The endless list of places to visit in Gwalior comprises dramatic fortresses, royal palaces, and intricately built temples. Gwalior is a perfect blend of architecture, art, and history.
The regal town of Gwalior is situated in the heart of India, or the state of Madhya Pradesh. Known for its historic past, rich culture, and architecturally rich monuments, Gwalior is a must-visit city in Madhya Pradesh. Places to visit in Gwalior have the perfect recipe for a memorable holiday. You would be amazed by the array of Gwalior tourism options you have at hand while touring this historic city. Do not have scope for a long holiday? Well, even if you spare 48 hours from your busy schedule then you can ideally cover many beautiful Gwalior tourist places.
The strategic location of Gwalior on the map of India makes it accessible from every nook and corner of the country. The town is famous for the magnanimous Gwalior fort because of its hilltop location that overlooks the entire city.
The town is shrouded with stories and historical events and can delight any history buff, traveler, photographer, or anyone who loves to travel back in time through ageless monuments. Gwalior is an amazing destination to stop by and learn the history right.
1. Gwalior Fort–
Referred to as ‘the pearl amongst fortresses in India’ by Mughal emperor Babur, the Gwalior Fort is one of the most impenetrable fortresses located in the entire northern and southern India and is a place you definitely must visit. Situated on the top of a vast rocky mountain near Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh in central India, this imposing structure dominates the entire city of Gwalior. An inseparable part of the identity and architecture of the city, evidence suggests that it has been around since the 6th Century.
The construction of the Gwalior Fort took place in two parts, in two different time periods, and thus, this architectural marvel has an intriguing history attached to it. It has passed from the possession of one dynasty to the other, multiple times. The entire fort complex is well maintained and includes temples, water tanks, and palaces such as Man Mandir, the Gujari, the Jahangir, the Karan, and the Shah Jahan.
Though it is difficult to ascertain the exact construction timeline for this fort, many inscriptions within its ramparts indicate that the Gwalior fort existed even as early as the 6th century. Perched on a hilltop and overlooking the glorious city of Gwalior, the fort has tourist attractions in every corner. Here are some that you should not miss:
- Man Mandir Palace: The first stop for any tourist is the Man Mandir Palace, which was built by Mansingh Tomar in the late 15th century. The vast chambers of this palace were once believed to have glittered with exquisite stones and tiles. Some remnants of those glory days still exist at the entrance of the palace.
- Sas-Bahu (or Sahastrabahu) Temple: This is another masterpiece of architecture. Sas-Bahu temple was built in 1093 and is known for its fine carvings and overall architecture.
This temple was constructed in the reign of King Mahipala of the Kacchapaghata Dynasty who wished for a prosperous and successful kingdom from the Lord of the universe. This temple is also praised for its intricate designs and impeccable carvings.
While the Man Mandir Palace would clutch the award for the most majestic structure, the Sas Bahu Mandir would walk away with the most beautiful structure without a doubt. Sas Bahu, denoting the relationship between a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, is actually a corrupted version of the Sahastrabahu, used to address Lord Vishnu in his 1000-armed form. Alternately, the name could have cropped up when a second temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva was built here. Talking of 1000 arms, it seems like the probable number of arms required to craft this masterpiece in architecture.
Timing: 8 AM to 5 PM on all days of the week.
- Light and Sound Show
After you have gone through the amazing list of monuments in Gwalior Fort, it is now time to just sit back and enjoy the interesting Light & Sound Show that is organized within the fort. The show is organized in two different languages near Man Mandir Mahal at the Fort’s Amphitheatre. The duration of the show is for 45 minutes, during which the history of this fort is narrated. Lights are used to create an astonishing visual appeal. What’s more, the narration you hear is provided by none other than Amitabh Bachchan! Calm and serene Sitar played by maestro Ravishankar adds charm to the entire show.
Timings: 7:30 PM for Hindi version, 8:30 PM for English version
Entry fees: INR 75 for Adults, INR 40 (for children below 15 years), INR 250 for foreign nationals.
2. Sun Temple-
Built by the Birla family, as a replica of the Sun Temple at Konark, Vivasan Surya Mandir is a wonderful depiction of the usage of natural lighting to brighten up a place. It is built in the shape of a Chariot, the Vahan of the sun-god, Surya. The red sandstone gives it a fiery appearance, which again, is characteristic of the sun. The chariot is drawn by seven horses representing the seven days of the week and 24 wheels representing the number of fortnights in a year. It is said that as one delves into the deeper meaning of every statue, one realizes the true nature of the cycle of life. If you are not visiting the original Konark Sun Temple any time soon, this is your best bet at seeing a grand Sun Temple. If you are visiting during summers, be advised that this is an open area and it would be best to get some protection from the sun.
Bateshwar, or rather the ruins of Bateshwar were built by the Gurjara-Pratihara dynasty in the 5th-6th centuries, at least 300 years before. Not easily approachable, the Bateshwar temple complex is a group of nearly 200 temples, most of them miniature versions. Fascinatingly, the temples have each been arranged in neat rows, one behind the other, on raised platforms. Until a couple of decades back, the temples lay in ruins and the locals were not interested in maintaining them. It took convincing by an official of the ASI to get the locals and even the bandits to put together back the stones to form the temples that they once were. This complex has been restored mostly and is still in the process of restoration and is definitely worth a visit.
4. Garhi Padhavali temple –
The next Morena wonder is the Garhi Padhavali temple, located close to the Bateshwar complex. While Bateshwar is in ruins due to mostly natural causes, probably an earthquake, Padhavali, and its ruins are a case of wanton philistine destruction by the Mughals. What was once a ninth-century temple lies now in ruins, after being torn down and its Murtis disfigured by the Mughals. It was only during the 19th century that the temple was turned into a Garhi or ‘fortification’ by the Jat rulers of Gohad using the remains of the torn-down temple. The temple insides have a plethora of erotic sculptures as well as sculptures from the Ramayana, Mahabharata, and other Indian epics.
5. Mitawali –
The last Morena wonder on this little field-trip is Mitawali with its Chausat Yogini Temple. Mitawali is somewhat away from the other places and located on a hill. The temple is circular in shape with a circular inner sanctum housing the main deity. It is rumored that this design inspired the designer of the parliament to shape the building in the same manner.
A visit to Gwalior takes you through time as you travel back to the golden age of Indian civilization starting from the Pratihara dynasty when the Zero was inscribed; through the period of turmoil as various dynasties fought to control the fort; to the period when the freedom fighters used Gwalior as a base for their fight against the British; to modern-day Gwalior. Throughout its history, during war or peace, Gwalior has managed to retain a position in arts and music which is remarkable.
So here it is- Your 48 hours guide to the Royal historic city of Gwalior.
Till then- KEEP TRAVLLING. KEEP WANDERING.