Khajurâho, India: a lake, temples and the most beautiful women in the world

The women of Khajuraho are dressed in brightly coloured saris, always embroidered with sequins, their arms covered with glittering bracelets. They are an ode to femininity and beauty

Gold earrings in the nose, ears, Indian women are jewels, precious stones.
Thin face, aquiline nose, protruding cheekbone, fleshy and delicate lip. 
The golden metal shining on their brown skin, the deep black hair, the severe eyebrow on the dark iris glittering with mica. 
The red point on the forehead, the mark of the wedding, like a wound. 
Bare feet in their sandals, the soles dyed with red or yellow henna, the toes adorned with rings with multicoloured stones. 
On their heads they carry sand and stones in metal basins to supply the screaming and dusty, always hungry concrete mixer at the roadwork sites. The gait remains haughty, the back straight, the neck stretched, the face covered with a transparent veil.
Children with ember eyes are shaking around them, they carry the babies with kohl-folded eyes on their hips, wrapped up in the heat of the afternoon.

These women are beautiful. There are few places in the world where they are so spendid

They have a bright smile but often their hard eyes are staring at me. I prefer to ignore the contempt they have for white women, travelling alone without their husbands… if they have one. 
A respectable woman does not travel alone. She stays at home most of the time, looking after the household. They work hard, in the fields, in the building sites, always with other women. 
They look happy, but what do I know about what lies behind their laughter. 
To be a free woman here is to be a single woman, with no family, no social life, who wants to be alone in this country?

Skinny kids, like clouds of birds, rush at the tourists, asking for money, chocolate, pens, shampoo…

They are barefoot, really dirty, dressed too small or too big. They are lost in the mass of dirty hair, black hands, sparkling eyes.
Dressed from a very young age to hunt tourists, they see them coming from far away, scan in a flash the bag, the jewels, the glasses, catch a bracelet that protrudes, “give me, give me, give me“, it is the Indian tube that we hear everywhere, all day long.
They plunge into the green lake, muddy waters, wash themselves, their heads and tanned bodies covered with the white foam of the soap, men and women do their laundry with a brush on the bare stone, like our washerwomen of yesteryear. 
Clothes hung at the roadside barriers dry quietly in the warm breeze.

The blond monkeys invade the roofs, sitting on their backs like old men, watching the sun in its course, fighting for territory or garbage bins

Cow-walkers wander the streets, search the countless rubbish dumps with dogs and wild boars, nonchalantly begging for food from passing humans.
From sunrise to sunset, tourists flock from the bellies of air-conditioned buses, anarchically gravitate around the temples like bees around a beehive, following a disillusioned guide.
The sun descends into the powdery, artistically blurred air.

The small bells of the temples start to ring endlessly, a scrambled, permanent, bewitching rhythm, each in turn. Now it’s time for the parrots to take the stage

Fluorescent green parrots with blood-red beaks gather in the gigantic trees of the square in hundreds and thousands.
Their songs cover the noise of the city. They animate the dark blue sky with a crazy choreography of green rocket birds. Their wings are as powerful as the blade of a knife slicing through dense air, their tails as sabres, like a master’s brush on an ultramarine canvas. They come and go until total darkness, light Chinese shadows like ink jets, bursting, joined together, swirling with all the grace of the world, they write in the sky mysterious words with strident syllables.
The immense red sun always seems to disappear in one go. Motionless and bloody disc, suspended in the grey mist, the wind suddenly freshens, then disappears in the thick fog like a curtain, without flame.
The moon come gentlely over the temples. Their complex architectural silhouettes rise, massive and graceful buildings, on the horizon.
Travel sometimes offers much more than a change of scenery, it also offers emotions.

The temples of Khajurâho are known worldwide for their erotic statues, which is what attracts tourists. What if we look at it from another angle?

Discovering the cultures of the world and its history

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