The former princely state of Madhya Pradesh, Gwalior is an important historical city. Founded by Suraj Sen, a prince of the Kachhwaha Rajput clan of the 18th century, it was a dream city of several rulers, mainly because of its strategic location. It is believed that Gwalior was named after a saint 'Gwalipa', who was the one who was able to cure the deadly disease of the king. To honor him, the city was named Gwalior. Renowned for its magnificent palaces, striking temples and splendid monuments. The glorious past of centuries make Gwalior a very popular tourist destination and a perfect destination to absorb the rich heritage attractions in India.
Over the centuries, the Gwalior city of today has become home to several great dynasties wherein every dynasty has added a new element to it through its rulers, artists, musicians, saints etc, adding to its attraction. Its structures, sculptures, palaces and other attractions are admired all around the world for their magnificence and fabulous architecture. The city of Gwalior is a great concoction of the old and new world that becomes its prime attraction as well.
Gwalior is also quite famous for being the birthplace of very well-known great musician Tansen, who was one of the nine Navratnas of the Darbar of the Mughal Emperor Akbar. The brilliant reminders of a celebrated past have been preserved with great concern, which has given Gwalior a unique and ageless appeal. Apart from being a prime tourist destination, this city is also a prime pilgrim center for the followers of Jainism as well as Hinduism. During tour to India, it becomes important for a tourist to visit Gwalior for its rich past and glorious monuments.
Placed on a sandstone hilltop, the majestic Gwalior Fort, was built by Suraj Sen, the founder of the city. An example of striking medieval architecture, this fort has been a viewer of around 100 years of history of several dynasties. The top of the fort offers a 360 degree view of the surroundings. The large Garuda image and a few other structures are the main attractions of the fort. This fort boasts of being one of the biggest ones in India.
Built in 1874 by Jayajirao Scindia, the Maharaja of Gwalior, the European-style Jal Vilas palace boasts of architecture that is a striking mix of Italian, Tuscan and Corinthian styles. Now transformed into a Museum, it houses an amazing collection of antique items, belonging to the Scindia reign including 2 fabulous Belgian chandeliers and swords of Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb.
Built between 1486 AD and 1517 AD by legendary Raja Mansingh, Man Mandir Palace is quite popular for its grandeur in architecture as well as interiors. Now almost in ruins, a major attraction placed within its boundaries is the Johar Pond, where the Rajput ladies had committed mass sati, after the kind had lost the battle.
A tank place within the four walls of the Gwalior fort, Suraj Kund is said to be the very site where the Saint Gwalipa healed Suraj Sen, the Rajput chieftain and the founder of the city. Dating back to the 15th century, it is believed that by the locals that the water of this pond has medicinal properties.
Sas-bahu temple, a 9th century shrine, built inside the fort is not only famous for its religious value but also for its striking architectural beauty. Contrary to its name, the temple is not dedicated to Sas (mother-in-law) and Bahu (daughter-in-law) but to Shastra Bahu, another name of God Vishnu.
Built during the 11th century, Teli ka Mandir in the Gwalior Fort is an ancient temple that is quite popular for its architecture. While the roof of the temple has a Dravidian look, the sculptures are North Indian. Around 100 feet high, this temple resembles Prathihara Vishnu temple, another popular temple. The architecture is a mix of Indo Aryan and Nagara style of architecture.
The mausoleum of Ghaus Mohammed, the 'Afghan Prince turned Sufi Saint' is placed in the old town of Hazira. He helped Babur in occupying the Gwalior Fort. Constructed during in the 16th century, this tomb in sandstone is an amazing proof of Mughal architecture. The Tomb of Ghaus Muhammad is a famous pilgrimage center of both Muslims and Hindus.
Around 40 km from Gwalior, Padavali temple, is quite popular mainly for its classic architecture and delicate stonework. The roof of the temple is a depiction 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu, Samudra manthan, Ram- Leela, Krishna- Leela, marriage of Lord Ganesha, events from Mahabharata etc. Another popular is a dancing Shiva figure. The temple is also quite popular for its magnificent architecture.
Around 2 km away from Padavali temple is the well-known complex of Bateshwar temple. Placed in the Morena district and stretched in more than 25 acres of land, this complex consists of around 200 sandstone temples. While most of the temples are dedicated to Lord Shiva, some of them are dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
Constructed during the 15th century by Raja Man Singh, Gujari Mahal is another palace in Gwalior. Raja Man Singh constructed the palace for his wife Mrignayani who was a Gujar princess. The palace is a one of the major attractions of Gwalior.
In 1922, the palace was converted into a museum called Central Archaeological Museum. The museum today, houses 28 galleries which have more than 6,000 artifacts. The museum is famous for its sculptures, coins, pottery, terracotta, paintings, inscriptions and weapons.
The palace is also known to have a collection of photographs which include the Bagh Cave paintings and monuments of India.
The archaeological museum is set inside the Gujari Mahal which was built in the 15th century by Man Singh for his favorite princess. The museum houses a large collection of Hindu and Jain sculptures. It also has many photographs which have been collected from different places like Gwalior, Morena, Guna, Vidisha, Bhind, Shivpuri, Ujjain and many more. The museum is known for its collection of sculptures that include world-famous Nataraj Ardhanareshwar, Shalabhanjika Yakshi, Trimurthi and Yamraj. It also has a terracotta collection which has images of Ram and Sita from the 2nd century.
This museum is a must-visit for those who wish to flip back the pages of history and experience the glorious past of the country.