The Khajuraho Group of Monuments, located in the small village of modern Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh, was built by the Chandela Dynasty between 950 and 1050 AD. This UNESCO site is renowned for its Nagara-style architecture and sculptures of nayikas and deities from Hindu mythology. The town’s name derives from the abundance of khajur, or date palms, in the region.
The Khajuraho Group of Monuments showcases the peak of temple architectural development in northern India, with each temple constructed in sandstone. To protect the temples in their landscape setting, each cluster (western, eastern, and southern) is fenced to delineate the protected limits. This prevents the overflow of settlements, which were once a part of the Chandella Empire.
Falling under the Eastern group of Khajuraho temples, the Javari temple is considered one of the most significant structures on the site. Built between 1075 and 1100, Javari Temple stands on a high plinth and has a raised Shikhara. Its delicately carved Makara Thoranam arch is a fine example of the stone carving skills of the people of that era. The name Javari is derived from the one-time owner of the land, or so it is assumed, for there is no Hindu deity bearing this title.
Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the Javari Temple is quite popular amongst tourists coming to visit Khajuraho. The temple is constructed between 1075 and 1100 CE and displays the ancient Khajuraho architecture.
Architecturally, it is a small yet beautiful temple that comprises a sanctum, mandapa, portico and vestibule. The temple consists of an extended porch entered through a nice stone toran. The Makara Thoranam has four decorated loops crowned by a kirtimukha. The mandapa is small, as is the Garbhagriha. The dainty roof over the porch grows to meet the pyramidal mandap roof, and this leads the eye to the elegant shikhara above the sanctum.
The sanctum of Javari Temple contains a four-armed idol of Lord Vishnu, though it is now broken and headless. The entrance gate of the sanctum has sculptures depicting navagraha on the top. Along with navagrahas, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva sculptures can also be seen. The temple has two bands of sculpture on the outer wall. The various sculptures on the walls of the temples depict men and women in various postures.
The temple is situated at a distance of 200 meters from the Brahma Temple and 1.5 kilometres from the Khajuraho Bus Stand.
There were originally 85 temples in the area, but only 22 of them remain well-preserved. One of these is the Javari Temple. The Government of India owns this group, and the Archaeological Survey of India manages it under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act of 1958.
Although the Javari temple has undergone substantial renovations, it still boasts exterior walls lined with bands of sculptures and niches on the cardinal points, albeit in miniature form.
Foreign conquerors desecrated many temples over time, but those in Khajuraho were mostly neglected due to their remote location. However, in 1830, British surveyor T.S. Burt rediscovered the temples, and efforts were made to excavate and restore them. Accounts of foreign travellers like Ibn Battuta and archaeologists like Alexander Cunningham spread the word about the tremendous artistic character of the temples, making them one of the most popular tourist attractions in India.
Despite the passage of time, the forms, designs, and materials still authentically showcase the elements of the mature form of northern Indian temple architecture, including a combination of the paratha plans topped by a form of shikhara unique to the Nagara style. Today, these temples continue to attract visitors worldwide who appreciate their historical and artistic value.