Ancient World

Pithoo – The game of seven stones

Have you come across children on the street trying to knock down a pile of stones or rebuild the knocked stones then you have witnessed a traditional game called Pithoo, known for its health benefits – both physical and mental…

WORDS BY- SANGEETA S

Listed in UNESCO’s world heritage list of dances, the Chhau Dance belongs to the people residing in the eastern parts of India. It is a tribal martial dance known for its vigour and vitality, predominantly practised in the states of Odisha, Jharkhand and West Bengal. There is not much difference in the dance forms in these different geographic locations; they are mostly characterised by the look and dance style. The folk dancers use sword, bow, or shield which demonstrates the dancer’s dexterity. The dance brings together people from diverse socio-economic backgrounds in a festive and religious spirit.

Chhau’s Origin
The Chhau Dance is believed to have many origins. Perhaps, it has originated from the martial dance Phari Khanda Khela which involves playing with a sword and shield. Some even believe that the word ‘Chhau’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Chhaya’ meaning ‘shadow or image’ and it is therefore performed to influence Sun God. Chhau also means ‘mask’ because the dance is performed by wearing a mask. The narrative of Dance includes the depiction of birds, animals and other epic characters. There is another interpretation from Oriya language, where the meaning of three colloquial terms gives the perfect interpretation: ‘Chhauka’ – the quality of attacking stealthily; ‘Chhari’ – an armour and ‘Chhauni’ – military camp.The Chhau Dance is usually performed during important ceremonies – Gajan and the Sun Festival. Mostly, these dances are performed on the floor and the performers recreate a magical enactment for the audience as they sit in a circle or a semi-circle around them to watch the performance. As the dance is considered to be sacred, the participants take a bath and perform certain holy rituals before the performance starts. The dance mostly happens at night in an open area which is lit by fire poles called ‘mashaals.’

The dancers wear a mask and different moods are shown through various body movements. The costume and music are an important part of the performance. The rhythms are traditional and various musical instruments are used but drums are considered as an important part of the performance. The dance begins with the invocation to Lord Ganesha by beating the traditional drums. The dance starts with the impersonation of Lord Ganesha along with other mythical and natural characters like other Gods, demons, animals and birds.

The Chhau can be described as a colourful dance with various bright colourful costumes being used. The style and variety of the costume of the dancers largely depends upon the characters being portrayed by them. Different colours are used by the dancers playing the roles of Gods and for those playing the roles of demons. Goddess Kali has a black costume. In order to create a distinct identity, the characters of animals and birds use suitable type of masks and costumes.

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purulia-chhauDifferent Styles
The dance is found in three different styles named after the location where they are performed. The styles are –
Purulia Chau of Bengal – This is known for its energetic and dramatic characteristics. Asura masks are used that have fierce countenance and are painted bright green and red.
Seraikella Chau of Jharkhand – The dancers cover their face with mask and emphasize on expressing their Rasa (sentiments) and Bhav (mood) through body movements. There is no emphasis on Drishti Bhedo (movements of the eye and glances).
Mayurbhanj Chau of Odisha – This is different from other dance forms as it is performed without masks and has highly evolved techniques of its own.
Recognition
The Government of Odisha established a Government Chhau Dance Centre in 1960 in Seraikella and The Mayurbhanj Chhau Nritya Pratisthan at Baripada in 1962. These institutions engage in training and sponsor performances. The Chaitra Parva festival, significant to the Chhau Dance, is also sponsored by the Odisha State Government. The Sangeet Natak Akademi has established a National Centre for Chhau Dance at Baripada, Odisha.
In 2010, the Chhau Dance was inscribed in the UNESCO‘s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Chhau Dance and Research Centre
With an aim to re-establish this age-old art, ‘The Chhau Dance and Research Centre’ was inaugurated at Chandankiyari in Bokaro district, Jharkhand. The Centre will facilitate the development of research initiatives and give a new boost to this traditional dance. This research centre will cover three eastern states of the country including Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal for the promotion and research of Chhau Dance.
Natya Veda
According to Hindu mythology, Lord Brahma created the fifth scripture in addition to the four vedas, which is the Natya Veda. Certain elements from all the four Vedas were taken to create the fifth veda: speech from the Rig Veda, Abhinaya (speech, body, dress and facial expressions) from the Yajur Veda, music from the Sama Veda and aesthetic experiences from the Atharva Veda. Chhau is one such dance which reflects all these elements.
Chhau Mask
The beauty of the Chhau Dance depends on the masks they use. Made of paper, mud and clay the masks are painted to give bold look; the eye- brows, mouth, and eyes are painted to give those special effects. You can buy the masks; they are even available online. You can use them for the Chhau Dance being organized locally in your area. These colourful masks can be used to decorate your home or can be given away as gifts. The epic characters symbolise the Indian culture. The vibrant colours of the mask will add to the beauty of your home.

