khajuraho houses a small cluster of ancient jain and hindu temples erected before 1000 AD. they were the few that survived the muslim invasion because they were so remote and hidden deep in the jungle.
we were the only foreigners in khajuraho. it was the middle of monsoon season, and most of eastern india, including our hotel we were booked to stay in at the ganges, was under water. so we stayed longer in this small village instead.
although the garbage and smells of stray dogs and cows still piled up in every street corner, it was relieving to be in a village so small that everyone knew who the other was. and as we were the only tourists, EVERYONE knew who we were…
we were there long enough to explore every brightly coloured gate, the monsoon-swollen chocolate milk Raneh Falls, and tiny shops filled with sparkling jewels, watch the bathing water buffalo, press teak tree leaves in our hands (they bleed!), cook as the indians do, and walk barefoot through countless temples.
a dog started following us around for a day. he came with us into temples, over washed out roads, waited for us outside of restaurants. he even growled and chased off a pack of mangy dogs when we were lost in an alley way. in the beginning, i tried scaring him away with my umbrella, but he had already claimed us and we were already his. at the end of the day, he was not very happy when we would not let him into our hotel. the hotel guards had to hold him back so we could get into our room. i couldn't help myself the next morning, and i searched around the hotel and down the street. but he wasn't there.
i miss him.
we even experienced that the very real caste system still very much exists. generations of economic classes sentenced to live in certain conditions, only allowed to use certain wells, schools, churches. the lower the caste, the conditions worsen until the dalits, the untouchables, are left with barely anything at all. it was unnerving to step through each caste, and the only thing separating them was a tiny speed bump in the road, but that speed bump prevented the people living on either side of it from ever becoming anything but what their caste has always been.
but here is the indian countryside. as beautiful as it was, it still broke our hearts.
taken with our mamiya and digital