India,

Khajuraho and Varanassi

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re now in Orcha roughly on the border of Madya and Uttar Pradesh.

 

On the left is a shrine to Hanuman, the monkey god, a much loved Hindu deity worshipped for his miraculous powers and his courage. He plays a big role in the Ramayana epic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cenotaphs (memorial buildings) of Orcha rulers. Their queens sometimes jumped into their husband’s funeral pyres.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The same Hanuman shrine as above with a local sage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Washing in the Betwa river with the cenotaphs in the background.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lunch

 

 

 

 

We traveled to Khajuraho, a UNESCO world heritage site. The temples (above, to the right, and below) were built in the 9th and 10th centuries. They are remarkable for their grand dimensions and exquisite sculptural embellishments depicting gods, beasts, warriors, sensuous maidens, dancers, musicians, and the erotic scenes for which the Khajuraho temples are famous.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Khajuraho temples.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A good telephoto lens helps to see the details of the sculptures (see details in the pictures below).

 

 

 

 

 

 

An apsara (dancer) putting on bell-anklets before a dance performance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The erotic sculptures are variously believed to celebrate the marriage of Shiva and Parvati, serve as a love manual, or simply express an exuberant celebration of life and creation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not everything is erotic. There are some magnificent Buddha images like the one on the right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another Buddha image.

 

 

We let you figure out what’s going on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a famous sculpture of an apsara removing a thorn from her foot with a thorn. Using the alike to confront a problem is a common theme in Buddhist traditions (a frequently used approach to achieve non-duality in the Mahayana tradition).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Larger view of panel with details below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Details from above.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quite a party.

 

 

 

 

 

Not even the animals were safe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quite some acrobatics. Notice how everyone takes care of everybody else.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More acrobatics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The scorpion on the lady’s leg is a symbol to indicate she is aroused.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are two males having fun with each other.

 

 

 

 

 

We’re now in Varanassi (Benares), the holy city on the Ganges river.

From a small boat, we watched a religious ceremony on the banks of the Ganges at night. While it seemed somewhat staged (handsome priests in matching outfits) the vast majority of the people present were Indian faithful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunrise on the Ganges river bank.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ganges is famous for worshippers immersing themselves into its waters. Every Hindu is supposed to come here during their lifetimes. They take some water home so it can be put in their mouth when they die.

 

 

 

 

 

Floating down the Ganges in a boat, we found this person deeply engrossed in prayers and meditation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are steps (ghats) everywhere to provide access to the holy Ganges.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is an area for the funeral pyres.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cremation site on the Ganges.