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The mystery, mysticism, myth and magnitude of the temples of Khajuraho are known to attract tourists from all over the world and have been designated by UNESCO as a world heritage site for its archeological and historical monuments. After the Taj Mahal, Khajuraho temples are the most frequently visited monument in India. Famous for the erotic sculptures captured intricately and passionately in stone, the Khajuraho temples in actuality are dedicated to the womanhood and represent the various myriad of womanhood and women moods.

With Mr. Shyam Poddar perseverance, Orient Express Travels & Tours bought the destination of Khajuraho to the doorstep of the world. He promoted the destination of Khajuraho by providing air links through continuous talks with Indian Airlines and Civil Aviation authorities. The development of general infrastructure was carried out through the offices of the State of Madhya Pradesh and Central Government. To give a state-of-art accommodation facility to tourists, Hotel Chandela (now Taj Chandela) was built. Also the rich wildlife was bought under protection in the form of Panna National Park, now a Project Tiger Reserve. This work has been a good example of how tourism can bring economic benefits to an impoverished village community.

Tourism benefited the village in many more aspects. Attention was drawn towards conservation and preservation of the ancient sculptures scattered over the countryside. During the building of the Taj Chandela, unearthed many more sculptures. Indiscriminate felling of trees for firewood was stopped and further plantation carried out to improve the ecological balance. The water resources of the nearby Benisagar Dam were harnessed to provide a well laid supply system for the village and irrigation. This further improved the ecological balance due to the increased agricultural activities. General facilities for the betterment of the village were provided in the form of hygienic conditions, medical facilities, schools, electricity, communications and transportation.

Khajuraho had the proud privilege of hosting India’s first dance festival at an ancient monument which has now become an annual event, where the country’s finest classical dancers look forward to perform. The village has now developed into an interesting centre for arts and has given rise to many such similar activities being organized throughout the country. With Khajuraho becoming a major international tourist destination, attention was drawn towards the tourism potential of the surrounding areas like Orchha, Chanderi, Shivpuri and Datia.

The resurrection of Khajuraho led to the economic upliftment of the impoverished society. Till today, the two major economic activities are tourism and farming. There is not a single family in this village which is not directly or indirectly benefitting from tourism. When the Taj Chandela was being built, Mr. Kanti Poddar, current CMD of the company, insisted on employing at least 80% of the staff from amongst the villagers. He personally selected them on the basis of merit and potential rather than the traditional basis of caste. Comprehensive training was given and all were encouraged to work and live alongside each other as a team, overcoming the age-old caste barriers. This successful experiment paved the way for all the hotels, built later in the area, chiefly employing local villagers. Jobs were created in the village itself which stopped the migration of the villagers to the cities; instead people from surrounding villages come to Khajuraho looking for employment. As a unique case of migration, some people have even shifted to this village from major cities like Allahabad and Bhopal.

The resurrection of Khajuraho is a glorious example of how, in a developing country, tourism can actually bring about technologically advanced and life-enriching development, along with nurturing and protecting the cultural and natural heritage of an area.
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