The exquisite intricacy of the temples themselves – of which the most spectacular are Kandariya Mahadeva, Vishvanatha and Lakshmana, all in the conglomeration known as the western group – was made possible by the soft fawn-coloured sandstone used in their construction. Considering the propensity of such stone to crumble, they have withstood the ravages of time remarkably well. Much of the ornate sculpture adorning their walls is in such high relief as to be virtually three-dimensional, with strains of pink in the stone helping to imbue the figures with flesh-like tones. The incredible skill of the artisans is evident throughout, with friezes as little as 10cm wide crammed with naturalistic details of ornaments, jewellery, hairstyles and even manicured nails. To add to the beauty of the whole ensemble, the temples subtly change hue as the day progresses, passing from a warm pink at sunrise to white at midday and back to pink at sunset. Dramatic floodlights pick them out in the evening, and they glow white when the moon is out.

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