The themes for these dances include local legends, folklore and episodes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata and other abstract themes. The Dance has evolved over the years – from showcasing the mythologies of the Jain and the Buddhist era, to the epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata. Sometimes a few episodes of Indian Puranas are also depicted. The Dance requires lot of energy and vigorous movements throughout. Though there is no discrimination against women to perform the dance, it is usually performed by men and boys as Chhau requires a lot of energy and is difficult to dance that long wearing a mask.

Pithoo – The game of seven stones

Have you come across children on the street trying to knock down a pile of stones or rebuild the knocked stones then you have witnessed a traditional game called Pithoo, known for its health benefits – both physical and mental…

WORDS BY- SANGEETA S

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A few of us born in the 70’s and early 80’s (and maybe even earlier) may recall an interesting game we once played as young kids during our childhood called ‘Pithoo- – a popular folk game which was played in both rural and urban parts of India. Of course, with the advent of satellite television, internet and mobile phones, these traditional games were quickly forgotten and replaced with online gaming and PS4s.

So how is it played? It is a very simple game – all you need is a tennis or rubber ball, seven stones and two teams with an equal number of players. There is no restriction on the number of players if both teams have an equal number of players in them. The stones are stacked up to form a small tower where one team must break the tower with the ball and another team must rebuild before getting hit by one of the opponents.

This game has been played for generations and is known to improve both, a child’s concentration and physical fitness. It also improves the running abilities of children along with inculcating important values like teamwork and camaraderie. Pithoo focuses on the physical abilities is us like running, catching, observation, aiming and even swiftness. It also helps keep focus as hitting the target is the important part of the game.

In fact, all our traditional games like Kancha, Gulli-danda, Kabaddi etc. require agility and swift body movement. These games can be of great benefit to children as these games keep them physically active and mentally alert. Playing such games requires you to swing your arms, jump and run which makes you a physically active person. Since these games are mostly played in a group, they help in building friendships and learning the importance of sportsmanship. Children these days are more inclined towards the virtual world with very little human interaction. Such games can solve this problem to a large extent.

In fact, not only at the physical and social level, these traditional games even help improve eye-to-hand coordination. Such traditional games can help in the overall development of children. It benefits them physically, socially, intellectually and in many more ways. The games develop creativity and imagination.
With so many benefits, these games need to be preserved and passed on to our future generations, so that the heritage is revived and help in the development of a fitter and healthier India.

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With so many benefits, these games need to be preserved and passed on to our future generations, so that the heritage is revived and help in the development of a fitter and healthier India.

