We woke up on our own around 6am, and got packed, which was easy since we hadn't really unpacked much. We ate breakfast in the restaurant by ourselves, with the employee chatting with us extensively. We got the distinct impression that he hasn't had any guests to talk to for some time, with it being so hot and the lack of tourists because of that. We checked out at 7:30, and met our guide (his name was something like Robins or Collins). We drove literally 30 seconds to the Western Temples entrance. The temples in Khajuraho were built between 950 and 1150 AD, but then forgotten for some time since Khajuraho was not an especially populated area. The temples are made of sandstone, and don't have any mortar, but instead all of the blocks were precisely sized and gravity has held everything together. There were originally over 85 Hindu temples, of which only about 25 are left reasonably preserved, and they are scattered over an area of about 20 square kilometres (8 sq mi). They are separated into the "Western" and "Eastern" groups.

The temples are famous for erotic sculptures carved into the stone, which were crafted by Chandella artisans. The temples, maintained by the locals, were pointed out to the English in the late 19th century when the jungles had largely overtaken the temples. Some 10% of the carvings contain sexual themes, while the rest depict everyday life activities such as women putting on makeup, musicians, potters, farmers, and other folk. The mundane scenes are all far removed from the carvings of the temple deities. We started out by visiting the Lakshmana Temple, a Hindu temple dedicated to Vaikuntha Vishnu. The main idol is a tri-headed and four-armed sculpture of Vaikuntha Vishnu. At first, we didn't notice the erotic poses the place was famous for. We did notice lots of boob jobs, though. Slowly but surely, we started seeing more of the erotic art. We wandered around the temple (inside and out) for awhile, then headed to the Shiva temple, Kandariya Mahadev.

Kandariya Mahadev was bigger, with 5 peaks, one of them missing. It is considered one of the best examples of temples preserved from the medieval period in India. It was built by Vidyadhara around 1050 AD. The main spire rises almost 100 feet, and depicts Mount Kailash, thee Himalayan mountain home abode of Shiva. The main spire is surrounded by 84 miniature spires (or Urushringas). Inside is a marble linga representing Shiva, but no idol. There were some langurs in the area that the park people were trying (unsuccessfully) to shoo away. We did see one run right by us, and it sounded quite heavy when it was running - there was a lot more oomph in all of the steps than we would have expected. We walked around for a bit, and would have explored a bit more, but it was really hot outside, even being only 9:15 or so. Our guide mentioned that this time of year, there is only 1/10 the normal amount of people. We knew it would be hot, but came this time of year anyway because it was optimal for tiger viewing. So every time we got hot in India, we just reminded ourselves it was for the tiger sights (which we got), and that it was accordingly worth it.

On the drive over to the Eastern group of temples, we stopped at a couple ATMs (we hadn't had a chance to get any rupees coming or going to Bandhavgarh), with the second one working. The Eastern group temples were Jain, as opposed to Hindu, temples, but were built around the same time. At Khajuraho the Jains apparently lived on the east side of town. A number of Jain temples from that period have survived in this part of Khajuraho in various states of preservation. All the Jain temples are now enclosed within a compound wall constructed in early 20th century, with the exception of the Ghantai temple. To us, the Jain sculptures resembled buddhist sculptures, but our guide explained the various differences (which we sadly can't recall). The theme of the various temples we saw today was tolerance to everyone, which people seemed to understand better 1000 years ago than they do now. We didn't walk around nearly as much here, as they were similar to what we'd already seen, and we were told the Western Group was a bit nicer, but we spent maybe 30 minutes total.

On our way out of town, we went to a shop for a bit, and found a knick-knack for Justin's parents, who asked for something from India. We considered getting a highly explicit sculpture for them as a real yet quasi-gag gift, but we couldn't find anything reasonably priced. Then we headed for Orchha, over 100 miles to the west-northwest. It was supposed to be a 4 hour drive, but took about 3, and even less to us, since we both slept a bit. The drive was pretty similar to the drive to Bandhavgarh, with lots of open space and small towns every so often. We got to Orchha around 2pm.

Unlike Khajuraho, we had no idea what to expect, as we knew nothing whatsoever about Orchha. Our guide Hemand gave us a lot of information, however, and mixed in some jokes to make sure we were paying attention. Orchha was established around 1500 by Maharaja Rudra Pratap Singh, near the Betwa River. In town there are a number of Maharaja palaces, and they had the architecture of Hindu and Muslim. Everything we saw was very symmetrical, which must have been an architectural thing back then; Justin and his OCD was very impressed. We started at the Orchha Palace (aka Jahangir Mahal), which was finished in 1598 by the Mughals, and served as a citadel to allow the Mughals to gain control over the area. There was no one here either, maybe 30 people that we saw over and over again as we went from place to place in Orchha.

After leaving the Palace we walked through town (Orchha has only 8000 or so people), and stopped to grab some water, which we downed in record time. We headed over to the Ram Raja Temple and Hemand showed us around. While talking to us, a cow just wandered up right behind Hemand and Crystal and almost walked right into them. Hemand showed us one temple that is still in use, and is just as old, but keeps getting restored/renovated so it looks much newer. Our last stop in Orchha was a cremation area (Bundela Chhatries) where ashes of Maharajas were placed, having 17 buildings, one for each Maharaja. There was only 1 other person there, and the area was very peaceful. But at the same time, there were a number of vultures atop the buildings, so it was a bit auspicious as well. From Orchha we drove to Jhansi, which was supposed to be a 45 minute drive but took only about 30. It is a town we'd never heard of until the day before, but has 2 million people. We met Samson, who helped us navigate through the train station. The train was running 20 minutes late, so we baked in the heat for a bit longer.

We boarded the train just after 6pm. We were in a nice AC cabin with assigned seats, and saw a lot of the folks we'd seen in Khajuraho and Orchha today, so our route must be a common one. We got to Agra just around 9. It was very chaotic with everyone trying to get off and everyone else trying to get on before the doors closed. We met our rep, Syed, and we walked to a van and then took a 15 minute or so drive to the hotel. Syed told us something odd, which was that at the Taj Mahal the next morning, we wouldn't be able to have wires or extra batteries in our bags. Given that we'd flown halfway around the world to see the Taj Mahal, that's exactly when are where you need extra batteries, so this was disturbing to hear. Our hotel, the Oberoi, is supposedly #1 in the world, whatever that means. There was a nice entry fountain area, and the lobby was nice as well, but we got whisked to our room, where check-in occurred. After check-in, we met Crystal's parents Dewey & Clarita, who we'd be travelling with for the next couple of days, and ate a late dinner. We each got Lamb Roganjosh, which wasn't nearly as spicy as we were expecting given the various warnings on the menu. We assume we got "tourist spicy." Back upstairs, we tried to wash our feet in the bath, but the bath faucet was all screwed up and was either spitting out no water or spitting out water that looked dirtier than our feet. We also wanted to check in on the world, but saw that the hotel had only 30 minutes of free internet. This is frankly unacceptable for the supposed top hotel in the world, and embarrassing to nickel and dime people on what invariably is a very expensive hotel. Maybe we were just tired.