Khajuraho is among the most popular destinations in India. In fact, of 11 million foreign arrivals in India in 2015, 4% or nearly 450,000 people visited Khajuraho. The site is second only to the Taj Mahal among the "single monument" destinations in the country. Aside from the obvious reasons, Khajuraho;s popularity also rests upon the aesthetics of its sculpture and architecture.
The emergence of Shiva as the potent symbol of adventure, phallic vitality and supernatural power, sanctioned by many of the magical cults, like those of the Kaulas and Kapalikas, brought Shakti as his counterpart. And, while the Brahminical Yoga worship was accepted on top, the salvation through Bhoga, eating, drinking and sex union, began to flourish openly, in spite of the Brahminical taboos.
The emphasis on human impulse, which had appeared in the terracotta plaques of the temple at Bhitargaon, made the sensuous appeal of the Mithuna couples an essential part of iconography. Thus in the confusion of wills of kings and queens, of rights and peoples, of races and religions, the court styles and the primitivist energies, there emerged a new flowering of the life force in the temples of the entire continent. Except for Brahma, the Vedic deities gave place to a new polytheism. The building of the eighty-four temples of Khajuraho, in the reign of Chandela kings, thus suddenly confronts us with the acknowledgement of Vatsyayana’s gospel of the happy life in fulfilled sex. The surviving structures show that sculpture and architec- ture had become one. And surely Khajuraho is the greatest expression of the all absorb- ing love between the male and the female of our civilization. Some of the panels in the Kandariya Mahadeva, Lakshmana and Vishwanatha temples, have also become part of the repertory of the most sensitively chiselled world sculpture. The images of union here are, of course, symbolic. This is quite obvious if you take a look at the images, which are available via SpiritualGateway.org
But the new mythologies are not mere fancies. They express the body-soul of men and women in the endless moods of the lila of love, in a fresh ritual of nature, inspired by the ceremonies of union, affected by the prevailing Tantric this-worldly faith in sex as the ultimate ecstasy. Apart from the whole conception of each temple, as representing the ethos of phallic power, the various creative energies became images in fluid moods, wrought as finely as the imaginative skill of the artisans can make stone fluid. There are the young girls involved in the Sringar, decoration, of their bodies. One has just come out of the bath and is rinsing her hair. Another looking in the mirror. Still another is going towards her lover. Only highly inspired masters, who knew the Kama Sutra traditions, could have rendered the subtle feelings of anticipation. And one feels admiration for them, in the words of the poet Yeats for 'giving women dreams, and dreams their looking glass.’
Then there are the trysting couples, involved in loving embraces. In one panel, the man bends down his head with the utmost tenderness over the face of the beloved, while she looks up with a grace that could only permeate bodies imbued with the warmth of love. In yet another panel, the coition is taking place, the bodies coalescing into each other in subtle curves, insinuating into caresses, with the delight of all the senses. In yet another panel, there is a group in which the central male figure is cohabiting with two women, while the male companions are also involved in the orgy with women companions.