Referred to as 'the pearl amongst fortresses in India' by the Mughal emperor Babur, the Gwalior Fort is one of the most impenetrable fortresses located in the entire northern and southern India and is a place you definitely must visit. Situated on the top of a vast rocky mountain near Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh in central India, the fort comprises of a defensive structure and two main palaces. This imposing structure that dominates the entire city of Gwalior is, simply put; an architectural marvel that bears testimony to the excellent craftsmanship that existed during those times. Touching the skyline of Gwalior, this prominent building is of extreme importance to the rich history and heritage of the country.
The exact period during which the Gwalior Fort was constructed is not yet known. According to legends, this imposing fort was built in the 3rd century by a local king Suraj Sen. The king had recently been cured of leprosy with the help and blessings of a sage named Gwalipa, who had offered him water from a sacred pond. The grateful king then built this fort and named it after the sage. The word Gwalior is derived from the saint's name- Gwalipa. The sage bestowed the title Pal, which means protector, upon the king; and declared that the fort would remain in his family's possession as long as they bore this title. Interestingly enough, the fort remained with the 83 descendants of Suraj Sen Pal, but the 84th descendant named Tej Karan lost the fort.
In the years that followed, the Gwalior Fort has witnessed many ups and downs. It also changed hands many times and has been held by the Tomars, Mughals, Marathas, and the British, before finally being handed over to the Scindias. This imperial fort also has a very bloody history attached to it. The Mughal emperor Aurangzeb imprisoned and later murdered his brother Murad in the Man Mandir Palace of the fort. The Jauhar Kund, also situated in the compound, marks the spot where the women of the harem burnt themselves to death after the death of King of Gwalior in 1232. Nevertheless, this monumental fort has a unique place in the history of humankind, as this place has the first ever recorded use of 0.
Surrounded by concrete walls of sandstone, the Gwalior Fort encloses three temples, six palaces and several water tanks, and is truly an architectural marvel. The different palaces and temples are a reflection of the architectural finery and skill that existed during those times and continues to be appreciated till date.
The most beautiful place in the entire premises is no doubt the Man Mandir Palace, which with its amazingly elaborate structure, seems to hang at the edge of the striking fort. Blue ceramic tiles form the facade of this breathtakingly beautiful palace. The Teli-ka-Mandir, built in the 9th-century Dravidian style, rises to a height of over 100 feet and is famous for its blend of South Indian architecture with North Indian decorative motifs, as well as an exquisitely sculpted exterior. The Saas-Bahu temples on the eastern side of the fort are also larger than life examples of the 11th-century temple architecture.
The Gwalior Fort comprises of many marvels of medieval architecture. The chief acknowledged amongst these are the Teli-ka-Mandir and the Man Singh Palace. The two pillared Saas-Bahu temples in the fort complex are an equally impressive watch. The blue ceramic tiled Man Singh Palace has an impressive structure and reflects the true colours of the Tomar Dynasty.
The fort complex also houses the Gujar Mahal, which was built exclusively for the King's beloved queen. The outer covering of this palace has survived many battles that the fort has encountered, and its interiors have now been converted into an archaeological museum, which houses an extraordinary collection of exhibits, some of which date back to as far as the 1st century AD.
The Karan Palace, the Jahangir Mahal and the Shah Jahan Mahal are also famous palaces what are worth seeing.
The Gwalior Fort hosts a spectacular sound and light show every evening. This show is extremely well executed and makes you feel as if you are a part of the rich history of the fort and the love story of Raja Man Singh and his queen Mrignayani.
The show takes place in the amphitheatre at the Man Mandir. The timings for the show are as follows:
Hindi Show: 7:30 PM
English Show: 8:30 PM
The Gwalior Fort is open on all days from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM
The entry fee for the fort is as follows:
Indians: INR 75 per person
Foreigners: INR 250 per person
For children: Free entry for children below 15 years of age
Camera Fee: None
The best time to visit the Gwalior Fort is during the autumn and spring season, that is between October and March. One can also enjoy the visit during the time of monsoon when the surrounding is verdant green, and the air is fresh and crisp.
The best way to reach the Gwalior Fort is through auto-rickshaw which can go up to the Urvai Gate, the western entrance of the fort. There are two approaches to the fort, the second one being the eastern entrance which does not allow any vehicle. Both the paths are steep treks after one point. However, the stunning view of this striking fort from the eastern side makes the whole trip worthwhile. Make sure not to miss the beautiful rock sculptures on your way down from the western side.
1. Do not litter around the fort and follow all the guidelines given by the fort authorities. 2. Make sure not the miss the brilliant light and sound show.
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