Straddling the main Delhi-Mumbai train line, Gwalior is the largest city in the northern Madhya Pradesh and the site of most fantastic hilltop forts. The city's history revolves around the its massive Gwalior Fort. According to an ancient inscription, Gwalior was founded Hun invaders in 6th century BC. But the local historical account says, the fort was founded by Kuchwaha prince Suraj Sen. According to legend, it had been cured by a hermit Gwalipa after whom the city is named. The Kuchwahas's successors, the Parihars were brutally murdered by Iltutmish army and seiged the fort for 11 months. Eventually, the fort fell to the hand of Muslim army, the Rajput women trapped inside committed mass suicide by self- immolation. The golden age of Gwalior came under the rule of Tomar king who retook Gwalior in 1398. Under Man Singh, who ascended the throne in 1486, the hilltop gained the magnificent palaces and fortifications that were to earn ir the epithet " the pearl in the necklaces of the castles of the Hind". With decline of Mughals, Gwalior became the base of the most powerful of the four Maratha clans, the Scindias who legacy still continues in the state.
Sights And ActivitiesGwalior Fort
The massive fort is the signature monument of Gwalior, perched at the height of 100m above town. The fort is 3km long guarded by circular towers decorated in turquoise tiles. The Gwalior city is clearly visible from the top of the fort. There are two approaches to the fort. From the west side a steep road passes through Urvai Gate, where also most of the guides and and drivers. You can take a taxi to pass the gate. On the east side, it's a steep 1km slog uphill to the fort compund. It is advisable to drive up to Urvai Gate and then walk down to Gwalior Gate.
On the way to the Gwalior fort you will witness sculptures carved into the rock, the most fascinating one those on the long ascent up from Urvai Gate. It is believed the those sculptures were carved in the 15th century, represent the nude figures of Tirthankars ( the 24 grat Jain teacher). The figures were defaced by Babar Muslim army and but repaired after independence.
Teli Ka Mandir
This 30m high, 8th century temple is the oldest monument in the compund designed in a mixed architecture of Dravidian and Indo-Aryan decorations. The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the prathihara temple is covered with sculptures and Garuda tops it 5m high doorway. The compound was once used as a soda factory and coffee shop by the British after 1857 revolt.
Man Singh Palace
The majestic palace is decorated with frieze of ducks also mossaic tiling of elephants, tigers and crocodiles in blue, yellow and green embellished the Chit Mandir (painted palace). This beautiful palace was built by illustrious Tomar ruler Man Singh in the 15th century. It is a fine example of Hindu architecture where twin courts are surrounded by apartments on two levels. The Man Singh Palace is also black spotted with ruthless Mughal emperor Aurangzeb's cruelty to his brother. Here he imprisoned his brother Murad and slowly poisoned with opium, which rammed him mad and finally chucked him off.
Jai Vilas Palace & Scindia Museum
This opulent huge palace is an epitome of Scindia legacy. The gold paint around the durbar hall weighs half a tonne. Eight elephants were suspended from its ceiling to check it could cope with two 12.5m high,250 light bulb, 3.5 tonne chandlers said to be the largest pair in the world. the rooms are filled up with diverse kind of items such as Belgian cut glass furniture and stuffed tigers. There's a ladies only swimming pool with diving boards, a boat and a wine cabinet.