Thrusting like a fat promontory into the neighbouring state of Madhya Pradesh, Jhalawar is a fascinating mosaic of inter-locking enigmas awaiting answers. It is a rock-strewn, scrub-covered terrain, occasionally bright 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.
Do visit the Fort built by Raja Madan Singh. In it is the Bhawani Natyashala theatre built on the lines of a European opera house complete with out-thrusting 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, however, has been cleared of files and visitors can see beautiful murals of former rulers and other scenes of the old kingdom's good life.
In the narrow roads of the old town is the, so-called, Surya or Sun Temple with 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 small Museum outside the Fort.
Not far from the Surya Temple is the brightly painted Jain Temple of Shantipath with 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.
About 2 km away is an intriguing group of old temples beside the Chandrabhaga river, all that remains of the ancient city of Chandrawati. The sculptures in the smaller shrines in particular exhibit a primitive power which seems to indicate pre-Iranian origins.
Then there is the old fort of Gagron crowning a plateau at the confluence of the rivers Ahu and Kali Sindh. Parts of it date back to the 8th century and 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.
Jhalawar can be reached from Kota station - 87 km away and the whistle halt of Ramganj Mandi-25 km away.
Tourist taxis are available in Kota. State transport buses from Kota and Ramganj Mandi.
Accommodation is budget standard. A private hotel and one run by Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation.
Every year the citizens of Jhalawar stage a Festival around the rich heritage of their area.