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Thrusting like a fat promontory into the neighbouring state of Madhya Pradesh, Jhalawar, in Rajasthan, is a fascinating mosaic of interlocking enigmas awaiting answers. It is a rock-strewn, scrub-covered terrain, occasionally brightened with fields of poppies and citrus-green groves of oranges.

Once a thriving entrepot town on a caravan route, it was carved out as an independent princely state in 1838.

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What to See Fort

Built by Raja Madan Singh I, this houses the Bhawani Natyashala theatre built on the lines of a European opera house complete with box seats and a stage sturdy enough to take an elephant. Constructed by ruler Bhawani Singh who was devoted to the performing arts, his enthusiasm was matched by that of his Prime Minister: Pandit Shyama Shankar, the father of dancer Uday Shankar and sitar maestro Ravi Shankar.

Across a court from the theatre is the former residence of the royal ladies, now used as government offices. One of the rooms has been cleared of files and here, visitors can see beautiful murals depicting former rulers and the old royal lifestyle.

Surya or Sun Temple

Situated in the narrow roads of the old town, this temple has typical Jain torana arches but no image of the Sun god who, traditionally, is shown wearing boots. A statue of him, however, can be found in the Museum outside the Fort.

Shantipath temple

Not far from the Surya Temple is this brightly painted Jain Temple. It has an enormous standing figure of the Tirthankar. The entrance is guarded by huge stone elephants and there is an interesting water clock in the courtyard.

Chandrabhaga temple ruins

About 2 km away from the Shantipath temple, is an intriguing group of old temples beside the Chandrabhaga river. These are all that remain of the ancient city of Chandrawati. The sculptures in the smaller shrines, in particular, seem to indicate pre-Iranian origins.

Gagron Fort

This old fort crowns a plateau at the confluence of the rivers Ahu and Kali Sindh. Parts of it date back to the 8th century. At the base of the Fort is the dargah of Hazrat Khwaja-ud-Chisti Khorassani, a Sufi saint, also known as 'Mithai Mawali'. His dargah and Gagron's Islamic motifs add to the enigmas of this once and future destination.

Getting There By Rail

Jhalawar can be reached from Kota station- 87 km away and the whistle halt of Ramganj Mandi - 25 km away.

By Road

Tourist taxis are available in Kota. State transport buses ply from Kota and Ramganj Mandi.

Where to Stay

Accomodation is budget standard. There is one private hotel and one run by the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation (RTDC).

Fairs & Festivals

Every year the citizens of Jhalawar stage a festival around the rich heritage of their area.