Khajuraho Dance Festival

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Khajuraho Dance Festival 2023 Dates : 20th February - 26th February

Entry Fee : No entry fee

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Khajuraho Dance Festival, Khajuraho Overview

The Khajuraho Dance Festival is an annual dance festival that celebrates the art of dance and the cultures behind the various dance forms. The festival is held at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Khajuraho for seven days during which essential faces in the world of traditional Indian dance forms come forth and honour the platform that allows them to express themselves. The magnificent Khajuraho Temples are lit up, and beautiful classical dances are performed against this backdrop. From Kuchipudi to Bharatnatyam, From Kathakali to Odissi, dancers from all over the world will enthral you with their performances.

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The History and Architecture of Khajuraho Temples

Khajuraho Temples

The Khajuraho World Heritage Site is a 10th century set of ancient temples that were built by the famous Rajput Chandela Dynasty. The 2000 years old temples in the Chhatarpur district are generally recognised due to their intricate carvings all over the walls that depict lifestyle and aspects of daily life as well as intimate scenes with sexual undertones. Khajuraho was previously a set of 85 temples which, over the years, crumbled or were destroyed. For a long time, Khajuraho was also called the “Lost City” due to this very disappearance of ancient temples. However, the temples were restored to their former glory, and today, 20 of these temples are in perfect condition to accept visitors.

Celebration of Different Dance Forms

The ancient civilisation of India is rooted in myriad dance forms, ranging from the foot tapping and sword fighting of Kathakali performances to the dramas of Kuchipudi and Manipuri. A short description of the distinct dances performed at Khajuraho Dance Festival would be as follows:

Mohiniattam: Originating in the southern state of Kerala, this classical Indian dance form is based on the Lasya style defined in Natya Shastra - a graceful, feminine, and solo dance performance acted out by the artist to the beat of the Carnatic music. It derives its name from the 'Mohini', a female avatar of Lord Vishnu who upholds the virtues of good over evil in the world.

Bharatanatyam: Possibly one of the oldest Indian classical dance styles, Bharatanatyam is performed solo, usually by a woman and is distinguishable by the signature bent leg position assumed during most of its steps. Developed in the state of Tamil Nadu, this style is based on quick footwork and elaborate hand, eye and facial gestures, coming together to narrate a story from Hindu religious texts.

Manipuri: This dance is named after its place of origin, i.e. the state of Manipur in northeastern India. Also known as Jagoi, the style is particularly known for portraying the theme of 'Ras Leela', dance dramas based on the love between Lord Krishna and Radha.

Odissi: The Odissi dance form was founded in the Hindu temples of Odisha, a state in eastern India. It is traditionally a dance-drama where the artist plays out an ancient Hindu text or religious poem in a mythical setting.

Kathakali: One of the most famous dance forms practised commonly in modern-day India is the Kathakali style, also known as Kathak style. With colourful make-up, head masks and embellished costumes, Kathak dance performances mostly enact Hindu folk mythologies. It also incorporates Indian martial arts movements in its steps.

Kuchipudi: This dance form is named after the village Kuchipudi where it originated in the South Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Like all other major dance forms mentioned above, it is rooted in the treatise of Natya Shastra and is most closely associated with religious art.

About Khajuraho Dance Festival

The Khajuraho Dance Festival is one of the reasons that the Khajuraho set of temples are incredibly popular, the other being the carvings on the walls of the temple. This festival is being celebrated since as early as 1975 and has always had the goal to retain Indian dance forms and make them more popular amongst the individuals. The festival is organised by the Kala Parishad which falls under the Madhya Pradesh Government, and the main festivities and performances are held in an open-air auditorium against the two main temples of Khajuraho- the Chitragupta and the Vishwanatha.

When visiting the Khajuraho site during the Dance Festival, individuals can be sure to witness several dance forms from all over India such as; Kathak, Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi, Manipuri, Raas Leela, Odissi and the famous Kathakali’s. These dance forms are ingrained in several different cultures and are in turn carriers of such cultures, but the one thing they all have in common is the mass display of human emotions in various styles. The dances touch the souls of viewers and captivate their attention in a way that leaves them in almost a trance, especially with the enhancement of the temples themselves.

Tips For Visiting Khajuraho Dance Festival

It would be advisable to hire a guide for understanding the history and symbolism of the carvings on Khajuraho temples.

Khajuraho Dance Festival Schedule

The Khajuraho Dance Festival is mainly held near the main temples of Chitragupta and Vishwanatha in Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh. The festival begins at 7:00 PM every day, for all seven days.

How To Reach Khajuraho Dance Festival

Khajuraho Temples are a major tourist attraction, which makes it well-connected with neighbouring cities through air, rail and road. It is possible to arrive by air at the Khajuraho domestic airport from Delhi, Agra, Varanasi as well as Kathmandu. From the airport, the Khajuraho temples are about 12 km. As for rail, the Khajuraho Railway Station is at a distance of 5 kilometres from the festival site. One can also choose to arrive by bus from nearby cities of Jhansi, Gwalior, Jabalpur, Indore, Agra or Allahabad. The attraction is situated a mere 10 km from the East-West National Highway 75.

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