To many it will come as a surprise that before the charging cavalry men, there where the Buddhist monks. Prior to the imposing forts, there were the meditation caves. Search for salvation was there before the quest for glory on battlefield came.
The Jahalwar district of Rajasthan has few old sites that indicate that some parts of Rajasthan served as a retreat for the Buddhist monks seeking peace within - all this many centuries before Rajasthan laid the foundation of being the tourist delight that it is now.
Scholars approxiamte the time between the 5th and 8th centuries AD when the caves in the region gave shelter to Buddhist monks fleeing from the attacks of the Hunas. As a consequence of such a long stay, the region was impacted by the Buddhist way.
Essentially, here there are three sets of cave shrines. All of the three sets are set up on hills, forming a ring just below the summit of each hill. The number of caves in each set are different, the state of decay dissimilar.
First is Hathya Gaud site. A cloister of plain 5 caves in number, sitting on a dip within two hills, with nice stone pillars in one of the caves.
Few kilometers ahead is the Binayaga hill heritage site which consists of about 20 cells or caves and is more engaging than Hathya Gaud. One can imagine this serving as a monastery as well. Of significance is a cave that has been cut in the form a stupa with traces of chaitra-griha pattern visible on its roof.
The third site is Kolvi. It is a maze like structure of about 50 caves and is very impressive. A wrong turn and you are back to the place where you started from - such is the complexity of the narrow path between the caves.
The caves at Kolvi are studded with many life size statues of Buddha. Most statues are without the face but the visible body outline is stunning especially after the starkness of the earlier caves. As if the childhood game of playing statue was played here, turning the monks into these statues.
To visit these caves, it is best to make Kota the base and drive to these caves - about 100 kms ride.
One can visit the Gagron Fort, which is close to Jhalawar. The fort is situated on the conjunction of two rivers, for defense.
The trip can be combined with a visit to Chandreshwar Mahadev and Sun temples in Jhalrapatan, for their interesting sculptures.