Situated on a long straight cliff on the eastern face of the hill, Gopachal Parvat is the largest and considered the most important of the five clusters of rock-cut Jain monuments in Gwalior.
It’s location is a little hidden away from the usual tourist routes, and so in all likelihood you will be the only person here when you visit, aside from the guard who was looking decidedly bored when I arrived. You will need to take off your shoes before climbing the stairs to the carvings, so remember to bring some socks with you.
Gopachal Parvat consists of 18 colossal statues, some up to 10m tall, but many more from 2m – 5m tall. They are incredibly impressive, unlike anything else I have seen in India. The scale of the statues very much reminded me of various sites in Egypt, although these of course are nowhere near as ancient.
The first european to describe these statues was Father Monserrat, who visited Gwalior on his way from Surat to Delhi during the reign on Akbar. He recorded 13 colossal figures, and noted that the middle one was higher than the rest. He concluded, somewhat staggeringly, that the group represented Jesus and his 12 disciples ! Monserrat also noted that their faces were already mutilated, an act that was under the orders of Akbar some years earlier.
There’s plenty of exploring to do at Gopachal Parvat, some of the entranceways open up into small caves with hidden carvings that you wouldn’t necessarily expect from the outside. Although at first glance I thought I would only be here for about 40 minutes, I think I ended up staying for 90 minutes. It was only the failing light that curtailed my visit.
This was one of five rock-cut Jain monument groups that can be found carved into the hillside at Gwalior. Here are links to the other sites I visited, and an introduction.
- The Rock-cut Jain Monuments of Gwalior – Introduction
- Group 1 – Gopachal Parvat (SE Group)
- Group 2 – SW Group
- Group 3 – Siddhanchal (Urvai Group)
- Group 4 – NW Group
- Group 5 – NE Group
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