The glorious and massive monument of India, the Gwalior Fort lies at the heart of Gwalior city. Placed on a hilltop, it gives the visitor a bird’s eye view of the beautiful valley and the whole of the city below. The zigzag pathway to the hill holds the magnificent rock carvings of Jain Theerthankaras.
The present Gwalior Fort is erected by Raja Man Singh Tomar of Tomar Dynasty. The unique architecture of Gwalior fort is the best example of Chinese influence on Indian architectural patterns. The Chinese dragons carved on the pillars of Gwalior Fort stand as an evidence of Indo-Chinese relationship of the era. It is one of the best examples of Medieval Indian architecture.
Gwalior Fort is popularly called the ‘the Gibraltar of India’. Gwalior Fort has witnessed the rule of several dynasties over hundreds of years. Gwalior fort was the battle field of Jhansi Ki Rani and Tantia Tope in their fight against British rule.
The Jai Vilas Palace is the residence of the Scindia Dynasty and their ancestors even now. A part of it is now used as a museum. It was constructed by Jiyaji Rao Scindia in 1809. Lt. Col. Sir Michael Filose is the architect of this palace. Its architectural style is an amazing mix of Italian, Tuscan and Corinthian styles.
Several artifacts and documents of the Scindia reign and the sword of Auragazeb and Shah Jahan are present here. Artifacts and vessels from Italy and France are on display. Two big Belgian chandeliers which weigh several tons hanging in the museum will definitely attract any onlooker. It is a place of interest for historians and common public alike.
Surya Madir or Sun Temple is the abode of Sun God. It is a place of worship. It is a relatively newly built temple which attracted a lot of pilgrims within a short span of time. It is modelled on the Sun Temple of Konark in Orissa. It is made of red sandstone and marble in the architectural style of the Konark Temple. It was constructed by G.D Birla in 1988.
The interior of the temple is made of marble while the exterior has carvings of Hindu Gods. The temple premise is calm and quiet with a beautiful garden.
Gujari Mahal is one of the famous archaeological museums of India situated in Gwalior. The building is originally a palace built by king Man Singh for his wife Mrignayani, who was a Gujar. Thus the palace got the name Gujari Mahal.
In the year 1922, it was converted into a museum by the archaeology department. The museum has 28 galleries and 9000 artifacts. It has artifacts from the 1st century onwards. Precious stones, jewels, terracotta objects, weapons, artifacts, sculptures, paintings, inscriptions, pottery, etc. are displayed here.
The wide array of sculptures in the Gujari Mahal museum includes the world famous Shalabhanjika Yakshi, Trimurthi Nataraj Ardhanareshwar and Yamraj. It also has photographs of Madhu and Dhar areas of the city which are 75 year old. It has evidence about the life of Tansen, the great musician of the 15th century. The museum is a must-visit for any Indian historian and for a lover of history.
The Scindia Museum, also known as the Jivaji Rao Scindia Museum is placed within the Jai Vilas Mahal. It is named after Jivaji Rao Scindia who was a progressive ruler of the dynasty. The museum was started by a trust in 1964 to exhibit the remaining documents and holding of the successors of the Scindia dynasty.
Paintings, bronzes, weapons, sculpture, manuscripts, coins, musical instruments Persian carpets, Malabar woodwork, etc. are among the exhibits. Curios from China, Japan and Italy are exhibited. Two big Belgian Chandeliers are the main attraction in the museum. Swords of Aurangazeb are also displayed there.
The Sas-Bahu Temple is located in the eastern side of Gwalior Fort. The irony lies in the fact that as the name suggests it is not the temple of sas (mother-in-law) and bahu (daughter-in-law). The name emerged out of ‘sastrabahu’ which is another name of Lord Vishnu. The Sas-Bahu Temple is dedicated to one incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
It has carvings of Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Godess Saraswathi on its door. There are two temple structures; one is small and the other is big. The temple is made of red sandstone with beautiful carvings of lotus. It has a pyramidal structure without any arches. It was built by King Mahipala of the Kachwaha dynasty in the 11th century.
Man Mandir Palace is a palace of great historical significance. It is a witness to many heartfelt stories of mindless power. It is a good example of medieval architecture, mixed with Hindu architecture. It is a four-storied building with two floors built underground. It has a circular shape.
It was built by King Man Sing Tomar of the Tomar dynasty in the 15th century. Later, it passed through the hands of several dynasties like Rajputs, Delhi Sultanate, Mugals, Marathas, British and Scindias. It is also called the painted house as it has interiors with colourful paintings of flowers, leaves, animals, human beings, etc.
