ASI Museum Khajuraho

General Introduction of Archaeological Museum, Khajuraho

Khajuraho is identified as treasure house of both Brahminical and Jaina sculpture as in avarana (manifested) on temple wall and loose sculpture displayed in present archaeological museum along with a large quantity kept in reserve collection. After long year’s of belief, knowledge and thoughts, the Khajuraho groups of monuments have taken into shape as north Indian concept of art and architecture, in great details. Khajuraho was a part of erstwhile Chhatarpur state and was included in the Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh. Geologically the area forms part of Bundelkhand with Ken or Karnavati river at the east. The tributaries of the Ken have cut deep gorges through Vindhyan mountain of sand stones. These stones are fine grained hence prove to be good building material and the colour of the stone varies from pale buff to light red and are the ones used in Khajuraho temples.

Cogent evidence show that the region was part of the Vatsa kingdom in janapada time and then came under Mauryan supremacy. However, prior to the Chandella the region has witnessed the rule of the Kushanas, Nagas, Vakatakas, Imperial Guptas and the Pratiharas whereas in early Medieval records the region is described as Jajabhukti or Jejakbhukti besides is derivative and variants. As per tradition and the records, the origin of Chandella trace back to the lunar dynasty, in this connection the earliest inscription of the dynasty, the Khajuraho stone inscription of Dhanga of AD 954, gives the name of the family as Candratreya. The temple architecture of Khajuraho is usually regarded as manifestation the religious capital of Chandellas. Apart from the Dhanga inscription, the later records referred that Nannuka was first historical king of Chandella dynasty. Dhanga extended the Chandella territories from Bhilsa to Gwalior and from Banaras to the Narmada and included a major part of central India. He was not only a great king and conqueror but also a great patron of art and architecture. He was succeeded by his son Vakpati. As in evident from another inscription, Vakpati does not seen to have made any great achievements, his two son Jayasakti and Vijayasakti are mentioned as feudatory chieftains. However Vijaysakti’s son and successor Rahil ruled for a short period. At Ajaygarh, temple bears a stone inscription with his name and an old tank also associated with his name.

Among early member of the Chandella, king Harsha have the same pace of progress, the construction of Matangeswar temple is ascribed. Yosovarman, as well as Lakshmanvarman, laid the foundations of the greatness of the family. The occupation of Kalinjar fort was a significant achievement of Yosovarman who was destined to figure prominently in the later history of the dynasty. King Vidyadhar was a great patron of art and built Kandariya Mahadev temple which is one of the most splendid temples at Khajuraho. Kirtivarman further glorifies the existence of the Chandella. Kirtivarman was not only a great warrior but also a great patron of art and literature. “Prabhodhachandrodaya” a philosophical drama was composed under his patronage. The religious capital Khajuraho, has witnessed a number of stone temples and stand as religious institution for long time as described by the foreign traveller in their travel account. The most important aspect of the temples at Khajuraho is the abundance of sculptures that decorate the exterior facade and also the inner shrines. Though, the sculptures are early Medieval, the art is based on the classical traditions. After the British engineer, T.S. Burt, in 1838, who was credited for the rediscovery of Khajuraho, and the detailed first hand study confined in between 1852 to 1885 by the then Director General Alexander Cunningham. In continuation a number of pioneer research work were done by reputed scholar and they associate the Khajuraho nomenclature with golden Khajuraho trees or scorpion (Khajuraho) on celestial nymph’s thigh. However, with the keen interest and initiative of W.E. Jardine, the then political agent of Bundelkhand, the loose sculpture and cultural edifices were collected from the ruined temples and preserved in an enclosure wall. These thoughtful collections had laid the foundation of museum in the year 1910 and then known as Jardine museum.

Continuation to the process, to fulfill the visitor needs the present museum was conceptualized in the year 1952 and came into existence near the market complex, and is open for the general visitor so that they can view some of the best antiquities of the former Jardine Museum.