On 25th Jan 2007 “Panna Tiger Reserve” has been given the Award of Excellence “The Best Maintained Tourist Friendly National Park of the Country” by the Ministry of Tourism Govt. of India.
The scroll running on the website http://www.pannatigerreserve.in/index.htm was too tempting to ignore and caught my attention immediately. This soon followed by an opportunity to attend my friend’s marriage function in Naogaon, Chattarpur, Madhya Pradesh. It was a sheer luck that the Tiger abode was just 100 km ahead. How one can think to miss such an opportunity so I planned an extended, hectic but rewarding tour of Khajuraho, Panna Tiger Reserve and off-course the wedding.
I didn’t get the confirmed ticket but so what one night pain was equal to lots of gain. The UP Sampark Kranti Express was overcrowded due to Khajuraho Mahotsav. From Agra entire world appeared to get board on the same compartment I was travelling to. More than anything else on my entire trip I could easily remember an “American Beauty” with two ugly “Psycho”, with waiting e-ticket that simply implies without reservation, on that compartment. There was a sense of responsibility suddenly developed inside me and I decided to help the beauty with a practical suggestion. It was really funny, the TT was not comfortable with English, I suggested them to argue with him by showing the e-ticket and another ticket that they had (from Delhi to Agra) one-by-one and buy some time till Jhansi. As the stoppage in Jhansi was for a longer duration so that one of them could go and buy the ticket for onward journey. Thankfully everything went as planned and I saved the beauty from the beast.
Khajuraho is a smal village like area with some developed tourist zone. Auto would charge 50-100 Rs (depends on negotiation skills) till Western Side Temple. Arrangement of my stay was done by local reporter of the channel I worked for, that was pretty comfortable and merely 200 m from temples. After getting fresh and breakfast I started exploring western zone of temples.
Since I was alone, so I took the ‘Audio Guide’ i.e. a pair of headphone and a playing device. It was pretty impressive and had detailed information with voice over, sound effect and expert point of view. One thing is very funny about this instrument; we need to pay 60 Rs for Hindi and 100 Rs for English, though it is very easy to change the language after hiring it. In the era of smart phone such a small device can’t act too smart with us.
Now let the images do the talking.
The Carvings of Khajuraho temples are among the finest temple art in the world. Legend says that the Khajuraho was founded by Chandravarman, the son of the moon god Chandra. The Chandela dynasty built the temples, many of which originally rose from a lake, and survived for five centauries before falling to Mughal assault. Most of the 85 Temples, of which some 25 are remains today, were built during AD 950 to AD 1050.
It is hard to think that why these marvel of architectures are build here in complete isolation? There is nothing of significant interest or beauty to recommend Khajuraho as a building site and also there is no big population so some big fort nearby. Whatever be the answer the truth is that this isolated location helped preserve it from the vandalism of Muslim invaders. Due to the threat of Afghan invaders, Chandela kings forsook Khajuraho for their forts. Also all the religious activities were abandoned so that this should be kept away from the eyes of invaders. With the passing time forest covered this entire region.
The rest of the world remained ignorant about these temples until a British officer T S Burt was guided to the ruins in 1838. He was surprised and shocked by what he saw at the architectural treasure house. He described the erotica as ‘a little warmer than there was any absolute necessity for’. I decided not to post the pictures here because we get visitors of all ages. But those of you who have been to Khajuraho will understand what the British officer was talking about.
I started at 12 and finished by 4 the group of western side of temples. Then I hired an auto for 200 Rs to cover the rest of the temples. Since there was no guide or guided audio tour, so I clicked images and finished all of them in another 3 hours. The eastern group consists of four temples scattered around the village and three Jain temples within a premise.
The Duladeo temple, Chaturbhuja temple and Bijamandala temple belongs to southern group of temple. These temples were built in last around 1100-50 AD.
Now it was time to attend the wedding function. Naogaon is some 120 km from Khajuraho. It was interesting to travel in rural Madhya Pradesh in crowded bus, which ply on fixed time and always run overcrowded. After attending the function around 12 in night I started return journey of another 100 km from there to stay at “Jungle camp Resort” which is next to entry gate of “Panna Tiger Reserve”. We reached at 3 in the night to the resort, slept with most of the cloth on because early morning at 6 it was time to hunt for the predators.