Rules of the Game
Players are divided into two teams of equal players. A coin toss usually decides which team starts the game. A member of one team tries to knock the stones with the help of a tennis ball. This team gets three chances from three different players to knock over the pile of stones. If they are unable to knock over the pile of stones in three tries, the other team get a turn. And if they can knock the stones the game begins.
Once the stones are knocked down the team must restore the pile of stones while the opposing team tries to stop them by throwing the ball at the players. If the ball touches any player, that player is out. The team tries to rebuild the stones while managing to not get hit by the ball from the opposing team. If the team manages to rebuild then they have defended the pittu and they get one point and also the chance to hit the stones again. In case they fail to do this, and all the players are out, the defending team will gain the point and then it’s the other team’s turn to hit the pile of stones.
History & Promoting Pithoo
The game has a history which dates to the Bhagwata Gita which talks about Lord Krishna playing this game. The traditional sport of Pithoo was revived in India with the launch of a new tournament -Indian Lagori Premier League (ILPL), based on the lines of the Indian Premier League (IPL) and Pro-Kabaddi League (PKL). The Karnataka Amateur Lagori Association (KALA) brought back the much-loved game in a new avatar. The game is called by the name Lagori in Karnataka. KALA, an associated body of the Amateur Lagori Federation of India (ALFI) introduced the sport in Mysuru with several youngsters showing a keen interest in the sport. Different associations from different states are trying to revive this sport.

The real Tribes of Nagaland

Bordering Myanmar in the northeast India, the mountainous state of Nagaland is known for its diverse indigenous tribes, festivals and culture. Read on to learn more about the beautiful state and its beautiful tribes and people.

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Call them the fighters, soldiers or the headhunters, Nagas can be called the strongest people living in northeast India. It is difficult to trace their origin though the word ‘Naga’ could have originated from the Burmese word ‘Nagka’ which means people with pierced earlobes. Today it covers number of tribes that reside in Nagaland, Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
History proves that they are great warriors who always fought to defend themselves and their clan. Nagas are warm hearted people, progressive in nature with primitive style of living still intact. The predominant religion of Nagaland is Christianity; Nagaland was Christianized in the 19th century by the well-known American missionary, Edward Clark. As far as the dialect is concerned each tribe has a different language. However, the Nagaland Assembly proclaimed English as the official language of Nagaland and it is the medium for education in Nagaland.
There is a lot of mystery around the people, their tribes and practices. Each tribe has its own attire, beaded jewelries and signature hat. They celebrate festivals all through the year which is a good way to know their deep rooted culture. It is interesting to explore and learn about the different tribes and their unique cultures. A visit to Nagaland can never be complete without exploring the beautiful tribes of Nagaland.

Tribes of Nagaland
There are 16 major tribes in Nagaland. Each tribe is unique in character with its own distinct customs, language and dress. Historically, Naga tribes celebrated feasting and head hunting.

Angami
The Angamis are a major Naga ethnic group settled in Kohima and Dimapur Districts. They are hill people depending basically on cultivation and livestock-rearing. They are traditional warriors known for terraced wet-rice cultivation. They are also known for the Sekrenyi celebrations every February.

Konyak
You can distinguish Konyak Naga by their pierced ears and tattoos. They have tattoos all over their faces, hands, chests, arms and calves. Facial tattoos were earned for taking an enemy’s head. They have certain unique practices that set them apart from other nagas; they are known for iron-smelting, brass-works, and gunpowder-making and wood sculptures. The Konyaks were the last among the Naga tribes to accept Christianity.

Ao
One of the major Naga tribes of Nagaland, Aos were the first Naga tribe to embrace Christianity. They are well known for multiple harvest festivals held each year. They have a rich tradition of clothing; The Ao Naga warrior shawl is called Mangkotepsu. This is exclusively worn by the men folk.

Chakhesang
Former ‘Eastern Angamis’ the Chakhesangs are now recognized as a separate tribe. Most of the villages of this tribe fall within Phek district of Nagaland. The tribe is basically divided into two groups known as Chokri and Khezha. Their festivals are based on agricultural cycle and Sukrunye is their most important festival.

Chang
According to oral tradition, the Changs emerged from a place called Changsangmongko, and later settled at Changsang. Another theory says that the Chang migrated to present-day Nagaland from the east, and therefore call themselves Chang (“Eastern” in the local dialect).

