“A place that few tourists go” are words that we LOVE to hear about our next destination. So, after the madness of Agra and Varanasi, we were thrilled to arrive at Khajuraho with our new friends, Dave and Jonathon, from the taxi ride. We originally planned to be in and out in a day but wound up spending more time taking it all in and relaxing.
The main attraction in Khajuraho is the series of intricately carved and immaculately restored Hindu temples that are covered with images of the Kama Sutra. While no one is 100% sure about the true meaning of them, our guide told us they were meant to that show the path to enlightenment can not be achieved through meaningless sex. Rather, the true path is one of proper courting, starting a family, remaining monogamous and loving your partner.
We saw only the Western Group of temples, but there were more than a dozen in a neatly groomed area so we got a full taste of the carvings: both sexual and those depicting scenes of everyday life. The structures themselves were mostly Hindu looking with the rounded tops, but a few temples had multiple domes for various religions including the traditional Muslim onion dome. We also stopped into the Shiva Temple, just outside the gates of the complex, to see the 6:30pm prayer ceremony. The inside was round with most people standing on a platform in the middle singing and clapping their hands. They did this for around 30 minutes and then were blessed by the holy person in charge and then left. This is also considered a form of a puja that we were fortunate enough to see, as many times non-Hindus are not allowed.
The final adventure of our time came when I was searching for a new camera charger. One shop keeper told me to have a seat while he ran around to see if any of his buddies could help me (for an extra fee, I’m sure). While waiting I struck up conversation with a local in the shop who just got back from six years living and working in Japan (he had photos and a driver’s licence and everything). His friends were throwing him a welcome home party in the forest on the outskirts of town that night and we were invited. So, I quickly headed back to tell the crew the news and let the hotel know that we were staying another night.
Jon bailed, but I took Dave and Carrie to meet everyone at the shop then we went and had some dinner. However, when we returned (about an hour late), the owner of the store said that my friend had waited but had to go. They tried to call him but he had no service and no one seemed to know where the party was. Then things got a bit weird, as they started telling us that it was ok, because they could throw us a party in the woods anyway. Booze, home-cooked chicken, whatever we wanted.
What we wanted, however, was the local party I was told about that we could just go check out and return from when we were ready. The idea wasn’t to get drunk in the woods, but to experience something unique with locals. We made up some excuse about getting desert and never returned. Making matters even weirder was that we ran into the guy’s friends the next day and they hadn’t even heard of any party. I like to think that everything was genuine until we were late and the people remaining in the store decided to try and make a quick buck off the tourists. However, much like so many things here, we will never know the full truth.