The Sights and Sounds of Khajuraho Dance Festival

People & Culture

The Sights and Sounds of Khajuraho Dance Festival

If a time warp can transport us to any era in the universe, I would love to be witness to the sound of a hammer and chisel on stone by medieval sculptors, carving and displaying the erotica of yore at the world famous temples in Khajuraho. Fortunately for us, in present day it is possible to be witness to the exotic sights and sounds of an annual event that takes place within these magnificent temple walls – the Khajuraho Dance Festival.

Khajuraho, India is nestled in the state of Madhya Pradesh and is globally acclaimed for some of the most beautiful temples on the planet. This tourist destination is one of great archaeological relevance, as the temples were built by Chandela rulers during the medieval period. The Khajuraho temples truly epitomize Indian architectural design.

Khajuraho Temple
Khajuraho Temple

The sculptures represented at Khajuraho include the cult images, Parivara Devatas (Family Deities), Apsaras or Sura-Sundaris. Secular and animal sculptures can be seen at Kandariya Madadeva temple which displays tall and slender figures with distinctive physiognomy. The erotic figures here have given us the finest sculptural compositions, offered in abundance with rare sensitivity and warmth of fluidic emotions. The most important temples at Khajuraho include Lakshman Vishwanatha, Kandariya Mahadeva, Jagadambi, Chitragupta, Dulhadeo, Parshavanatha, Adinatha, Vaman, Javari and Chaturbhuja.

For someone who is intrigued by and besotted with Indian classical dance, Khajuraho Dance Festival will unarguably satiate all their desired feel and craving. Internationally famed, the Khajuraho Dance Festival is recognized by dancers and dance academies all over the world. Held as one of the most famous cultural events in the country, the Khajuraho Dance Festival will grab the attention of every person visiting India in the month of February.

Showcased by its exponents, this dance festival is organized by the cultural department (Kala Parishad) under the Madhya Pradesh government, and its sole aim is to preserve and promote Indian culture and heritage. The talented dancers showcase their dancing skills amidst enchanting sounds and scintillating lights. Some of the best artists from different parts of India are invited to perform, while the festival also provides a platform for young, up and coming dancers.

The numerous dance forms showcased during the Khajuraho festival include Kathak, Kuchipudi, Odissi, Bharatnatyam, Manipuri and Mohiniattam – all evoking the beauty of human emotion. In 2002 the festival took a step forward and created a fusion of varied Indian attire, dance steps, and tunes.

Drumming to the beat
Drumming to the beat

Performances are held at the two most popular temples in Khajuraho – Chitragupta and Vishwanatha. As dusk paves its path for the approaching night, the lamps in the surrounding temples emit a golden radiance, creating a perfect ambiance to enjoy this annual dance festival. The wavy strains of flute notes coupled with the fantasy of Mrindangam (an Indian percussion instrument) and the hypnotic Tabla, create multiplicity of rhythms, further reverberated by the Ghungroos tied to the soft murmuring feet of these dancers.

In addition to the dance performances, arts and crafts are exhibited, displaying the indigenous art work crafted by the locals. This proves to be a major platform for showcasing talent as well as generating revenue for these local families.

In 2015, Khajuraho Dance Festival is scheduled from February 20-26. One can directly reach Khajuraho by air from major Indian cities like Delhi, Agra, or Varanasi, as well as from Kathmandu in Nepal. Furthermore, Khajuraho has good rail connectivity with nearest railway stations being at Mahoba and Harpalpur.