Dimasa Kachari
The Dimasa people (or Dima-basa, and also called Dimasa-Kachari) are an indigenous ethno-linguistic community presently inhabiting Assam and Nagaland states in Northeastern India. Agriculture is the principal occupation and main source of livelihood of the Diamsa Kacharis. Their important festival is Bushu which is celebrated after the completion of harvest.

Khiamniungan
Khiamniungan is one of the major Naga tribes, mainly found in the Noklak district of Nagaland, India and the adjoining areas of Burma. According to a popular myth, Khiamniungan means ‘source of great waters’ – the place from where the early ancestors of Khiamniungan are said to have originated. Unlike several other Naga tribes, the advent of Christianity had little impact on the Khiamniungan for a long time, due to their remote location.

Kuki
The Kukis constitute one of several hill tribes within India, Bangladesh, and Burma. It was the arrival of missionaries and introduction to English education that that exposed the Kuki people to the modern era.

Phom
The Phom are a Naga group settled between the Konyak in the north-east, the Ao in the west and the Chang in the south. While Christianity has had an impact on Phom society, it has remained largely traditional due to limited contact with other outsiders. Agriculture is the traditional occupation of the Phoms, and the tribe practices jhum cultivation. The Phoms also have a tradition of pottery, bamboo work and spinning.

Zeliang
Zeliang Naga Tribes is one of the dominant tribe of Nagaland mainly found in Kohima district, with rich indigenous knowledge systems and have minimum impact of present day modernization. Their primary language is Zeme.

Yimchungru
Yimchunger is a Naga tribe whose traditional territory includes Tuensang and Kiphire districts in Nagaland state of India, and western areas of Burma. The Yimchunger Tribe, like any other Naga Tribe has no written record of its origin or history. Maybe wandering from place to place they settled in their present location. However, going by narrated accounts the origin is believed to be from Thailand.

Sangtam
The Sangtams are one of the major tribes in Nagaland living in the Tuensang and Kiphire districts of Nagaland. They have retained their traditional beliefs in spite of embracing Christianity; Sangtams celebrate twelve different festivals, all of which are affiliated with their traditional culture and religion. Like many other tribal groups in Northeast India, they practice jhum, or shifting cultivation.

Lotha
Lotha is the name of a major Naga tribe inhabiting the Wokha district of Nagaland. Lothas are known for their colorful dances and folk songs. The male members wear shawls indicating their social status. The prestigious social shawl for women is Opvuram and Longpensu for men. Like many Nagas, the Lothas practiced headhunting in the older days and later they they gave up this practice after the arrival of Christianity,

Sumi
The ‘Sumi Naga’ is one of the major Naga peoples in Nagaland who mainly inhabit Zunheboto district. However, many have spread and are now living in a few more districts within Nagaland. Like most other Naga tribe, they were also headhunters before the arrival of the Christian missionaries and their subsequent conversion to Christianity. The Sumis celebrate many festivals which have been carried down from generations.

Pochury
The Pochury identity is of relatively recent origin. It is a composite tribe formed by three Naga communities: Kupo, Kuchu and Khuri. Agriculture and animal husbandry continue to the main occupations, but many Pochurys have taken up other jobs. Many farming families are now above the Subsistence level due to scientific techniques, irrigation channels, government subsidies and new crops.

Rengma
Like other Naga tribes, there are few written historical records of Rengmas. Slavery used to be a practice among the Rengmas, but by the time the British arrived in the Naga region, the slavery was a declining practice. Gentle and humble people, in olden days they were known for their bravery and were the champion warrior. There is an interesting belief that marrying the Rengma girls would bring good fortune and prosperity in a family.

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TRYING A HAND OF DHOPKHEL

This traditional ball game from Assam has been around for years. Matches of the game were traditionally made to observe the spring and New Year festival of Bihu.

