• Penelope Haines

Khajuraho to Agra - Day 5

Yesterday was a tiring day and the hotel we stayed in at Khajuraho was so lovely that I don’t think any of us wanted to move on.  It was another early start though to get us to the temples ahead of the crowds so that we could enjoy the carvings. One effect of the tension in Kashmir has been to limit the number of tourists, so we find ourselves pleasantly uncrowded by other travellers.

The temples at Khajuraho are world famous for their frank depiction of sexual activity, and are the original Karma Sutra, or instruction in the Art of Love. The carvings are quite lovely and not at all the pornography I had expected – yes, they are explicit, but there’s a nice sense of humour at work in the stories they tell. Thus a voluptuous young woman, her back turned to us, studying her face in a mirror has a cute dimple on her bottom; the god Ganesha looks on in amusement at the couple making energetic love in the panel beside him.

There wasn’t a lot the ancient’s left out of their carvings: bestiality, threesomes, soixante-neuf, you name it, there it was depicted.  An explanation for some of the panels is they were a kind of recruiting poster for the armed forces, depicting soldiers going off to battle and the carnal pleasures that awaited them on their return.

Four hours drive further on and we’d reached the town of Orchha where we toured magnificent seventeenth palaces. One was given to the Maharajah as a gift when he visited Orchha. He only stayed in it one night – talk about conspicuous consumption!  I was pleased to find a couple of vultures sitting on the roof of the palace. They’ve been in very short supply – as they are scavangers they’ve been dying off because of all the chemicals being injected into the cattle. The problem is so big that Parsees (or Zoroastrians) who place their deceased in the ‘towers of silence’ and rely on vultures to dispose of the bodies, now have a problem because there aren’t enough vultures.

When we reached Jhansi we caught the train for Agra. Its always a bit of fun to try out different forms of public transport. We travelled in luxury in an air conditioned carriage. They fed us a full meal on board as well. The most impressive sight was the porters who carried our luggage on and off the train to the coach. They must have been carrying at least 50 kgs each on their heads.

Finally reached Agra and collapsed into bed. Tomorrow is the Taj Mahal.


The western temples

Woman with mirror

Married couple

Ganesha amused by human beings

Temple

Palace at Orchha

Cattle at Orchha

Catching the train at Jhansi

Porters with our luggage


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