As per Mughal conqueror Babur, Gwalior Fort is the pearl amongst fortresses in India. The Gwalior Fort is one of the most impenetrable fortresses that has no match in the whole of North and South India. So, It is a tourist spot, indubitably, worth visiting. Moreover, the Gwalior Fort is known for its rich past and stands at the peak of architectural grandeur in history.
Gwalior Fort in Madhya Pradesh is an incredible place in central India. It stands on the head of a vast rocky mountain whose regal surrounding makes the fort stand out from the rest. And, also its identity and architecture have a name of their own. Evidence also suggests that the fort has survived since the 6th Century.
A remarkable fact about Gwalior fort is that the oldest reference to the digit ‘zero’ has been found in the form of a carving inside a temple.
The construction of the Gwalior Fort took place in two sections, in two different time periods. Thus, this architectural marvel has interesting tales attached to it. Several dynasties brimming with pride then, succumbing to defeat followed by another of the once same mind narrate about themselves through the walls of the great fort.
The Gwalior fort in Madhya Pradesh is surrounded by concrete walls of sandstone, enclosing three temples, six palaces, and several water tanks. It is truly a paragon of architectural marvel. The palaces here include the Man Mandir Palace, the Jahangir Mahal, the Gujari Mahal, the Karan Mahal and the Shah Jahan Mahal.
Different palaces and temples are a reflection of the architectural finery and skills that prospered during those times and continue to be appreciated to date. The fort covers about three square kilometres and has two entry gates. The Elephant Gate or Hathi Pul is the main entrance on the north-east side and the other one is the Badalgarh Gate on the south-west side.
Why Gwalior fort is called Gibraltar of India?
Gwalior Fort is entitled the “Gibraltar of India”. This royal title bestowed by Babur paints panoramic insights of the old Gwalior town. The title also embodies the cultural confluence of North and South India, along with the strength of the fort’s unique defence system.
According to archaeologists, there isn’t any solid proof to show exactly when the fort was constructed. However, a provincial King named Suraj Senin built it in 3CE, according to a legend. A saint, Gwalipa, came to the fort and met the king, who was suffering from leprosy.
When Gwalipa offered him some water from a sacred pond, now called Suraj Kund and is located within the fort complex, he immediately became healthy again. As a token of gratitude, the king named the fort and the town after him. The saint then gave the king the title of ‘Pal’- the protector and told him that as long as he and his family continue to bear this title, the fort would remain in their possession.
Gwalior Fort history unveils the truth that 83 generations of Suraj Sen dominated the fort. Yet the 84th king, Tej Karan, could not bear the title and lost the fort.
In the 6th century, an Huna emperor called Mihirakula ruled the fort during that time. Later in the 9th century, Gurjara-Pratiharas seized the fort, supervised, and also built the Teli Ka Mandir. After the Tomars got captured and Muslim invaders ruled over them for three centuries, they conquered the fort in 1398.
Maan Singh was the last and the most unique Tomar ruler, and he built numerous monuments inside the fort complex. The stunning turquoise blue-tailed Man Mandir Palace was under construction during his reign. He had a separate palace constructed for his wife Mrignayani, known as the Gujari Mahal. This Mahal is now functioning as a state archaeological museum.
When Ibrahim Lodi attacked the fort in 1516, he brought an end to the proud reign of the Tomars.
The city of Gwalior is gleaming with the history of many powerful rulers and dynasties. The history of Gwalior Fort has passed through many hands over the centuries. The Mughals, the Marathas and eventually engulfed by the famous East India Company.
After this, there were several repetitive transfers between the rule of the Marathas and the Britishers. Finally, in 1844, the Maratha Scindia family of Gwalior controlled the fort as the protectorate of the British government.
During the revolution of 1857, the fort witnessed battles fought by Rani Lakshmibai, the Queen of Jhansi. She is known to have sought refuge inside the fort. Her valour and might that far surpassed men who fought beside her is known to have begun from the giant doors of the fort.
Until India gained independence in 1947, the Scindias continued their reign over the fort, as well as constructed several monuments.
The most attractive spot on the entire premises is no doubt the Man Mandir Palace. Its complex architecture adds a new life to the entire structure of the fort. 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.
During the time of Mughal invasion the unique Jain temple monuments inside the fort, with the Siddhachal Caves, Gopachal rock-cut Jain statues and thousands of Jain Tirthankar idols were destroyed.
While the establishment of another religious site inside the fort complex also took place, i.e. the Gurudwara Data Bandi Chhor. Also, the history of the fort reveals the Mughal Emperor Jahangir held Sikh Guru Hargobind Sahib along with 52 Rajput kings as hostages.
The Gwalior fort Gurdwara was constructed in the memory of Guru Hargobind. Now, it is one of the significant Sikh pilgrimage sites, visited by many tourists. Man Mandir Palace, Gujari Mahal, Assi Khamba Ki Baoli, and Suraj Kund are other important monuments present in the complex.
The Gwalior Fort is open for the public every day from 6:00 AM to 5:30 PM
The entry fee for the fort is as follows
Indians: INR 75 per person
Foreigners: INR 250 per person
Entry for children under 15 years of age is FREE
The Gwalior Fort organizes a magnificent sound and light program every evening. The execution of this show is very good and makes you feel as if you are a part of the rich Gwalior Fort history and the love story of Raja Man Singh and his queen Mrignayani.
The show takes place in the amphitheatre atMan Mandir. The timings for the show are as follows:
Hindi Show: 7:30 PM
English Show: 8:30 PM
The best way to arrive at the Gwalior Fort is by auto-rickshaw which can reach up to the Urvai Gate, the western gateway of the fort. There are two ways to the fort, the second one being the eastern gate does not permit any vehicle. While, Both the paths are steep treks after one point, nevertheless, the charming illustration of this impressive 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. The majestic history of Gwalior fort expresses the wonders of a bygone era in the form of art and architecture. An ideal destination in Madhya Pradesh that represents the richness of India’s diverse culture and heritage.