After returning from Khajuraho, I casually asked Ira (my 12 years old daughter), what did she think about temples? She looked at me, gave a confused look and said, I will write about it or create a presentation. There were times where I heard the guide, times where I overheard the conversation between you senior folks and times where I had my questions answered. Collectively, I feel I have a lot of information that can help me make a presentation. As days passed by, Ira started discussing with me a point or two daily.
Ira: Where did all the sandstone to build the temples come from? Which river bed was it?
My simple answer “Ken”.
Ira: You remember the guide said that there is no cement or similar substance used between the stones. There are interlocking sockets which have been holding these temples intact this long. It must have been very difficult back then to plan the layout, decide which are the adjacent stones, lift them up to 30mts…
I nodded my head in agreement
Ira: Baba (Daddy) did you notice, the statues carved on the wall of the Laxmana temple and the ones carved on the wall of Kandaria Mahadev temple are exactly the same? Like stencil sketched or carved out from a single mold.
Indeed, I concurred. This is despite a gap of 150 years between the two construction. Every curve, jewelry, postures, hair, mudras, undressing effect, emotions on the face have got transferred to the next temple built after 15 decades.
This goes to show that, back then the society knew how to apply science to art. They could not only document the details well but also reproduce them after centuries exactly as is.
Ira: Where did they get 17,000 workers from? How could the city handle them for 12 to 15 years? What kind of infrastructure they had which allowed them to manage this scale of migration into their kingdom back in 950AD?
I did not have an answer. I looked at her and asked, what do you think?
Ira: This question gets added to my list of questions that I have not yet figured out an answer for. Such questions push me to take formal education in Excavation!
I am sure I will unearth many secrets in the future.
Astonished, I looked at her. She was as lost as I was about my career. Genetic disorders cannot be hidden for long!!!
This reminds me of my interaction with an ASI (Archeological Survey of India) certified guide. Down to earth and absolutely humble he was. I had heard him talk to an Italian group of tourists and help them understand the great architecture and stories behind those statues carved in sandstone. I asked him about his background. He said he did his MA in history from Bhopal University and then went on to do his Ph.D. in Ancient Asian Architecture. He knew 5 European languages and is working as a guide for the last 15 yrs. If I tell you about his crazy routine, his busy calendar and what he charges per session, you might seriously consider the option of diving deep into History and Archaeology. When I see people from non-engineering and non-medical background achieve great heights, I feel good.
That said, by now, my anxiety was growing by the day. I asked Ira, “what happened to your presentation”? She looked at me and said, I don’t know what to write down. I could relate to her very well. Even now, I am struggling to give a good coverage about Khajuraho over this blog. So I decided to help her.
Me: What did you like the most @Khajuraho?
Ira: Light and sound show!
Me: What is it that you liked in the light and sound show?
Me: Confused, decided to focus more on my steering wheel and discuss with her some other time.
Then one day comes a terrific question from Ira.
Ira: Why do you think people distort history so much?
Me: Mean? This was just too much of a thinking for her age
Ira: When Ghazni never reached the temples, why do people blame him for the broken statues at Khajuraho?
I gave her an answer to which she looked convinced. Not sure if the little brain could process what I meant. But there was no counter question. I did not want to influence her with my thoughts this early hence did not check her opinion.
We, however, discussed the might of the Chandela kingdom. The Chandela dynasty was strong and wealthy that it could sustain 2 attacks from Ghazni. Both attempts in vain. Finally, Ghazni signed a pact with the Chandelas and returned with no success. That was the might of the kingdom. The temples remained intact. Times change though. As the Sunset on the Chandela dynasty somewhere around the 15th century, the temples and the glorious past got covered under a thick forest. Off to bed, she went as we spoke.
A few days later, I again followed up with Ira, Is your
presentation ready? The answer was the same. Now I asked her, is she hesitating from bringing up some question? I told her, look the idea to take you there was also to enable all three of us to talk more freely about desire, lust, love, attraction, the male and female body, sex etc. We talked a lot on the way back home but since then you have gone silent. Is something bothering you or worrying you?
First, a cold look followed by a yorker! I understand everything about sex. Just that I never knew you need to get naked… The writing was on the wall. Leave me on my own for now. I will come to you if I feel the need.
Today when I started writing my blog, I asked her to help me select images. The image selection this time is done by father and daughter. What was more interesting is, she asked me to request all readers, that, when you go to historic sites, please hire authentic guides and experience and understand history. I would like to further add to it. Validate history through various sources. No single version of history can be true!