Gwalior Fort - Pearl in the necklace of India Forts

Almost 1800 years of existence! 1800 years is a long time to witness the tides of history. Built by king Surya Sen (also known as Suraj Sen) in 3rd century, Gwalior Fort has seen it all: parades of victories, glorious eras of prosperity, musical symphonies created by Gwalior Gharana, love story of Raja Man Singh and Queen Mrignayani and not to forget downfall, destruction and plundering by invaders like Babur and Ibrahim Lodi. Despite all this the Fort, today stands with pride and is telling stories much older than the written pages of history.

Name Gwalior is attributed to a Sage GWALIPA, who had cured then king Surya Sen of leprosy and the gracious king named the place as Gwalior, which is now a vibrant city in Madhya Pradesh. Such was the aura of Gwalior Fort that various rulers, historians and even invaders had described the Fort as a “Pearl in the necklace of India Forts”. Perhaps the glory had become a nemesis to the Fort inviting continuous attacks from the outside invaders.

Sheer size, colossal manifestation and grand architecture of this fort will surely enhance the pride quotient for the glorious past of our country. Gwalior Fort has a respected place as the pride of the rich Indian heritage. 

Spread over 3 square Km. and rising up to 35 feet in height, Gwalior Fort is one of the largest Forts in India. Majority of present-day Gwalior Fort is attributed to the reign of Raja Man Sigh, who 
was warrior par excellence and a patron of Arts during 15th century AD. Major constructions and extensions were carried out by Raja Man Singh to beautify the city and strengthen the Fort to deter the attackers. Era of Raja Man Singh from 1486 to1516 is widely considered as one of the Golden Eras in Indian history. 

Even without proper maintenance the structures are appealing enough. Likewise, this cenotaph of Bheem Singh Rana, who took the control of Gwalior Fort by forcing surrender of Mughal governor in 1740 and this battle finally ended Mughal occupation of Gwalior.

Apart from the visible sprawling structures, there are also 7 stories which are below the ground. These 7 stories of palace which are under the ground are known as "Bhool Bhulaiya". All the walkways, stairs and rooms are alike. Treading alone and without a guide, you are definitely going to lose the way. Moreover, there is no lighting inside, in order to preserve the original character of the fort. So, follow the instructions.

Gwalior Fort is so huge that one can spend an entire afternoon exploring different parts. 

However, if you see closely, you will notice the other side of the coin. Which was once the pride of this region, is now counting its last breaths and appears to be totally helpless and lonely in its fight for survival. 

Rightly said - every BAT has its day - they are having a bull run by being the official residents of this grand palace. See closely, the roof is covered with the bats: 

It hurts and pains at the same time. We are at fault for ignoring the masterpieces received from our ancestors. Much is required from government and everyone else who is visiting this fort to keep it alive so that future generations don't miss out a handshake with our glorious past.

Facts about Gwalior –
·      Sage GWALIPA had blessed the king Surya Sen with the title “PAL”, the protector and advised that till the time descendants keep on bearing the title “PAL” the fort will remain in their possession. 84th descendent of Surya Sen, Tej Karan had relinquished the title and lost the fort to the invaders. Thereafter reign of destruction followed till Raja Man Singh restored the glory and prosperity in 1486.

·     Second oldest or probably the oldest record of ‘zero’ in the world was found in the Chaturbhuj temple at Gwalior fort. Inscription believed to be over 1500 years old.

·      Fort and the temples inside the Fort were badly damaged by Qutb-ud-din Aibak and Iltutmish in 1232 AD. Queen and other womenfolk had performed Jauhar (consigning to funeral pyre by jumping into the flames) in the Gwalior Fort premises to protect their honor from the enemies. The place where Jauhar was committed is known as Jauhar Kund, however earlier the place used to serve as royal bath for the womenfolk. Post fall of Fort to Iltutmish, womenfolk had turned this water tank into a pyre for Jauhar.

Over the time palaces, temples and monuments kept on getting added in and around the Fort to make Gwalior Fort what it is now, an experience to visit for. Likewise:

1.   Located on a cliff at Eastern part of Fort are the twin temples popularly known as Saas-Bahu Mandir. Dedicated to God Vishnu, the temple was built in the year 1092 and was originally called as Sahastrabahu Temple. Subsequently a smaller temple dedicated to Lord Shiva was built for daughter-in-law of the Queen. Hence the name.

2.    Some distance from Saas-Bahu Temple is 100 feet tall Teli ka Mandir. Built by the funds from Oil traders, the temple is a splendid mix of Dravidian and Nagara architectures. Image of “Garuda”, vehicle of Lord Vishnu makes this spot a different from rest. 

3.     Rock Cut carvings at Urwai Gate. There are 24 figures in standing and seated postures, tallest being 57 feet. Do not miss out while entering the Fort. 

The sound and light show in the evening describes the history of Gwalior. In brief, the Pala dynasty looked after the Fort for about 1000 years. Thereafter Pratihara dynasty added to the grandiose. After Pratiharas, invaders started attacking the Fort. Mohammad Ghazni was defeated in 1023 AD, Qutbuddin Aibak was defeated in 1211 AD and Iltutmish in 1231 AD badly damaged the Fort. Time remained violent till Raja Man Singh took over the reins in 1486 and Gwalior City saw the glorious period till death of Raja Man Singh in 1516 AD. Subsequently the Fort fall to Ibrahim Lodi in 1517 AD. From Marathas to British and finally Scindia family took over the control of the Fort and looked after the Fort. Just sit around or walk through the Fort.

Many kings and invaders came to this fort, fought for it, protected it, restored it, and in the process lost their lives as well. However, the Fort still stands reciting the various chapters of history to the visitors. 

Keep exploring Folks...

Gaurav Verma

A passionate Traveler who wants to see the whole world before hanging his boots. Always ready to explore offbeat and hidden spots. MBA + Engineer from Ivy league colleges, Gaurav is much sought after for his choice of lifestyle activities and Brand promotional campaigns.

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