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Location : Madhya Pradesh
Languages : Hindi
Climate : Humid Sub-tropical
Temperature : In summers, as high as 45-47 degree Celsius; in winters, it may go below zero degree Celsius
Major Attractions : Gwalior Fort, Gujari Mahal
Best Visiting Time : Winter season
Located in Madhya Pradesh, Gwalior lies at an altitude of 197 meters from sea level. Endowed with the numerous monumental structures, palaces, the city is a famous throughout India for its majestic forts and other edifices that were erected here by rulers of different dynasties that ruled here over a period of time. These specimens of architectural beauty are the testimonial to royal grandeur that was a part of these dynasties. Its splendid past and vibrant present are what makes the city a jewel among the tourist places of Madhya Pradesh. The charming romance associated with it and a rich history are enough to allure the tourists from India and worldwide.
Down the Lane :
The majestic fort was captured by Huns in sixth century; Later the city was annexed by Kannauj Pratihars. Tenth century the rule being transferred to Kacwaha Rajputs. Under Sultanate rule, Qutub-din-Aibak made it a part of his kingdom in 1196. British captured it in 1780 as a part of Sepoy Rebellion.
1857 Revolt :
The city played a crucial role in Revolt of 1857. It was Lakshmi Bai who laid down hi life while resisting British forces. During the revolt, she took shelter at Gwalior Fort. The ruler of the fort did not want her to enter the premises as this would mean an enmity with British. But ruler's army sided with Lakshmibai and she was allowed to enter. Soon, British attacked the fort and a ferocious battle was fought. Rani sacrificed her life while fighting and the fort came under the annexation if British.
Gwalior Fort :
A masterpiece of architecture and an evidence of magnanimous art of that time, Gwalior Fort is the main highlight of the city. The edifice was erected by a king named Suraj Sen at least 1000 years back. The structure rests upon a hill and is considered a gem of all the historical places of India. The fort comprises of a main fort and a few other places. While the main portion was constructed at the time of Tomar rulers, the other parts were added by Man Singh Tomar. The fort, on the whole, is spread over an area of about three square kilometers; massive pieces of sandstones are used in its construction. You can gain entry to the premises via two entrances. In order to enter through main entrance, you have to traverse additional six gates. The precincts of the fort also encompass a number of temples, palaces etc. Huge tanks can be seen here; these were used as water supply to about 15000 people.
Man Mandir, a Hindu palace, attracts the visitors by its lovely façade. You will also see several circular towers that lie majestically along the wall of the fort. Also referred to as "painted palace", the palace is beautified by multiple colored tiles. Over the walls, you cam also have the glimpse of numerous animals images. Inner courts with carved brackets are the highlights of the place.
The fort is easily accessible from the city and is situated at a short distance of three kilometers from it.
Gujari Mahal :
An added attraction to Gwalior Fort is Gujari Mahal; upon arriving at the premises of the fort, you can never afford to miss this magnificent place. Built in remembrance of his wife named Gujari by Man Singh, the Mahal is now refurbished into a museum. The artifacts that belong to royal period have been kept at display here. Within the premises, you will see Hindu as well as Jain sculptures that date back to period between 1BC and 2 AD. Other attractions here are items of terracotta and frescoes replicas.
Teli ka Mandir :
Another exquisite monument that occupies the precincts of the fort is Oilman's Temple. It is believed that the structure is the oldest one of all the monuments that adore Gwalior Fort. There is an amalgamation of several architectural styles that are visible here. You will not see any kind of decorative pillars or mandapas that are so common to other structures. You can see an influence of Buddhist architecture upon the monument that can be seen in its Chaitya hall and presence of a splendid toran.
Sas-Bahu Temple :
Kachchhapaghatas rulers constructed this temple with unique name. In fact, there are two separate temples that stand side by side; while the bigger one is named "Sas" and relatively smaller one is referred to as "Bahu". Both the shrines are shaped in the form of a pyramid. Built in late 11th century, these temples are made up of red sandstone. A distinctive feature that differentiates them from other temples is that arches are not used for constructing multiple storey structures; instead beams are used for this purpose.
Suraj Kund :
A complex of 15th century, Suraj Kund is the place where king Suraj Sen got cured from leprosy disease by bathing in the waters of this kund. You may be interesting in knowing about the fascinating history that lies behind it. Suraj Sen was suffering from acute leprosy. A saint named Gwalipa suggested that king should drink water from this tank; the ruler got cured of his disease. As a token of gratitude towards the sage, he named the city after him.
