Gwalior – important historical & architectural significance

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Gwalior - Quick Facts

Area: 780 sq km.
Population: 1,901,981
Altitude: 212 m above sea level
Season: October to March
Clothing: Summer- Light cottons, Winter- Light woollen
Rain Fall: 88.9 cm
Languages: Hindi and English

Gwalior is the place known for its rich cultural heritage; Gwalior has played an integral role in Indian history from ancient times, through the medieval era, and later during the Mughal and British colonial rule. The Bustling city a top a hill is dominated by the Gwalior Fort which has been the battleground for many struggles for power. Today Gwalior is an important tourist destination due to its Historical and architectural significance, as well as for being a pre-medieval center of Jainism. Gwalior according to the ancient history was Gopalkash, said to be the same place were Bhima form the epic Mahabharata attained victory. Archaeological excavations reveal that the city dates back to the middle Stone ages and Iron Age. The actual city was founded back in the 8th A.D. by Suraj Sen. The head of the Kachwaha clan. Legend has it, that a sage called Gwalipa cured him of leprosy and thus the king named his city Gwalior. The city became the seat of power for many dynasties to come. From the 11th - 15th century, the medieval era saw the rule of Rajputs. This was followed by intervention by the Mughals, who were dethroned by the Rajput ruler Raja Man Singh, but only for a short while.

By Air
Gwalior has its own airport that is situated 8 km. from the main city. Gwalior is connected by Indian Airlines to Mumbai, Bhopal, Indore, and Delhi. The services are operational three days a week.

By Rail
If you are wondering as to how to reach Gwalior by rail, you have plenty of good options.

By Road
Gwalior is very well connected by a good set-up of roads and road transport to all major towns of Madhya Pradesh and surrounding areas. Gwalior is well linked by bus services with the important cities like:

•        Delhi - 321 km.
•        Agra - 118 km.
•        Mathura, Jaipur - 350 km.
•        Lucknow, Indore - 486 km.
•        Chanderi - 239 km.
•        Bhopal - 423 km.
•        Jhansi - 101 km.
•        Shivpuri - 114 km.
•        Khajuraho - 275 km.
•        Ujjain - 455 km.

The pristine Bateshwar valley is known for the ruins of beautiful temples within verdant woods. The panoramic lush surroundings add a charm to the ruined temples drawing both nature lovers and pilgrims to this site. For its exquisite stonework and excellent architecture, the Ghaus Mohammed mausoleum is an absolute must see. The sandstone mausoleum of the 16th century Afghan prince turned Sufi saint is built in typical Mughal style, with hexagonal pillars and delicate screens using pierced stone technique.

Strictly from a historical perspective, Ghaus Mohammed’s major contribution was that he helped Babar to win the Gwalior fort. Particularly exquisite are the delicate lacy screens, using the pierced stone technique. The skilled artisans of Gwalior were famed and their artistic brilliance is apparent in the huge panels of lacy screen work, combined with the interesting architectural style that gives it an absolutely ethereal feel. It is amazing to see that the tomb is a famous pilgrimage center of both Muslims and Hindus.

Gujari Mahal
The historically significant Gujari Mahal is part of the magnificent Gwalior fort complex and is worth a visit. This beautiful 15th century palace is a lasting monument to the love of Tomar King Raja Mansingh, the founder of the Gwalior fort for his Gujar queen, Mrignayani.
Legend has it that Raja Man Singh while on a Hunt, chanced upon Mrignayani, a Gujar tribal separating two buffaloes locked in combat. The captivated king won her consent to becoming his ninth queen after fulfilling her two demands? that he build her a separate palace, and have a canal dug to bring the water of her village Rai, for her everyday use.
Today Gujari Mahal houses one of the finest museums of sculpture dating back to 1st century AD. The open courtyard has some beautiful sculptures including several panels from the Gupta period and Buddhist era. Particularly worth seeing is the statue of Shalbhanjika, the tree goddess, from Gyraspur, an exquisite miniature which can be seen only on request.

Gwalior Fort
A hall under the Palace courtyard with two-storied galleries on all sides once reverberated with the sounds of raagas but now lies silent. The great musicians Tansen and Baiju Bawra are said to have received their early training in the school of music established and monitored by the Man Singh and his Gujar queen. It was in this hall and courtyard that the royal couple created several raagas and Man Singh composed and sang in Brajbhasa as against the customary Sanskrit.
An erstwhile school for the British soldiers has now been transformed into one of the best schools in India and is run by the Scindia's.
Looming majestically at a height of nearly 100 meters overlooking the city of Gwalior is its most famous landmark - the magnificent Gwalior Fort, popularly known as the Gibraltar of India.
Two roads approach the fort. The preferred approach for walkers is the steep winding road flanked by statues of Jain tirthankaras carved into the rock face that takes you up to the Urwahi Gat. A Northeast entrance starts from the archaeological museum and leads to the doors of the Man Singh Palace. The solid fort walls of sandstone enclose several marvels of medieval architecture including three temples, six palaces, impressive gates and a number of historic water tanks. Spread over an area of 3, the magnificent outer walls of the Fort still stand, 35 feet high and two miles in length making it one of the most impregnable fortresses of Central and North India.
Of the temples in the Gwalior Fort, the most famous are the Teli-ka-Mandir- a 9th century Dravidian-style shrine; the Saas-Bahu Temples- two pillared temples which stand next to each other, one larger than the other and bear a strong resemblance to Hoysala temple architecture; and the Chaturbhuj Mandir, a Vaishnavite shrine dating back to the 9th century. The highest structure within the fort is the Garuda.

Sun Temple
Close to Morar, the Sun temple dedicate to the Sun God is closely related to the Konark sun temple. This elegant temple is bounded by lush green landscaped gardens and quiet ambience. Though relatively modern, the architecture and style is similar to the ancient Konark temple and has already become one of the most revered temples in Gwalior.

Suraj Kund
The place where revered Guru Gwalipa healed the Rajput chieftain, Suraj Sen has been commemorated as Suraj Kund. The 15th century Kund has many legends and stories woven around it. It is said that the chronically ill Suraj Sen was cured when he tasted the holy waters of this Kund and as a token of his thankfulness he built a tank around the pond and a fort. The city of Gwalior was also named after the guru and sage Gwalipa.

It is 112kms away, is famous for the Chhatris built in memory of the various Scindia rulers. These conical shaped monuments are having exteriors covered with carvings.
The Madhav National Park at Shivpuri is a small wooded park set in the Vindhyas. You can see Chinkara, chital, Nilgai, Sambar, Chausingha, Blackbuck, sloth bear, leopard, langur and the rare tiger here. The famous Tigra Dam, 23 kms from the city, is a picturesque picnic spot. For some fascinating ruins head to Pawaya, 68 kms from Gwalior, where you can catch the statue of Chaksha Manibhadra, built in 1 AD, and the ruins of the fort of Parmers.

It is 69 kms from Gwalior, is said to date back to the time of the Mahabharata. The famous monument here is the Palace of Raja Bir Singh Deo, built in 1614 out of brick and stone, and seven storeys high. The other attraction here is the Gopeshwar Temple.

It is 3 kms from Datia has as many as 77 Jain temples, aligned in rows on the hillside, dating back to the 17th century. Of these you must visit the Chandranatha temple dedicated to the 8th Tirthankara.

Gwalior is said to be the home of the oldest bazaars in Madhya Pradesh as well as the famous Chanderi saris. If you want to take back souvenirs, a lot of handicrafts shops offer artistic stone carvings and artifacts. Try the shops on the lanes near Chowk at Bara, and at Rajwara, Laskar, and Patankar Bazaar.

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