Also known as the tourist capital of Madhya Pradesh, Gwalior is a historically significant city shrouded in culture and vibrancy. Home to beautiful temples, magnificent forts and bustling bazaars, Gwalior is a city that every traveller should look forward to exploring. The city’s rich history and culture shine brightly through the various tourist attractions such as Gwalior Fort and Jai Vila Palace present here.
One such iconic tourist attraction of the city is the Gwalior Fort. One of the most magnificent and historic forts in India, Gwalior Fort is located on a hilltop and has witnessed many glorious and tragic events in its long history. The fort is a testimony to the rich cultural and architectural heritage of India, as it showcases various styles and influences of different dynasties and rulers who occupied it over the centuries.
As you gear up to visit and explore the rich heritage of Gwalior Fort, here are some of the things that you should know.
Gwalior Fort Timings: 6:00 AM To 5:30 PM
Gwalior Fort Ticket Price: Rs 75/- (Adults) Rs 40 /-(Children) Rs 250 /- (Foreigners)
Gwalior Fort: Legend
The origin of Gwalior Ka Kila is shrouded in legend and mystery. According to one popular legend, the fort was built by a local king named Suraj Sen in the 6th century CE, who was cured of leprosy by a sage named Gwalipa. The king named the city and the fort after the sage and also adopted the title of Pal, meaning protector. The sage blessed the king and his descendants, saying that they would rule over the fort as long as they bore the title of Pal. However, the 84th successor of Suraj Sen, Tej Karan, lost the fort due to his arrogance and pride.
Another legend says that the fort was built by a prince named Gwal Rai, who was a descendant of Raja Kushala of Kannauj. He was given the fort by his father as a reward for his bravery and valour. He named the fort Gwalior after himself and also founded the city at its foot.
Gwalior Fort: History
The earliest historical record of Gwalior Fort dates back to the 10th century CE when it was under the control of the Kachchhapaghata dynasty. The fort was then captured by various Muslim rulers, such as Mahmud of Ghazni, Qutb-ud-din Aibak, Iltutmish, Balban, and Alauddin Khalji. The fort also witnessed several battles and sieges, such as the one in 1232 CE, when Iltutmish defeated a coalition of Rajput kings led by Jai Singh II of Malwa.
Gwalior Ka Kila came under the rule of the Tomar Rajputs in the 14th century CE, who made it their capital and built several magnificent structures inside it. The most famous of these is the Man Mandir Palace and the Gujari Mahal Palace, built by Raja Man Singh Tomar for himself and his queen Mrignayani respectively. The Man Mandir Palace is known for its exquisite carvings, paintings, tiles, and jharokhas, while the Gujari Mahal Palace is now a museum that displays various artefacts and sculptures from different periods.
Further, the Gwalior Fort was conquered by the Mughal Empire in 1542 CE, when Babur’s grandson Humayun defeated Raja Bikramjit Singh Tomar. The Mughals added several buildings and gardens to the fort, such as the Jahangir Mahal, Karan Mahal, Shah Jahan Mahal, and Badshah Mahal.
The fort was then captured by several other powers, such as the Marathas under Ranoji Scindia, the British under Lord Wellesley, and again by the Marathas under Daulat Rao Scindia. The fort was also a site of rebellion during the First War of Indian Independence in 1857, when Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi and Tatya Tope fought against the British forces. The fort was finally handed over to the Indian government after India’s independence in 1947 CE.
Gwalior Fort: Attractions
This majestic fort is a treasure trove of art, architecture, and history. The fort has many attractions that showcase its rich heritage and beauty, including:
The Teli Ka Mandir:
A Hindu temple dedicated to Vishnu, Teli Ka Mandir was built by the Gurjara-Pratiharas in the 9th century CE. It is the oldest structure in the fort and has a unique blend of Nagara and Dravidian architectural styles. The temple has a towering shikhara (spire) that rises to a height of 100 feet and is decorated with sculptures of various deities and mythical creatures.
The Saas-Bahu Temple:
This pair of temples is dedicated to Vishnu and his consort Lakshmi and were built by King Mahipala of the Kachchhapaghata dynasty in the 11th century CE. The temples are also known as Sahastrabahu Temple, meaning the temple of the thousand-armed Vishnu. The temples have intricate carvings and paintings on their walls and ceilings, depicting scenes from Hindu mythology and legends.
The Gopachal Parvat:
This is a hillside that has hundreds of rock-cut sculptures of Jain Tirthankaras (spiritual teachers) that date back to the 15th and 16th centuries CE. The sculptures are carved in various sizes and poses, some as large as 58 feet tall. The most prominent sculpture is that of Adinatha, the first Tirthankara, who is depicted in a meditative posture. The Gopachal Parvat is a sacred site for the followers of Jainism and attracts many pilgrims and tourists.
The Gujari Mahal Archaeological Museum:
This is a museum that was once a palace built by Raja Man Singh Tomar for his beloved queen Mrignayani in the 15th century CE. The palace has a fusion of Hindu and Islamic architectural elements and has a large water tank in its courtyard. The museum displays various artefacts and sculptures from different periods of Gwalior’s history, such as coins, pottery, weapons, inscriptions, paintings, and statues. The museum also houses the famous zero stone inscription, which is one of the oldest records of the zero symbol in India.
Light And Sound Show:
This extravagant show takes place daily and is extremely well executed. The show depicts the rich history of the fort as well as the love story of Raja Man Singh and his queen Mrignayani. The show takes place in the amphitheatre of Man Mandir, with the Hindi show at 7:30 PM, and the English show at 8:30 PM.
Some other attractions within the fort complex include Maan Singh Palace, Karan Mahal and Gurudwara Data Bandi Chhor.
Gwalior Fort is a must-visit destination for anyone who loves history, culture, and architecture. The fort offers a glimpse into the glorious past of Gwalior and India, as well as a stunning view of the city below.