WORDS: SANGEETA

SPORTS in India dates back to vedic era. Many of the sports played today are believed to be originated and played in ancient India. Being a vast country with diverse culture one can find diversity in sports too. Apart from a different culture every state in India has its own traditional sports.
The list can be endless but here we are going to talk about a unique game from Assam. Assam is known for various traditional sports like buffalo fight, cock fight etc.

Youth from Assam can be seen playing major sports like football, cricket etc. But at the same time the tribals of the state have tried to keep the traditional sports alive too. Such traditional sports are mostly played during festivals.
So next time when you travel to Assam apart from enjoying the natural beauty of the place don’t forget to watch the local enthusiastic people playing the local traditional games. And if you have the zeal you can also be a part of the game. Watching the traditional games will give you the real feel of the place.

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An ancient game known as Dhop Khel or Dhoop Khel is another popular indigenous game in Assam. It is a traditional Assamese ball game played by both men and women. The game which tests speed, stamina and acrobatic skills is played between two eleven-member teams. In the game ball is thrown at the opponent to knock them out of the game. This game is usually played during spring and New Year festival of Bihu. The game which was also played to amuse Ahom royalty as a spectator game is not played much in the state these days. In fact it is believed that the game became more popular under the kingdom of Ahom. Efforts are on to revive the lovely ancient culture of the state. Since this sport requires absolute physical fitness, it is closely associated with the development of the state as well.
Apart from showcasing Assam culture these sports can help build fitter citizens. The current generation hardly plays such games and is more involved with gadgets and gizmos. And slowly these lovely traditional games were moving towards extinction. But the general curiosity about culture and heritage has helped in reviving interest in traditional sports. These traditional games are unique and if right efforts are made to popularize these games, we will soon see people’s interest back in such games which can even help build a strong state as these games require good stamina and strength.

THE GAME – DHOP KHEL

Playground – The field is 125 m in length and 80 m in breadth with the central point right in the middle of playing area. Two lines called kai are drawn 12 ft away on each side of the point at the center and four flags are placed at four corners called chukor nishan. The central point which is equidistant from the two halves is surrounded by a circle known as gher.
Players – There are two teams comprising 11 players each and it is played using a rubber ball called Dhop. There are two types of Dhop, one played by men and the other by women.
How it is played – The rubber ball is thrown in the air by one of the players to the playing court of the opponents group. The players throw the ball at the competitors to eliminate them out of the game, while they try to get hold of the ball and dodge other players. If they are able to hit any opponent with the ball, that player has to leave the game. This is how the team tries to oust the opponents.

THE RULES

The play begins with the dhop being thrown in the air, by one of the players.
If the ball fails to land in the opponent’s court, it has to be thrown again.
And if it lands, the dhop has to be caught by the opposition team else the other team gets a chance to throw.
The player who catches the throw gets a chance to stand on the gher of the court and throw the dhop to the opposition’s katoni (one standing on the other gher).
If the katoni is not hit they lose the chance.
If the katoni is hit under the waist, it becomes a kota, and the katoni turns into a hoia or a bondha, and is no longer a ghai – a name initially used for all players at the start of the game.
The bondha then has to move to the opposing team and has to try to stop them from catching the dhop; this strategy is called aulia.
If he is successful in catching the dhop, he can cross over to his team’s side without being touched by any of the opponents. This move is known as hora.
He also has to ensure that he does not go out of the field of play i.e. the kais while attempting to re-cross to his own team. If he does this successfully, he becomes a ghai again.
Suppose a team loses ten ghais i.e. they become a bondha, then the only one left in the team will be named ghai katoni. If the opposition manages to perform a kota on him, then it is a piriutha, which means the team has won the game. If both teams have equal number of ghais, the game ends in a draw.

