Kandariya Mahadeva – A Marvel of Divine Grandeur in the Khajuraho Temple Complex, Madhya Pradesh

Spread India's Glorious Cultural & Spiritual Heritage


Welcome to the mesmerizing world of Khajuraho, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the heart of Madhya Pradesh, India. Among the numerous temples that adorn this sacred complex, one stands out in its sheer brilliance and artistic finesse – the Kandariya Mahadeva. In this blog post, we will take you on a virtual tour of this captivating temple and explore its historical significance, architectural marvels, and religious symbolism.

A Glimpse of Khajuraho Temple Complex

Khajuraho, situated in the Bundelkhand region, is renowned for its group of magnificent temples, which were built during the Chandela dynasty’s reign between the 9th and 12th centuries. These temples represent a seamless blend of Hindu and Jain religious architecture, showcasing an astounding level of craftsmanship and devotion to divinity.

The Kandariya Mahadeva Temple

Among the twenty-two surviving temples, the Kandariya Mahadeva stands proudly as the largest and most elaborately adorned structure. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, it was constructed around 1025-1050 AD by King Vidyadhara, the son of King Dhanga. The temple’s name itself is derived from the Sanskrit words “Kandara” (cave) and “Mahadeva” (Great God), reflecting its deep spiritual significance.

Architectural Marvels

The Kandariya Mahadeva Temple is an epitome of Nagara-style architecture, characterized by its lofty shikhara (spire) and intricate carvings. The temple stands on a high platform and features a sanctum sanctorum (garbhagriha), a mandapa (assembly hall), and an ardhamandapa (vestibule). The entire structure is made from sandstone, which served as a perfect canvas for the skilled artisans to carve their intricate designs.

The temple’s main spire, rising over 30 meters, is adorned with over 800 sculptures that depict various aspects of Hindu mythology, including gods, goddesses, celestial beings, and erotic art. These intricately chiseled figures showcase the ancient Indian belief in celebrating life and embracing human desires as a path to spiritual enlightenment.

Religious Symbolism

The Kandariya Mahadeva Temple’s architectural layout is a symbolic representation of Mount Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva, and is designed to facilitate the devotees’ spiritual journey. The temple’s entrance, adorned with awe-inspiring figures, symbolizes the gateway to heaven or divinity. As visitors progress through the complex, they move closer to the sanctum, representing the journey towards spiritual enlightenment and closeness to the divine.

The outer walls of the temple are embellished with elaborate carvings depicting the life of Lord Shiva, scenes from the Mahabharata, Ramayana, and various aspects of daily life during the Chandela era. These intricate sculptures serve not only as artistic masterpieces but also as a medium to impart religious and moral teachings to the devotees.

Preservation Efforts and Cultural Heritage

Over the centuries, the Khajuraho temple complex faced the ravages of time, invasion, and neglect. Yet, the surviving temples, especially the Kandariya Mahadeva, have managed to retain their architectural splendor, thanks to meticulous restoration efforts and their UNESCO World Heritage Site status.

Today, visitors from around the world are drawn to the Khajuraho temples, especially the Kandariya Mahadeva, to witness a testament of India’s rich cultural heritage, architectural prowess, and spiritual depth.

A Marvel of Ancient Art and Mythology in Khajuraho

The Kandariya Mahadeva Temple is indeed a significant and stunning temple located in the Khajuraho temple complex in Madhya Pradesh, India. Khajuraho is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its group of Hindu and Jain temples, which were built during the Chandela dynasty between the 10th and 12th centuries.

Kandariya Mahadeva is the largest and most ornate temple among the surviving temples in Khajuraho. It was constructed during the reign of King Vidyadhara, around 1025-1050 AD. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and showcases exemplary architecture and intricate stone carvings that depict various aspects of Hindu mythology, life, and culture of that era.

The temple’s main shrine houses a beautifully carved lingam (an abstract representation of Lord Shiva) and is surrounded by a sanctum and an ardhamandapa (anteroom). The outer walls of the temple are adorned with an astounding array of sculptures, and it is believed that there are around 900 sculptures inside and outside the temple.

The sculptures at Kandariya Mahadeva Temple cover a wide range of themes and subjects, including gods, goddesses, celestial beings, apsaras (heavenly dancers), musicians, animals, and erotic figures. The temple is famous for its sensuous and intricate depiction of human emotions and relationships, which have contributed to its reputation as an embodiment of love and passion.

Among the notable carvings, are the images of a dancing Chamunda, who is a fierce form of the Goddess Devi, and the images of Birabhadra, who is an incarnation of Lord Shiva. The detailed craftsmanship and the artistic expression of these sculptures are truly remarkable and have captivated visitors and art enthusiasts from around the world.

The Khajuraho temples, including Kandariya Mahadeva, remain significant not only for their architectural splendor but also for the insight they offer into the rich cultural and religious heritage of ancient India. The site continues to be a popular tourist destination, attracting travelers interested in history, art, and spirituality.


The Kandariya Mahadeva Temple in the Khajuraho temple complex stands as an awe-inspiring testament to the artistic brilliance and religious devotion of ancient India. Its intricate carvings, architectural grandeur, and religious symbolism make it a must-visit destination for anyone seeking to unravel the mysteries of India’s glorious past. As we marvel at the exquisite craftsmanship, let us also take a moment to appreciate the efforts made to preserve these cultural gems for future generations to cherish and admire. Plan your journey to Khajuraho and immerse yourself in the divine splendor of the Kandariya Mahadeva Temple – a true wonder of the world!

Spread India's Glorious Cultural & Spiritual Heritage

By Mala Chandrashekhar

Introducing Blogger Mala Chandrashekhar - a specialist academically trained in modern Western sciences, yet deeply enamored with India's timeless ethnic arts, crafts, and textiles. Her heart beats for the rich and glorious cultural and spiritual heritage of India, and she has dedicated her entire blog to spreading the immortal glories of ancient India worldwide. Through her simple yet impactful blog posts, Mala aims to reach every nook and corner of the globe, sharing India's beauty and wisdom with the world.

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