India: Off to Khajuraho

December 31, 2014 • 12:00 pm

We’re headed for Khajuraho today, the famous complex of 10th- and 11th-century Hindu temples about 600 km SE of Delhi. They constitute a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and are most renowned for their gorgeous and erotic sculptures. It’s amazing that such carvings are so well preserved after more than a thousand years. After the 13th century the temples fell into disuse and were overgrown with jungle, and were “rediscovered” by a British surveyor in the 1830s.

You can see a panoply of the sculptures, salacious and otherwise, here.

We’ll be taking the overnight train (leaves 8 pm, arrives 6 am), so I get the experience of a sleeper car, and perhaps a “western style” toilet (I forgot to include this in my previous “sign” post):


I still have a gazillion photos that must wait until my return to Chicago (the pictures of noms are great), so bear with me. To hold you in the meantime, here’s the good Professor in the Indian clothes I wore for my birthday dinner and in the Bengal Club in Calcutta:



I had an awesome birthday dinner prepared by my host, but didn’t want to disturb the company by taking photos of the delicious Bengali viands. I couldn’t, however, resist photographing the payesh, or Bengali rice pudding on the left, which is traditionally served on birthdays. It’s liberally doused with syrup made from concentrated palm sap, which resembles maple syrup, and can be further condensed to make palm jaggery or sugar.  The sweets to the left are sandesh (a milk sweet, with the ones in the center, shaped like buttocks, filled with palm sap concentrate as well.


More solipsism that I couldn’t resist. Here’s a lovely birthday present from my hosts: a shirt made from pure, heavy raw silk in its natural color. It has a roughish texture and a beautiful golden sheen. We took the material to the local tailor about ten days ago, he measured me, and today delivered this beautifully-fitting garment. I was told the price for making the shirt (exclusive of material costs) was 150 rupees: roughly two dollars!

Professor Ceiling Cat likes his new shirt!




39 thoughts on “India: Off to Khajuraho

  1. Lookin’ good! Please explain what “Western Style” means with respect to toilets. And do you see the railway rushing by beneath you if you look into the bowl?

        1. Your parents must have been of the same generation as mine, who also sang this ditty and recited the railroad crossing verse. This is the first thing I thought of when I saw that sign.

          1. Sounds like it, Adam:-). Are you American? I think my maternal grandfather also sang/recited these, as well as The Bear went over the Mountain and My Name is Yon Yonson, I come from Wisconsin…My own kids would just roll their eyes ( except maybe for The Bear one…)

          1. How lovely that such a wonderful song was so widespread;-))

            Happy New Year everyone!! (dinner guests departed, dishes/washing up will wait till morning.)

    1. Justice Douglas is the only Supreme Court Justice I’ve ever seen in person. He visited the Chinook Hotel in Yakima, Washington in August 1973 where I worked as a busboy when I was 18 years old. He made a futile attempt to bring a halt to what was left of the Vietnam war at the Yakima county courthouse on August 4, 1973.

      He was apparently a real character:

      During his tenure on the Supreme Court, Justice Douglas achieved a number of records, all of which continue to stand. In addition to serving on the Court for longer than any other Justice, he also managed to write more opinions and dissenting opinions, give more speeches, and author more books than any other Justice. Douglas also holds the record among Justices for having had the most wives (four) and the most divorces while on the bench (three). The three attempts to impeach Justice Douglas were more than has been made on any other Justice.

  2. I believe western style means you have something to sit on. Whether it comes with plumbing ….I’m not sure.

    Generally in Asia you will have a hole and a couple of places to put your feet. Good luck with that.

  3. Love the Indian clothing. I think Indian clothes are superior to western for comfort and for Saris you can get the kind that are already wrapped so not as big a deal to get ready. The gold shirt is fabulous as well and my Indian friends often tell me about how inexpensive it is to get clothes tailor made in India. A lot of men go back home to get suits made.

  4. Lovely silk, Dr Coyne, and of its natural / all – climate biología, will be wonderfully warm and strong in gusty, blustery Chicago wintertimes ! as well as cool, breath – taking / breathing and highly absorbent in its as well as the subcontinental summertimes !


  5. I will be interested in your reaction to Khajuraho, which was one of the most amazing experiences in my visits to India. The detail on the temple carvings was exquisite (not just the many prurient parts, all of the sculpture). Also, the complex features a series of buildings featuring different styles of temple architecture. What a thrill that the temples were so well preserved! One other point – when I flew there, the airport had been fogged in for about 10 days so several tourists were stranded for over a week (essentially NOTHING to do there, apart from the temple site). We were lucky with the weather and I hope that you are fortunate as well. Please post a bunch of photos of Khajuraho!

  6. Re: the toilet sign –

    My mother, a native Glaswegian, told me that there were similar signs, by the toilets on British Rail cars, that regularly had “except in Portadown” (a Protestant stronghold in Northern Ireland) appended.

  7. Looking good PCC…it’s hard to imagine a fitted silk shirt for “just over $3”. Next purchase, handcrafted cowboy boots?

  8. Wow, that shirt really looks nice on you! And those Indian clothes look SO comfy.

    Looks to me as if more than just “some” of those sculptures are salacious. Apparently social preoccupations haven’t changed much in a millennium. 😉

  9. If you have the chance, do buy some (or at least get a taste of) rose syrup (made from roses, not artificial at all) and sandalwood syrup (not artificial either). They make a great drink with water, soda water and even milk, and can be poured onto rice pudding too. 🙂

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