There is a circular prison inside the palace. It witnessed the murder of Murad, by his own brother, the Mugal Emperor Aurangazeb. It also has a pond called Jauhar Pond, where Rajput wives performed Sati.
Teli Ka Mandir is placed within the Gwalior Fort. It is called the oil man’s temple. It is a massive structure which is of 100 ft. Its roof has a Dravidian architectural style while the carvings or sculptures are of North Indian style. It has a mix of Hindu and Buddhist architectural styles.
It is supposed to be the oldest monument within the Gwalior fort premises. It was supposedly built in the 11th century or 8th century. Teli ka Mandir was supposed to be a Vishnu Temple which later became a temple of Lord Shiva. The temple has the sculptures of goddesses, serpents, loving couples and Garuda inside it.
Dargah Khwaja Kanoon Sahib was a Durgah constructed in the memory of Khwaja Kanoon Sahib. Sahib came from Marwar to Gwalior and died in Gwalior. Visiting this Durgah for 40 days is believed to fulfill one's desires as per local customs.
Many believers frequent this pilgrim site all throughout the year. Khwaja Kanoon Sahib was a Sufi saint of high order. He was also called the Khwaja Kanoon by his followers. He died in 940 Hijri as per Islamic calendar.
The Memorial of Tansen which is also known as the Tomb of Tansen is a major monument of Gwalior. Tansen along with his teacher Muhammad Ghaus was buried here. Tansen was the famous musician of Akbar’s court. He was a stalwart of Hindustani music. He is one among the nine gems of Akbar’s court.
He lived in the 15th century. His teacher was a Sufi saint called Muhammad Ghaus. Tansen also followed the Sufi culture. The mythical story behind Tansen is that rain started pouring hearing his rendering of the Megha Malhar raag.
The Memorial of Tansen is a specific example of Mughal Architectural style. The prestigious Tansen Music Festival is conducted here every year during Novermber and December in which the great musicians of India participate.
Suraj Kund is a beautiful pond situated near the monumental Gwalior Fort. It gets its importance from the mythical or folklore story about King Suraj Sen of the 8th Century AD. As per the story, the king was suffering from leprosy, and as luck had it he met a sage named Gwalipa near the fort. The sage told the king to drink some water from this pond. He did the same and the king got cured of leprosy.
The king named the city after sage Gwalipa and then onwards the city was called Gwalior. Suraj Kund is named after the king, and it commemorates the mythical story. The beautiful vicinity of the pond along with the myth makes it an attractive tourist spot.
Ghaus Mohammed was a 15th century Sufi saint. He was an Afghan prince who later became a Sufi. He was the teacher of musician Tansen. He was the advisor of King Babur. The Tomb of Ghaus Mohammed is the best example of Medieval Mughal architecture design. The tomb has a gorgeous look with its mind blowing architectural beauty and stone carvings.
Ghaus Muhammed never adorned any seat of power, but different Mughal rulers including Akbar the Great took years of effort to build such a marvellous tomb in memory of him. It shows the prestigious position he had among the ruled. The Tansen Tomb or the Memorial or Tansen is also placed nearby.
Kala Vithika is a museum which preserves the musical instruments and personal belongings of many great musicians of India. It also preserves several mural art pieces. Gwalior is the place where the Gwalior Gharana originated. It is a place where many great musicians were born and nurtured by benevolent kings.
The legendary musician Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan’s ancestral house was also converted into a museum named Sarod Ghar by the master Sarod player Ustad Amjad Ali Khan. Kala Vithika portrays to the tourists the rich cultural history of the city. Kala Vithika is a must-visit for those who are interested in the history of arts and music.
Phool Bagh is a beautiful garden located very near to the Gwalior railway station. It was built by Madhava Rao Shinde the erstwhile Maratha ruler and was inaugurated by Prince of Wales in 1922 during his visit to India. The Gwalior Zoo, a museum and places of worship like the gurudwara, temple and mosque are located within the premises of Phool Bagh.
Jauhar Kund is a place of great historical importance. It is placed inside the Man Mandir Palace. Jauhar means suicide. It is a place where Rajaput wives practised sati by jumping into the pond or by self-immolation during the attack on Gwalior by Iltutmish.
In 1232, when the king of Gwalior was defeated, large number of women practised Sati near this Jauhar Kund. This water tank is originally built in medieval architecture style to provide water all around the fort. But historically it has a story to say about the sufferings of women.