Rajasthan with its mouthwatering Cuisine, Forts, Heritage Havelies and Colorful Art & Culture attracts visitors and casts a magic spell that appeals them every time and there is always more in store. Kota is one such city that is still unexplored and less traveled.
Kota or ‘Kotah’ as it is historically referred to is a royal city located on the eastern banks of the River Chambal. The town of Kota was once the part of the erstwhile Rajput kingdom of Bundi. It became a separate princely state in the 17th century.
History of Kota: The history of the city originally dates back to the 12th century A.D. when the Hada Chieftain, Rao Deva, conquered the territory that belonged to ‘Kotya Bhil’ warrior known as ‘Koteya’ and founded Bundi and Hadoti. The original foundations of Kota was made by ‘Koteya’ who built a small fortification at ‘Akelgarh’ and had constructed a protective mud-wall around the city all the way upto ‘Retwali’. However when Jait Singh of Bundi defeated the Bhil Chieftain ‘Koteya’ in the battle, he raised the first battlement or the ‘Garh'(fort) over his severed head and named the Independant state as ‘Kota’.
In 1580, Rao Madho Singh strenghtened both the fortification and the city wall. Later during the early 17th century AD (reign of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir) the ruler of Bundi -Rao Ratan Singh, gifted Kota to his son, Rao Madho Singh who took over the region at a tender age of 14. It was only in the year 1631 that Rao Madho Singh, the second son of Rao Ratan of Bundi was made the ruler of Kota by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan.
Kota Fort: is one of the largest forts of Rajasthan and has an artistic heritage that till speaks volumes of the rich architecture of that era. Built in the year 1264 the fort construction expanded and was finally completed in the year 1625. The main entrance today is through the south Naya Darwaja Gate (New Gate) and as you enter the fort palaces, miniature paintings, colorful murals, exquisite mirror work and frescoes welcome you. The most attractive place here is the Durbar Hall that has ebony and ivory doors and depict stunning Kota paintings that are quite intricate and different from the rest of the miniature ones found in other parts of India.
The smart city of Kota today is known for its well-reputed coaching center’s where thousands of students stay to enhance their educational qualifications & skills to get thorough to the most prestigious educational institutes of India. For Student Room Booking Click HERE
Kota is also the centre of hydroelectricity, thermal and even a nuclear power zone (Rajasthan’s Atomic Power Project is located at Rawatbhata, 65 Kms from Kota). There are 3 dams namely Gandhi Sagar dam, Rana rPratap Sagar dam and Jawahar Sagar dam that harness the energy from the perennial Chambal River.
Tourist Places in & Around Kota
Rao Madho Singh Museum: was named after Rao Madho Singh who was the first ruler of Kota and was the son of the ruler of Bundi, Rao Ratan Singh.
This place is also known as the Garh Palace and is now a heritage museum that encloses attractive sculptures dating back to many centuries, royal armoury, miniature paintings and mellow mural paintings.
What’s most fascinating here are the frescoes on the walls and ceilings that are exquisite examples of Kota style of paintings that depict hunting scenes, war scenes, Changing nature & seasons and also showcases the Krishna Lila beautifully all around. There are more than 300 original miniature paintings of Kota School of Art belonging to 17th-19th Century.
Garadia Mahadev Temple: has an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva that is located on the slopes of the hills along the River Chambal that looks like the Grand Canyon.
The Garadia Mahadev Temple is beautifully located amidst various water streams and waterfalls and over looks a beautiful ravine. You get a grand view of the River Chambal from here. It is the same place that is shown in one of the latest TV commercials made by Rajasthan Tourism Department. Watch it HERE
During your ride, you can also spot Egyptian White Vultures on the hills and lots of crocodiles along the river line.
Along the ride you can also witness other marvels like the Titanic Rock (shaped like a boat), Kotya Bheel (a watch Tower), ‘Riyasatkaleen’ (an old water purifying Unit) which is now almost submerged is the river.
