The Jain Atishaya Kshetra at Khajuraho in the district of Chatarpur MP is one of the famous places of pilgrimage of the Jains. Khajuraho has been recognised by UNESCO as a world heritage on account of its beautiful temples. It is one of the most important tourist centres of India. In the medieval period from the 9th to the 13th century AD Khajuraho was known as the religious capital of the mighty Chandellas who were the royal Rajput clan of Central India who were known for their love of sculptures. The Khajuraho temples are divided into three main groups-Western, Eastern and Northern. The Eastern group consists of the Jain temples. There 34 Jain temples with the temples of Parshvanath, Adinatha and Shantinath being more important and noteworthy from the architectural point of view.
Main Temple and Idol
The main temple is the Shri 1008 Lord Shantinath temple with a 4 feet colossus in standing posture of Shantinath who was the 16th Tirthankar. According to the inscription on it, it was installed in 1028 AD. The temple contains a number of images of Tirthankars namely Parshvanath, Rishabhdev, Chandraprabhu along with the rare sculptures of the parents of the Tirthankar. The temple also contains a picture gallery which exhibits photos of prominent Jain monuments of India in a chronological manner.
Legend behind the Main Idol
It is said that invaders came and began to break the little finger of the Shantinath idol using a hammer but miraculously milk began to flow from it and at the same time honey bees attacked the invaders and drove them away. This miracle strengthened the faith and devotees who came to pray in this sacred place and they realised the power and glory of this holy place sanctified by the Divine Masters.
The second Parshvanath temple contains some excellent sculptures and art pieces. The temple is of ‘Panchayatan’ type in Nagar Style ie it has got five organs Ardha Mandap, Mandap, Maha Mandap, Antaral and Garbhagriha.
The third temple is the Adinatha temple located to the right of the Parshvanath temple and it has a small but beautiful shrine. Its simple and well ornamented Shikhar(spire) and its three bands of sculptures on its semi circular outer wall containing celestial figures of Gandharvas, Yakshas, Kinnaras and Apsaras are truly beautiful. There are carvings of the figures of Gomukh the attendant Yaksha of Lord Rishabhdeva. There are rare sculptures of the sixteen Vidyadevis or goddesses along with their Vahanas(vehicles) and Ayudhas(weapons) with the necessary Parikar(background).
Besides these, there are many other Jain temples with beautiful idols and architecture.
How To Reach
By Road- From Satna, Mahoba, Jhansi, buses are available for Khajuraho.
By Train- Jhansi 172 KM (For Delhi-Chennai Trains), Satna 117 KM (For Mumbai-Kolkata Trains) Mahoba 60 KM (For Delhi-Chennai Trains)
The Udaipur-Gwalior Express has been extended to Khajuraho, in Chhatarpur district in Madhya Pradesh. Passengers can board the train from Agra Cantonment station around 11 a.m. and reach Khajuraho in the evening.
By Air- Flights are available from Delhi, Agra, Mumbai and Varanasi.
There are Rest Houses or Dharmashalas like Pahil Niketan which has 3 normal rooms, 14 rooms with attached bath and 2 Halls with mess facility. There is another Rest House having 8 normal rooms, 7 rooms with attached bath and One Big Hall. The Shantinath Dharmashala contains 11 rooms and food is free for Jains in the mess or bhojanshala.
All required items like utensils, bed, tent etc. are available in all the rest houses. A large no. of Guest Houses and 1 to 5 star hotels are also available here.
The Khajuraho Jain temples are famous places of pilgrimage as the sacredness and sublimity of the place help pilgrims to develop their faith and devotion and move forward on their onward journey to self realisation and enlightenment.