Sharing a common platform with other temples in the western corner of the enclosure, the majestic Kandariya Mahadeva temple, built between 1025 and 1050 AD, is the largest and most imposing of the western group. A perfect consummation of the five-part design instigated in Lakshmana and Vishvanatha, this Shiva temple represents the pinnacle of Chandellan art, its ornate roofs soaring dramatically to culminate 31m above the base in a shikhara consisting of 84 smaller replicas.

Kandariya Mahadeva is especially popular with visitors for the extraordinarily energetic and provocative erotica that ornaments its three tiers, covering almost every facet of the exterior. Admiring crowds can always be found in front of a particularly fine image of a couple locked in mithuna (sexual intercourse) with a maiden assisting on either side. One of Khajuraho’s most familiar motifs, it seems to defy nature, with the male figure suspended upside down on his head; only when considered as if from above do the sinuous intertwined limbs begin to make sense.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

India features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

13 tips for backpacking India

13 tips for backpacking India

Whether you’re hurtling along in a rickshaw, eating fantastic curries, kicking back on the backwaters or hiking in the mountains, backpacking India will alwa…

15 Aug 2017 • Helen Abramson insert_drive_file Article
Video: a 2 minute guide to India

Video: a 2 minute guide to India

India has been captivating travellers for centuries – and it continues to enchant to this day. It's a country that has it all: rainforest, desert, pretty beac…

20 Jul 2017 • Colt St. George videocam Video
Living the past: the ancient professions of Old Delhi

Living the past: the ancient professions of Old Delhi

Modernity is seeping into Old Delhi, a walled district that has long harboured the Indian capital’s traditional ways of life. But what does this mean for long…

13 Jun 2017 • Jack Palfrey local_activity Special feature
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month