Surya Mandir :
An important historical attraction that pulls a large number of tourist is Surya Mandir. Considered as a significant place of veneration, the temple was a late addition to the places of interest of the city. Constructed in 1988 by an eminent industrialist G.D. Birla, the architecture of the temple resembles to that of Sun Temple of Orissa. Its exterior is made up of red sandstone while the interior is adorned with marble.
Tansen Memorial :
It is the tomb of renowned musician Tansen who adored the courts of Mughal Emperor Akbar. To commemorate him, a Sangeet Samaroh is organized within the premises.
Mohammed Ghaus Tomb :
He was an eminent Muslim saint who belonged to 16th century. You can visit the tomb for its peerless beauty and magical screen work depicted in its panels.
Shanichara Temple :
Another charming place that you would live to explore at Gwalior is Shanichara Temple. Dedicated to the revered deity Shani, this shrine is made from stones and an idol of the deity is placed with in the premises. As per a legend, the deity was captured by Ravana, a demon king. It is present in a village named Aeti. The village had no existence earlier and was just a barren land.
Apart from towering structures that are apart ad parcel of Gwalior's history, there is a whole lot to see here. Its Bazaars are flooded with reasonably priced shops managed by State Tourism. At Sarafa, you can buy jewelry, handloom works, and handicraft items. Topi is famous for its leather goods. The city is also popular for its quality fabrics. Its silk and cotton saris are known for their lightness. At MP Emporium, you can pick some handicrafts souvenirs for your near and dear ones. Gandhi Bazaar, Dahi Mandi, and Subhash Market are other nice hangouts.
Jain Sculptures :
Present near Urwahi Gate, there are a set of 21 sculptures that are present and attract by their sheer presence. These belong to 7th century and are the reminiscent of the Jain architecture. All the 24 Tirthankars have been displayed in the form of these stone structures. The tallest among them is as high as 20 meters. The massive image of Adinath impresses you by its seated pose. Also worth mentioning is the figure of Neminath who is also illustrated in sitting posture.
Jami Masjid :
Gwalior attracts the tourist by its plethora of monuments. Jami Masjid which was erected by Mutamad Khan in late seventeenth century is the highlight of the old city. Red as well as white pieces of sandstone have been used for its construction.
Excavation Sites :
Excavation at some of the places of Gwalior has led to unearthing many impressive monuments. Ater Fort, a structure present at 110 kilometers from the city, is a good example in this regard. Archeological department is playing a crucial role in refurbishing this fort and recapture its original glory. Kherat, another excavation site, has two temples to boast of. Situated close to Ater, Kherat is accessible via road though the ride is never smooth here. At Kakanmadh, archeologists have been successful in unearthing a temple of 11th century.
Here, you can have the glimpse of ancient ruins that belong to Naga rulers. The accessibility is a big issue as roads are not well built here. Pavaya which was earlier Naga capital has many monuments that have been excavated from underneath. In order to them all, you have to walk for about a half kilometer. There are four structures that adorn the place. Each one of them is decorated with a dome shaped structure. In the vicinity, you can behold a ruined fort belonging to Parmar dynasty.
Dhoomeshwar Temple :
Located near Pavaya ruins, a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is present. It is called Dhoomeshwar Mohave Temple. In the interior, you can see several mandapas, a garbha griha, and an antralaya. A Shiva lingam is enshrined within the sanctum sanctorum and attracts devotees in large numbers.
The city has remained a renowned center of art and craft. As far as music is concerned, it has gained a huge reputation. Baiju Bawra, the classical singer belonged to the city. He earned huge popularity while serving as court musician to the fort. Another exponent of classical music was Tansen who served in the court of Akbar. A music festival is organized in his remembrance; it is called Tansen Samaroh. Amjad Ali Khan, a Sarod player also belongs to here. If we talk about dance, Ahiri Dance is most important festival here. The dance form is related to cattle herders. The dance is an important form of culture to tribes like Baredi, Raut, Gwal, and Ahir.
There are numerous festivals that are celebrated here with joy and vigor. Festivals like Holi, Dusshera, Diwali, Makar Sakranti, and Raksha Bandhan are part of its culture. The other festivals that are also important to people of Gwalior are Ganesh Chaturthi, Nag Panchami, and Navaratri. On the occasion of Makar Sakranti, Kite Festival is organized.
Advance booking is a good idea if you want to book some accommodations at Gwalior as only a few of them are present within the precincts of the city. Apart from luxurious ones, budget ones are also available. A few nice names are Jyendraganj, Usha Kiran Palace, and Gwalior Regency.
The historical city of Gwalior shows you a glimpse of its magnanimous past and glorious royal heritage.