The Kandariya Art & Cultural Centre, in Khajuraho, doubles up as a museum and performance venue. The first room displays furniture and woodwork objects crafted by local artisans. Intricate carvings on wood and stone adorn different everyday objects such as doors, statues, trunks, and beds. The craftsmanship of the local artisans is truly remarkable. At the entrance, pictures of dignitaries are displayed, in a bid to impress tourists or potential customers. Photography is prohibited with the reasoning – if you liked something – you might as well buy it. It’s unfair to question the price of talent, especially, if it’s close to exceptional, but our wallets weren’t deep enough to foot the exorbitant price tags. The adjoining store has paintings, wearable handicraft items, and display pieces. Keeping with the theme of Khajuraho, most paintings effectively echo the theme of ‘love’ and ‘lovemaking’. The store is largely filled with wares and eager sales staff who try to convince you to take back memorabilia.
The outer lawns and the walls of the centre have statues of men and women intertwined in various positions of ecstasy or dance poses. For those who haven’t been to the temples, these statues are a gentle reminder of what draws hordes of tourists to Khajuraho.
The evening show doesn’t start before 7 p.m. and for those who like to be early, the surroundings might be a good way to let the clock tick. The main cultural performances are held in an indoor theatre. Seating is rather erratic and an usher will guide you to your seat. The front rows are reserved for guests who may have done their booking with their hotel. It might be a good idea to do so – if you want front row seating. The primary purpose of the folk performances is to showcase the diverse dance styles of India. The lighting, costumes, and stage designs are elaborate and add to the larger-than-life feel of the performance. However, the dance recital was slightly disappointing. The dancers made a good effort at recreating traditional folk dances, but lacked the authenticity of traditional dance styles. If you’ve travelled through India extensively, you’d be able to spot the finer nuances. Perhaps, the programme is built to appeal tourists who are looking for a basic (not necessarily authentic) understanding of local culture. With the lack of anything better to do in the evening (other than the sound & light show), the centre is worth a visit.
Location: Kandariya Art & Culture Centre
Jhansi Road, Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh, India.
Performances: Ghoomar, Matki, Bhangra, Indian Classical,Garbha, Bhojpuri and lavani performances.
Price: 500 INR + Camera charges
Time: 7:00 p.m. onwards