You will also see an abandoned Palace that is now half submerged in the river as well as a hanging bridge that is being constructed on the river. At Bhawar Kunj, you can enjoy a picnic by the river.
Geparnath Temple: Located between the lush green surroundings of hills, deep ravines and rocky terrain, lies a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.
The ‘Geparnath Temple’ is situated in a cave and can be reached by taking a stair route down below the gorge of the mountain hill surrounded by cascading waters and scenic atmosphere.
The temple has a Shiva Linga that has a natural spring that bathes the Linga before flowing down the River Chambal. The surrounding area is quite panoramic and surreal.
Badoli Temple: is located 45 kms from Kota city in the village of Baroli near Rawatbhata. The area has 8 temple structures with 1 temple a little away at 1 km. Each have intricate carvings and the architecture (Pratihara style) is similar to the ones seen at Khajaraho, Madhya Pradesh or Konark, Orissa. Built between 8-12th Century, the delicate carvings on the temple structures are undoubtedly beautiful.
Ghateshwara Mahadeva Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is the most prominent of the lot. The inner sanctum has a four headed Shiva Lingam that has enormous celestial powers and many devotees come here to offer prayers and seek blessings. The temple depicts Lord Shiva in the form of five lingas. One linga appears like an inverted ghata or pot and hence the ‘Ghateshwara’.
Other temples in the vicinity include another Shiva Temple in the middle of a tank, a Ganesh Temple, Vamanavatar Temple (where Lord Vishnu is depicted as Vamana – his 5th Avatar), Trimurti Temple (has a 3 headed Lord Shiva Idol), Ashtamata Temple (is also known as Mahishamardini, which is another name of Parvati) and has an idol of a dancing Mahesvari on a lintel and a Sheshashyan Temple.
Kansuwa: Kansua or Kansuwa Temple is also known as the Karneshwar temple. The temple is believed to have been constructed by the Pandava’s during their exile some 1250 years ago and has a rare 4 headed Shiva Linga.
Interestingly it is here at Kansuwa temple that the first rays of sunlight penetrate the inner sanctum of Lord Shiva. Another significant idol here in the temple premises is a Shiva Linga that has 1000 mini lingas carved on it and is known as one of the rare SAHASTRA-LINGA found in India.
Ancient Kansuwa Temple, Kota
A well preserved stone inscription here dates back to 738 AD states that it was built by Raja Shivgana Maurya and according to locals the temple was built on the instructions received by the Pandavas during their exile period/vanvaas.
Umed Bhawan Palace: built in the year 1905, this Heritage Haveli is today a Heritage Hotel, managed and run by the Welcome Heritage Group of Hotels. Decorated with high ceilings, open marble corridors and artistically designed architecture, the Haveli offers a royal stay to its visitors. Book HERE
Offering 32 rooms tro choose from ,the Royal Palace exudes an aura of its own with lush green lawns and courtyards, picturesque ceilings, marble corridors, hunting trophies of yesteryear, along with exquisite royal heirloom.
Devta Shridharji Haveli: like others found in Rajasthan this Haveli too is known for its intricate design and carvings.
Located right in the middle of the busy markets of Kota, the Haveli of Devta Shridharji reflects the royal past and gives you a hint of the lifestyle led by the affluent then. Built in 1838, Devta Shridharji was a wealthy merchant and the Haveli was built to show the people of his status. The origin of this Brahmin family was from the northern region of Kashmir.
Even today three brothers of the family still reside in the Haveli and a traditional Rajtilak ceremony of the Rajput ruler family is held by the oldest son of the family. Being a residential property, one does need a prior permission to enter. The interior is mostly done with marble and has open courtyards, large rooms, separate bathing areas and other interesting corners to see.
Bheetariya Kund: Located on the banks of the River Chambal, Beetariya Kund is a pilgrimage spot of Kota. There are few ancient temples dedicated to Chomeshwar Mahadev, Manshapun Hanuman, Paanchmukhi Ganesh and a temple of Kaal Bhairon are located.
