Thursday, January 22, 2009

Khajuraho and Orchha

After Agra, we traveled to Khajuraho and Orchha. It was a long way to travel to see the old temples and ruins, but we did enjoy our time there and stayed in a cool hotel.

Khajuraho is known for its temples, representing the finest art and architecture of medieval India. Today out of eighty-five temples only twenty five remain. These temples were built in a short span of hundred years between 950 to 1050 A.D. Every inch of the exterior, and much of the interior, is covered by superb stone carvings. The sculptures are sublime and sensuous at the same time. They adorn every space of the temple walls depicting several themes of celestial nymphs, ascetics in penance, hunting and war scenes, group dances and royal processions. The most famous are the erotic sculptures. Nothing is left to the imagination, and you will be surprised, shocked, and possibly even impressed.

Scroll down quickly if you are shy or under 18. These are some of the carvings depicting the Kama Sutra.

Our hotel in Orchha:

I fell in love with these three girls. They couldn't speak much English but tried to sell me some bracelets. They were so innocent that they had a hard time focusing on their sales pitch and got distracted by watching other kids play. My heart broke to see how thin, dirty, shoeless, and cold they were. The one in red just wanted to hold my hand.I guess this is as good of time as any to discuss the crippling poverty in India. Before going, I was prepared for it, but the volume is hard to wrap your mind around. In the early morning, virtually every single sidewalk, empty parking space, parks, etc. are covered with homeless sleepers. They are barely clothed (it got near freezing at night), emaciated, dirty, wounded--many were small children and babies. In Varanasi at dawn, we saw a man lying in the middle of the street, completely naked and covered in dirt. The temperature was close to freezing. We seriously questioned if he was dead. At one historic sight, we happened to be there at lunch time, and the workers obviously received free lunch. The "lunch" was a ball of food smaller than a tennis ball. They were fighting and clawing their way to get the food. I am sure it was their only meal of the day. Needless to say, I was in tears more than once. I think everyone, especially Americans, should visit some place like India at least once to gain perspective and gratitude. For me, this horror is a part of why I wanted to visit India.

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