Man Singh Palace
MADHYA PRADESH

The mighty Gwalior Fort: A journey into history

It wasn’t long after we returned from our short vacation to Chail. But you know our travel itch. Hence followed a detailed planning for Orchha and Gwalior. We spent one of our two days in Gwalior touring the mighty Gwalior fort since this is one of the must visit places in the city. Here is all about our journey into history at the magnificent fort of Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh.

Inside Gwalior Fort premises

A major cluster of structures is under the care of ASI and the rest fall under the State Government. The ASI structures include Man Singh Palace, Teli Ka Mandir, Saas Bahu Temple and Assi Khamba ki Baoli

There are two entrance gates to the Gwalior fort. The eastern entrance, populary known as Quila gate allows no vehicles. Its a steep trek. The western gate, also called Urvai gate is thonged by Jain Tirthankara statues along the winding roads leading to the fort.

Jain Tirthankar statues

Monuments under ASI

Man Singh Palace

Also called Man Mandir, this grand palace from the late 15th century was fortified by Man Singh Tomar. This architectural marvel has 4 levels with two underground floors and two above the ground.

Man Singh Palace
Man Singh Palace exteriors

The tuquoise blue tile work, elaborate motifs, lattice work windows, perfectly sculpted sandtones together make Man Mandir a stunning monument.

One of the underground floors houses prison cells. This floor is also believed to have secret escape passages. A water-tank, now covered, was used by the royal ladies for Jauhar when Gwalior Fort was captured. The eerie silence and dim lighting of the underground chambers are indeed scary.

Mysterious chambers in Man Singh Palace
Man Singh Palace’s mysterious underground chambers

The top floors had chambers of royal ladies, and halls with balconies for the king to enjoy music perforamances. The gem studded walls and ceilings were ruined during Mughal invasion.

The ornate courtyard in Man Singh Palace
The ornate courtyard in Man Singh Palace

Saas Bahu Temple

The ornate Saas Bahu Temple
Work of art- Saass Bahu temple

Dedicated to lord Vishnu, the temple’s original name was Sahastrabahu Temple. Sahastrabahu means several arms (of Vishnu) which earned this name. Locals perhaps shortened the name and referred to it as Saas Bahu temple.

Saas bahu twin temple

This 11th century twin temple is one of the most attractive structures within the Gwalior fort premises. The intricately carved pillars, etched ceilings and breathtaking sanctum left us spellbound. Each stone teweaves a lovely a story of the Rajput architecture.

Teli ka Mandir

Teli ka mandir from the entrance

Constructed between the 8th and 9th century, Teli ka Mandir is an amalgum of Dravidian and the ancient Nagara style of architecture. What influence the design of the temple is still a mystery. Weather it was the Buddhist, the Gupta era or South Indian influence, the temple is unusual in many ways. Unlike all Hindu temples’ square sanctum, Teli ka mandir has a rectangular sanctum. With a Garuda staute at the 11 meters high entrance door, the temple’s 80 feet tall tower and extensively carved outer walls are treat to eyes. Numerous other ruined structures surround the main temple.

Mysterious teli ka mandir-view from side
Elaborate stone work
Elaborate stone work

Assi khamba ki baori

As the name suggests, assi khamba translate to eighty pillars in Hindi. This is a historical circular step-well that was built by Raja Man Singh Tomar. The baori or stepwell can be reached via a stone hall comprising 80 pillars. The place gives a great view of the surrounding monuments and also makes a perfect spot for couple shoots.

At Assi Khamba ki Baoli
At Assi Khamba ki Baoli

P.S- Use of tripods are strictly prohibited anywhere in the fort. We requested the guard to help us with the picture.

Structures under the State Government

Entry to the cluster of monuments under the state govt (Karan Mahal, Jahangir Mahal, Vikram Mahal, Shjahan Mahal, Jauhar Kund) costs Rs 10 only.

Monuments cluster under state government
Monuments cluster under state government

Karan Mahal and Vikram Mahal

Both the palaces face each other. The humble architecture and barely any carvings or stone work in both the monuments perhaps make them quite similar.

Chhatri of Bhim Singh Rana

This cenotaph was built in the memory of Bhim Singh Rana who had captured Gwalior fort from Mughal rulers. Rana had built a lake, locally called Bhimtal near which his successor constructed a chhatri in his memory.

Bhimtal and Bhim Singh Rana Chhatri

Jehangir and Shahjehan Palace

Jahangir Mahal was also referred as Sher Mahal since it was constructed by Sher Shah. Later the name was changed to the Jahangir Mahal after its restoration by Jahangir. Shahjehan Place was built by emperor Shahjehan and has a jauhar kund its open yard. Both the palaces are interconnected and opposite to each other.

Jehangir Palace

The Jauhar Kund was used for supplying water to Jehangir Palace, Shahjehan Palace, Karan Mahal, and Vikram Mahal. The Rajput women commited suicide in this tank at time of Mughal attack on Gwalior Fort in 1232 AD. Hence the baoli got its name as Johar Kund.

Jauhar Kund at Shahjehan Palace

Other monuments inside Gwalior Fort

Gurudwara Data Bandi Chhor

Gurdwara Data Bandi Chhor is a memorial for the sixth guru of the Sikhs, Guru Hargobind Sahib. At the age of 14, he was imprisoned by the Mughal ruler Jahangir. For resisting Mughal rule, he along with 52 other kings was held captive inside the mighty Gwalior fort.

World’s oldest zero

Gwalior takes pride in holding the World’s oldest reference of zero. Historians debate whether it was the Egyptians or the Chinese who invented the concept of zero. Nonetheless, the actual invention and design of zero is credited to an unknown Indian mathematician. Hundreds of years ago, se/she probably drew the first empty circle to symbolize nothingness or shunya, a concept that existed in Indian philosophy since ages.

Gurjari Mahal

Gurjari Mahal

This mahal was built by Raja Man Singh Tomar for his wife Mrignayani. However, it was later converted into a museum. Artefacts like precious stones, weapons, sculptures, pottery, jewelery and more are diplayed in the 28 galleries here. Due to lack of time, we had to skip this beautiful palace.

With that we come to an end of the journey inside the mighty Gwalior fort. Here are useful tips to tour the fort.

Best time to visit Gwalior– October to March or monsoon.

Timings– 9am to 6pm. Light and sound show starts at sunset.

Ticket price– Ticket price for visiting the ASI monuments is Rs 40 for Indian visitors and Rs 250 for International tourists. Fee for still camera is Rs 25 only.

Time needed to complete the fort: Minimum 3 hours.

Useful info:

-Carry sufficient water and food. The canteen and shops inside the fort premises do not store in sufficient quantity and are too costly.

-Wear loose comfy clothes since you’d sweat after a lot of walking.

-Use of tripods is a punishable offence inside Gwalior Fort. Pre-wedding shoots are allowed with due permission for video camera and equipment.

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