Heritage: What is it & Why it Matters

We have probably come across the word ‘heritage’ many times, be it in through textbooks or popular media. We often read about India having “rich heritage’”.  But what exactly do we mean by this? Is it the historical monuments, the yoga, spirituality, and ancient traditions, or is it the food, flora, fauna, or something else? It is all this and more. 

Heritage may include property, culture, or values, something that is inherited or passed down from previous generations. It implies a shared bond, belongingness to a community. Since India is a confluence of ancient culture, traditions, and value systems, the heritage India is unique. The entire mainland of the country is a brimming pot of several dialects, historical sites, festivals, cuisines, etc which have been passed down to each generation. 

Let’s look at one such heritage site of India, the famous Khajuraho temples of Madhya Pradesh

Khajuraho Temples: A Spectacle of History & Creativity

Situated nearly 50 kilometers away from Chhatarpur city of Madhya Pradesh, this site is considered to be an amalgamation of human imagination, history, architecture, heritage, love, and passion. A UNESCO World Heritage site, these temples are a stunning example of rich art and architecture of ancient India.

Built between 950 AD and 1050 AD by the rulers of the Chandela Dynasty, the Khajuraho Temples were a cluster of 85 Hindu and Jain temples, out of which only 25 still survive. With the fall of the dynasty, the temples fell prey to foreign invaders, causing much destruction to the area and forcing the people to leave. 

Interestingly, for five centuries, i.e. from the 13th to the 18th century, the temples remained under a thick forest cover, only to be discovered later by a British engineer, T.S. Burt. The temples are intricately and beautifully embellished and decorated with sculptures and art. These sculptures are not chiseled but are mobile and liquid, representing the people who exult in the joy of living, with all its fascinating variety. In fact, there is hardly any other place like Khajuraho where sculptures portray all kinds of human emotions with such great excellence. Even the women featured in the sculptures are so engaged in different pleasurable activities, probably depicting the empowering culture in those days. 

Just imagine, how much would these temples have seen and heard! Bustling with so many tales, we can only hope that someday we could hear their stories, too.

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