March 19, 2012
The temple city of Khajuraho is a popular tourist destination - well-known for its many erotic carvings. Between the 9th and 12th century, the city was the religious capital of the region and as important as the holy city Varanasi. Of the 84 temples that stood in Khajuraho 25 have remained until today and are now UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Less well-known are other parts of Khajuraho: like its mysterious Lost Gardens!
13 historical gardens existed near Khajuraho, walled in spaces of pleasure, productivity and sacred places. These gardens have their origin in Hindu and Muslim traditions, a mix that is often found in India. They date back to the 18th century and were property of the royal family. The gardens started to fall into disrepair from the mid-nineteenth century. The gardens feature small temples and irrigation systems including wells. The gardens were always used to grow some crops, and also to house the royal family when they were visiting the region – although none of the gardens seems to have been inhabited permanently.
A project is underway that aims to restore the Lost Gardens as living historical artefacts of a vanished culture, to promote organic agriculture, to provide local employment and spread the economic benefits of tourism in a poor rural district. Some of the gardens are deteriorated beyond repair, but others are gradually being restored.
For more information about the gardens, visit Lost Gardens of Khajuraho. For anyone interested, the Garden Museum in London will have a talk on the Lost Gardens of Khajuraho in June. To buy tickets, visit Eventbrite. If you want to see the gardens with your own eyes, drop us an email.