Godavari Dham: has a 1000 year old Hanuman Temple where Hanuman is worshiped in his Rudra Roop. There is also a Panchmukhi Shiva Temple.
The entrance of Godavari Dham has a gigantic Swan made in marble and 2 high marble towers with carvings. The Ancient chattri of Lord Hanuman today lies 50 feet under the river belt but was originally on the main Kota Road (before the dam was constructed).
Located close by to Godavari dham is ‘Aadarshila’, a Mosque dedicated to Hazrat Sayeed Maula Ali Shah. The Mosque structure is surprisingly supported by a huge boulder that almost hangs in mid air but somehow balancing the whole structure, while half of it lies in the River Chambal. It definitely presents an amazing view.
Gurudwara Azamgarh Sahib: is another religious place is Gurudwara Azamgarh Sahib
that has a pair of wooden slippers and a dagger that belongs to Guru Nanak (the 10th Sikh Guru).
Mathuradheesh Mandir: is a temple is dedicated to the Lord Krishna and the Vallabh sect which includes the followers of Krishna. It has an idol of Shri Radha (Krishna’s Escort) along with a beautiful idol of Lord Krishna. it is situated at Nandgram near Patanpole.
Khade Ganesh Ji Temple: This temple is dedicated ot Lord Ganesha and is situated in the southern part of the Kota city. What is unusual here is the idol of Lord Ganesha that is worshipped in a standing position, which is no where in the world.
Jag Mandir: was built by Kota Queens in the year 1740 and the location chosen was the Kishore Sagar lake, an artificial Lake that was built by Prince Dehra Deh of Bundi during the year 1346 AD.
This red sandstone architectural marvel was used as a pleasure palace for kings and royal parties were held here. Today it attracts tourists to its gardens at the Keshar Bagh, which is famous for its royal cenotaphs and lies in the vicinity. The cenotaphs include tombs of various Bundi rulers, princes, queens etc. It is located by the side of the Brij Vilas Palace Museum.
Brijraj Bhawan Palace: was built by the East India Company in the year 1840 and was the residence for a Political Agent and was also known as the Agency Bungalow then. In the year 1900, when he shifted to Bharatpur, the building was taken over by Kota state and became a State Guest House. Know More HERE
Today half of this building is now a Heritage Hotel, while the other half is the residence, occupied by the current Maharao & family. Due to the personal care & supervision of the royal family, the Brijraj Bhawan offers you a homely setting with a royal appeal like no other. Tariffs & Other Details
Brij Vilas Museum : is now a Government run museum that has a significantly historical monument and exhibits relics, artifacts, weapons, art & culture of Kota community and some really valuable historical resources of the Kota dynasty.
The museum displays a rich collection of rare coins, manuscripts and some lovely selection of Hadoti sculptures. Another noteworthy artifact is an exquisitely sculptured statue of a reclining Vishnu which was brought here from Badoli.
Keshoraipatan: is a popular pilgrimage destination and is located 9 kms from the Kota City. It has a temple dedicated to Keshav – Lord Vishnu. Located on the banks of River Chambal, this temple was built in the year 1601 by Maharaja Shatru Sal of Bundi.
Another ancient temple here at Keshoraipatam is of Lord Shiva, known as Mritunjaya Mahadev Temple and is considered one of the oldest temples of Rajasthan. It is believed that this temple was visited by the Pandava’s who studied here for a while. Nearby there is a Pandav Shala as well and plenty of ancient coins among other items have been found within the area, signifying the story.
The Darrah Wildlife Sanctuary: was once the preferred hunting grounds for the royal rulers of Kota. Established as sanctuary in 1955, it today has large number of Sloth Bears, Leopards, Nilgai, Antelopes, Wolves and Deer.
