Hemvati

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According to Hindu legends, Hemvati was a beautiful young woman for whom the famous temples of Khajuraho have been built.

The legend goes that she was having a bath in a pool near her house in Benares (now Varanasi) in the moonlight. Her ravishing beauty so much captured the fancy of the moon god that he could not help descending to earth to meet her. Hemvati had an affair with the moon god. She conceived a child out of this relationship. Since it had happened out of wedlock, Hemvati was worried and asked the moon god about her fate once he departed from the earth. The moon god prophesied that their son would be the first king of Khajuraho. She was asked by the moon god to leave for a forest of khajurs (date palm trees) far away from Benares to deliver her child. When he grows up, the moon god told her, he should perform a sacrificial ritual that included among its rites the depiction of erotic figures. He should also build 85 temples at the forest of Khajurs, which subsequently came to be known as Khajuraho, all carved with erotic figures. This would free his mother, said the moon god, from the blemish of extramarital love.

Hemvati then left her home to give birth to her son in a tiny village. The child, Chandravarman, was as lustrous as his father, brave and strong. By the time he was 16 years old he could kill tigers or lions with his bare hands. Delighted by his feats, Hemvati invoked the Moon god, who installed him as king at Khajuraho. Chandravarman achieved a series of brilliant victories and built a mighty fortress at Kalinjar. At his mother's request he began the building of 85 glorious temples with lakes and gardens at Khajuraho and performed the ritual which expunged her of her guilt.