Rich artistic and cultural traditions

Kesariya Balam Padharo Mhare Desh, the common welcoming phase of Rajasthan, speaks a thousand words on the culture, heritage and inviting attitude of the people of the state

WORDS: SHIFA MEYAJI

‘Raja’ means king and ‘sthan’ means place, and hence Rajasthan is named after the various kings – the Rajputs, Marathas and even Muslim rulers.
The state has numerous beautiful forts and palaces that still stay upright as a mark of the royal lifestyle of the erstwhile maharajas.
This desert landscaping province, also the largest state of India, has rich artistic and cultural traditions which reflect the ancient Indian way of life.

Rajasthan’s culture is inspired by some of the oldest tribes – Bhils, Minas, Meos, Banjaras, Gadias, and Lohars.
Rajputs form the majority of the population and they have been glorified in numerous texts for their bravery, warfare and administrative prowess.

Some of the main Rajput clans include Chauhans, Sisodias, Solankis, Rathors and Panwars.
The main dialects originating from Rajasthan include Marwari, Malvi, Mevati, Jaipuri / Dhundari; the most famous being the Marwari.

Since many kings have ruled Rajasthan, each region has its own folk culture.
Although most of them are similar due to their geographical confinement, each differs in their unique style.

Manganiyars and Langas are the two prominent groups that contributed to the Rajasthani folk music.
During the pre-monsoon time, they would play ragas to invite the rains.

Many traditional instruments are used by them including sarangi, kamayach, dhols and shehnai. Folk songs were usually for purposes like weddings or birth or were passed to tell a story of bravery or a romantic tale.
They were usually in the form of ballads.

Dance was mainly performed for the entertainment of the people and the king.
They differed from tribe to tribe. Ghoomar, which originally took birth in Udaipur and was performed by Rajput women, has gained popularity and recognition throughout the world.

Some of the popular dance forms of Rajasthan are the Kalbelia dance which is an ancient form practiced by the women of Kalbelia community (snake charmers). Chari dance is another famous dance form that requires a lot of skill and patience as it involves balancing on various sized pots on one’s head.
The architectural style in Rajasthan is also majestic and striking. The Jain temple in Ranakpur and the Umaid Bhavan Palace in Jodhpur are a mixture of western Indian architecture style. The Jaisalmer Fort, built in 1156 by Rajput ruler Rawal Jaisal, contains several gates, Jain temples and Havelis and is included as a world heritage site by UNESCO.
Rajasthani staple food is daal-baati-churma. Daal is lentil curry and baati consists of round balls made out of wheat flour and baked in charcoal fire. The churma is a dessert made out of crushed wheat balls, rolled in jaggery sugar, and topped with ghee.
Beautiful carpets, garments and jewelry are handcrafted by the local people.

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Camel leather is widely used to make journals, shoes and bags. The carpets are made from the hand-knitting techniques and are much like Persian carpets; they have a geometric design and borders.
Fairs that take place every year in Bikaner and Pushkar are a festival or celebration of sorts dedicated to camels and their owners. There are various events and competitions which are carried out for fun like camel racing and camel dances. These festivals are usually held for two days.
The people of Rajasthan celebrate ‘Samskaras’, which are events that cause a turning point in one’s life. There are a total of 16 events that they celebrate. They include: Garbandhan (conception), Pumsvan (ceremony performed by those who desire a male child), Seemantonayan (ceremony for the expecting mother to keep her spirits high), Jatakarma (the child is fed mother’s milk for the first time after birth), Namkaran (naming ceremony), Nishkraman (the infant sees the sun and the moon for the first time), Annaprashan (child is given solid food to eat for the first time), Chudakaran (a lock of hair is kept, and the remaining is shaved off), Karna-vedha (ears are pierced), Upanayan-Vedarambha (thread ceremony after which the child begins his studies), Keshanta (hair is cut, and guru dakhshina is given), Samavartan (person returns home after studies are completed), Vivaha (marriage), Vanprastha (retirement), Sanyas (shedding away all responsibilities and relationships) and Antyeshthi (rites done after death).

