Khajuraho is a world heritage site of several temples (originally about 85, but only 25 remain) built around 950 to 1050 AD and absolutely covered in the most detailed carvings I have ever seen.
But more on that tomorrow (come on, given how immature I was at Persepolis, I’m not going to let these temples go without showing you a thousand inappropriate photos).
When I arrived in Khajuraho I had thought I would just stay one day, visit the temples on my own and then move on, but then the first time I left the hotel in search of food I got stopped in the street by a young guy asking me where I had bought my bracelets. Normally, I’m very persistant in ignoring people who talk to me in the street since it’s usually followed by ‘you want rickshaw?’ or ‘please madam, look in my shop’ or ‘very nice, how much’ (ew), but thankfully my bullshit meter wasn’t going off that night. Nitin is a genuinely lovely local student who just wanted to practice his English, hear about what England is like and make new friends. We spent the evening chattering away by the lakeside about our lives and plans (he’s 20 and wants to get a job as a translator when he finishes his studies, I’m 27, have long since finished my studies and have still not worked out what I want to be when I grow up. Dang). He then spent the next couple of days showing me his favourite spots away from the tourists, helping me get a sim card (pretty difficult if you don’t live in India) and introducing me to his friends and family. His mother, even though she doesn’t speak English and my Hindi extends to Hello, Thank you and Good, insisted on making me lunch every day. I helped carry 3 sacks of vegetables home from the market on the back of a motorbike, but somehow I think I got the better end of the bargain there.
Nitin is in the green shirt, grinning like a loon after thrashing us all at dominos. We played a lot of dominos.
Other than the temples, there are a few other touristy sites to see here – I spent the second evening at a traditional dance show organised by the tourist board, and the next day we went to the local waterfalls – there’s a nature sanctuary here as well, but it’s not open til mid October. Like every other sanctuary or park in India it seems. Sigh.
I was trying to suppress giggles at the beginning of the dance show. They were wearing bells on their ankles and waving hankies, and then – I swear to God – they started bashing sticks in the air. Yes, I have found the Indian version of morris dancing.
This part was….not so much like morris dancing.
Raneh Falls at the end of the monsoon. My guide there showed me photos taken just one month ago where the water is so high that none of those rocks are visible.
The rest of my time in Khajuraho was spent in the old village, where Nitin showed me where each of the 4 castes live. According to tradition they each have their own wells, doctors, barbers, shrines etc and they aren’t supposed to cross over, but it’s not so rigid nowadays so the village is more mixed. There’s also a school here built and run by volunteers – the owner tried to persuade me to stay and teach English for them. Hmm…pretty sure you need either qualifications or endless patience for that. Much as I’ve loved being here I don’t think I’m quite teacher material yet. Maybe in a few years though.
This is what passes for traffic in the old village
Local kids buying balloons
Stone carvers taking their reproductions very seriously