All the temples of Khajuraho are built of a fine-grained
variety of sandstone, of varying shades of buff, pink or pale yellow,
brought from the quarries of Panna on the east bank of the Ken River, with
the exception of a few temples. Almost all the temples of Khajuraho
pertain to a cognate style and are manifestations of a distinctive and
concerted architectural movement, differing only in details of expression.
The temples belong to the Saiva, Vaishnava and Jain sects, but in spite of
divergent sectarian affiliations, the dominant architectural and
sculptural schemes are uniformly homogeneous.
The Khajuraho temples mark the culmination of the central Indian building-style and reveal certain distinctive peculiarities of plan and elevation. They are compact, lofty temples without any enclosure-wall and are erected on a high-platform-terrace (jagati), which elevates the structure from its environs and provides an open promenade and ambulatory round the temple.
Peculiarities of Khajuraho Temples
All the compartments of the temple are interconnected internally as well as externally and are planned in one axis, running east-west, and forming a compact unified 'mukha-mandapa', 'mandapa', 'antarala' and 'garbha-griha', are present in all temples. In the larger temples, however, lateral transepts with balconied windows are added to the 'mandapa', turning it into a 'maha-mandapa'.
The clustering together of subsidiary peaks to the main one not only lightens the weight of the stupendous pile but also accentuates the soaring effect and intensifies the vertical accent of the main 'sikhara'. The seemingly restless upward movement of the volumes and masses of the entire composition and the progressive ascent and descent of the superstructures converging to the highest pinnacle lend a peculiar vertical quality and rhythm to the Khajuraho temples.
The Khajuraho temple has pronouncedly individual features. The sanctum is 'saptaratha' on plan and in elevation, and the cubical portion below the 'sikhara' is divided into seven segments (saptanga-bada) showing two series of mouldings of the basement and three sculptured registers on the 'jangha', separated by two sets of 'bandhana'-mouldings. The principal lineaments of the elevation directly rise from the basically conform to those of the plan.
The numerous projections and recesses of the elevation, following rhythmically the indentations of the plan, produce an admirable contrast of light and shade, and all of them converge to the final unity of the 'sikhara', thus intensifying the plasticity and vertical aspiration of the monument. Rhythmic accentuation is the keynote of the Khajuraho temple, and this is further characterized by a harmonious integration of sculptures with architecture. With an enormous array of lovely sculptured forms ever present, the texture of the Khajuraho temple vibrates with a rare exuberance of human warmth, which is unparalleled in any other art.
The Khajuraho temple is unique in showing a 'saptaratha' sanctum with a 'saptanga-bada', which marks the highest development of Indian architectural design.