Idolising Sex: Sex Temples of India

The ancient Indian architecture is a testimony to a diverse and vibrant culture. Some of the historic places of worship embrace the holistic way of life, exuding spirituality as well as passion. The onlookers are left speechless with the erotic imagery in the sculptures of these Indian temples. These buildings might be centuries old, but they curate a life-style that is liberal and far more progressive than society admits. Historians claim that these temples intended to inspire people to experience their desires before embarking on a spiritual journey. Take a trip to these fascinating and unabashed temples where love is artistic, graphic, and likely educational. 

1. Khajuraho Temples, Madhya Pradesh

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The word 'Khajuraho' is a derivative of 'Khajur', symbolizing the date palm trees which once surrounded the temples' complex. Some believe that the name mischievously refers to male sexual desire. The group of 25 temples at Khajuraho are about a thousand years old. It is believed that the temple construction took 300 to 400 years. The temples are dedicated to popular Hindu gods, Shiva, Vishnu, and Ganesha, and there are a few Jain temples as well. Men and women are depicted in the sculptures on the temple walls with beautiful features and curvy bodies and engaged in seduction and pleasure and placing polyandry, polygamy, bisexuality and homosexuality all at the same pedestal. UNESCO has recognized this as a world heritage site. The government organizes a light and sound show in the evening introducing tourists to the temple's detailed history.
Location: Chhatarpur District, Madhya Pradesh (175 km east of Jhansi)
Entry Fee: INR 40
Timing: 8 am to 6 pm

2. Sun Temple, Konark, Orissa

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The relics from the temples at Konark are dedicated to the Sun god and have survived since the 13th century. Intricately carved, explicit stone sculptures portraying the human anatomy in detail adorn the temple walls. Some sculptures from the temple are preserved in the Archaeological Museum. The Sun temple at Konark is built as a 100 ft high chariot with twelve pairs of wheels symbolizing the twelve months. Each wheel is a sundial and accurately reads time observations.
Location:  Konark District, Orissa (36 km north-east of Puri)
Entry Fee: INR 40
Timing: 10 am to 5 pm

3. Virupaksha Temple, Hampi, Karnataka

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The Virupaksha temple in Hampi is open to pilgrims visiting for worshipping Lord Virupaksha, a form of Lord Shiva. The facade of the temple is profusely adorned with sculptures of couples in amorous poses. The Ranga Mandap is a part of the temple complex and has beautiful colorful frescos. Situated by the Tungabhadra river, the temple complex is surrounded by ruins, caves and boulders. With about 1600 monuments and reminiscent of three ancient Indian dynasties, UNESCO has declared the group of Hampi temples as a World Heritage Site.
Location: Hampi, Bellary District, Karnataka (376 km from Bangalore)
Entry Fee: Free
Timing: Sunrise to Sunset

4. Jain Temples, Ranakpur, Rajasthan

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The main temple dedicated to Jain god Rishabhdev is a spectacular three-story monument made of marble and one of the most important pilgrimages of followers of Jainism. The magnificence of the temple is in its 1444 marble pillars, each with a unique carving and designed such that it is impossible to count them. The walls of the main temple and other temples are carved with sensuous sculptures of dancing nymphs. The temple is accessible for worship in the morning and open for tourists in the later in the day.
Location: Ranakpur, Pali District, Rajasthan
Entry Fee: Free
Timing: 12.00 pm to 5.00 pm

5. Sun Temple, Modhera, Gujarat

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The Sun Temple in Modhera is a protected monument conserved by the Archaeological Survey of India. Besides the main shrine, the temple complex houses an assembly hall, a reservoir and a stepwell. Sculptures of Hindu gods and goddesses, as well as erotic figures, are laid out from wall to wall.
Location: Modhera village, Mehsana District, Gujarat
Entry Fee: INR 20
Timing: 6.00 am to 6.00 pm

6. Sathyamurthi Perumal Temple, Tamil Nadu

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Dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi, the Satyamurthy Temple is built in the Dravidian style construction, with a gigantic fort enclosing the temple. The chief idol is 7 feet tall, and it is situated inside a cave shrine. Daily rituals are observed at the temple. Protected and maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India, the temple sanctifies acts of copulation in surprising detail.
Location: Pudukottai District, Tamil Nadu
Entry Fee: INR 20
Timing: 8 am to 6 pm

7. Lingaraj Temple, Bhubaneshwar, Orissa

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Among the grandest and oldest temples built by the Kalinga dynasty, the Lingaraj Temple stands out with its 180 feet high central spire dedicated to Lord Shiva and about 150 minor shrines. The sculptures adorning this temple are said to have been inspired by Kamasutra, the world's original guide on sex. Non-Hindus are not allowed to enter the temple. 
Location: Lingaraj Nagar, Old Town, Bhubaneswar, Odisha
Entry Fee: Free
Timing: 5.00 am to 9.00 pm
These temples with erotic art are eminent because of the recognition from UNESCO and the Archaeological Survey of India. There are several other temples in India that have graphic and explicit representations of indulgence. Researchers believe that this imagery was influenced by tantric beliefs prevalent in ancient India, while others defend that these depictions were believed to lead people to spirituality. Theories aside, these temples are of historical significance and continue to draw millions of spectators irrespective of their ideologies.

This post was published by Mukta Manshi

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