Gwalior is known for its Gwalior fort. The blue tiled fort that stands atop a hill majestically. The fog was filling up the place and the dawn was breaking through the fog. It took more than half a day to walk around the fort and explore all the mahals within the fort. But this post is not about the Gwalior fort. You would be surprised to know that Gwalior has some spectacular Jain monuments. All around the hill, carved within the hill are the rock-cut Jain statues that take your breath away with its sheer size.
I wasn't anticipating it either cos everywhere about Gwalior they had written about the fort and the innumerous palaces within the fort. So when the taxi that I had hired said, "while going down the hill I 'll stop by the Jain temples", I was taken by surprise. I had so many questions running in my mind. Cos Gwalior fort was all about Hinduism and how Man Singh Tomar built this dynasty. So how did Jainism find the way through? Did it come into existence before the fort or after the fort? Internet says these Jain temples were built during the Tomar dynasty between 7th to 15th century. I wouldn't call it exactly fort premises, it is more of on the way from Gwalior to Gwalior fort. The premises of the fort is grouped into five main groups namely Urwahi, North West, North East, South West, and the South East Areas. And along two sides we can see these Jain temples. The driver pulled up along the road and there were the first set of monuments.
Gopachal Rock Cut Jain Monuments
On the Urwahi road is the first set of Jain monuments that we come across. It is more like a slope, flight of stairs take you down to the statues, not that they are not noticeable from the road. There are about 100 statues ranging from sizes as small as few centimeters to 50feet. Not kidding at all. Some are pretty much hidden behind the rocks and need to look at it like peeping through the window. Some of the faces are damaged or other parts of the body are gone. So when the Mughals took over Gwalior from Tomars and occupied the fort, they sent across the army to destroy these magnificent structures. And then the Jain community pooled in to restore these monuments in the 19th century.
The Jain Tirthankaras found here are either in a standing posture or in sitting posture. The main Tirthankara to note here is the tall Shri Adinatha which is about 57 feet in height. He is the first Tirthankara in Jainism. Tirthankara means the spiritual leader.
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Siddhachal Jain Temple Caves
About 2 km away from the Gopachal set of temples and on the way to Teli ka Mandir is the Siddhachal Jain temple caves. These caves were built in 15th century during the reign of last Tomar King Dungar Singh and his son, Kirti Singh. These were bigger and was over a vast area. On a blaring sunny day, I was going quite dizzy with the sun and me craning my neck to look at these Jain monuments. All the 24 Tirthankaras are depicted here. Almost every other Jaina statue looks tall and impossible to get into a frame. And here also the tallest statue is that of Shri Adinatha and about 58feet as well. Babur managed to demolish these sculptures as well. Pictures to speak the rest.
How to Reach Jain Monuments of Gwalior
You can either spot these caves on the way to the fort or while you are done with the fort and move on to other monuments. Once you are done with the fort, check out Saas Bahu temple, Gurudwara and explore Gopachal caves. And then you can drive back to Siddanchal followed by Teli ka Mandir.
Also Read - Monuments of Orchha - History and Travel Guide