Situated in the state of Madhya Pradesh, Gwalior is the city of true royals, the Scindias. City is well known for its majestic fort, considered as one of the best in the world. Often called the Fort City, the massive hill fort of Gwalior served as the seat of several north Indian kingdoms. Mughal emperor Babur is believed to have described the fort as the pearl among fortresses in the empire. And truly so…the entire city is a visual and aesthetic feast, for the builders of Gwalior were great architects. Take a walk through the streets of the city and you’ll discover Old Havelis with exquisitely carved doorways and windows at almost every street crossing you will find statues of the Scindia Family. Sightseeing in Gwalior is a magical trip into the centuries gone by!!
Places to explore
Standing on the steep mass of sandstone, Gwalior fort dominates the city and its most magnificent monument. The magnificent outer walls of the fort still stands, two miles in length and 35 feet high, bearing witness to its reputation for being one of the most invincible forts of India. It has been a scene of momentous events, imprisonments, battles and jauhars. A steep road winds upwards to the fort, flanked by statues of Jain Tirthankars, carved into rock face. Within the fort are some marvels of medieval architecture. Be it be the 15th century Gujari mahal or the teli ka mandir or the age old suraj kund, splendours of the fort is unending.
- Gujari mahal: This 15th century monument built as a symbol of the love of Raja Man Singh Tomar for his gujar queen, Mrignayani. After he had wooed and won her, so the story goes, Mrignayani demanded that he builds her a separate palace with a constant water supply from the River Rai, via an aqueduct. The outer structure of the Gujari Mahal has survived in an almost total state of preservation; the interior has been converted into an archaeological museum.
- Suraj kund: Though the major portions of the fort were built in the 15th century, references to this gigantic complex can be traced back to 425 AD. Older than the city is Suraj Kund within the fort walls, the original pond where Suraj Sen, or Suraj Pal as he was later known, was cued by the Saint Gwalipa.
- Man mandir palace: Man Mandir Palace was constructed by Man Singh Tomar between the years 1486-1517. Influenced by both Hindu and medieval architecture, the exteriors of the palace are decorated with designed tiles. This palace is also known as Chit Mandir or Painted Palace. Artwork within the tiles intertwines with beautifully carved stone creating a richly unique exterior leaving imaginations to run wild about the grandeur of years past. The Emperor Aurangzeb had his brother, Murad, imprisoned and later executed, here. Close by is Jauhar pond , where in the Rajput tradition the ‘rains’ committed mass ‘sati’ after their consorts had been defeated in battle.
- Teli ka mandir: The teli ka mandir is a 9th century edifice, towering at 100ft high. This is a Pratihara Vishnu temple of a unique blending of architectural styles. The shape of the roof is distinctively Dravidian, while the decorative embellishments have the typically Indo-Aryan characteristics of northern India.
Jai Vilas Palace:
A Splendour of a different kind exists in the Jai Vilas Palace, current residence of the Scindia family. Originally built as a palace, it has now been turned into a museum. Designed by Sir Michael Filose, a well-known architect of those times. A combination of architectural styles, the first storey is Tuscan, the second Italian-Doric and the third Corinthian. The area of the Jai Vilas palace is 12,40,771 square feet and it is particularly famous for its large Durbar Hall.
The imposing Durbar or the royal hall has two central chandeliers. Supposedly, eight elephants were suspended from the durbar hall ceiling to check it could survive these two 12.5m-high, 3.5-tonne chandeliers with 250 light bulbs, said to be the largest pair in the world. Eye catching treasures include: a silver train with cut glass wagons which served the guests as it chugged around on miniature rails on the tables cut-glass furniture, stuffed tigers and a ladies-only swimming pool with its own boat, oil painting by Raja Ravi Verma, Malabar furniture, Malabar furniture, crystal furniture, palki (Palanquin), Jacobean furniture, Napoléon table, miniature paintings, lithograph, royal old photograph.
Gwalior is known to be a city of music. It is one of the oldest gharanas or schools of Hindustani classical music. The father of Hindustani classical music, the great Tansen, one of the ‘Nine Jewels’ Of Akbar’s Court, lies buried in Gwalior. The memorial to this great musician has a pristine simplicity about it, and is built in the early Mughal architectural style. More than a monument it is a part of Gwalior’s living cultural heritage; stage for the annual nation Music festival.
Kala Vithika is a popular museum in Gwalior. It is known for ancient paintings, instruments, and portraits displaying the rich history and culture of Madhya Pradesh. Surya Mandir, also known as Sun Temple, is the replica of the famous Sun Temple of Konark in Orissa. Dedicated to the Sun god, the temple is situated near the residency at Morar, and is one of the pilgrimage places in the region. The Samadhi of Rani Lakshmi Bai is located in the complex of Phool Bagh. Constructed by late Madho Rao Scindia, Phool Bagh comprises a residential palace and a museum along with other buildings.The garden was inaugurated by the Prince of Wales in 1922 on his visit to Gwalior.
For The Foodies:
For Many Gwaliorites, A Typical Breakfast Comprises Of Irresistibly Tasty And Hot Kachoris, Pakoras and Samosas Accompanied with Peppered Chutneys And Curries. Jalebis, Rabdi, Kebabs, Bhutte Ki Kees a special Curry Made Of Grated Corn, Mawa-Bati, Khoprapak and Malpua are popular. Also try out Morena Gajak, a delicacy prepared from jaggery and sesame. For non-vegetarians, Rogan Josh, a delicious lamb dish, is another worthy option to be tried in Gwalior.
How to reach:
Slightly off the Golden Triangle tourist route, Gwalior Fort is a divine excursion south of Agra 146 kms. There are regular flights from other major cities of the country to Gwalior. Buses to Gwalior are also available from Jhansi, Varanasi, Indore, Bhopal, etc.
The grandeur of the Gwalior Fort is reminiscent of its history and the different rulers who ruled here. A city with rich historic significance, the place gives you a clear insight on the display of strength by the rulers of the bygone era. Gwalior has stood the test of time and your visit to Gwalior is sure to elevate your spirits.