Gwalior is a city located in the State of Madhya Pradesh in India and is famous for its architecture, temples, and cultural history. The city was ruled by Rajputs in the 10th century and then taken over by Qutubuddin Aybak who was an Islamic invader. Mughal influence is apparent in many parts of the city; especially in the forts that are scattered across it. Gwalior was then controlled by the British from the year 1780; however the city was retaken by locals during the famous Sepoy Rebellion. The place offers many tourist attractions and interesting locations that are frequented by sightseers from India and from all over the world.
The city is well connected to all the major metros in India by air, rail, and roads; however the best option is flying to the city. There are Air Deccan flights available from Delhi and the Delhi-Jabalpur flight also stops in Gwalior. The city is also well connected by railroads and is one of the cleanest and efficient railway stations in India. There are express trains to Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Jammu, Lucknow, Pune, Bhopal, and numerous other towns. There are two additional stations inside the city – Birla nagar and Sithouli. These are useful for traveling to nearby towns and both the stations are connected to each other. The city is also well connected to many major cities in India by roads but road journeys can be avoided since they can be extremely tiring and time consuming. However traveling by road is a cheaper way to get to this city and the National Highway No.3 (Mumbai- Agra) passes through it. It is also connected by road to other cities such as Delhi, Jaipur, Agra, and Bhopal.
Places Of Interest.
Some of the most popular tourist attractions are the temples and some forts; especially the Gwalior fort that is a huge imposing structure overlooking the city. Many temples that adorn the city are an attraction for tourists and pilgrims alike. Since the city is located near Agra which is famous for the Taj Mahal it attracts tourists from all over the world.
The Gwalior Fort
The magnificent fort of Gwalior is famous since it is one of the biggest in India; situated on top of an isolated hill, the fort offers some breathtaking views of the city. The longest part of the fort is 1.5 miles long and the maximum breadth is 800 meters wide. The structure was built by a king named Raja Mansingh Tomar and is divided into two parts. The second part of this historic fort was built by the king for his wife in the 10th century. The fort also has numerous temples in it; most famous being the Shiva temple which was a temple for Vishnu, later converted for worshipping Shiva. An older Jain temple has been converted into a mosque whereas the ‘Teli-Ka-Mandir” or the Oilman’s temple is another attraction. Other interesting features of the fort include the bas-relief art and the unique Chinese dragons carved into some of the pillars. These were the consequence and proof of trade relations between India and China.
The grave of the great musician Tansen is located in Gwalior and every year in December a music festival is held here in remembrance of this great musician who sang in the court of Emperor Akbar himself. The grave is near a Tamarind tree that is said to be as old as the tomb itself. Folklore has it that any musician who chews on a leaf of this tree is blessed with an improved voice.
Tomb of Ghaus Mohammad
Ghaus Mohammad was the teacher of Tansen and his grave also lies close to Tansen’s tomb. The tomb is enshrined in stonework and is very beautiful to look at in the night since it is decorated with lights. This is where the Tansen music festival is held annually and is thronged by musicians and music lovers from all over India and the world.
Jai Vilas Mahal
The Jai Vilas Mahal or Jai Vilas palace is the residence of the current royal family and a major tourist attraction. The most famous contraption here is the silver train on a dining table that serves the guests. Other artifacts include the swords worn by Mughal rulers such as Aurangzeb and Shahajahan.
Tigra Dam is a trendy picnic spot near the banks of the Chambal River and is located twenty three kilometers from the Gwalior city. The place may not offer any historical importance but is admired for its naturally aesthetic surroundings and some people enjoy fishing and lazing around near the dam.
Chhatris of Scindia Dynasty
Located in Chatri Bazaar are a number of chhatris (umbrellas) of the kings and queens of the Scindia Dynasty. These beautiful cenotaphs are made using pink and white stones. Chhatris of Jiwaji Rao Scindia, Daulat Rao Scindia and Janko ji Rao Scindia are worth seeing. The chhatris present beautifully carved figures of tigers, elephants, and horses.
Samadhi of Rani Laxmi Bai
Rani Laxmi Bai was a freedom fighter and a warrior who died on the battlefield after the British confiscated her princely estates. She formed an alliance with other freedom fighters to end British imperialism which paved the way for her martyrdom. She is also known for her feminist reforms and was one of the pioneers for the fight for women’s rights and equality. The Samadhi itself is located near the railway station in Phool Bagh or flowers garden.
The Gwalior Museum
The Archeological Museum of Gwalior is worth a visit and a stones throw away from the fort itself. The museum has sculptures and artifacts that date back to 1 century B.C till 17th century A.D. Converted to a museum from a British jail, it has a wide variety of archeological treasures that are collected from numerous regions in the vicinity of the city.
Moti Mahal or the “palace of pearls” is located in a humungous building near the cenotaph (Samadhi) of Rani Laxmi Bai. The palace is adorned with many beautiful paintings; some depicting Hindu gods and goddesses and some have captured the lifestyle and celebrations of the royal family (Scandia’s). However the place has been converted in to government offices even though the paintings are under the care of the Archeological Survey of India.
There are numerous hotels in Gwalior ranging from the budget variety to luxurious ones. Some of the best hotels in the city are Hotel Gwalior Regency [3 star, Ph: +91 751 2340670], Usha Kiran Palace [Heritage Hotel, Ph: 91 751 2444 000], Hotel Shelter [Ph: 91-0751-326209-10-11, 333290-91-93], and Hotel Suruchi [Luxury, Ph: +91-22-24042211]. These are among the best hotels in Gwalior and the most luxurious one is the Usha Kiran Palace that is run by the Taj group. Other budget hotels are not recommended for foreigners since they may find them a little seedy. It is advisable to read the reviews on the internet before opting for any of the hotels as they give a good idea about the services and cleanliness of the hotels.