Many ancient Indian temples have erotic art. Some people call it progressive, passionate and some think it is vulgar. These carvings are very bold but they hold certain ancient ideologies which saw sex as a way to reach the ‘epitome of spirituality’.
Most of these temples follow the concepts of Tantric Tradition which saw the sensual pleasures as a transcendental energy which creates a spiritual path to reach god. If you observe, these erotic carvings are only found on the exterior walls of the temple.
According to some researchers, it means that a person should get over the carnal desires before entering the shrine; he can get over the lust only after he has experienced it. No wonder, these icons have the charm to create passion in every visitor. So, let us make a virtual tour around some temples in India that are famous for erotic sculptures!
1. Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh
World famous for its erotic sculptures, Khajuraho temple is located in a small town with the same name in Madhya Pradesh. It is rumoured that Shiva and other deities visited the region during ancient times to play and hence, the temples were created in their honour. The artwork outside the temple is a depiction of the four goals of Hinduism – Dharma, Artha, Karma and Moksha.
2. Sun Temple, Konark
Dedicated to the Sun God, the Sun Temples in Konark are one of the most famous Sun Temples of India. Konark Sun Temple is in the form of a giant chariot and the stone wheels, pillars and walls are all exquisitely and intricately carved. The temple is known for ‘Maithunas’ which are the erotic sculpture on the temple walls. The archaeologists have stated that the sculptures are a depiction of Indian sex-symbolism which is ‘sacramental’ in its likeness to the union of the individual sould with the universal spirit.
3. Jagdish Mandir, Udaipur
Originally known as Jagannath Rai temple, Jagdish Mandir is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It is a 3 storeyed temple which is elaborately carved. Constructed under the reign of Maharana Jagat Singh, the temple walls have inscriptions belonging to his time and some erotic imagery on the outer walls symbolising that human should give up worldly pleasures to reach God.
4. Markandeshwar, Maharashtra
Dedicated to the lord Shiva, Markandeshwar temple is a very old one which shows erotic art on many areas of the temple which is said to be the work of demons as the temple is said to have mysteriously constructed within one night. On every Mahashivratri festival, Markandeshwar Temple organises a big fair which attracts more than 5 lakh devotees.
5. Padawali, Madhya Pradesh
Lost in the greenery near Chambal river, the Padawali temple attract many tourists. The temple is dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu temples and has amazing erotic sculptures craved out on the outer walls in many positions. Though the most of the temple are now in ruins, the temple still stands tall and beautiful depicting the erotica.
6. Sun Temple, Gujarat
The Sun Temple in Modhera is one of the ancient temples of Gujarat which was built during the time of Solanki dynasty. Dedicated to the Sun God, the temple looks splendidly beautiful with different sculptures and figurines. The outer walls of the temple have erotic figures which are related to the Tantric tradition. The reason cited for these sculptures is that in the olden era, sex was neither considered impure nor moralised, as it is today. It was seen as a pure act that brought fertility in the world and helped give birth.
7. Osian, Rajasthan
Located in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, Osian is known as the Khajuraho of Rajasthan . The Jain temples in Osian have carvings depicting the life of Lord Mahavira and Jain priests. Among other carvings, there are erotic images and sculptures of entwined snakes. This shows that sex was not looked down upon but was considered as a worldly pleasure.
8. Virupaksha, Hampi
Virupaksha Temple of Hampi in Karnataka is the main center of pilgrimage at Hampi and part of the Group of Monuments at Hampi. A tributary of the river also flows through the temple kitchen and terrace. The temple is beautifully structured and has many parts like the sanctum, three ante chambers, a pillared hall and an open pillared hall. The courtyards, steps and smaller shrines lining the temples are also beautifully carved. The temple wall and tall gopuram are famous for its erotic carvings.
9. Tripurantaka Temple, Karnataka
This temple in Karnataka is a Shivamogga. Apart from a number of stories engraved on the walls and windows of the temple, the carvings on the outer walls also have a lot of sculptures from the Kamasutra.
10. Kailasa, Ellora
The Kailasa temple at Ellora is said to have been built between 757 and 783 CE by a ruler named Krishna. The temple is well known for its vertical creation; as a matter of fact, the workers started at the top of the rock and further moved downwards. The caves at Ellora are renowned for the depiction of the spiritual union with God through erotic relationships.
11. Ranakpur, Rajasthan
Ranakpur in Rajasthan is a Jain shrine dedicated to Adinath who was the first Jain tirthankara. The temple is carved out of pure white marble and sports 27 halls, which are supported by 1447 pillars. Each of the pillars has some beautiful representations of erotic art. An interesting fact here is that one cannot find two carvings which look alike.
12. Bhoramdeo, Chattisgarh
Located amidst the beautiful surroundings of the Maikal Mountains and dense forests, the Bhoramdeo temple is a perfect mixture of religious and erotic sculptures that are carved out of the rocky stone in the Nagara style of architecture. The temple is believed to be constructed during the period from 7th to 11th century AD.
The Shiva Lingam at the temple is beautifully carved and attracts many visitors due to its artistic values. The temple has a resemblance to the Konark Sun temple and the Khajuraho temple, hence it is called the Khajuraho of Chhattisgarh.
13. Nanda Devi Temple, Almora
Located in Uttarakhand, Nanda Devi temple is dedicated to Nanda Devi. This temple has some erotic and sex sculpture on its outer walls. These carvings mean that one has to abandon wordly pleasures to enjoy the afterlife. Every year, Nanda Devi fair is organised in honour of the Devi.
14. Lingaraja Temple, Bhubaneshwar
Dedicated to Harihara, form of Vishnu and Shiva, Lingaraj is one of the most prominent structures and a major tourist attraction in Bhubaneswar. The temple is built using laterite and sandstone and has several erotic sculptures. The sculptures are the images from the Hindu book on sexual behaviour, Kamasutra.