Kandariya Mahadev Temple, Madhya Pradesh, India 

The 30.5m-long Kandariya-Mahadev, built between 1025 and 1050, is the largest temple and represents the highpoint of Chandelan architecture. It also has the most representations of female beauty and sexual acrobatics. There are 872 statues, most nearly 1m high – taller than those at the other temples. One frequently photographed sculpture illustrates the feasibility of the handstand position.

The 31m-high sikhara here is, like linga, a phallic Shiva symbol, worshipped by Hindus hoping to seek deliverance from the cycle of reincarnation. It’s decorated with 84 subsidiary spires, which make up a mountain-like rooftop scene reminiscent of the Himalayan abode of the gods.

Visit India Epic India Route © Monika Newbound

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