Gwalior is a city in Madhya Pradesh in India. It lies 76 miles (122 km) south of Agra and has a population of over 12 lakh (1,200,000). The Gwalior metropolitan area is the 46th most populated area in the country.
Gwalior occupies a strategic location in the Gird region of North India, and the city and its fortress have served as the center of several of North India's historic kingdoms. At present also its strategic location is marked by the presence of major air base at Maharajpura. Gwalior is the administrative headquarters of Gwalior district and Gwalior division.
Origin of name
Gwalior's history is traced back to a legend in 8th century AD when a chief tain known as Suraj Sen was struck by a deadly disease and cured by a hermit-saint Gwalipa. As a gratitude for that incidence, he founded this city by his name.
Buildings and Architecture
At the heart of Gwalior is its fortress (Gwalior Fort), built by Raja Man Singh Tomar, of the Tomar dynasty. This formidable structure had the reputation of being one of the most invincible forts of India. It occupies an isolated rock outcrop. The hill is steepened to make it virtually unscalable and is surrounded by high walls which enclose buildings from several periods. The old town of Gwalior lies at the eastern base of the fortress. Lashkar, formerly a separate town that originated as a military camp, lies to the south, and Morar, also a formerly separate town, lies to the east. Gwalior, Lashkar and Morar are presently part of Gwalior Municipality.
Massive Gwalior Fort, popularly called Gibraltar of India overlooks the city. The great Mughal Emperor Babur reputedly described it as, "The pearl in the necklace of the forts of Hind". This forts architecture is the only one in India, which shows Chinese influence, as Chinese dragons that have been crafted at the hilt of the pillars. This influence was due to trade between china and India.
In the east of the city are two magnificent examples of early Mughal architecture. One is mausoleum of, 16th century Sufi saint Ghous Mohammed, and another is tomb of Mian Tansen, a great singer and one of the 'Nine Jewels' of Emperor Akbar's court. Right next to them is the Gujari Mahal, which according to the local stories says that the maharaj made for his 9th queen, he was married to eight queens, but none were able to produce a heir for him, thus he finally married a milkman’s daughter called “naani”, later she was renamed “mrignani” (meaning beautiful eyes), since she wasn’t of royal heritage, the maharaj had to make a separate palace for her, which is now called “gujari mahal”.
Close to the heart of the city is splendid Jai Vilas Palace, patterned on the style of the 'Palais de Versailles' in France combines Tuscan, Italian and Corinthian styles of architecture.
Rich in cultural heritage and architectural marvels, Gwalior has the added advantage of its proximity to Agra, the city of Taj Mahal, Khajuraho, the city of great temples and Delhi, the national capital.
Historically and architecturally, Gwalior is interesting first as a very ancient seat of Jain worship; secondly for its example of palace architecture of the best Hindu period (1486-1516); and thirdly as an historic fortress. Many historical places are found near the Dabra-Bhitarwar Road. Prior to the founding of Gwalior the region was also known by its ancient name of Gopasetra. The great Apabhramsha poet Pandit Raighu lived in Gwalior. Gwalior had an institutional seat of the Bhattarakas of Kashtha Sangh and later Mula Sangh.
According to local legend, the original fort of Gwalior was founded by the Kachwaha chief, Suraj Sen. His palace is the most interesting example of early Hindu work of its class in India. Another palace of even greater extent was added to this in 1516. The Mughal emperors Jahangir and Shah Jahan added palaces to these two, the whole making a group of edifices unequalled for picturesqueness and interest by anything of their class in central India. Among the apartments in the palace was the celebrated chamber, named the Baradari, supported on 12 columns, and 45 ft (15 m) square, with a stone roof, forming one of the most beautiful palace-halls in the world. It was, besides, singularly interesting from the expedients to which the Hindu architect was forced to resort to imitate the vaults of the Muslims. Of the buildings, however, which so excited the admiration of the first Mughal emperor Babur, probably little now remains.
Jai Vilas palace, in Lashkar is a marvellous palace museum, part of which is open to the public and gives a glimpse into the life of the royal family.
The Fort area is also home of the Scindia School, a well regarded institution founded by the late Maratha Maharaja Madho Rao Scindia of Gwalior in 1897.
Vivek Narain Shejwalkar
Codes• Pincode•Telephone• Vehicle
• 474001• +0751• MP-07
Image: Fort showing the palace of the Maharajah of Scindia. circa 1882. By Sumit of Gwalior