7 Wonder Park: is situated near the Kishore Sagar Lake and has miniature replicas of the following 7 marvels of the world:
1. Taj Mahal.
2. Great Pyramid of Giza
3. Brazil’s Christ the Redeemer.
4. Eiffel Tower of Paris.
5. Leaning Tower of Pisa
6. New York’s Statue of Liberty
7. Rome’s Colosseum.
Best time to visit this park is during evenings when the monuments are lit up.
Chambal Garden – This garden stretches along the banks of the River Chambal upstream of Kota Baraj. It houses a pond with rare gharial and crocodiles, which can be crossed via a teetering suspension bridge. It also has enclosures for birds, rabbits and such. Vast area has been covered to make it nice place for Picnic/family/friendship gathering etc. People can enjoy by playing some group games etc. Right next to it is the unique Yatayat(traffic) park. It is a theme park; with miniature flyovers, speedbreakers, tunnels, buildings and such all used to showcase traffic rules.
Stay Options in Kota: Braj Bhushan ki Haveli has now been converted into a heritage hotel and offers the grandeur of its rich past. Located at the heart of Kota City, the hotel holds plenty of traditional Rajasthani artifacts and offers its visitors a comfortable stay with the trimmings fit for a king.
Hadoti Travel Circuit : Includes Bundi – Kota – Jhalawar – Baran
Interesting Video Links on Kota:
Shopping in Kota
Kota is popular of Kota Doria Sarees and Kota Stone.
The Kota Stone is fine-grained variety of limestone that is tough, non water-absorbent, non-slip and non-porous. The varieties include Kota Blue Natural, Kota Blue Honed, Kota Blue Polished, Kota Blue Cobbles, Kota Brown Natural and Kota Brown Polished.
For the sarees, you can go to a Kaithoon (Kethan), where you can see how these hand woven sarees are weaved creating masterpieces using embroidered silver and gold threads. These sarees were originally made by the muslim weavers of Mysore (hence also called Masuria Sarees).
It was in the late 17th Century that a general known as Rao Kishore Singh bought the weavers to Shada, a locality of Kota that these were named Kota Doria, where doria means thread.
Originally the Kota-Doria sarees were woven in solid geometric patterns of alternating checks (size was of a single grain of moong or masoor dal) and were only made in five different shades of white – the color that would best keep out the horrible summer heat of Kota and keep the queens happier. These five whites were lyrically named ‘conch shell’, ‘sea-foam’, ‘jasmine’, ‘August moon’ and ‘clouds after they have spent their rain’. With times that too has changed and now these saris are available in a variety of colors and designs.
Eating in Kota
Kota has plenty of places to eat authentic Rajasthani Cuisine and being a youngsters city, it has its own favorite cafes. Check the best HERE
Must eat: Kachori, Lapsi, Dahi Keema Samosa, Dal Dhokli and Kachri ki Chutney.
Some of the local favorite shops for kachori are located at Rampura, Nayapura and Chhawni Chauraha.
Excursions from Kota
Bijolia: (80 kms on NH27 to Chittorgarh)This place is famous for ancient Bijolia temples.
Menal: a little beyond Bijolia, takes you to Menal that has another group of temples belonging to 12th Century. The place derives its name from Mahanal, a great gorge on which the temple complex is located, shaded by dense forests and a waterfall nearby.
By Road: From Bundi: 38 Kms
From Jaipur: 251 Kms (On the Jaipur-Tonk-Kota highway there is a place called Uniara. Here do stop to take a look at the gigantic elephant idol that has been carved out of a single rock!)
From Jhalawar: 75 Kms
From New Delhi: 515 Kms
From Chittorgarh: 172 Kms
From Sawai Madhopur: 134 Kms
From Ranthambore National Park: 145 Kms
From Abhaneri: 300 Kms
By Air: Sanganer Airport located at Jaipur is just 245 km from Kota City.
By Rail: Kota rail head lying in the main line of Delhi- Mumbai route is well connected to all major cities in India.
12060/Delhi Hazrat Nizamuddin – Kota Jan Shatabdi Express Train