The Kamasutra carvings that swathe Khajuraho's three groups of temples are among the finest temple art in the world. The temples are superb examples of Indo-Aryan architecture, but it's their liberally embellished carvings that have made Khajuraho famous.
The Great Stupa’s four gateways were erected around 35 BC, but had all fallen down by the time the site was rediscovered. They have since been repositioned. Scenes carved onto the pillars and their triple architraves are mainly tales from the Jatakas, episodes from Buddha’s various lives.
Bhopal’s third female ruler, Shah Jahan Begum, wanted to create the largest mosque in the world, so in 1877 she set about building Taj-ul-Masjid . It was still incomplete at her death in 1901, after funds had been diverted to other projects, and construction did not resume until 1971. It is now one of the largest mosques in India, thanks to its huge courtyard.
This is why everyone comes to Kanha and pretty much everyone who lives here can hook you up with a jeep (Gypsy 4WD) for a safari. Safari bookings are made online but you will save a lot of hassle by allowing your hotel to do this. Ten percent of safari tickets are reserved for gate sales and are sold 30 minutes before the gate opens.
Stupa 2 is halfway down the hill to the west (turn right at Stupa 1). If you come up from the village by the main route you can walk back down via Stupa 2, although be prepared for some fence-hopping at the bottom. Instead of gateways, ‘medallions’ decorate the surrounding wall – naive in design, but full of energy and imagination.
Visit India and explore the highlights of the north on this adventure tour from Delhi to Varanasi. Discover the 'Pink City' of Jaipur, witness the Mughal splendours of Delhi and Agra, and soak up the ambiance of holy Varanasi.
Standing at the top of a cliff plunging 366m to the plains, Rupmati’s Pavilion has a subtle beauty unmatched by the other monuments – and some of the dinkiest stone staircases you’ll ever climb According to Malwa legends, the music-loving Baz Bahadur built it to persuade a beautiful Hindu singer, Rupmati, to move here from her home on the plains.
Just south of town, past Christchurch, the trailhead for Bee Falls is easily accessed by bike. There are chai and snack stalls along the way to the bottom of the trail Further along the main road, past the trailhead, you’ll find the access roads for Duchess Falls , the two beauty points known as Reechgarh and Astachal , and a small, crystal-clear pool called Ramykund .
The Archaeological Museum , announced by a wonderful 11th-century statue of Ganesh (dancing sensuously for an elephant-headed deity), has a small but well-presented collection of sculptures from around Khajuraho. This is a good opportunity to get up close to some very well-preserved carvings.
If you’re looking for a great reason to cycle out into the countryside, consider visiting this unusual former palace turned temple. It stands at the head of a ravine, on the site of an earlier Shiva shrine – its name means God with Blue Throat – and is now once again used as a place of worship.
South of Jaistambha is the road that leads towards Chauragarh (1308m), Madhya Pradesh’s third-highest peak. The Shiva shrine at the top attracts tens of thousands of pilgrims during Shivaratri Mela. On the way, stop at Handi Khoh , also known as Suicide Point, to gawk down the 100m canyon into the dense forest.
From the east a series of gates punctuates the worn steps of the path leading up to the fort. At the bottom, the first gate you pass through is Gwalior Gate , dating from 1660, and leading to the State Archeological Museum.
From the old bridge, instead of turning right to Shri Omkar Mandhata, you can also head left and walk up the 287 steps to the 11th-century Gaudi Somnath Temple , from where you can descend the hill to the northern tip of the island, where sadhus bathe in the confluence of the holy Narmada and Keveri Rivers.
As with the other tiger parks, safari bookings are made online, but you will save a lot of hassle by allowing your hotel to do this. Ten percent of safari tickets are reserved for gate sales and are sold 30 minutes before the gate opens. A lack of budget accommodation means it’s tough to find other independent travellers to share jeep costs. Kipling’s Court is your best bet.
The earliest monasteries were made of wood and are long gone. The usual plan was of a central courtyard surrounded by monastic cells. These days only the courtyards and stone foundations remain. Monasteries 45 and 47 , standing on the eastern ridge to the left of Stupa 1, date from the transition from Buddhism to Hinduism, with strong Hindu elements in their design.