The birth of a child is celebrated by beating copper plates together when it is born along with a celebratory gunfire to announce the birth.
The child is named 11 days after he or she is born. This is called ‘Namkaran’. Another interesting custom is ‘Mundan’, in which the hair of the child is shaved completely as it is a common belief that the hair carries negativity from the child’s past life. The women wear sarees with the dupatta or ‘odhni’ covering their head as a sign of respect. The men wear dhotis and kurtas with a headgear called paghri or safah (to protect them from the strong desert heat).
The designs on their clothing are either embroidered or dotted. The material is usually cotton and even silk for women.
Rajasthan is a land of sand dunes and jungles, of camels and wild tigers, of glittering jewels, vivid colours, and vibrant culture. There are enough festivals in Rajasthan to fill a calendar and an artist’s and a traveller’s palette, and the sights and cuisine are nothing short of spectacular.
The glory of royal Rajasthan is enticing enough to make an ardent traveler return to explore the mysteries of this majestic state again and again to engulf themselves into the startling, thought-provoking, and ultimately unforgettable attractions.

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KHAJURAHO TEMPLES IN MADHYA PRADESH

Popular for its detailed erotic art and stone carvings, the Khajuraho temples are among the most beautiful medieval monuments in India

WORDS: SHIFA MEYAJI

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LOCATED in Madhya Pradesh, the ‘heart of India,’ the Khajuraho temples were commissioned when the Chandelas ruled between AD 900 and 1130.
They were dedicated to two Indian religions, Hinduism and Jainism, suggesting a culture of acceptance and respect for differing religious identities.
In a space of about 20 sq kms in Khajuraho, 85 temples were built by successive Chandela rulers. This period was considered the golden age for central India.
The ancient transcripts list 85 temples in Khajuraho out of which only 25 could survive after various stages of preservation and care.
No mortar was used in building the walls and most work was left to gravity. The architecture of the temples was symbolic to the central Hindu beliefs and was based on designs of mandala principle of squares and circles.

INTRICATELY CARVED STATUES
The temples have a wide array of intricately carved statues and the art work depicts the daily life and symbolic values in ancient Indian culture.
The temples also depict the many different manifestations of Shakti and Shiva, the female and male divine principles.
Under the patronage of the Chandela Rajput kings of central India, the temples of Khajuraho were grouped into three complexes based on their geographic locations – east, west and south.
The western group of temples are the best preserved, mainly because they were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986. The most significant in the complex is Lakshamana temple whose walls are filled with innumerable idols and images of almost 600 Hindu gods, animals and sensuous couples.

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The surprising element is that even though Khajuraho temples are known worldwide for their erotic sculptures, the sexual themes cover less than 10 per cent of the sculpture.

Much has been written about the enthralling architecture and masterful sculpting, but little is known for certain about the intent of the sexual imagery.

Some believe that the depiction of sexual activities in temples is a good omen because they signify new beginnings and represent new life.
However, it is widely believed that the temples were meant to celebrate all aspects of human life including sex.
Sexual pleasure was considered an art form and the Kama Sutra to be practiced and perfected by both genders.
“Hinduism has traditionally considered sex an essential part of life, which could be why the carvings are casually interspersed between others that potray activities as varied as prayer and war,” wrote Charukesi Ramadurai in BBC

Travel in October 2015. “The fact that they are set in plain view and not tucked away in an obscure corner seems to suggest that their creators meant for them to be seen by all.”
The difference is especially striking considering how conservative Indian society has grown over the last few centuries.

It is hard to miss how much the town has changed and developed. A number of tourists, both national and international, visit Khajuraho to experience the legends about the Kama Sutra temples.
Khajuraho, which was known for its ornate temples, artistic creativity, magnificent architectural work and carvings of eroticism, now receives financial aid from the UNESCO along with heap loads of tourists including researchers, historians and art enthusiasts.

It is also a major symbol of ancient and religious tolerance that India holds for its monuments and ancient practices.