The spiritual and sensual worlds co-exist in the exquisite temples of Khajuraho built between the 10th and 12th century by the ruling Chandella Kings in Central India. A vigorous architectural movement swept through their reign dotting the landscape of Mahoba, Kalinjar and Ajaygarh with palaces, tanks and temples, but it was at Khajuraho that the Chandella kings reached the zenith of their creativity. Of the 85 glorious temples that they constructed, just 23 remain in various stages of preservation.
The spurt in temple construction coincided with the resurgence of Hinduism. Along with temples dedicated to Lord Vishu and Lord Shiva are shrines devoted to the Jain Tirthankaras. Constructed as per Vaastu Shastra, most temples face east and the first rays of the sun fall on the feet of the main deity in the sanctum sanctorum rousing deep feelings of divinity.
Though the erotic sculptures of Khajuraho overwhelm visitors, they account for just two per cent of the temple carvings. Most of the decorations are essentially religious. Erotic decorations feature mainly in the Shiva temples. The spine according to the tantric theories current in the Chandella period, was likened to the serpent of energy, kundalini, stretching from the base of the sacrum to the crown of the head, supporting the six stages (chakras) of spiritual evolution. Each of these stages must be awakened to transmute sexual energy into pure spirituality for attaining union with the divine.