At the entrance of the Western group of temples at Khajuraho a potential guide surprises us with – “How much do you want to know?”
Shocked at the question it takes me a minute to reply with a fitting tirade, one that I have specially reserved for annoying touts at Heritage sites. In the moment of my lapse my husband calmly replies, “Everything.”
” Ok, then I tell you everything” replies our guide Satendra expressionless and without any further adieu he turns and walks briskly to the first temple. Our tour has officially begun.
Half way through our tour a slight drizzle interrupts us. While the rest of the heritage site clamors around us Satendra opens a large umbrella and hands it over to us and continues, ” Men were dying because of wars or men were becoming ascetic, the Chandela kings had to find a way to make men marry and have children”. He took us in detail through panels of group sex, kamasutra poses and erotic carvings.
A family with two small children walks up behind us with their guide. The guide is explaining that the reason Khajuraho survived the onslaught of the invaders was because it was out of the way, forgotten and claimed by the forest.But the little girl is more interested in the twisted poses carved on the walls of the temple.
“Why are they standing one legs?” comes the innocent question.
Without a flinch the guide replies ” It improves posture and circulation” and promptly moves on to the next set of panels.
As the drops fall stronger and faster the UNESCO world heritage site turns to a temporary rain shelter with people running to the temples to take cover. But we stay put outside in front the carving of a woman having a bath (which was to be my favorite among the lot). As I watched droplets of water drip from the woman’s breasts to her thighs finally collecting at the feet of the carving I suddenly realize why we were asked that rather weird question of ‘how much do you want to know?”