Gwalior, situated in Madhya Pradesh is rich in historical associations and architectural beauty. It abounds in objects of great historical interest and its famous Fort which stands on a steep isolated mass of sand stone, 2700 feet across and 30 feet in height, is one of the most impressive medieval strongholds of India.
It has a history of invasions and many dynasties ruling it. In 1232 A.D. Gwalior was captured by Illtutmish followed by the invasion of Timur in 1398 A.D. Soon the Tomur chief, Bir Singh Deo declared himself as its independent ruler and founded the Tomar dynasty. Later the Maratha chief, Madho Rao Scindhia in 1784 A.D. captured the fort and established the Scindhia Empire. His descendants ruled Gwalior till the independence when the disintegration of status followed. In 1857 A.D. Gwalior played an important part in the sepoy mutiny which was the 1st War of Indian Independence.
Places of Interest
1. The Fort – The Fort was constructed by Raja Man Singh. It is described as “A Pearl in the necklace of the castles of India”. Standing on a steep isolated mass of sand stone which rises 300 feet above the dusty plain nearly 3 Kms long is this beautiful fort of Gwalior. Its breadth varies from 600 feet to 2800 feet in height. Its long line of battlement dominates the whole city of Gwalior encircling its north-east end and the Lashkar 1.6 Kms to the south. The main entrance to the Fort is protected by 5 gateways. There are 2 “Sas Bahu” temples 200 yards to the south of the Man Mandir Palace. They were completed by Mahipal in 1093 A.D. the temples are dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Brahma and Lord Shiva. The fort has seen many dynasties and industrialists ruling it. They are Tomar, Mughals, Britishers, Scindhia’s, Birla’s, etc.
The Fort houses 8 palaces for each of the 8 queens of Raja Man Singh. They are separately constructed from the main fort but are a part of the whole. The main fort houses the court, bedrooms, bathrooms, temples and recreational rooms of the King and queens. In the basement are Jauhar, the ancient telephone system and the place where Aurangzeb killed his brother. Jauhar is the place where queen committed suicide on the news of the death of the King. The basement area is dark and visitors can see it with the help of guides who use torches to light the area. Lights are placed at some points in the basement.
There are 5 groups of Jain sculptures dating back to the 18th Century A.D. and consisting principally of nude figures of few of the 24 Trithankaras on the rock wall of the fort. The rock sculptures of Gwalior are unsurpassed for their immense dimensions. It is recorded that most of them were mutilated in 1527 A.D. but only a part was destroyed which has been repaired by the Jain’s with color stucco.
2. Nearby the fort is the famous Scindhia School where parents seek to impart their children high quality and disciplined academic education. It is a costly school for study but one of the best in India today.
3. There is also the famous Dadi Chhod Gurudwara near the fort. It is a sacred place for pilgrims to visit. Here Guru Govind Singh imparted religious teachings to various kings of Gwalior. It is very clean and pious. Kar Sewa is done by children and young of all ages in the Gurudwara.
4. Tomb of Tansen – Tansen was the famous musician and 1 of the 9 gems of Akbar’s court. It’s believed that musicians used to chew the leaves of a Tamarind tree which grew near the tomb and the demand for the leaves was so high that in the course of time the tree disappeared. It is a small pavilion 22 feet square supported on pillars round the tomb stone.
5. Tomb of Mahmud Ghaur – Mahmud Ghaur, a saint was penerated by Akbar, the Great and Babur, the famous Mughal emperors. Hence, the tomb was constructed. This tomb is 100 feet square with hexagonal towers at the four corners.
6. Tigra Dam – The Tigra Dam is built on the bank of the river Sank. It is 17.7 Kms from Gwalior. Itis a fine picnic spot today. Gwalior gets its water supply from this reservoir.
7. Jay Vilas Palace – This palace has been built on Italian design and has a carpet which is the largest and heaviest in the world.
8. Sun Temple, Birla Nagar – The Birla’s and Scindhia’s have had a long history of friendship and association. The two industrialist families were so close and tied up in health relations that Scindhia’s constructed a “Birla Nagar” in Gwalior. In the Birla Nagar there is the famous Sun Temple built by Birla’s. It is on the same lines of the Sun Temple at Konark. Lord Shiva’s idol can be beautifully seen inside on which the rays of the Sun fall all day long.
9. The Scindhia Palace – Last but not the least Gwalior has the massive Scindhia Palace where the Scindhia’s lived and ruled. It houses the fantastic museum and the palace where they lived. It is a remarkable place, a must to visit by all pilgrims.
My visit to Gwalior is a memory of a lifetime.