Situated in the western cliff of Gwalior fort immediately to the north of the
Dhondha gate, the NW Group of rock-cut Jain monuments was for me the most memorable. This is primarily because I haven’t been able to find anyone else that has visited them, but also because they were a massive surprise to me.
Alexander Cunningham has little to say about them, regarding the figures as “unimportant” and only worthy of note due to an inscription dated to 1470 AD. So as I ventured towards where I thought the caves were, my expectations were low. My morale took a further dent when some local boys warned me not to visit them – they’re frequented by drunks and drug addicts apparently. So I approached the site with great apprehension, checking for decent exit routes as I climbed the hill.
I could see various little rock-cut excavations all along the side of the hill, but my destination was pretty clear as it was the only one with a makeshift roof in place.
I reached the site, and it was almost deserted except for an elderly attendant who could barely walk. We tried to have a conversation, a poor one as my Hindi is non-existent, and he offered to open the gates and let me take a look inside…
The scale of the figures here was mind blowing, with metal steps leading up so you can be face to face with the carvings – a completely different experience to the other groups of Jain monuments in Gwalior.
As Alexander Cunningham’s description has little to say about the NW Group, I expect these carvings have no great age to them at all, and have been installed in a much earlier excavation into the hillside.
My walk through Gwalior to see the NW group was certainly receiving some curious interest from the locals, I don’t think I was in an area frequently much by european tourists. But it’s amazing what a quick “Namaste” or “Namaskar” can do, and before you know it there’s a long line of locals desperate for a selfie 🙂
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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