the only one in the western grouping dedicated to Surya (the Sun God).

Full shot of Jagadambi Temple, early 11th century

Parvati inside Jagadambi Temple, although the temple was originally dedicated to Vishnu

Recurring temple scenes

The females carved onto the Khajuraho temples are portrayed as curvaceous and round breasted.

Inside the early 11th century Jagadambi Temple

Kandariya Mahadeva Temple, the tallest of the remaining 25 temples at Khajuraho, where 80 temples were built between 900 and 1100 AD.

Intricate external carving

The temple interior is as intricate and detailed as the exterior.

Impassioned couple carved on Lakshmana Temple

A recurring character on several of the western temples shows a woman removing a thorn from her foot.

Soldiers and an amorous couple adorning Lakshmana Temple, the oldest and one of the best preserved

Inside the western grouping of temples at Khajuraho, a few are made of granite, which is harder to carve than the more common sandstone.

Another example of foreigners paying 47 times more than nationals

27 January 2001 The temples of Khajuraho (over 80 built from 950 to 1050 AD with only 25 remaining today) are among the most extraordinary in India. Each temple is dedicated to a deity with Vishnu favored. Exteriors of the granite temples are covered with hundreds of small, but masterfully detailed scenes and characters from everyday life warriors and battle, elephants and horses, dancing and music-making, curvaceous women with round breasts and amorous couples in oodles of sexual positions.

These days much of the hoopla surrounding the temples of Khajuraho focuses on the erotic scenes and figures, which account for fewer than 10 percent of the carvings. Some speculate that these sexual positions and scenarios were the basis for the Kama Sutra and a budding business outside the gate has developed with young men and boys selling copies of the book. No one really knows the rationale for the many passionate lovemaking scenes adorning the temples. Historians and observers surmise the sexually explicit carvings could have been the work of members of a Tantric cult, but again, no one knows decisively. We've seen sexual scenes carved on other Indian temples and we think the Indians 1000 years ago were quite comfortable portraying the reality of their lives: gods, war, animals, work, music, food and drink, and yes, sex.

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