Please forgive my juvenile tendencies.
I remember watching a slide show at my aunt's house, in Hamilton, when I was in university. My dad's sister Liz and her husband David had just returned from a months long vacation to India, and so after dinner we all made out way down to the cramped little basement to share in their many adventures. David proceeded to spin a dazzling tale of the history of the subcontinent, with pictures of all sorts of wonders: rare and endangered animals; bright vibrant colours that are the lifeblood of the country; ancient temples buried deep in forgotten jungles. It was all fascinating, I'm sure, but of all the pictures, of all territory they covered in that 30 minute talk, the only thing I remember are the sex temples.
Halfway through the slide show, we arrived at Khajuraho, and we were shown shot after shot of erotic scene, great sandstone blocks covered with lovemaking rendered in the most candid detail. The room was energised; David had our full attention.
Needless to say, as soon as we decided to come to India, I made a pact with myself that I would not leave before visiting the sex temples. I, too, wanted to experience the magic of the site. I, too, wanted to be able to capture the majesty and awe of those ancient temples with the same talent and creative vision that David had, to share the experience with my friends at home, to spur them to travel to distant and foreign lands, to push the boundaries of their small, safe worlds. Today, my dream came true. Today, I got to wander around and stare openly and unabashedly at frieze after frieze of naked, writhing bodies, engaged in very energetic, and often astonishing, acts of love. It was, to quote the government's tourism slogan, Incredible !ndia.
The temples were amazing, and worth ogling even without the XXX rating. Made completely of sandstone, they got lost in the confusion of India's ancient history, and managed to escape destruction by the myriad conquering armies that moved back and forth across the country in the intervening 800 years between their abandonment and "rediscovery" by a morally offended British officer in the mid 18th century. The facades on all sides of the temples were covered with intricate carving of all shapes and sizes: patterns, animals, people - swirls of detail assaulting your eyes, competing for their attention. Remarkably preserved, we spent hours roving up and down the temple sides with our eyes, focussing on image after image, scene after scene. There was lots of sex, sure, but it was far from the only visual delight. Scenes of battle, music, and dance told stories that travelled around the exteriors in thin strips of history, displaying an era much different from today.
All the figures were incredibly beautiful, with big, almond eyes, and smooth, perfect figures. No one wore anything but jewellery, and the women were irresistible. Cast in seductive, sultry poses, their bodies had more curves than a mountain road, and their breasts were inflated like balloons, big enough to rival any modern porn star. In a time before silicone, I admired the sculptor's imagination. It was strange, but both Abby and I wondered how an obviously distorted stone figurine could seem sexier than a woman ever could in real life. The men, too, were beautiful, and the statues were completely mesmerizing.
The irony of the situation was hilarious. In a country where movie stars get detained by immigration officals and harassed for having given a film peck in public, dozens of couples roamed the grounds and stared for hours at scene after scene of vivid lovemaking. There was no hesitation, no red-cheeked glances over shoulders, no fear of being "caught". People were here to look at sex, and so look at sex they did. The herds of young, undersexed Indian men giggling like schoolgirls completed the picture.
All in all, it was a truly wondrous day. However, it did leave some unanswered questions. First and foremost, with so much sex on everyone's mind, how many children are conceived in the "lovemaking capital of the world"? And as a corollary, how often do they REALLY change the sheets at our budget guesthouse? Perhaps requesting fresh sheets wouldn't be such a terrible idea. Most importantly, how did they manage to contort themselves into some of those absolutely intriguing positions? Some research is definitely in order...
One of the temples. I forget what it was called. I, uh, didn't really read the sign.
An example of the detail. These figures are all ~1 m tall, and this type of intricate work covers all the temples.
Ganesh, one of the deities to whom the temples were devoted.
One of many orgies we witnessed throughout the course of the day.
Interesting...very...interesting. Note the woman in the back "I can't bear to watch. Oh my god, I can't look. No, please no, tell me it isn't happening. There's no place like home, there's no place like home, there's no place like home..."