The Prime Shiva Temple
The first of the temples on the general platform at the back of the western enclosure is not only the biggest, it is also creatively and architecturally the most great. Built 1025-50, it represents Chandela art at its premium. Although the four subsidiary shrines that once stood around the main temple are long gone, the central shrine is in superb condition and shows the typical five-part design of Khajuraho temples.
The main spire is 31m high, and the temple is lavishly carved. The English archaeologist Cunningham counted 226 statues inside the temple and a further 646 outside - 872 in total with most of them nearly 1m high. The statues are carved around the temple in three bands and include gods, goddesses, beautiful women, musicians and, of course, some of the famed erotic groups. The mithuna on the Kandariya Mahadev include some of the most energetic eroticism to be seen at Khajuraho. -ornamented pile, some what restless in movement but integrated in theme and design.
Images in Stone
The Kandariya Mahadeva is the only temple of Khajuraho where the platform shows projections on the lateral sides and the rear, corresponding to the projections of the transepts. Again, of all festooned moldings, which include two rows of processional friezes teeming with elephants and horses, warriors and hunters, acrobats and musicians, dancers and devotees, and mixed scenes including erotic couples.
The biggest number of sculptures of alluring loveliness appear on the three bands of its wall and represent an animated array of gods and goddesses, 'mithunas' (couples) and 'sura-sundaris' (nymphs) on projections and mythical lions in recesses. The interior of the Kandariya Temple is largely similar in design to that of the developed local temples, but is more spacious and stunning and is replete with a lavish wealth of carvings and sculptures. It is the only local temple, which has preserved two stylishly designed 'toranas' (festooned arches) both of delicate design, in the interior.
The sculptures on this temple are conspicuously slight and taller and show the richest variety of the nymphs in lively and often sadistically agitated postures. Exhibiting mastery in the rendering of female contours and revealing a peak of conscious sophistication and exuberant grace, these sculptures stand for the uppermost watermark of the characteristic art diction of Khajuraho.
The Historical Temple Sculptures
The temple stairs lead to a platform decorated with rich sculpted figures of women in a variety of poses. There are women playing with a ball, some engaged in writing a letter, others applying make-up and absorbed in a multitude of other activities. On the southern and northern sides, between the balconies are the large-scale erotic panels. In fact the mithuna (sensuously carved erotic figures) on the Kandariya Mahadev include some of the most energetic eroticism to be seen at Khajuraho.
Below the bands of the main body of the temple are smaller, narrower friezes depicting court life, the army, and processions of elephants and horses. This Khajuraho temple is can be approached by the eastern stairway that has the most fantastically ornate toran (frieze) of the entire group of temples. The floral toran is carved out of a single block of stone.