A new dot on the tourism map

Updated: Nov 20 2005, 05:37am hrs
Princely forts, dry land with water-filled baoris at short intervals, brightly painted houses, people busy in their routine odd jobs and cattle herds crossing the narrow lanes. Jhalawar is the newest tourist destination being promoted by the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation (RTDC).

For those tired of visiting the same old places, Jhalawar is a welcome break. The climatic conditions fail to discourage visitors, and the district is known for its adventurous terrain and religious hotspots.

A quite busy in itself city, Jhalawar abounds in natural wonders and historical monuments, making it a unique blend of legends, folklore, religion and history.

Mostly inhabited by tribals and Dalits in the past, the city has art and culture in its sand. Nestled in undulating slopes of Mukandra Hills, it is replete with lush greenery, dense forests, gardens and rivers. A beautiful weekend proposition for those coming from Delhi and Mumbai, the one-way distance to the district can be covered by an overnight journey.

Named after the Rajputs Jhalas, Jhalawar is 87 km away from Kota. Established as a cantonment by Jhala Zalim Singh I - the Diwan of Kota - in 1796, it was declared a state by his grandson Raja Rana Madan Singh in 1836. It was incorporated in the Indian state in 1948 by its last ruler, Raja Harishcand Singh.

A spiritual city, Jhalawar has a plethora of temples right from Hindu deities to Buddhist and Jain deities scattered over its territory. For a visitor to the city, Jharalpatan is a good place to start from. The city got its name (meaning City of Bells) after the sound of jhalars hung at its various temples. Among the prime temples located here is the famous Sun Temple built in 10th century. Built by the Parmar kings of Malwa, it is about 100 ft tall. Another temple is the Chandrabhaga, situated on the banks of river Chandrabhaga, where devotees converge every year on the occasion of Kartik Purnima for the holy dip.

Scheduled around October-November, it also the time for the annual cattle fair named after the river. The fair gives the people time to buy and sell animals. As big as the Pushkar Mela, the fair sees livestock coming from Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Maharashtra. An old fair, it has become organised over the years. From November 12 to 21, the fair provides ample opportunity to tourists to acquaint themselves with the local people, their culture and traditions, and also their skills to fix their kind of price on some rare breeds of horses and mules, priced in lakhs of rupees!

Jhalawar also has numerous Jain temples. The Shantinath Jain temple built in 11th century has a six-foot statue of Lord Digambar. Another much visited site is the Aadinath Digamber Jain temple at Chandkheri, known for its impressive statues. The Nageshwar Parsvanath Jain temple, with the sacred statue said to be 2500 old, is 105 km away from the town.

Jhalawar also has Rajasthans only rock-cut-caves in Rajasthan. The ancient Buddhists caves located in village Kolvi are of great archeological and historic importance. A colossal figure of Buddha and the carved stupas are some of the highlights of these caves. With presence of similar caves in nearby locations of Vinaika and Hathiagor, the presence of a flourishing Buddhist civilisation existing several years ago cannot be denied.

Jhalawar also has its green locales. With green sites of Dalhanpur and few developed by the state near Gomti Sagar Lake, Jhalawar will have a few more amazing places to reckon with in coming years, says Naresh Gangwar, district magistrate, Jhalawar.

The administration is also planning to bolster tourism by improving connectivity through roads and airstrips, where chartered planes can land.

According to state tourism minister, Usha Poonia, A few small but basic efforts will help Jhalawar get better access to the outside world. This, in future, will ensure more traffic coming to the region.

Besides working on land, the government also plans to promote tourism as a medium of employment and income generation among the people of Jhalawar.

With Jhalawar offering natural and spiritual resources, a ride, albeit bumpy, to the district undoubtedly gives a break from jammed traffic and red lights of metros.

The travel for this story was sponsored by ITDC.